Left to Right: Ronald Dollyhite, WCC dean of applied career technologies; Blair Hancock, WCC vice president of instruction; Brittany Rugg, WCC student; Allison Phillips, vice president of institutional advancement & WCC Foundation director; Samantha Tucker, WCC student; Vada Stevens, WCC student; Elizabeth Williams, WCC student; Andrew Boyles, N.C. Poultry Federation executive board member and Tyson Foods complex manager; Cole White, WCC student; John Starkey, P.E., president U.S. Poultry & Egg Association; Bryson Key, WCC student; Matthew Greene, WCC Animal Science lead instructor; Austin Gentle, WCC student; Frank Blevins, Animal Science/Horticulture instructor; Kirk Church, Tyson Foods Wilkesboro Fresh complex manager; Ethan Sprinkle, WCC student; Stacie Taylor, WCC chair of Applied Engineering Tech area; Lauren Greene, N.C. Cooperative Extension Agency, Area Specialized Agent, Poultry, Western N.C.; and Marty Parsons, Tyson Foods Wilkesboro Fresh live production manager.

Wilkes Community College’s Applied Animal Science Technology program was awarded a $7,000 grant from the USPOULTRY Foundation. Grant monies are to help recruit students to the program to train for employment in the poultry industry. The foundation provides annual recruiting and retention funds to colleges and universities to attract students to their poultry programs.

“One of the core missions of the USPOULTRY Foundation is to recruit the brightest minds into the poultry industry. We are very pleased to provide these funds to assist Wilkes in letting their talented students know about the wide range of career opportunities available in our industry, across many academic disciplines,” stated John E. Starkey, P.E., President U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.

“On behalf of the NC Poultry Federation and Tyson Foods, it was indeed an honor and a privilege to assist our US Poultry & Egg Association President, John Starkey with a check presentation to the WCC Animal Science program today,” stated Andrew Boyles, N.C. Poultry Federation executive board member and Tyson Foods complex manager. “The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association plays a vital support role in the education of our industry. These funds will continue to assist in the needs of the Animal Science department at WCC in what has become an extremely exciting and growing program. We were given the opportunity to meet with students and tour the facility with lead instructor, Mathew Greene. It was impressive to see what the program is doing and how it is growing. I was very fortunate to be able to start my education here at WCC, in my home town many years ago and then continue onto N.C. State where I then started my career in the Poultry industry 24 years ago. WCC and all its educational opportunities are truly a blessing to this region of N.C. Our industry needs more and more students just like these at WCC interested in learning about our business and getting prepared to enter the workforce in some capacity as well as becoming farmers, growers, and care givers of our animals. These students will one day be contributing to the needs of what has become an extreme challenge to feed the world in the next 25 years due to ever growing populations and the need for more food. All proteins and particularly poultry will continue to be the center of the plate preference. Tyson Foods proudly has a vested interest in the Animal Science program here at WCC and continues to provide resources as we’re committed to raising the world’s expectations of how much good food can do.”

Matthew Greene, lead instructor for the Animal Science Program, played a key role in getting this grant. “Wilkes County is fortunate to have a thriving Animal Science Industry. Wilkes Community College is proud to have quality partners like the US Poultry & Egg Association” said Greene. “Northwestern North Carolina needs graduates in the Animal Science field. With the average age of a farmer nearing 60, we need young, trained hands entering the field. Our graduates are highly sought after and have a career that fits their passion.”

The college’s Applied Animal Science Technology program prepares students for careers in the production of livestock such as beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, poultry, sheep, goats and swine as well as other careers related to the animal science industry.

The Applied Animal Science Technology program began at Wilkes Community College in fall 2014 semester. The program had 22 students in 2014-2015; 35 students in 2015-2016; 60 students in 2016-2017; and 88 students in 2017-2018.  For the 2018-2019 school year there are 105 students, which includes 35 Career and College Promise (high school students that are enrolled in college courses) students.

Wilkes Community College’s mission includes a commitment to quality education and workforce development. Considering the age of farmers in the WCC service area, the need to maintain the strong animal science workforce is critical. The industry adds millions annually to local, regional, and state economies. Wilkes County ranks third in the state in broiler (poultry) production, third in the state in all forms of cattle production, eighth for egg production, and third in the state in beef cattle production. Alleghany and Ashe counties rank sixth and thirteenth, respectively, in the state in all forms of cattle production. For more information about the Animal Science program at Wilkes Community College, contact Matthew Greene at 336-838-6226 or mpgreene628@wilkescc.edu

U.S. Poultry & Egg Association established the USPOULTRY Foundation in 1994 to provide student recruiting funds to universities with poultry science departments. In 2004, the Poultry Science Education Funding Program, now named the Industry Education Recruitment Funding Program, was added to the Foundation’s umbrella so other colleges and universities that offer industry-related studies are eligible to apply for recruiting grants.