Nearly 20 Middle Tennessee State University students wanted to be a part of Wednesday’s formal celebration rolling out bottles of whole white milk and one of MTSU’s best-kept secrets — its whole chocolate milk.
Senior animal science major Kayana Fonseca and other students work seven days a week, 365 days a year, often arriving at 3 and 4 a.m. and again 12 hours later at the MTSU farm and dairy, part of the university’s Experiential Learning and Research Center in Lascassas, Tennessee. Their dedication ensures that a quality product reaches the MTSU milk processing plant inside the Stark Agribusiness Center on campus.
With new equipment installed, MTSU’s School of Agribusiness and Agriscience unveiled its latest endeavor — the MTSU Creamery — along with its new bottling process Wednesday, June 21, during a ceremony featuring milk and cookies in the Science Building’s Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium.
It marks the first time in nearly 50 years MTSU will have bottled milk products. They will be for sale to the students and public on campus starting June 21 in Phillips Bookstore and soon in Dwight’s Mini Mart in Keathley University Center and through Aramark’s Provisions on Demand stores, or PODs, across campus.
“The reputation of our award-winning chocolate milk, long a pride point of our university, precedes us at this event,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “You didn’t need today’s event to know this is simply the very best chocolate milk ever made. Period.”
McPhee said MTSU has become a national leader in helping students reach their goals through “exceptional teaching … and life-changing opportunities in our classrooms, at our laboratories and through enterprises like the MTSU Creamery, which we celebrate today.”
Tom Womack, deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, said the MTSU dairy move further solidifies the university’s footprint as a state and regional leader.
“MTSU’s dairy program also has been responsible for working with many dairy producers and processors in the region to advance the industry through education and economic opportunities,” said Womack.
“The addition of this new creamery will no doubt extend the program’s reach and impact to the university and the greater community it serves.”
Speaking for her school in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, director Jessica Carter said the venture “marks the beginning of a new era with the re-branding of the MTSU Milk Plant as the MTSU Creamery.”
“We have aligned our school to become the leader in this state in not only providing our award-winning milk to our campus and community, but in providing workforce-ready graduates for our industry partners,” she added. “We have positioned ourselves to provide an experiential learning component unequaled anywhere in this state.
“Together with our industry partners, alumni and friends, we have brought a new vision and new opportunities to our students, our faculty and our campus community.”
Featured in a new university video about the entire MTSU milk process, which follows the product from the feeding and milking of cows to processing plant procedures to milk delivery — junior Jessica Schriver has become one of the faces of the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience’s latest endeavor.
“It’s a huge benefit to come to school here, because the hands-on experience you get here, you can’t get anywhere else,” Schriver says in the video. “I would never have this opportunity if I were at another college or university.”
(Watch this video that shows MTSU students and staff at work from dairy to delivery.)
Major gifts from corporate sponsors Farm Credit, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative and CoBank made the purchase of the bottler possible. Alumnus Matt Neal, regional vice president for Farm Credit Mid-America, was instrumental in facilitating Farm Credit’s gift. Alumnus Fred Adams and his family and Tennessee Farm Bureau provided additional corporate support.
Along with meeting MTSU’s demands for bottled milk, Matthew Wade, director of the Experiential Learning and Research Center, said he envisions pint, half-gallon and gallon-size plastic bottles on the shelves in smaller local stores.
MTSU has delivered milk in 5-gallon bags for campus dining dispensers and to Hattie Jane’s Creamery on the square in Murfreesboro for ice cream and Two Fat Men Catering Company in Lebanon, Tennessee, for light coffee cream and ice cream products.
MTSU utilizes a 600-pound, two-valve filler, filling two bottles at the same time. Wade said students and staff can fill 10 gallons of milk a minute into the bottles.
Carter said MTSU is the only university in Tennessee with a dairy on or near campus.
“We’re proud of this opportunity for our students,” she said.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)
Public invited to June 21 MTSU Creamery Debut Ceremony (June 19, 2017)
The public is invited to join the MTSU community for the 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 21, announcement of the resumption of the bottling process for white and chocolate milk from the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience dairy and milk processing plant.
The Debut Ceremony for the MTSU Creamery will be held in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium of the Science Building, 440 Friendship St. Parking will be available in the Davis Science Building lot off Friendship Street. To find parking and the announcement site, visit http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.
Samples of chocolate and whole white milk will be available. A tour of the milk processing plant is also offered.
MTSU’s student-run dairy at the farm in Lascassas, Tennessee, and dairy processing unit in the Stark Ag Center on campus will be bottling and selling milk at various Provisions on Demand, or PODs, and Dwight’s Mini Mart on campus, and off-campus in the near future, said Matthew Wade, Experiential Learning and Research Center director.
For more information, call 615-898-2523.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)