While online seeking professors proficient in goat milk research, Karen Hernandez stumbled upon Dr. Young Park, an internationally recognized expert in dairy goat research at Fort Valley State University. After making contact by email, the Honduran student knew the institution would be a good place to gather data for her thesis before a December graduation.

The student from the National University of Agriculture (located in Catacamas, Honduras) took a three-hour flight in June to work in the lab comparing yogurts made from cow and goat milk. The food science major concluded that goat milk is easier to digest and has a softer texture. Hernandez returned home in September.  She is thankful for the opportunity to learn from an expert and work with advanced equipment.

“In my college you don’t have the privilege of having all this equipment, so it’s been a new experience,” Hernandez said. “I appreciate all the people here, it’s pretty nice. And it’s a good, good university.”

The young scientist hopes to use the FVSU experience coupled with her college education to pursue a master’s and doctoral degree. She is considering a return to The Valley, which offers a master’s in animal science. Someday, the 21-year-old would like to own a goat processing center in her country.

Hernandez viewed operations at a processing facility housed in the Georgia Small Ruminant Research and Extension Center at FVSU. The 15,000-square-feet center, which also has a dairy operation, is visited by faculty, students and fellows from abroad. International guests have traveled from Mali, France, Armenia, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey to the small ruminants facility, known for its research related to sheep and goats.

“A student can have positive and constructive training here for careers in food science, dairy technology and food chemistry,” said Park, Hernandez’s mentor. “She can be a good vehicle to expose and educate Hondurans, there at her university, about our goat research here so we can have further educational exchange programs.”

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