Dec 8, 2022

Tennessee Tech’s “Aviagen Poultry Science Laboratory” Provides Hands-On Experience to Future Poultry Professionals

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Dec. 2 marked an important milestone for Tennessee Tech University – the grand opening of its new Poultry Science Research Center, which is part of the school’s College of Agriculture and Human Ecology. Constructed to further develop innovative and hands-on learning opportunities, the Center will feature the Aviagen® Poultry Science Laboratory. The new lab is named after Huntsville, Ala.,-based poultry breeding company Aviagen, which is a supporter and ally of Tennessee Tech. The projected completion date is the end of this calendar year, and the Center is expected to be open for students beginning in the spring of 2023. The Aviagen Poultry Science Laboratory will provide students with hands-on experience in the laboratory – where disease prevention and food safety begins.

Aviagen delegation at the Poultry Science Lab

From left: Rachel Breeding, Andy Goldman, Victoria Collett, De Wet Nortje and Rachael Mack-Gomes

An Aviagen delegation present at the Center’s grand opening included DeWet Nortje, Director of Pedigree and GGP Operations for Aviagen, who served as a guest speaker. Nortje underscored the shared commitment to ongoing research that will benefit the poultry industry in Tennessee and the entire country. Accompanying Nortje were Aviagen Crossville team members Andy Goldman, Director of Pedigree Operations; Rachel Breeding, Quality Assurance and Regulatory Manager: Victoria Collett, Pedigree Hatchery Manager; Rachael Mack-Gomes, Hatchery Supervisor, as well as Wendy Parker from the Corporate Marketing team in Huntsville, Ala. Breeding, Collett and Mack-Gomes are all Animal Science majors from Tennessee Tech, demonstrating the importance of the school as a recruitment source for Aviagen.

Roots in Tennessee poultry

Tennessee Tech is located close to Aviagen pedigree and Research and Development operations in Crossville, Tenn. Last year the company celebrated 30 years as part of Crossville, and its roots and dedication to the community run deep. To give students real-world experience in poultry breeding, each year Aviagen hosts a summer internship program throughout its North America operations. Many Aviagen interns hail from Tennessee Tech, and the company has hired a number of their bright and innovative graduates.

Tennessee Tech Poultry Science Research Center

In October, Aviagen hosted an “Aviagen Day” at the university to get to know Tennessee Tech’s current students, discuss internship opportunities, and have conversations on the exciting careers available in poultry breeding. On this day, Aviagen Program Geneticist in Crossville Grant Mason also engaged with the Poultry Science club, giving them an overview of the poultry breeding industry.

“We have been impressed with the talent, knowledge and integrity of Tennessee Tech students. A top priority for Aviagen is to encourage and prepare such students for a career in the poultry industry. They are our future, and poultry is where they can truly make a difference in helping to feed the people of today and future generations with nutritious, affordable and sustainable chicken meat,” said Marc de Beer, President of Aviagen North America.

Nortje added: “We believe in the work at Tennessee Tech’s Poultry Research Center, and the hands-on experience and research opportunities the new Center and Laboratory will provide students will be invaluable to their future success. We want Tennessee Tech and their students to know that they have an advocate in Aviagen.”

“Our new facility will be the premier poultry center in the state. It will train our students and inspire interest in the poultry industry through outreach and research projects, and will serve a dual role of classroom and experiential learning combined with outreach for the poultry industry,” commented Darron Smith, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology. “We thank Aviagen for their support and value our strong relationship based on a common interest and commitment to the future of the industry. This partnership will provide students with strong industry connections when seeking future employment opportunities, while also helping to further innovative research.”