April 22, 2021
Land-grant universities must continue to meet the needs of the table egg industry even as companies face new and unique challenges in today’s business environment. Extension and outreach programming, undergraduate education, and research are all needed to help the industry overcome these challenges.
A needs assessment survey was conducted in late 2018 led by Dr. Darrin Karcher, Purdue University, in conjunction with the Egg Industry Center, United Egg Producers and United Egg Association. The data collected allowed the industry to identify needs to drive the strategic development of outreach programming to educate current employees, provide input into undergraduate curriculum and provide areas of research that need further exploration.
There were 447 responses with 192 completing the entire survey (43% response rate). Ninety-two percent of respondents were associated with more than 50,000 laying hens. Figure 1 shows the distribution of jobs self-identified by the respondents.
The sources used for research and science information are displayed in Figure 2. Poultry associations (state, regional, national) and personal communications comprised the major sources of information.
The use of science to drive business decisions varied by region, with UEP Areas 2-5 using science around 92% of the time compared to Area 1 using 100% of the time. Respondents indicated that new employees (recent college graduates) need greater development of essential skill sets that allow them to work in teams, better communicate and have some level of competency in poultry knowledge.
Figure 3 provides information on outreach programing that needs to be developed in different areas. There are numerous opportunities to develop programming for current employees. The challenge is the availability of resources, monetary and personnel to develop these programs and make them accessible to the industry.
The next needs assessment survey will occur in 2024 to identify new focus areas and establish what changes have occurred in six years. TAKE HOME POINT: A new approach is needed to design outreach programs in conjunction with commodity associations and consultants to deliver high-impact programs in areas identified by the industry.
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