Poultry facility

This is how SAU's new First Financial Bank poultry facility will appear.

Southern Arkansas University is adding a new poultry science degree option beginning in fall 2019 to its diverse slate of degree offerings.

SAU is in the process of adding two new facilities near the SAU Agriculture Center to support the program.

The curriculum was approved by the Coordinating Board of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education at its meeting on April 19.

“SAU has worked hard for many years to identify majors that are not only attractive to this generation of students, but are also areas that are compatible with the growing job market,” said Dr. Trey Berry, SAU president. “Poultry science careers are some of the fastest growing in the agriculture field. We feel this major will grow at a rapid pace at SAU.”

Poultry is the leading agriculture industry in Arkansas, and SAU’s poultry science program will prepare students for careers in the ever-growing and changing industry.

SAU’s Department of Agriculture already has a history of supplying the poultry industry with qualified employees, yet this new emphasis will provide students with more comprehensive and hands-on knowledge of the field. Dr. Jeffry Miller, Ralph Boulware Professor of Agriculture and chair of the 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.”

The new poultry education facilities will be added in two phases and will be unlike anything currently available in the region. The first phase is the First Financial Bank Poultry Education Facility. The complex will allow students to observe and interact with different aspects of poultry production from hatchery to processing.

Phase two will include a processing laboratory that will offer SAU students complete training in past-harvest skills and techniques found in today’s poultry plants.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the First Financial Bank Poultry Educational Facility on October 1, 2018. Berry, in leading the ceremony, emphasized the importance of strong partnerships as well as the future of education in south Arkansas.

Leaders of regional poultry industries as well as SAU alumni, Magnolia community leaders, and representatives of First Financial Bank of El Dorado, attended the ceremony on the north side of the Agriculture Center.

First Financial Bank is one of the nation’s largest poultry lenders.

Chris Hegi, CEO of First Financial Bank, congratulated SAU on its new poultry science program.

“We are interested in anything that promotes south Arkansas, and this is a great partnership.”

The poultry industry provides more than 15,000 jobs in Arkansas. Forty-one percent of farms in Arkansas produce some type of poultry, and the poultry industry pays an average of $58,776 in wages and benefits.

The SAU Office of Development is still seeking partnership opportunities for the new poultry facilities.

For more information, call 870-235-4287.

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