If you thought luscious fruit bonbons
couldn't be part of a health-friendly diet, think again.
Five University of Maine students have developed a tasty treat called
YoBon Berry Bites that are loaded with antioxidants and bone-building
calcium. The one-two punch they pack proved powerful enough for YoBons
to be named one of five finalists in the Institute of Food Technologists
(IFT) Student Association's 2006 Product Development Competition.
The student team — undergraduates Jennifer Jordan, and Jason Bolton, and
Ph.D. students Shari Baxter and Kristi Crowe, all in the University of
Maine Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition; and microbiology
major James Perry — worked with faculty adviser Denise Skonberg to
develop the frozen confection. The concept for YoBons originated in a
500-level product development class Skonberg teaches.
This is the first UMaine team to reach the final round of the IFT's
prestigious contest. The students went toe-to-toe with peers in some of
the largest university food science programs in the country. The dark
chocolate-covered, frozen blueberry yogurt-filled bonbons were chosen
from more than 20 new food products to go on to the final round of
competition at IFT's annual conference in June.
The new product's niche market is 30- to 50-year-old women, offering
them both healthful anthocyanins from blueberries and antioxidants from
dark chocolate. The treat is also fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
In preparation for the next round of competition, the students are
preparing for a large-scale taste test that they hope will bolster their
proposal for full-scale product production.
From processing to shelf-life stability, the team must be versed in all
aspects of the product's development, marketing and testing. Industry
experts will judge YoBons on a range of criteria. Competition is stiff,
but the team is excited to move its product forward.
"We knew we had a really good, solid product, but we were shocked to be
chosen as a finalist," says team member Kristi Crowe. "This is a big
accomplishment for the UMaine Food Science Program."
Luke Manley has long known that his
future would involve working directly and indirectly to improve the
lives of animals.
His passion was put to the test in his first job at a neighborhood pet
"My mother is one of the biggest animal lovers I've ever known," says
the University of Maine senior. "That's why she hates pet stores and was
angry that I got the job, but I justified it, telling her that even if
(pet store chains are) not always the best environments for animals, my
working with them would make their lives better."
That philosophy also imbued Manley's volunteer efforts at a greyhound
boarding and adoption kennel, and his work for more than three years at
Buttonwood Park Zoo near his Cape Cod home.
At UMaine, he got involved in large animal care at the Witter Teaching
and Research Farm, first as a student employee, then as a member of the
student-operated dairy cooperative and the equine co-op. Manley got
experience on campus in the Department of Animal and Veterinary
Sciences' Diagnostic Lab and now works off campus at Eastern Maine
Emergency Veterinary Clinic.
He learned to sheer sheep from Scott Bowdridge, then joined the UMaine
graduate student on his summer jobs throughout the state, which included
clipping three ovine owned by actress Kirstie Alley.
After he graduates in May with a degree in animal science with a
preveterinary option, Manley wants to volunteer in Cameroon to save
orphaned chimpanzees. He has his sights set on attending veterinary
school in Oregon.
Manley has benefited from hands-on experience with a variety of animals
and from the extensive knowledge of the many people who work with them.
"I had the fortune to work in a pet store with a manager who really
cared for the animals," he says. "At the zoo is an entire workforce of
people who (couldn't) care more about their animals. At the farm, we can
assist the vets with everything from calving to treatments on cows and
Manley also appreciates the contributions of wildlife biologist Jeff
Corwin, the host of a popular Animal Planet show. Coupled with his own
interests in journalism and travel, Manley hopes one day to offer
similar educational programming for young people.
It's all in keeping with his commitment to indirectly or directly affect
animals' quality of life.
"When I get out of school, I'd like to travel and be a vet for
international and domestic zoos," says Manley, who also is exploring the
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, and Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service, which would involve travel and varied professional
service. "When I settle down, I'd like to teach at the university level
or run an emergency clinic. Not knowing what will come through the door
will keep me challenged and interested."