RAPID CITY, SD. – Last week, Western Dakota Technical College (WDT) in Rapid City, SD, announced it would be partnering with local meat processor, Wall Meat Processing, on a meat processing instructional program at the school.

After the program is developed and receives approvals, courses are expected to start in 2022. The WDT Board of Trustees approved the alliance during a February meeting.

“There is a current shortage of people skilled in professional meat cutting and processing not only in western South Dakota, but throughout this region and the state. There is great demand for high-quality ‘ranch to table’ protein sources,” said Ann Bolman, president of Western Dakota Tech. “This partnership will result in high-need, great paying careers for graduates and will also help meet the demand for more meat cutters and value-added meat processing.

Bolman also said that increasing the availability of meat processing professionals and shops give ranchers and producers another market for selling product, making pricing better for consumers and producers.

The college is looking at offering a three-semester diploma option and a four-semester Associate of Applied Science degree.

Ken Charfauros, owner of Wall Meats, approached WDT about developing the curriculum for the specific meat cutting and processing courses. He will assist in teaching the courses and provide laboratory space at Wall Meats facilities for hands-on meat cutting and processing courses.

“We are looking forward to this partnership and there is such a high need right now,” Charfauros said. “People looking to have their own meat processed have had to travel as far away as Gordon, Neb., and often have to wait several months. It is important to learn academically what your industry is all about and that is what we will do. It is good to learn as much as you can in your initial training as opposed to 15 years down the road.”