L-R: Austin Gentle, WCC student; Bryson Key, WCC student; Ethan Sprinkle, WCC student; Kasey Harrold, Tyson Foods; Jackson Walker, Tyson Foods; Colby Holcomb, Tyson Foods; Allison Phillips, vice president of institutional advancement & WCC Foundation director; Terry Bumgarner, Chairman of the WCC Board of Trustees; Arnold Lakey, WCC Foundation president; Dr. Jeff Cox, WCC president; Mike Inscore, Town of Wilkesboro Mayor; Brent West, complex human resources manager, Tyson Foods; Andrew Boyles, complex manager, Tyson Foods; Matthew Greene, WCC Animal Science lead instructor; Nick Wolfenden, Poultry Welfare Lead – Office of Animal Well-Being, Tyson Foods; Brittany Rugg, WCC student; and Cole White, WCC student.

Tyson Foods, Inc. contributed a $104,747 grant for Wilkes Community College (WCC) to build a sustainable animal science lab that offers students the opportunity to develop skills in automated animal science management, poultry production, and the use of sustainable energy sources. A dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony was held on November 12, 2018.

Allison Phillips, WCC Foundation Executive Director welcomed the guests and quoted John Quincy Adams – “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” Phillips continued, “Tyson is a leader in our community, and this state-of-the-art facility will have a lasting impact on the students in our Animal Science program.”

“We’re proud to support Wilkes Community College and enhance the educational opportunities for its students,” said Brent West, complex human resources manager, Tyson Foods. “The work that will take place in this facility will be extremely important in promoting animal health and welfare, as well as continual improvement of modern agriculture.”

Mr. Terry Bumgarner, Chairman of the WCC Board of Trustees dedicated the Tyson Foods Sustainable Animal Science Lab in honor of Tyson Foods Inc. Mr. Arnold Lakey, WCC Foundation president cut the ribbon to officially open the new facility.

“The students in the Animal Science Technology program and the Poultry Management program will be able to work in the lab and gain the knowledge and skill sets necessary to be successful in the poultry industry,” explained Matt Greene, lead instructor for the Animal Science curriculum.

Greene continued, “The Tyson Foods Sustainable Animal Science Lab provides training opportunities for students in several other programs at the college. Through the partnership with Tyson Foods, Wilkes Community College Animal Science students will be raising broiler flocks each semester. During the time birds are on campus, Tyson team members will be meeting with students during the Poultry class labs to discuss bird health, equipment maintenance, animal welfare, and general poultry industry standards. Students also have the opportunity to discuss the career opportunities within Tyson Foods. By having these real-world opportunities on campus, students are better prepared to enter the Poultry Industry upon graduation.”

Dr. Jeff Cox, WCC president stated, “We have a long-standing history with our industry partners in Wilkes County, especially Tyson Foods. Our implementation of the Animal Science degree extended that partnership to a greater level with our curriculum programming expanding to offer an associate degree, diploma, and certificate in Poultry Management within the Animal Science program. We continue to work together to develop education and training programs for all aspects of this industry sector and with Tyson’s generous donation for the Tyson Foods Sustainable Animal Science Lab, our vision is now a reality. Our partnership with Tyson Foods is a model we would love to replicate with other businesses and industries in our region to provide great employment opportunities that offer a living wage for the citizens of Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany counties.