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Region schools get a taste of UNG poultry opportunities

Poultry 101 2017
Linda Purvis (right) talks to young 4-H students about the anatomy of chickens during Poultry 101 on UNG's Gainesville Campus.

The University of North Georgia's (UNG) pathway in poultry science earned its fifth consecutive grant in as many years from the U.S. Poultry Foundation to help educate grade-school students while leading UNG students to unique experiences for career opportunities.

The main event fueled by the grant, Poultry 101, hosted more than 100 grade-school students and agriculture teachers to showcase the poultry industry's wide variety of professions and how UNG can help position students to access their chosen career. Poultry 101 was held on UNG's Gainesville Campus on Jan. 28, and welcomed students from fourth through 12th grade from more than a dozen counties, including areas as far away as Houston County in south Georgia.

"We had a lot of first-time schools at this year's Poultry 101," said Linda Purvis, biology and poultry science lecturer at UNG and advisor of the Poultry Science Club. "We mainly target Future Farmers of America and 4H groups that compete in poultry judging, but we also try to interest all students in the poultry industry. The event focuses on helping teach students about poultry judging events, which many of them are currently preparing for, as well as showing them how industry relates to their everyday lives. For example, knowing how eggs are graded is useful information for anyone."

In addition to Poultry 101, the $7,000 Education and Recruitment grant from the U.S. Poultry and Egg Foundation helps with UNG's attendance at the College and Career Program held in Atlanta Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 and various other poultry-related activities at the university throughout the year.

Heather Korey, who earned an Associate of Science with a pathway in poultry science from UNG and plans to graduate from UNG in May with a Bachelor of Science in biology, already has a job lined up. She will begin the Tyson management training program this summer, and she has seen first-hand how the various UNG recruitment programs open young students' eyes.

"For these recruitment events, we of course want to make sure the students have a good time and that they are aware of all the opportunities, but we go a step further in talking about what each field encompasses, and try to show them just how broad the industry can be," Korey said. "This grant has allowed so many people in the industry to interact with us, and that has had a direct impact on me. I love science, and I figured, what better industry to go into than helping to feed the world?"

Korey will spend one to two years in the management training program before beginning work as a manager. As UNG's Poultry Club president, she also participates in poultry judging competitions, and working with students during recruitment events enables her to further hone her knowledge and skills while making her more marketable to companies looking for management potential.

"Poultry is the number one agricultural commodity in Georgia; there are thousands of job opportunities all over industry," Purvis said. "We want to get our younger students thinking about the careers they can pursue and what those options will do for them in later life stages."

Other sponsors of Poultry 101 included Cobb-Vantress, Inc., Wayne Farms, Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., Pilgrim's, Tyson Foods, Inc., and Fieldale Farms Corporation.

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