Georgia is the top producer of broilers—chickens raised specifically for meat production—in the U.S., and Gainesville, Ga., is often referred to as "The Poultry Capital of the World" due to its large and robust poultry industry. Recently, the U.S. Poultry Foundation awarded a $3,100 grant to the Poultry Science program at the University of North Georgia (UNG) to support efforts to recruit students into this field. Linda Purvis, biology and poultry science instructor, talks about the grant and how it supports recruitment, and how the program supports the poultry industry.
How does UNG's Poultry Science program support the poultry industry?
It equips students with trade knowledge and shows them the opportunities the poultry industry provides. Many students are unaware of the vast job options in the poultry industry that can be available to them. Through the Intro to Poultry Science course, students learn about careers and the different degrees that these companies are looking for. By having this program at our university, we are providing the next generation of industry managers, scientists and workers for the poultry industry.
|Linda Purvis (top right) instructs biology students.|
Our internship program also gives students hands on experience in local poultry business, and over the past several years, some of the students who have participated have gone on to find jobs with those companies where they interned.
Having this program and these classes available is crucial to the local poultry industry work force and the future of the industry, and the funds from this grant will enable us to do more with our local industry and deepen the connection between the industry and the university.
Why does the US Poultry Foundation award these grants?
They seek to support full universities and institutions without distinct poultry science departments, but with identifiable poultry programs such as ours. Because we work with local poultry companies and the University of Georgia (UGA), we fill a vital role for students seeking opportunities to get their core coursework in a smaller setting, and then transfer to complete their studies at UGA or other poultry science programs.
How does the grant support poultry science recruitment?
These funds are used to provide on-site visits to poultry farms and companies for the students enrolled in the introductory poultry science course. They also support career fairs, where we invite many different poultry-related companies to speak to the students about job options in the industry. At our spring fair this year we had more than 50 students in attendance, and we plan for it to be even bigger next time.
We also use the funds to sponsor five high school students in Georgia with an interest in poultry to attend Avian Adventures, a summer program held in conjunction with the University of Georgia that helps students explore their college options.
With the 2013 grant we plan to gain recruitment tools such as poultry books for the library, brochures and display material for Future Farmers of American and 4H programs at high schools, where I will talk about our program. We will also take our poultry science students to the International Poultry Expo in January in Atlanta, where they can interact with every aspect of the industry, meet potential employers, and learn about all the job areas available to them.