The Midwest Poultry Consortium needs continued financial support to keep educating future poultry industry workers in the Midwest.

On March 15, the consortium held its annual meeting ahead of the Midwest Poultry Federation Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. In an interview, Beth Nelson, the organization’s president, explained the consortium – which exists to keep poultry science in schools around the Midwest and in Florida – needs help from the industry.

Nelson appealed directly to WATT Global Media readers, saying if they are involved in the industry then their company should be helping the consortium and its Center of Excellence scholarship and internship program.  

 “Their company should be on that list of sponsors to educate the future of the poultry industry,” Nelson said. “Because without that, it’ll crumble.”

Keeping poultry science in school

The consortium exists to give students in upper Midwestern states, and Florida, an opportunity to study poultry science. Nelson said about 20 years ago schools in the region started to shutter their poultry science departments so the consortium was formed so students from land grant universities from North Dakota to Ohio, as well as Florida, can attend summer courses on poultry science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Students also participate in internships with sponsor companies. 

“A lot of times students, because there aren’t poultry science departments, they aren’t even thinking feathers,” Nelson said. “So that’s our challenge, just to say, ‘hey there’s a whole other industry out here that you may not even know about.’”

Nelson said the scholarship and internship program usually has about 27 to 32 students a year, but the program could take on more students if there was more funding available. About 87 percent of the group’s annual funding goes toward the Center of Excellence program. GNP Company, based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, is currently one of the organizations’ largest sponsors.

At the event, Jessica Ernest, a former Center of Excellence student now working with Maple Leaf Farms, said her participation in the program was instrumental in starting her career in the poultry industry.