Thursday, January 31, 2019

CAST Welcomes New Membership Specialist

Our Mission Is Her Philosophy

Alyssa Yanni, CAST’s new membership specialist and administrative assistant, sits near the front door at the reception desk, ready to welcome any guests and answer phone calls filtered in through her handset. But when she isn’t manning the front desk, you can find Alyssa clacking away at a keyboard, writing about local food advertisements during World War I and World War II.

Alyssa displayed her research on colonial kitchens in Ross Hall
at Iowa State University during the '17-18 academic year.
Studying the intersections between food and American culture has led Alyssa to various opportunities ranging from publishing book reviews to presenting her research to the public.

“A lot of my accomplishments are based on my research and academics. I’ve always grounded my life in school; although I do have a gold medal from tennis back in high school—it hangs nicely on my wall,” she added with a chuckle.

The graduate student has a forthcoming book review in Food, Culture, and Society. She was also invited to speak at events for History Camp Iowa in Des Moines and the Daughters of the American Revolution—both occasions covered her undergraduate research about colonial kitchens in Virginia.

While academics take up much of her time, Alyssa loves creating new adventures with her partner, Caleb Lumley (they married last summer at a spot overlooking the Mississippi River). Both are dedicated mini-golfers; their goal is to play the game in all 50 states—regardless of what the forecast may be.

“We were in Washington, D.C., last April—they have the oldest, continuously running mini-golf. It was raining and I called ahead to make sure I could play,” Alyssa says. “They had to open the gates up for us—it was fun.”

While Alyssa would like to explore more of the U.S. with her partner, she is excited to contribute to CAST’s mission to communicate credible, balanced, science-based information to various members of the public, the media, and policymakers.

“That’s really what I try to do with history—not just keep it in the academic circle, but make sure the public understands it,” Alyssa says.

Transparency through science communication is critical in today’s divisive climate, she states. This is why Alyssa is excited to work at CAST toward its ultimate goal of providing a trusted source for agriculture-related issues.

“To have science-based publications coming out with incredible knowledge from subject matter experts gives people something they know they can trust and rely on for their own research and benefits,” she says. “If you’re a farmer or a scientist or a public member, knowing you can trust us as a reliable source, I think, is very beneficial.”

We are happy to have you on board, Alyssa, and we look forward to your contributions for CAST, its members, and beyond.

Have a question about memberships?
If you would like to renew your membership or discuss which type of membership is right for you, contact Alyssa at

By Kimberly Nelson
(Photo courtesy of Alyssa Yanni)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Deep Freeze on the Farm

January 30, 2019 Update:  In Minnesota, North Dakota, and other states, real temperatures were in the 30- to 40-degrees below range, while wind chill effects moved some areas into the 60-degree below frozen zone.
The life-threatening wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as five minutes--as this story said, many records are expected to fall. 

Livestock, pets, and farmers need to take special care in these conditions.

Farmers face varied challenges during extreme cold, and this video focuses on a dairy farm and the measures needed to keep the operation running.  

Livestock and machinery need special attention during winter conditions, and this farmer offers several tips regarding how to cope with the extreme cold. 

Frozen Mustaches and 
Deadly Blizzards

Tough winters on the farm aren't new, and in this blog, we look at conditions in the days before heated car seats and climate-controlled livestock buildings. Excerpts below:

Dad reminded me that Midwest farm folk of the 1930s and 40s appreciated the beauty and altered pace of winter, but the work didn’t let up. “We always had chores to do, and few places had heat. No warm tractor cabs or livestock confinement buildings. We were out in the elements. Some guys, like old Rhodes, claimed their mustaches stayed frozen most the winter.”

Old-timers don’t talk of those winters without mentioning blizzards, such as the 1940 Armistice Day Storm. “We quickly rounded up the cattle, except two missing calves,” said local farmer Otto. “When we finally located them, we put ‘em in the back seat of the car, and then kept them in our basement until the storm passed.” Others reported chickens frozen while perched in trees, and one farm operation lost 900 of 1,000 turkeys.

Dad also told me that his grandpa said the Blizzard of 1888 was the worst--especially in Nebraska and the Dakotas. County school teachers tried to lead their students single file to the nearest farm house, but some didn't make it. Dad said by the time he was in the local one-room school, his teacher had a Model A coupe to use for transport during blizzards if the roads were passable.

Even Fido Gets the Winter Blues

Humans suffer physically and emotionally during the cold, but some say dogs also get S.A.D.--seasonal affective disorder. As explained in this blog, I don’t think a dog like Smoky—our childhood favorite—ever had S.A.D.

Excerpt from blog: "Smoky was with us in the dark before school, wagging his tail as we fed corn to the cattle or broke ice in the hog waterer. He might join us when we milked our one cow—steam coming from the warm bucket, cats in the corner nervously watching Smoky and hoping we’d squirt them in the face so they could lick off the milk."

by Dan Gogerty (top pic from and; bottom from