Emphasizing the importance of strong partnerships as well as the future of education in south Arkansas, Dr. Trey Berry, president of Southern Arkansas University (SAU), recently led the groundbreaking ceremony of the First Financial Bank Poultry Education Facility in Magnolia, Ark.
Berry welcomed leaders of regional poultry industries as well as SAU alumni, Magnolia community leaders and representatives of First Financial Bank of El Dorado, Ark., to the ceremony on the north side of the Agriculture Center.
“This is an exciting day for SAU, for our students and for the poultry industry in south Arkansas,” Berry said. “This day is about our students, and it is also about partnerships. We are truly blessed to have such a great partner in First Financial Bank of El Dorado.”
SAU said the new complex, which consists of three phases, will allow students to observe and interact with different aspects of poultry production — from breeder to hatchery and from broiler to processing. It will contain a feed storage room and a classroom/laboratory.
First Financial Bank is one of the nation’s largest poultry lenders and is proud to partner with SAU in the revitalization of its poultry studies program, according to the university announcement.
Berry said the bank made known its interest in the program just as SAU was exploring bringing poultry back to its agriculture curriculum. “The timing was perfect,” he said. “We hope to meet the employment needs of the industry, in this region and across the state.”
Dr. Jeffry Miller, the Ralph Boulware professor of agriculture and chair of the SAU department of agriculture, said the facility will offer students an “experiential” opportunity. “We hope our program will interest them in the Arkansas poultry industry and that they will go to work in this field,” Miller said.
Poultry is becoming the “protein of choice” for the global market, Miller added, and will offer solid job opportunities for SAU agricultural graduates. He said the facility is seen as "a win-win for students and industry. We are helping provide food for a growing world population.”