Secretary of Ag visits Penn State’s Meats Lab in light of 2nd annual Agriculture Apprenticeship Week

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CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – In light of PA’s second annual Agriculture Apprenticeship Week, Secretary of Ag Russell Redding stopped by Penn State’s Meats Lab to tour and visit with students of the university’s Butcher Apprenticeship Program.

The 10-month program piloted with over 80 applicants, but only 6 were chosen for its first cohort.

Former apprentice Suzie Burchfield says she loved that it was so hands-on.

“I learned so much in this program, we went everywhere from the slaughter, to the processing, to further processing, to retail sale of those animals,” listed Burchfield.

Practices, Associate Professor Jonathan Campbell says you can’t just learn over a computer.

“You can learn a lot of the basic information perhaps some of the theory behind it but actually to put learning into practice and have experiential processes is very important,” said Campbell.

 According to Redding there’s a great need for people in ag, with the industry expected to lose 75,000 workers as farmers and laborers retire and new technology based jobs expand.

“At the end of the day someone’s got to be inspired to do this job. And recognizing that in Pennsylvania that agriculture is not going to stay here just because you and I like it. It’ll stay here if people see a future in it,” explained Redding.

With 7 agriculture apprenticeship programs in Pennsylvania, and Penn State’s being one of the only butcher programs in the country, Redding says he’s hopeful that the next generation in ag will be created.

“Pennsylvania’s agriculture workers are essential to ensuring food and agricultural goods reach consumers across the commonwealth and the world,” said Redding.

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