AUBURN, Ala.—Alabama’s most profitable agricultural industry is the focus of a new 2+2 educational partnership between Auburn University and Wallace State Community College in Hanceville. The partnership is designed to open more career doors in a part of the state where much of the poultry industry is concentrated.
Students in the program will complete their freshman and sophomore years at Wallace State and their junior and senior years at Auburn, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in poultry science.
“This is an excellent opportunity not only for Auburn and for Wallace State but for the state of Alabama,” said Bill Batchelor, dean of Auburn’s College of Agriculture. “Poultry is our state’s leading agricultural resource. It’s an industry of great economic importance to us, and it’s an industry offering excellent career paths for students. We’re grateful to our friends at Wallace State for helping make this partnership possible.”
The poultry industry in Alabama generates more than $3.1 billion each year and accounts for more than 65 percent of the state’s annual farming revenues.
Wallace State President Vicki Hawsey said Wallace State values the new partnership with Auburn University.
“It recognizes the strength of our poultry industry in Cullman County and surrounding counties and provides a ringing endorsement of the outstanding education Wallace State offers,” Hawsey said. “Thanks to the work of the Auburn University poultry science program and the graduates we are pleased to now produce together, there is growing demand from around the world for our state’s expertise in this area.”
Hawsey credits Fred Cespedes, recently retired vice president of American Proteins and Wallace State Future Foundation Board member, with helping spearhead the partnership. Cespedes and wife Holly have established a scholarship for Wallace State students interested in entering the field.
“As important as poultry is to our area, it has made sense to me for a long time that Wallace State should have this program and that a partnership with Auburn would be a proverbial ‘match made in heaven’—a win for both institutions,” Cespedes said.
Cespedes helped Hawsey enlist industry support for such a program and garnered endorsements from industry leaders, including Randall Ennis, CEO of Huntsville-based Aviagen, the world’s premier poultry breeding company; Ricky Walker, complex manager of Tyson Foods Inc.’s Alabama operations; Bill Ingram, president of Golden Rod/Ingram Farms; and Jason Spann, general manager of the Hanceville division of American Proteins, the largest poultry rendering complex in the world..
Spann said 2+2 will be valuable to students and to industry.
“As a former student of a similar 2+2 program, I can speak firsthand on the amazing benefits a program like this allows students,” Spann said. “Not only does this program provide students with a quality education, but it offers students an opportunity to live and work at home, or closer to home, gaining knowledge and experience before facing the challenges of life at a large university.”
And the job market that awaits poultry science graduates is healthy, Ennis said.
“The job opportunities are endless, and compensation packages are very competitive,” he said, adding that those opportunities exist throughout the state, the nation and the world.
Poultry science is a versatile degree as well.
“While traditional careers in poultry production and management remain important, a degree in poultry science can offer a wide variety of careers options,” Tyson’s Walker said. Some of those areas include sales, food science, nutrition, veterinary support, quality assurance/meat quality, feed milling, quantitative genetics and genomics.
The high demand for highly-trained producers, scientists and business leaders in the industry can be seen in Auburn’s Department of Poultry Science, which has held a 100 percent job-placement rate of its graduates for several years, department head Don Conner said.
While at Wallace State, students enrolled in the 2+2 partnership program will complete their core curriculum as well as an introductory agriculture course that will be streamed live from the Auburn campus. Students also could have access to early internship experiences with local poultry companies. Conner said internships can help students decide which aspect of poultry science they want to specialize in upon graduation.
Scholarships are available to poultry science students at both Auburn and Wallace State, including the Fred and Holly Cespedes Endowed Scholarship Fund, available to Wallace State students studying agriculture, horticulture production, poultry science or a related field. Wallace State students also are eligible for the Allied Scholarship offered by the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association and other scholarships through the Wallace State Future Foundation.
For enrollment information, contact the Wallace State Office of Admissions at 256-352-8238 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Auburn Department of Poultry Science at 334-844-2881 or email@example.com.