U.S. Pork Center of Excellence Receives Grant for Swine Schools

July 17th, 2007

Ames, Iowa — A $460,000, three-year grant to develop Swine Schools has been awarded to the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence (USPCE) by the USDA/Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

The Swine Schools project will involve developing courses in several different areas of study in pork production, pilot testing and evaluating the results. The USPCE submitted this proposal in response to the declining number of swine science programs being offered by universities around the country. The funding for this project will begin on Oct. 1.

"We have been working hard to find a way to provide for more graduates academically trained in swine science," said Mike Wehler, a USPCE Board Member and pork producer from Wisconsin. "We think this is a very good start to find people with capabilities to be managers or allied industry representatives, or to even attend graduate school in the swine sciences."

College students involved in the Swine Schools project will have the opportunity to take an intensive swine science course followed by a summer internship at a production facility. The internship will allow participants to gain experiential learning with credits to be transferred back to their respective institution.

Components of Swine Schools will include distance learning, laboratory instruction, problem solving and critical thinking. The newest technologies in teaching and student-centered instruction also will be used.

The steering committee for the Swine School project will be announced in October and will work to set the policy for the project this fall.

"This funding will provide the impetus to develop a much needed program to counter the disappearance of swine science courses in our university system," said USPCE Executive Director David Meisinger. "The next step will be to utilize the base knowledge to develop a shorter course for those already working in the pork industry."

The U.S. Pork Center of Excellence was established in 2005 as a public/private partnership to bring together academic expertise in research, teaching and extension related to pork production. The Center is housed at the National Swine Research and Information Center on the Iowa State University campus. There are two governmental agencies, two industry associations, fourteen state pork producer associations and 25 land-grant universities involved in the coalition.

Contacts: 

David Meisinger, U.S. Pork Center of Excellence, (515) 294-7556, drdave@iastate.edu
Claire Masker, U.S. Pork Center of Excellence, (515) 294-5231, cmasker@iastate.edu
Melea Reicks Licht, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications, (515) 294-8892, mreicks@iastate.edu