UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — A unique apprenticeship is beginning in January on the campus of Penn State with hopes of assisting Pennsylvania’s livestock producers.

Penn State Extension, an organization that educates the public on agriculture, livestock and other science based topics, is looking for applicants for their recently developed butcher program.

“We’ve been trying to create a butcher program for almost two years now,” Dr. Jonathan Campbell, Associate Professor and Extension Meat Specialist for PSU Extension said.

“The pandemic brought about some of the lack of resilience in our food systems, and I think that really helped to push this concept of having a hands on training program faster than maybe it would have otherwise.”

The program is looking for people with at least a high school diploma or ged equivalent, and Campbell says they want to bring in people of color and underrepresented groups to diversify the meat and livestock industry workforce.

The apprenticeship will have a four mouth internal on campus component, where there will be in class and hands on training to reinforce the concepts of the meat industry.

“Some of the concepts that will be taught in that four to four and a half month period on campus will include safety, so not only worker safety, OSHAA regulations, Personal protective equipment,” said Dr. Campbell.

“Animal handling and animal welfare, we’ll also cover the science of meat and why it matters.”

Once the first phase is complete, a second phase will be held where those involved with get a chance to work with meat and livestock businesses for six months.

Campbell says the goal of this program is to expand the capacity of the meat industry.

“If these individuals finish this program can start more business, not only will it potentially add more jobs within our state, it also adds capacity for those livestock produces to be able to have more options to have their animals harvested for meat products.”

To apply for the program, visit Penn State Extension’s website, or fill out this form.