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Poultry program expands reach with internal and external collaborations

November 23, 2020

University of North Georgia (UNG) students who want to work in the agriculture industry have a couple of career options. They could work in the field with animals, or in an office setting crunching numbers, managing operations or controlling logistics.

UNG is expanding its poultry science program to help both sets of students achieve those goals. On the poultry science side, UNG partnered with the University of Georgia (UGA) to streamline the transfer process for its associate degree students to attain a bachelor's degree. On the business side, UNG developed a poultry science business certificate program to give business students an advantage in the agriculture industry.

Both plans came to fruition in fall 2020, with one right after another. But both took a couple of years to develop.

Dr. John Leyba, dean of the College of Science & Mathematics (CSM) at UNG, said about two years ago UNG and UGA started discussing a memorandum of understanding. He said the intent was to establish a seamless pathway to allow students to earn their associate degree in agriculture-poultry science at UNG and complete their bachelor's degree at UGA.

"This specifically targets students who didn't want to start college at UGA, which is a huge school," Leyba said. "They wanted to start at a smaller school such as UNG's Gainesville Campus."

The agreement dictates students will complete core courses at UNG and specialized and upper-level courses at UGA. Core course examples include English, mathematics, chemistry or physics, biology, economics or accounting, and a foreign language.

Leyba said easing the transfer process will benefit both higher education institutions.

"Georgia has a shortage of animal veterinarians and managerial positions within the poultry sector," he said. "With this agreement, UNG and UGA can increase the number of graduates in the poultry science industry."

With an increased number of graduates, many can enter the workforce immediately or pursue graduate and professional degrees within the poultry industry, Leyba said.

Dr. Linda Purvis, assistant professor of biology at UNG, explained a number of job openings are available locally in the agriculture industry.

"In Gainesville and Hall County, which is deemed 'The Poultry Capital of the World,' there are plenty of jobs," she said.

Purvis has been at the forefront of rebuilding UNG's poultry-science program by recruiting students and forming partnerships with industry professionals. Both have led to internships for students and developing curriculum to meet industry standards.

Purvis has also worked with the Mike Cottrell College of Business (MCCB) to supply the poultry industry with UNG business graduates. In fall 2020, CSM and MCCB launched the Poultry Science Business Certificate program.

"We created a program to give business degree-seeking students the basic knowledge about the poultry industry," Purvis said. "The poultry industry wants recent business graduates to have a knowledge of how it works. Through this program, they will complete specific courses and receive a certificate as they finish their bachelor's degree."

The certificate is a 12-hour program designed to be completed in a full academic year. Six credit hours are required poultry science courses. The remaining six hours focus on business courses such as enterprise, management, operations and marketing.

She explained her close relationship with MCCB faculty and staff has benefited business and poultry students.

"It's a really nice give and take because we have two different groups of students who have different interests and both want to go into the agriculture industry," she said.

For more information about the poultry science program, contact Purvis at

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