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 and poultry science instruction, research and extension.”
Wayne Farms has long been involved with Auburn’s poultry science program and has hired numerous Auburn Students through its summer internship program in recent years. 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.
The four Auburn students impressed Wayne Farms executives during their formal internship presentations at the end of their experience.
“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 shared about 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 was able to learn many skills I’ll take with me beyond the internship, which is very valuable.”
Amber Allen, who graduated in the Spring of 2015, was one of the poultry science interns. She went on to become a full-time employee at Wayne Farms.
Conner said the poultry science department at Auburn is dedicated to producing graduates who are ready for the real world. “Collaboration between industry partners like Wayne Farms is incredibly important for our students in giving them invaluable hands-on industry experience,” Conner 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 generous gift to the new research facility, Wayne Farms executives and Auburn University college leaders discussed industry research needs, research unit capabilities and innovative construction ideas that will extend the usability of the new unit.
Among those present were, from Auburn, Conner and College of Agriculture Interim Dean Arthur Appel and, from Wayne Farms, Maddox, Vice President and General Manager of Prepared Foods Division John Flood and Vice President and COO Clint Rivers.
“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.