Training for tomorrow

by Bernard Shire
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More than 50 universities across the United States offer animal science, poultry science, meat science or some variant or combination of programs supplying the meat and poultry processing industry with a steady supply of candidates to one of the many food-industry segments. Many of these universities are land-grant institutions of higher learning, universities established when the federal government gave land to the states to set up institutions to teach practical agriculture, science and engineering.

These university animal, meat and poultry science programs play two major roles in helping the meat and poultry slaughter and processing industry to grow. Universities train college students for careers in the meat and poultry industries, plus other types of careers in agriculture and agribusiness. On the agriculture extension side, schools provide additional training and resources for people already working in agriculture, such as meat and poultry slaughter and processing, plus other types of agribusiness.

However, there have been major changes in the economy and food industry, which have required changes in how the universities prepare students for careers in the industry.

While many of the meat science programs in the Midwest and poultry science programs in the Deep South remain somewhat traditional, with a lot of emphasis on animal production. Poultry and animal science programs closer to the West and East Coasts have moved in some new directions, with more emphasis and opportunities in processing and further processing, and less focus on traditional animal agriculture production.

Following is a snapshot of programs at some leading US universities offering animal, meat and poultry science programs, and how they’re preparing students for careers in the meat and poultry processing industry. Through agricultural extension programs, many programs also offer continuing education courses to those people building careers in the meat and poultry processing industry.

These profiles include input from department heads of some university programs, providing some insight into how their universities are preparing students for careers in the industry while providing ongoing training to those making careers in the industry, especially in the area of food safety. Click here to see meat science program profiles.

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