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Poultry program pairs with MCCB to meet industry need

2020-03-02-PoultryExpo-1
In January 2020, University of North Georgia students in the poultry science program as well as the Mike Cottrell College of Business attended the annual International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta. A collaboration between the two programs have created an educated workforce to meet the needs of the state's multi-billion-dollar poultry industry.

When the University of North Georgia (UNG) re-established and expanded its poultry science pathway a decade ago, students in the program had three options after earning an associate degree. They could enter the workforce, transfer to a school with a bachelor's degree in poultry science, or stay and obtain a bachelor's degree in biology at UNG.

Recently, a fourth option has emerged. Thanks to a collaboration between the College of Science and Mathematics and the Mike Cottrell College of Business (MCCB), students with an Associate of Science (AS) degree in poultry science may transition to a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree at UNG.

"Going from an AS to a BBA is not something that most people think of," said Dr. Linda Purvis, assistant professor of biology at UNG. "But since this AS has prerequisites in the business area like accounting and economics, the two programs matched up well."

Purvis' partnership in recent years with Elaine Fitzpatrick, internship coordinator for the Mike Cottrell College of Business, has also netted returns for business students and the poultry industry.

"Dr. Purvis reached out to me because she knew what the poultry industry needed in general," Fitzpatrick said. "They needed students for information systems, cyber security, sales, management, supply chain and marketing, and we have those students."

Since then, the pair along with Michael McCaffrey, academic adviser for the MCCB, have created an educated workforce to meet the needs of the state's multi-billion-dollar poultry industry. Fitzpatrick said it comes at an ideal time since Gainesville, Georgia, has been deemed an inland port. The city also is dubbed the "Poultry Capital of the World." Georgia leads the nation in the production of chickens and is one of the top producers of eggs, according to Georgia Farm Bureau. The poultry industry contributes more than $18.4 billion to the Georgia economy each year, according to the Georgia Poultry Federation.

McCaffrey applauded Purvis for noticing the overlap between poultry science and business programs. Together they have devised course recommendations to streamline the transition between the two programs.

"We want to save our students money and time," he said.

Since this partnership started in spring 2019, three more poultry science students have moved into the BBA program. This small influx of poultry science students transitioning to the Mike Cottrell College of Business has had an unforeseen but positive side effect. Students pursuing business degrees have exhibited an increased interest in the poultry industry.

For example, last year, two business students accompanied Purvis and her poultry science students to the annual International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta. In January 2020, five business students attended the expo.

Both trips resulted in positive outcomes, Fitzpatrick said.

"Students who have attended the poultry expo have had several interviews," she said. "It is a great way to meet poultry employers and representatives and be exposed to the industry."

Fitzpatrick has collaborated with Purvis since 2018 to land students internships in the poultry industry.

Purvis said the collaboration between the poultry and business program meets students' needs.

"It matches the university's mission to be student-focused," she said. "If the students have a desire, then we will see what we can figure out to meet it."

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