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Biology student completes local internships
Undergraduate Biology major Zach Underwood completed two local internships on industrial hemp:
· Fall 2019 Internship – Rise and Shine Botanicals, Blacksburg, VA – field research on harvest methods and productivity of industrial hemp varieties
· Spring 2020 Internship – CNP Industries, Fairlawn, VA – milling and botanical extraction of CBD oils from industrial hemp
"Prior to the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) was considered a controlled substance. Recently hemp cultivation has been legalized for agricultural and medicinal purposes. Hemp has many uses, from holistic cannabinoid application of CBD oil, to use of fibers in clothing and engineering. Its seeds also have dietary benefits, including high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. I am the first Radford University student to obtain an internship and conduct research in the industrial hemp industry. My goal throughout my research was quality – to determine the best of four genetically-distinct hemp varieties, thus providing insights on what is most beneficial for farmers to plant."
"In fall 2019, I collected data on a 4-acre farm in Blacksburg, Virginia. This site grew nearly 6,000 plants during the first legal hemp season. I created a platform for my data to be recorded based on scales from 1-5 in each category, 1 being low in value and 5 being highest. The categories I collected data on were overall health, average flower stalk height and width, flower density, and pungency/terpene quantities for each plant. Two of the four varieties had noticeably increased flower density and terpene profiles."
"My spring 2020 internship at CNP Industries, a biochemical company in Fairlawn, Virginia, focused on botanical extractions utilizing CO₂ technologies. One duty at this company consisted of high-performance quality control to ensure that a consistent input would create a high-grade output of each extraction of CBD oil or terpenes."
"This quality control consisted of monitoring input material and removing caterpillar damage, powdery mildew, bud rot, and a plethora of other concerns that would contribute to a poor output product. Another responsibility I had at my internship was bucking and milling hemp flower that had past quality control measures. The process of bucking hemp flowers consists of removing and separating whole plant fan leaves and large stems from the flowers. Milling is the process of shredding raw material into a consistency that is appropriate for the extraction machine. Once shredded, sifting of small stems, poorly milled flowers, and seeds were approaches we took to ensure a quality input. After the milling procedure was complete and desired consistency was achieved, I would help load the system and observe the setting of extraction parameters that would create the product of what we were trying to achieve."
"Along with these duties, I would research different methods of extraction and improved techniques for reaching peak quality of oil and terpenes. Overall, in my internship I learned to extract viable products from local hemp, such as CBD oil for use in dog treats and tinctures, and terpenes used in flavorings and aromatherapy. With the experience and knowledge gained from my research and internship, I hope to educate others about the benefits of hemp plants and obtain a career in the budding Cannabis industry. "