Masters student says Dunedin internship ‘cool’
Just like Dorothy and Toto, Bailey Boomhower is not in Kansas now.
Miss Boomhower (24), a masters student from Oklahoma State University studying international agriculture, scored an internship at Dunedin-based agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio.
The internship started at the beginning of February and finishes on April 22, after which she will spend several weeks travelling in New Zealand before heading back to the United States.
Brought up on a Kansas ranch, she had always been passionate about agriculture although she was much more familiar with beef cattle and horses than dairy cows and sheep.
Her late grandfather Jerry established the Boomhower Quarter Horse Ranch and was a past president of the American Paint Horse Association.
The switch to cattle was made by her father Kip. It was an economic decision, as there was not enough money in the horse business, she said.
The family now ran about 300 head of cattle in a cow-calf operation, with Red Angus-influenced genetics and it had been ‘‘really cool’’ to see the growth of the enterprise.
Their horse numbers were limited to five broodmares and one stud horse. She did once have two pet lambs to show in 4H events, but never became particularly enamoured of them.
‘‘They were just too small of a creature, I guess.’’
Miss Boomhower has two younger brothers, one at college and one who works on the ranch with her father.
During her bachelor degree studies at Kansas State University, Miss Boomhower had an opportunity to travel to Ireland and China, where she saw different farms and agricultural operations.
Ireland was more like the US, and was not as big a shock as China, but there were still a lot of differences, she said.
Heading into her master’s programme, one of the options was to do an international experience. But finding the right experience was the difficult part.
She did ‘‘tonnes of research’’ as it was hard for an American student to reach out to international corporations, she said.
Fortunately, there was an organisation affiliated to Oklahoma State University, called CISabroad, that helped students study or get an internship abroad.
There were lots of different options but she believed the one she came up with, AbacusBio, was the right one.
Miss Boomhower believed her ‘‘niche in life’’ was to help people. Working with ranchers and farmers and coming up with new ideas to make their lives easier, and also make money for them, resonated with her.
When she was interviewed by AbacusBio managing director Anna Campbell via Skype and learned about the projects the company was involved with, she knew she wanted to be there.
On first arriving, she admitted she was a little overwhelmed as ‘‘everyone is so good at what they do’’.
She has been working on several different projects and also enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the office and spend time on farms and at field days.
‘‘It’s been very cool, very eye-opening, I’ve learned a lot, too,’’ she said.
Travelling around the countryside, the biggest difference she noted was the hills, compared with the relative flatness of Kansas.
In her first week in Dunedin, she was living up a hill, in a hostel on Rattray St, and laughed that walking up the hill every day was a challenge.
Miss Boomhower believed the climate was fairly similar in Otago to Kansas, which was a predominantly wheat-growing state.
‘‘We definitely have dry spells and wet spells. It’s always too dry or too wet. There’s never an in-between,’’ she said.
Coming from a landlocked state, she was also enjoying the Dunedin beaches and the opportunity to experience two consecutive summers.
Once her studies were completed, Miss Boomhower quipped she would ‘‘try to find a big kid job’’.
Her focus area was in agribusiness and trade and she was open to travelling for the right job, including living in New Zealand.
In the meantime, she had been checking in every day at the family ranch, via Skype, on how the farm was going.
This article was reproduced from the Otago Daily Times' Focus on Farming section on 31 March 2016, page 32 (by Sally Rae)