Lab Matters Summer 2018 - Page 34

membership Home on the Range: Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Analytical Services Lab by Nancy Maddox, MPH, writer No US state has fewer residents than Wyoming’s 585,000 or so denizens. And few states can match Wyoming for the sheer majesty of its sites, such as Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Devils Tower National Monument. Known variously as The Equality State (being the first US jurisdiction to grant female suffrage) and The Cowboy State, Wyoming occupies a large plateau, punctuated by the Rocky Mountains in the west and bedecked by the High Plains in the east. “We’re at 7,200 feet in altitude,” said Teresa Jarvis, head of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Analytical Services Lab, in Laramie, “so it’s just a harsh climate.” While high-altitude weather complicates sample delivery to Jarvis’s staff, it is of less import for the state’s largest agricultural commodity: beef cattle and calves, which graze on vegetation in both mountains and grasslands. Nearly 80% of Wyoming’s agricultural revenue comes from this one source—totaling half a billion dollars for cattle producers in 2008 and $1.6 billion a year in gross economic impact. Other important agricultural commodities are hay (grown primarily for cattle feed), barley, wheat, corn, sugar beets, sheep, hogs, horses and honeybees. The Analytical Services Laboratory performs testing related to all of these. Laboratory Scientist I Callie Wilson reads a gram stain on a culture from an environmental sponge submitted by a state meat plant. Photo: WDA 32 LAB MATTERS Summer 2018 Part of its mission, for example, is to conduct chemical and bacteriological analyses to show that agricultural products manufactured, marketed or consumed in the state meet legal standards or label guarantees. Data generated for the public is intended to improve the profitability of production agriculture, confirm regulatory compliance, identify sources of pollution and more. The laboratory also administers Wyoming’s petroleum laws for refined fuel products, automotive antifreeze and natural gas. Facility The Analytical Services Laboratory occupies the second floor—about 12,000 square feet—of a two-story, redbrick building shared with the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory. Although the 1980s- era building is owned by the University of Wyoming, it sits in an off-campus location in Laramie, about 50 miles from Cheyenne, the state capital and Wyoming’s most populous city. The BSL-2 facility is within sight of the Wyoming Territorial Prison Historic Site (which once housed famed outlaw Butch Cassidy) and the rugged peaks of Snowy Range. Manager Jarvis was born in Idaho and earned two bachelor’s degrees—in microbiology and medical technology—from Idaho State University in Pocatello. An internship at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston led to a microbiology position at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, where Jarvis worked for five years. She left that position to become a laboratory scientist at St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Texas’s Brazos Valley region and was gradually promoted up the chain-of-command to the directorship. After 17-odd years in The Lone Star State, Jarvis moved to Wyoming where she became director of Dynacare Laboratories, a for-profit company that provided diagnostic laboratory services to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center. She stayed with the laboratory after LabCorp bought it and after it was purchased by the medical center itself. In January 2014, after 15 years of an hour-long commute over icy roads from Laramie to Cheyenne, Jarvis became manager of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture Analytical Services Lab. Today, she said, “I have a ten-minute commute.” Staff In addition to Jarvis, the laboratory employs seven full-time scientists, two support staff and a full-time quality assurance coordinator. Revenue The annual $1.2 million budget comes entirely from state general funds, channeled through the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. All fee-for- service revenue goes directly to the state. Testing The analytical services laboratory tests dozens of matrices—from milk to barley to sludge—for hundreds of compounds, elements, microorganisms and other contaminants. “A lot of our data is to ensure compliance with government regulations and make sure our consumers are safe,” said Jarvis. “With animal feeds and fertilizers, we’ HXZ[\B\Y\\H][]^H[˜\K[][YY^Kx&\H\\[]YY]TH[\˸'BHXܘ]ܞH[ܚ]H\[[X[X[ ZY[Z\H\\\܈\\K'HYH[ܚ]H]X\[ۘ[K^HX^H]HXY[[X[[HX^HH[܈ܘYB܈]\۝[Z[[]ܜ\ۙZ\XYۛX[[˸'H[Y][ۋHX\ܛ\YKY܋\\XH[[\\›و\\Y[[\ۛY[[YYX]\X[YX\\[Z[X\[\\K[Y\XH]Y[XXX[XTT ܙ