A Mississippi State poultry science instructor is being recognized this summer with a national recruiting award.

Extension Instructor Jessica Wells received the 2019 Poultry Science Association recruitment award in July at the organization’s annual meeting in Montréal, Québec. Undergraduate coordinator and recruiter for the Department of Poultry Science in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Wells completed her doctoral degree in agricultural science/poultry science at MSU this spring. She earlier earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in poultry science from MSU in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

Given every other year and selected by the PSA Careers Committee, the honor is presented to an individual who significantly improves the recruiting program of a respective department, college or university through innovative means.

Mary Beck, professor and poultry science department head, said Wells has greatly enhanced departmental recruitment and retention efforts since she joined the faculty 10 years ago.

“I’ve watched Dr. Wells grow and develop her passion and talent for interacting with young people of all ages. She has an engaging personality that, combined with a strong conviction that poultry science is an excellent pathway to meaningful careers, results in a compelling message to prospective students and parents,” Beck said. “We’ve seen our enrollment of undergraduate students steadily climb over the years since she’s been leading these efforts.”


In the last year, undergraduate enrollment in the department increased 11% with a 125% total increase over the entire 10-year period. Wells participates in various recruitment activities on a regional and national scale, leading a poultry hatch-out project that has reached more than 2,400 school children in nearly 120 classrooms across the state. As part of her doctoral dissertation, Wells also completed research analyzing the effectiveness of recruitment strategies in poultry departments.

Wells said achieving the award is an honor and a reminder that hard work pays off.

“Since entering the Department of Poultry Science at MSU, I have loved the atmosphere and people as well as the industry we serve. Sharing my passion with others—specifically future students—is such a fulfillment and a reason I love my job. Moments like this remind me of my passion for students and why I strive to share our department with future generations,” Wells said.

MSU’s Department of Poultry Science is one of six poultry science degree granting departments in the U.S. For more, visit www.poultry.msstate.edu.