On June 27, poultry breeder Aviagen recognized the top four performing students at the graduation dinner of the 50th Aviagen Production Management School. The school is held each year in Huntsville, Ala. This year, top students came from poultry companies in Argentina, Australia, Canada and the Philippines.

"We would like to congratulate this year's top students and the entire class for their achievements, dedication, and participation in this special 50th anniversary class," said Mark Wright, director of the Aviagen School. "Aviagen is committed to sharing the latest information and best practices with our global customers to ensure they and the companies they work for get the best performance from our chickens."

The 2013 graduation ceremony held at Burritt on the Mountain, a regional history museum housed atop Monte Sano Mountain in Huntsville, honored students with the top three highest scores. This year four students were recognized:

Kirsty Jensen, breeder husbandry manager at Baiada Poultry in Australia, and Mirko Botasso, veterinarian at Frigorifico De Aves Soychu in Argentina, tied for the top honors.

Ronan Benigno Mamacus, technical manager at Breeders and Hatchery with Bounty Fresh Foods Inc. in the Philippines received second-highest honors.

Nick Daunt, broiler breeder technical service at Maple Lodge Farms in Canada, received third-highest honors.

Aviagen CEO Randall Ennis delivered welcome remarks at this year's graduating class dinner and ceremony. "The Aviagen School has a strong legacy of preparing the next generation of production managers for future success in the global poultry industry and this group of students is no exception."

The annual month-long Aviagen School immerses students in lessons on poultry nutrition, veterinary science, hatchery operations, genetic selection, production and farm management best practices for managing successful breeder and broiler operations. In 2013, the 50th Production Management School welcomed 31 participants from 21 different countries with a reception dinner hosted by company executives and school staff. The school, held from June 2-28, featured more than 30 speakers from academia and the poultry industry in more than 40 classroom sessions, as well as 19 hands-on practical workshops, labs and live production facility visits. The awards for top performers are based on an average of weekly test scores.

The school has grown in size and scope over the years. Since its inception, over 1,500 men and women from over 62 different countries have successfully completed the Aviagen School in the U.S. Additionally, satellite schools were created in China and Brazil, and in 2012, Aviagen launched the first school specifically for Europe, Middle East and Africa.