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UMaine Today Magazine

Student Focus


YoBons Berry Bites
Photo by Nicolas Blouin

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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."

Talking Animals

Luke Manley\

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 store.

"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 horses."

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."


UMaine Today Magazine
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The University of Maine
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