Thirteen students at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Department of Agriculture were recently interviewed for jobs and internships and networked with professionals in the poultry industry.


Several received job offers at the annual International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) at Atlanta, Georgia, according to a news release.


Sponsored by the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, American Feed Industry Association and North American Meat Institute, the annual trade show features the latest technology, products and services related to the poultry and egg, meat and feed industries.


More than 32,000 people attended the 2020 expo, including 1,376 exhibitors, according to an IPPE press release.


UAPB participants included senior majors of regulatory science Ausonte Gardner, Detron Murray and Melissa Walker; senior majors of agricultural business Blake Conner, Frances Flowers, Jasmine James, Danielle Williams, T’aja Williams and Tenea Jones; senior major of animal science Malcolm Jackson; senior major of plant science Darryl Avery; junior major of agronomy Kylan Williams; and junior major of poultry science Mia Martin.


The UAPB delegation traveled to Atlanta on a bus with staff and students from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, which made travel arrangements and provided food during the travel.


UAPB students attended the expo through the College Student Career (CSC) Program, which paid for their accommodations. As part of the CSC program, the students submitted their resumes months before the expo to set up interviews for jobs and internships during the event.


“Five of our students came back with job or internship offers,” said Jayant Lohakare, Ph.D, associate professor of animal science at UAPB. “These students have the chance to get a head start by gaining professional experience in the industry during their studies.”


Avery received a job offer from Intralox, a manufacturer of conveyor belts and related equipment; Flowers received offers from Peco Foods Inc. and Amick Farms LLC, both of which specialize in poultry products; and Kylan Williams received an offer from Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., an egg production company.


James, who interviewed with three companies, received a job offer for a full-time position for Amick Farms in South Carolina.


“This was my second time attending IPPE, and the experience was great,” she said. “I met so many new people and also reconnected with some companies. I plan to encourage fellow students to attend next year’s expo.”


T’aja Williams, who received a job offer from Cal-Maine Foods, said the experience better prepared her for the process of interviewing for jobs.


Jackson, who plans on earning his master’s degree, said he was grateful for the opportunity to speak to potential employers about his future plans.


“I made quite a few networking connections and was able to learn more about poultry and animal processing facilities, careers and companies from across the globe,” he said.


Walker was offered the opportunity to job shadow a representative from Hawkins Water Treatment Group in March 2020.


“Attending IPPE is an excellent opportunity for students to network, and it also helps students who may be shy and afraid to speak,” she said. “There are a lot of different companies here, and people will come up to talk to you to find out your goals and may even suggest you interview for their company.”


Jones, who interviewed with nine companies, said she appreciated the chance to gain insightful feedback and answers to her questions during the interviews.


“I’m considering three internships now, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this experience is going to take me,” she said. “This was the second year I attended IPPE. It was a wonderful experience last year and opened up even greater opportunities this year.”


According to an IPPE press release, the expo features a comprehensive education program that informs industry management about the latest issues affecting the production and processing industries. The 2020 line-up included education sessions on topics such as meat and poultry quality, biosecurity as it relates to foreign animal disease and processing for antibiotic-free production.


Lohakare encourages other UAPB students to participate in the event in future years to receive first-hand industry exposure, as well as network with industry leaders and seek jobs or internships.


To learn more about the expo, contact Jayant Lohakare, Ph.D, associate professor of animal science at 870-575-8540 or lohakarej@uapb.edu, or visit http://ippexpo.com.


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