The Department of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff was recently awarded a $7,000 U.S. Poultry and Egg Harold E. Ford (USPOULTRY) Foundation grant.

The grant was given in part by George’s Inc., Chicken and Poultry Co. Through its Industry Education Recruitment Fund, the USPOULTRY Foundation offers grants to higher education institutions that can demonstrate plans for connecting more university students to the poultry industry, according to a news release.

“This grant will be very beneficial in increasing the awareness of academic and career opportunities in the poultry industry among UAPB students,” said Jayant Lohakare, associate professor of animal science at UAPB. “The funds will allow students to visit commercial poultry farms and processing facilities, as well as the research, incubation and hatching facilities at institutions such as the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.”

The award will also fund students’ attendance at the annual International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga. Sponsored by USPOULTRY, the trade show features the latest technology, products and services related to the poultry and egg, meat and feed industries.

“In previous years, we have only been able to take around 10 or 12 students to the expo,” Lohakare said. “Now, more students will be able to take advantage of this opportunity to receive first-hand industry exposure, as well as network with industry leaders and search for jobs or internships. This opportunity is open not only to animal science majors, but also majors of regulatory science, biology and engineering.”

Most importantly, the grant will help UAPB bring visibility to the 3 + 1 Program in Poultry Science, he said. Established in 2013 between UAPB and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (UAF), the program enables students to earn a bachelor’s degree in agriculture-poultry science from UAPB and a concurrent bachelor’s degree in agricultural, food and life sciences-poultry science from UAF.

“The program gives students an extraordinary head-start in gaining skills and finding meaningful employment in the poultry industry,” he said. “We hope to recruit and retain more minority students for this program through advertising and recruitment drives both on and off campus.”

According to its website, the USPOULTRY Foundation awarded more than $280,000 in recruiting grants to 35 colleges and universities across the nation with either a poultry science department or a poultry studies program during the 2017-2018 school year. The student recruiting program began in 1994 when the USPOULTRY board of directors established the Foundation to provide annual recruiting funds to attract students to poultry studies and ultimately into careers in the poultry industry.

— Will Hehemann is a writer/editor with the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.