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Ivy Tech Offers Taste of Ag Science

Ivy Tech Piglet

Brian reaches out to pet a week-old piglet, held by Easterseals Arc staff member Danielle Jones, during an agriculture class at Ivy Tech.

Through a new program at Ivy Tech Community College, seven Easterseals Arc participants began their summer by learning more about the foods we eat and the work that brings those meals to our tables.

One Monday in June, the students started their day with a field trip to Albright’s Meats & Deli, 2820 Maplecrest Road. There, general manager D. J. Federspiel led them down a long display case, through dozens of cuts of beef, pork and chicken. Pointing out the webs of white lacing through different cuts of beef, he explained that “marbling,” the pattern of fat distribution among muscle fibers, is a way to judge how tender and flavorful the meat will be. The finer the marbling, the more easily that fat will melt into the meat during cooking. He explained the advantages and drawbacks of many cuts of meat, and he described the less-often ordered frozen items available too, from pig feet to organ meats.

Students view meat case at butcher shop

D. J. Federspiel, general manager of Albright’s Meats & Deli on Maplecrest Road, tells Ivy Tech students from Easterseals Arc about different cuts of meat.

Everyone in the class picked a burger or a brat for a later cookout, then returned to their classroom at Ivy Tech Community College’s North Campus in Fort Wayne. Their work there was heavy on hands-on activity, from “churning” butter by shaking milk inside a plastic container to combining water, glue and Borax to make “flubber” – bowls of jiggling, rubbery glop. Instructor Zac Caenepeel told them, “You’ll wind up with a big blob of flubber, and that’s a pretty good rendition of what animal fat feels like.”

For six weeks in May and June, the students met three days a week for five hours, plus lunch time, each day. Each week focused on a different unit of study – food science, food handling, animal science, plant and soil science, nutrition and “five fab meals.”

Student reaching into bowl of fake animal fat

Cameron grimaces as he plunges his hand into a bowl of “flubber” he was mixing. Instructor Zac Caenepeel told the students that the flubber feels a lot like animal fat.

Easterseals Arc participant Solomon absorbed it all and was eager for more. After the field trip to Albright’s, he said he enjoyed “learning about the pork, hamburger and sausage – the different things in the meat, and how much it was.” He also was impressed by what the class learned about super-premium Wagyu beef during an earlier visit to Joseph Decuis Wagyu Farm, which produces food for Joseph Decuis restaurant in Roanoke.

Kelli Kreider, chair of the agriculture department at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne, developed the curriculum for the class, created in cooperation with Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana.

“This introduces (students) to the careers, terminology and even techniques they can use at home,” Kreider said. “They’re getting a little bit of taste for what it’s like to be an Ivy Tech student.”

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