COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech will soon be home to the state’s first facility dedicated to research and excellence in poultry science on a university campus.
Gov. Bill Haslam announced recipients of Drive to 55 Capacity Fund last week, with Tennessee Tech set to receive $2.07 million to build a Center for Poultry Science Excellence and Research at the university.
“Part of Tennessee Tech’s vision is to produce ready-to-work graduates prepared to excel,” President Phil Oldham said. “This grant will help our School of Agriculture prepare its students for success in this industry.”
This new facility will be located on the grounds of Tech’s Shipley Farm and will include two 30-foot-by-200-foot poultry research barns, a feed mill, a processing plant, a commercial kitchen, a hatchery and a classroom.
Zachary Williams, an agriculture instructor and poultry specialist at Tech, said the poultry industry is Tennessee’s second highest agricultural commodity, right behind beef.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for our students, for research and for outreach and service to the industry,” Williams said. “This facility will enable those opportunities.”
For students, it will be an opportunity to engage in and experience first-hand some of the work going on in the poultry industry and facilitate opportunities for research.
“This will help them have hands on experience that all of these companies are looking for,” Williams added. “These companies are hiring a lot of our graduates already. Any sort of advantage our students can have helps them.”
The development of this facility has been discussed for some time, Williams said, and has had lots of interest and support from the poultry industry.
“We’ve identified an industry where our students will find great opportunities, and we’ve created a comprehensive plan for educating those students,” Oldham said. “This is a culmination of a two-year effort with the Tennessee Poultry Association that led us to this center with a faculty expert in the field.”
The Drive to 55 Capacity Fund was set up to support colleges and universities as they increase enrollment driven by Tennessee Promise. The fund awarded a total of $24.3 million to 10 colleges and universities in Tennessee.
“As we have expanded access to higher education through the Drive to 55, it is crucial that we ensure colleges and universities have the resources to prepare students for the workforce,” said Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “The process of awarding these funds was very competitive and each funded program will provide opportunity and growth to students across our state.”
Groundbreaking on the new Tech facility is expected to come in fall 2017.