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Morrisville State College Students Produce, Market New Product at Nelson Farms as Part of Ag Business Class

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—Move over ketchup —make room for slather sauce.

A tasty alternative to the familiar red condiment is being cooked up by Morrisville State College students.

The savory product, Road Kill Slather Sauce, is a recipe conceived by six agricultural business development bachelor degree students who are producing it, as part of a class, at Nelson Farms, the college’s small-scale food processing plant.

Students hope to have three varieties of the aromatic sauce for sale soon, but not before they perfect its rich ingredients and learn all there is to know about bottling and marketing it.

The labels, emblazoned in vibrant colors, proclaim the rich condiment “will add zing to any meat or side dish.”

The project is also adding flavor to their class, Distribution and Marketing of Agricultural Products, taught by Cathy Xu, assistant professor of agricultural business.

Dave Evans, director of Nelson Farms, and his staff are assisting with teaching the lab portion of the course which also covers marketing and distribution techniques and working with specialty food products.

“Students also participated in taking the mandated training program that is required for obtaining a license in food processing,” Evans said. This training also covers some FDA processes and procedures used in low acid and acidified processing.

Overall, students are gaining heaps of knowledge in agricultural commodity purchasing and selling, food processing, product distribution, consumer retail relations and financial feasibility.

That’s big for Shawn Migdal, a Syracuse resident who hopes to tie another degree onto his apron string as a way to supplement his commercial cleaning business.

Worried about the future in today’s sliding economy, Migdal, 41, decided to go back to school and retrain for another career.

He’s been watching trends and is cultivating an idea he hopes will net success, but it’s under wraps till it’s tweaked and formalized. The class is providing him with important resources in his quest.

In the meantime, Migdal is busy working alongside fellow students on their current brainstorm, a blend of tomatoes and spices which when combined, equals a vamped-up ketchup, according to Amanda Hewitt, product development manager at Nelson Farms.

Pour it on French fries or swipe it generously over meat—the sauce will add pizzazz to any dish or appetizer.

But the class isn’t just about cooking up a product.

Students are learning how to take value-added steps—a way to get the most money for their goods—something that means a lot in a tough agricultural climate.

“We are gaining a broader sense of the world, too,” Michelle Meisner, 21, of Harpursville, NY, said. “Our professor opens our eyes not to just what is in Central New York.”

That’s important to Meisner who grew up on a dairy farm and wants to continue to support agriculture as a whole in today’s economy.

“This class is hands-on and very beneficial,” Meisner said. “We are learning and talking about diverse topics, everything from apple farming to merchandising.”

It will all carry over into a business or career plan some day.

“No matter what it is, everything we are learning will be beneficial to us in the future,” Migdal said.

Look for students’ Road Kill Slather Sauces in the County Store at Nelson Farms. The store features Pride of New York products from all regions of New York state, including pancake, muffin and other mixes, syrups, jams and jellies, barbecue sauces, salsas, cheese and chocolates.

Morrisville State College offers agriculture-related bachelor degrees in agricultural business development, dairy management, horticulture business management, equine science and renewable resources technology and a new associate degree in renewable energy technology.

Agriculture-related associate degrees are offered in agricultural business, agricultural mechanics, animal science—dairy, agricultural science, equine science and management, equine racing management, horticulture, aquaculture and aquatic science, environmental and natural resources conservation, and natural resources conservation.

Morrisville State College offers more than 75 bachelor and associate degrees. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college was one of the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in accounting, business, computer systems technology, office administration, liberal arts transfer, nursing, early childhood, criminal justice and human services to south central New York residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.