Wayne Farms LLC, the sixth-largest vertically integrated poultry producer in the U.S., has pledged $175,000 to the construction of a state-of-the-art poultry research unit at Auburn University.
“We’re happy to invest in a new farm facility that will thrive, not only now, but for the next several decades,” Wayne Farms President and CEO Elton Maddox said in presenting the gift to Auburn College of Agriculture and Department of Poultry Science administrators. “The ability to support innovative ideas and research is an opportunity Wayne Farms proudly stands behind.”
The new facilities will replace Auburn’s existing Poultry Research Farm, which was built more than 40 years ago.
“We’re very appreciative of this gift to help improve our capabilities within the poultry research field,” said Don Conner, head of the poultry science department at Auburn. “Because we strive to integrate all aspects of the poultry industry’s ‘farm-to-fork’ process, we know investments in this farm facility positively impact both food science and poultry science instruction, research and extension.”
Wayne Farms has long been involved with Auburn’s poultry science program and, in recent years, has provided valuable summer internships to several students in the department. This past summer, three Auburn University poultry science students and one food science major interned with Wayne Farms LLC, and it was a win-win situation for both students and company.
“We were able to work on different projects and experience multiple facets of the industry through our internships with Wayne Farms,” said Jessica Haverkampf, a junior in the poultry science’s production program.
Food science major Kayla Fromhold also greatly benefited from her internship with Wayne Farms.
“I got so much experience from my superior when working with Wayne Farms’ food quality and assurance,” Fromhold said. “I know I had a really well-rounded food science experience, and I was able to learn many skills I’ll take with me beyond the internship, which is very valuable.”
The four Auburn students impressed Wayne Farms executives during their formal internship presentations at the end of their experience. For spring 2015 graduate Amber Allen, in fact, the quality summer internship led to a full-time job with Wayne Farms.
Conner said the poultry science department at Auburn is dedicated to producing graduates who are ready for the real world.
“Collaboration with industry partners like Wayne Farms is incredibly important for our students in giving them invaluable hands-on industry experience,” he said. “We are so proud to see our students excel in their internships. Each graduate from our program is well-positioned to then enter the workforce with the knowledge and skills they need to contribute to the industry.”
In a meeting at Wayne Farms’ headquarters to announce the company’s gift to the new research facility, Wayne Farms officials and College of Agriculture administrators discussed industry research needs, research unit capabilities and innovative construction ideas that will extend the usability of the new unit. Representing Auburn were Conner and Arthur Appel, College of Agriculture interim dean. From Wayne Farms, Maddox, the president and CEO, was joined by John Flood, vice president and general manager of the Prepared Foods Division, and Clint Rivers, vice president and COO.
“We need to help build agriculture programs and provide the mechanisms that strengthen research,” Maddox said.
During a visit to campus in early September, Wayne Farms’ South Alabama Complex officials, led by Auburn University alumnus and director of nutrition and research Thomas Frost, presented the first installment of the company’s donation. During that visit, they also interacted with students and staff and learned more about the poultry programs their gift will benefit directly.
Wayne Farms’ gift was made through the Auburn University Foundation and as part of the historic, $1 billion “Because This is Auburn – A Campaign for Auburn University.” In the campaign, the College of Agriculture is striving to raise $51.4 million, which will help increase the number of scholarship recipients, endow 13 new faculty professorships, construct three new academic facilities and enhance existing programs and create new ones that provide students with hands-on, outside-the-classroom experiences. The support of Wayne Farms will help inspire innovative research while contributing to student success and students’ readiness for their chosen careers.