Purpose of new poultry center is to support poultry industry by developing a diverse and highly trained workforce.

July 18, 2023

3 Min Read
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Mountaire Farms

Delaware Valley University (DelVal) announced that Mountaire Farms Inc. has provided the cornerstone gift to fund a new Poultry Science Center on the main campus in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The purpose of the new center is to support the poultry industry by developing a diverse and highly trained workforce with the skills and knowledge needed to move the indus­try forward in the 21st-century.

Mountaire (collectively Mountaire Corporation and its two operating affiliates, Mountaire Farms Inc. and Mountaire Farms of Delaware Inc.) are agricultural food production and processing companies providing work for over 10,000 people at facilities in Arkansas, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Mountaire Farms is now the fourth largest chicken company in the United States, and as a family-owned business remains dedicated to their most important asset, their employees, and to giving back to the communities where they do business.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work directly with Delaware Valley University to ensure that the poultry industry will have a well-educated and trained workforce moving forward,” said Phillip Plylar, president of Mountaire Farms Inc.

The United States poultry industry is the world’s largest producer and second-largest exporter of poultry meat and a major egg producer (USDA October 2020). In fact, poultry is a $40.0+ billion industry in the U.S. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Purdue University’s College of Agriculture issued a joint press release December 2020 that states, “U.S. college graduates can expect approximately 59,400 job opportunities annually between 2020 and 2025. This reflects a 2.6% growth from the previous five years. Employer demand will exceed the supply of available graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture-related fields.”

Growth in the poultry industry has resulted in an increased demand for students educated in poultry science. Leaders within the industry have identified difficulties in filling critical roles within their opera­tions, from mid-management positions to profession­als in food safety, marketing, supply chain practices and more. Despite the growth in the poultry industry and the need for a college-educated work force, academic programs in the country have declined. Currently, there are only six stand-alone poultry science departments in the United States.

The new Poultry Science Center will provide hands-on learning through DelVal’s award winning experiential learning program, Experience360.

“DelVal was founded more than 125 years ago on the premise of experiential education, or learning by doing,” said Dr. Benjamin Rusiloski, president of Delaware Valley University. “Regardless of the major, our students learn the science and practice in their field of study. The relationship with Mountaire Farms will also provide additional internship opportunities for our students to prepare for success upon graduation.”

“Animal science students at DelVal work directly with animals from year one of their studies,” shared Dr. Broc Sandelin, dean of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. “We will be launching a new minor in poultry science focused on preparing students with the management and practical skills needed for success in this growing industry. The new state-of-the-art facility will provide the opportunity for hands-on education in all stages of poultry production as well as providing space for industry driven research projects and potential testing of new poultry products and equipment coming to the market.”

Both DelVal and Mountaire Farms are engaged in the global One Health initiative, a multi-disciplinary approach that works locally, regionally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal well-being for people and society, the environment and plants, and animals. These shared values are one example of the way the two entities will work together.

DelVal continues to speak with potential partners in the poultry industry to bring this project to completion.

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