Raw milk research earns Marshfield High Senior $20K College Scholarship
By Ashley A. Smith
Green Bay Press Gazette
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// ]]>[removed]Research and hard work on a policy issue that affects Wisconsin’s dairy industry have won Marshfield High School senior Carly Barker a $20,000 college scholarship.
During the Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition this past weekend in Washington, D.C., Barker, 18, presented her research on high school students’ attitudes and beliefs about the risks and benefits of raw milk consumption.
“I thought it would be interesting to survey the students and get their thoughts,” Barker said, adding that the most interesting thing she learned was the connection between students who have been exposed to a farming culture and their attitudes about raw milk consumption.
Students were seven times more likely to consume raw milk if exposed to farm life, Barker said.
Barker was selected as one of 12 national finalists out of 562 students across the country and 60 regional finalists who entered the contest, said Amy Dopp, Barker’s mother and a Marshfield High science teacher.
“From a teacher standpoint, one of the big things about the project they emphasized is that the students collect data and analyze in such a way, that they can make a recommendation to public health officials and change policy,” Dopp said.
Barker learned about the contest through her sister, Emily, who competed three years ago. She also received assistance from Dr. Ed Belongia and Dr. Matthew Keiser, both epidemiologists at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation.
Barker had to present her research in front of a group of nine judges, which included employees of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and college professors focused on public health.
“It’s important to emphasize Carly’s research tried to look at the commercial sale of raw milk and not impose on people what they should or shouldn’t do,” Dopp said. “But the problem is, if it is legalized, and if people did get sick, the entire dairy industry would be impacted.”
Through her research, Barker said she determined the impact on Wisconsin’s $26.2 billion dairy industry, which employs 12 percent of the state’s labor force, could be significant if mass raw milk consumption led to illness.
Barker said she plans to use the scholarship while studying abroad in college and eventually for graduate school. This fall she will be studying environmental science and political science at Carthage College in Kenosha.
“It’s not all about the money for me,” Barker said. “Just the whole experience was amazing, hearing about other people’s presentations and getting to meet other students passionate about the same thing I am.”
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