Across Indiana, high school students are engaging in poultry science learning through Purdue University’s Educate, Grow, Gain (E.G.G.) program. Although high school students are avid poultry consumers and outspoken influencers of public opinion, most have never seen commercial poultry production first-hand. For Cain Clingaman, a student from North Miami High School, the first experience seeing a commercial laying hen facility was eye-opening. “I learned a lot more about poultry than I ever thought I would. It’s a huge industry, especially in Indiana. I had some knowledge beforehand, but I gained a lot from the tour.”

Clingaman was one of five Indiana high school students who participated in a poultry industry tour as part of Purdue University’s Educate, Grow, Gain (E.G.G.) Program this June 2-3. The E.G.G program initiative was created to meet both poultry industry and teacher needs—enhancing awareness in consumers and interest in poultry careers. Both the USDA/NIFA and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association provided funding for the program and tour, which sent students to visit equipment provider Chore-Time (Milford, IN), and laying hen companies Creighton Brothers (Warsaw, IN) and Midwest Poultry Services (Mentone, IN).

“The poultry industry has a tremendous need to reach younger audiences,” said Paul Brennan, president of the Indiana State Poultry Association. “Not many young people have had the chance to see poultry production first-hand, and as a result, many have misconceptions.”

For the many students who cannot make it onto farms due to biosecurity or other concerns, Purdue’s E.G.G. program also offers online and blended learning opportunities. During the fall 2018 semester, 499 students in 23 Indiana high school biology and agriculture classrooms enrolled in Purdue’s E.G.G. program completed online modules featuring interactive laying hen management simulation, 360-degree video, and other cutting-edge instructional technologies.

“Students might be interested in the industry and this can provide more information and opportunities for them,” said Britney Stroud, another North Miami High School student on the E.G.G.program industry tour. “I liked that I could get firsthand information right from the source.”

As students make college and career choices and enter the consumer base, knowledge and awareness of the poultry industry can help them make informed choices. “I didn’t realize how much effort and how many people did poultry-related jobs,” said Cain Clingaman, “I feel like everyone needs at least some knowledge about the poultry industry and how it works”

In the future, Purdue University’s Educate, Grow, Gain (E.G.G.) program plans to continue to expand offerings for high school and elementary students across the Midwest. For more information, contact Dr. Elizabeth Karcher, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, at 765.494.4829 or ekarcher@purdue.edu.