Students gain valuable real-world experience


2013 CASNR participants at the International Poultry Expo
Donnie Smith, a CASNR alumnus and CEO of Tyson Foods (center), greeted the UT Institute of Agriculture delegation of faculty and students to the International Poultry Expo in Atlanta. Smith served as a keynote speaket at the expo. The 19 students in the delegation arranged 87 interviews with 27 companies during three days of the conference. Dr. Mike Smith, a faculty advisor from the Department of Animal Science, is pictured right.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – How do 19 students get 87 interviews with 27 companies in three days? A group of students from the University of Tennessee College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources did just that when they participated in the College Student Career Program sponsored by the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association. The program was held in conjunction with the International Poultry Expo. The group of nine undergraduate students, nine master’s students, and one doctoral student traveled to Atlanta in January accompanied by Emily Gray, CASNR director of student services, and Mary Mahoney, UT Career Services assistant director.

“This is a tremendous chance for any CASNR student to experience the extensive, and sometimes overwhelming, magnitude and complexity of the poultry industry,” said Gray, who has seen the program grow over the past few years and hopes more students will take advantage of the opportunity.

Students submitted resumes and scheduled interviews in advance of the trip for both full-time jobs and internships. While at the expo, students had additional opportunities to network with companies from all over the world. Many students were also able to interview with companies outside the formal interview schedules.

“It is a great event to gain interview experiences, learn about the poultry industry and its advanced technologies, network with industry individuals, and also for self-awareness and professional development,” said Chayapa Techathuvanan, a doctoral student in food science.

The International Poultry Expo celebrated 65 years of service to the poultry and egg industry this year. The expo is now the world’s largest gathering of industry leaders and the most comprehensive display of the latest technology, equipment, supplies and services used by poultry and egg companies. This year’s expo featured more than 1,175 suppliers and more than 25,000 attendees from more than 100 countries.

“The experience was wonderful. I got the opportunity to connect with major companies but also with others students in the same career field,” said Bridgshe Hardy, a master’s student in food science.

Donnie Smith, a CASNR alumnus and CEO of Tyson Foods, treated students to a keynote address. He provided inspiration by sharing his success story and gave a realistic, thought-provoking forecast of the future of agriculture including the tremendous challenge of feeding the expanding world.

“The International Poultry Expo really opened my eyes and made me realize what I am learning is going to benefit our world,” said Xiaoci Ji, a biosystems engineering technology master’s student.

Joseph Summers, a master’s student in animal science, summed up his feelings about the event. “If you have never been to the International Poultry Expo, your education is incomplete,” he said.

The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; the UT College of Veterinary Medicine; UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers; and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.



Emily Gray, CASNR Career Services Director, 865-974-8502,