New Poultry Partnership for Arkansas

US - The Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a partnership to help fill a need for more graduates in the poultry sciences.
calendar icon 27 September 2013
clock icon 5 minute read

(L to R): Archie Schaffer, Tyson Foods; Mike Kidd, U of A poultry science; Paula Johnson, UAPB student; Rashad Delph, Tyson Foods; Laurence Alexander, UAPB chancellor; Sharon Gaber, U of A provost; Mary Benjamin, UAPB vice chancellor; Russell Tooley, Tyson Foods; Mike Vayda, Bumpers College dean; Monty Henderson, George’s Inc.; Lona Robertson, Bumpers College; Frank Myers, Simmons Foods; Linda Okiror, UAPB.

The “3+1 course curriculum” collaboration allows for agriculture majors with an animal science option at UAPB to take poultry science classes at the U of A as seniors. Those courses will be recognized by UAPB’s School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences, and count toward degree requirements. At the same time, those students will earn a Poultry Science Undergraduate Certificate of Excellence from the U of A.

“As the state’s flagship university, we are proud to work within our borders and form this partnership with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff,” said Provost Sharon Gaber. “We are excited about the UAPB leadership working with us to make this happen. The poultry industry has indicated there is a need for a more qualified workforce. This is an opportunity for us to help develop young professionals. The Bumpers College prepares students in the areas of food, family and the environment. Poultry is certainly very significant to our state and region. Our vision is for this collaboration to put our student graduates back into our communities, and help strengthen the economy of our state and beyond.”

“We are delighted to recognize and celebrate this collaborative effort between two of our state’s land grant universities,” said UAPB Chancellor Laurence Alexander. “This partnership takes advantage of areas of strength in two University of Arkansas system universities. It gives students the opportunity to pursue a course of study tailored to their interests. We’re excited about the opportunity and looking forward to many students coming through the program, enabling us to address the needs of the industry and contribute to the growth of the economy in our state.”

Completion of the certificate requires 26 to 28 hours of poultry science credit.

“This is something the poultry industry has been asking for and we’re happy to be in a position to help make this happen,” said Mike Kidd, head of the poultry science department in the Bumpers College. “There are currently more jobs available in the poultry industry than the poultry science departments across the country can fill. In reality, this is a partnership between the two universities and the poultry industry. In order to meet industry needs, we’re going to get creative and do things like this.”

Paula Johnson, a sophomore animal science major at UAPB, plans to be one of the first students to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I’m grateful to the department of agriculture faculty for providing me everything I need and helping formulate my interest in the poultry 3+1 program as an opportunity to become an avian poultry veterinarian,” said Ms Johnson. “I look forward to my senior year in the department of poultry science in Fayetteville, and graduating from UAPB while earning a certificate in poultry science from the University of Arkansas.”

“This is a great partnership,” said Bumpers College Dean Mike Vayda. “This is for the benefit of the state. This is in the best interest of the students and in the best interest of the poultry industry in helping meet their needs.”

Several representatives of the poultry industry were in attendance for the signing, including Russell Tooley, senior vice president of corporate and international human resources at Tyson Foods.

“This is an exciting day for UAPB and for the University of Arkansas, but it’s probably more exciting for the students and for the industry,” said Mr Tooley. “For Tyson and the whole industry, our lifeblood is talent. It’s exciting when you get two great universities in the state to be collaborative, and look at how they can best educate and prepare students for the future. For our industry to stay strong, it will take great young men and women. We believe this helps us with our commitment to diversity and with the talent pool that we need not only domestically but internationally.”

Tyson Foods employs more than 23,000 people in Arkansas.

“Giving students more diverse experience in a true poultry science program is a great thing for Tyson Foods and our industry,” said Craig Bacon, senior vice president of research and development for Tyson.

“We are constantly looking for great talent,” said Frank Myers, director of breeder and hatchery operations for Simmons Foods. “We are excited and see this as an opportunity to draw in talent that wasn’t possible before. We look forward to having quality people to put in positions and be successful.”

The MOU was signed in a ceremony in Fayetteville on 13 September.

“We’re happy to be involved in this partnership and think it will be great for the industry,” said Monty Henderson, former president of George’s Inc. “It’s very good for our university system and good for the state, and helps us include south and eastern Arkansas in our talent pool.”

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