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Penn State's Ag Student Council Recognizes the Poultry Science Club

Posted: May 1, 2013

The Poultry Science Club was named "Student Organization of the Year" for its educational activities and community service.

Penn State's Poultry Science Club was recognized for its outstanding array of activities, including educational opportunities and community service when it was named the College of Agricultural Sciences' "Student Organization of the Year" by the Ag Student Council in April.

From volunteering at the White House Easter Egg Roll to visiting poultry industries to harvesting turkeys for Thanksgiving, club members are heavily involved in promoting the industry while enriching their own collegiate experience.

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "I congratulate the members of the Poultry Science Club for this outstanding recognition of their hard work. We are proud of their enthusiastic leadership and of their significant contributions to the larger community."

With about 25 active members, it is not the largest club within the College but it is consistently in the forefront with its extensive programming.  As a measure of the continued interest generated by the club, it also was recognized by the Ag Student Council for its support of alumni relations.

Club Adviser Phillip Clauer said, "This is an outstanding group of young people who work together well, creating opportunities for learning and service. They are eager to increase their knowledge of the industry."

The club was recognized nationally with first place in the "Scrapbook of the Year" contest held as part of the College Students Program at the International Poultry and Processing Exposition (IPPE) in Atlanta in January. They were third in the Club of the Year contest, with 15 clubs participating.

Taylor Young, Telford, and Isaac Hagen, Howard, worked together on nominating the club for the Ag Student Council award, documenting the activities offered to members.

Currently a junior, Young said, "The most valuable aspect of the club is the networking and exposure to different poultry companies. My summer internship was a direct result of an industry speaker coming to the club." She credits the club with helping her apply her classroom learning to real industry settings; she has visited eight poultry farms or plants and traveled to the International Poultry expo three times.

Haagen agreed that the club offers valuable opportunity to meet industry personnel. "Our educational meetings provide club members the tools to grow professionally regardless of their personal career paths. The friendships we make will last into the future as we become professional colleagues."

The club seeks out the expertise of alumni, hosting them for club meetings that offer professional and leadership development. Students gain perspectives on career opportunities,  create business connections and learn about potential internships. In the fall semester they visited an organic aviary farm owned by Matt Dersham; in the spring they visited Cotner Farms, Inc. and Michael Foods, learning about egg processing.

Each April the club makes Easter egg baskets for the local food bank, preparing 80 baskets. A highlight is volunteering at the White House Easter Egg Roll where students help prepare food, supervise activities, welcome the public and generally assist with whatever they are asked to do to help the event go smoothly.

In an international outreach, the club conducts a silent auction to raise funds for supporting "Flocks of Hope" through Heifer International. Last year they raised $1,200 which supported 20 flocks of chicks, ducks or goslings.

They support Ag Day, held on campus to increase agricultural awareness among the Penn State student body, and they assist with Poultry 101, an educational event for youth and volunteer leaders who are interested in poultry.

The biggest fundraiser is a turkey harvest, which not only raises funds for student activities, but also gives hands-on experience in poultry processing as they prepare turkeys they have raised for the Thanksgiving market. In 2012 they harvested 460 turkeys and sold out in just under two hours.

Being in the larger agricultural community is important to members, and they can be found volunteering at Ag Progress Days in the Ag Student Council mushroom stand, and at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, volunteering at the Penn Ag Food Booth and in the Poultry Exhibition Hall.

An important educational opportunity is traveling to the International Poultry Expo's Student Career program where they interact with industry personnel and peers from about 25 colleges and universities around the country.

Being part of Ag Live tailgate, the CAS president's reception and the CAS scholarship banquet allows members to interact closely with alumni from the College.

Taylor concludes, "The value of being a member of our club is experience, education and friendship."