The University of Georgia broke ground Monday on the site of a new, technologically advanced Poultry Science Complex in Athens. The project will dramatically increase capacity for instruction, research and collaboration supporting Georgia’s multibillion-dollar poultry industry, the largest sector of the state’s No. 1 agriculture and agribusiness industry.
“This is an exciting day for the University of Georgia and the thousands of Georgians who work in our state’s poultry industry,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The construction of the new Poultry Science Complex embodies UGA’s land-grant mission to support our state’s economy through agricultural research, education and outreach. We are grateful to our state government leaders and the generous donors who are making this vital project possible.”
Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Dean and Director Nick T. Place and CAES undergraduate student Kylie Bruce also spoke to the crowd of about 150 people, which included members of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, and dozens of other government and industry leaders.
Bruce, a senior poultry science major, said she is proud to see the advances that have been made in the poultry science industry since her great-grandparents L.C. and Ruby Nell Powers established a poultry farm with a single chicken house on family land in 1958.
“Today we celebrate a new era in research and progress for our university and the poultry industry made possible by investment from our government officials and industry leaders. I stand here to thank you all for the millions of dollars and thousands of labor hours that will go into creating a state-of-the-art Poultry Science Complex,” Bruce said. “As the fourth generation to live on my family’s farm, I hope this new facility will bring developments that further strengthen Georgia’s poultry industry so that my great-grandchildren will also get to be a part of feeding the world one day.”
The estimated $54.1 million project will increase the size of the CAES department of poultry science’s existing facilities to more than 70,000 square feet, modernizing instructional and lab space; providing centralized, student-focused facilities; and helping to attract and retain world-class researchers. Construction will begin in spring 2022, and completion is set for fall 2023.
“This facility is going to impact the way that poultry science is taught and researched not only here at UGA but also on the national and international stage,” said Place. “As a leader in the global poultry industry, UGA is poised to reach even greater heights in training the next generation of poultry leaders and finding solutions to some of the most complex issues facing the industry today. We are proud to have reached this moment and are looking forward to the day when faculty, staff and students are able to walk through the doors of this building and into an even brighter future for the poultry industry.”
State-of-the-art learning labs will bolster the traditional classroom experience with production courses, demonstrations and relevant field-learning exercises. The improvements will support the college’s student recruitment efforts and contribute to the department’s expanding youth programs, including FFA and 4-H.
“We are elated for this facility to be a driver for developing new leaders in the poultry sector and its supporting entities, as well as a place to foster collaboration and innovation across disciplines to address the evermore complex questions facing the poultry sector,” said Todd Applegate, head of the CAES department of poultry science. “We are thankful for the trust and investment by public and private partners in making Georgia the epicenter of poultry sciences for the world.”
State funding of $23.9 million has been provided for the design and construction of the project in the fiscal year 2021 and 2022 budgets.
Kemp, who has been vocal in his support of agriculture in Georgia, said the building is “the next step in securing another century of excellence in teaching, research and extension at the University of Georgia.
“To recruit, train and empower our future farmers, researchers, scientists and leaders in agribusiness, any good harvest we hope to reap in the Peach State depends on their ability to innovate, produce and lead in their respective fields,” Kemp said. “This new poultry science building will help the university accomplish this for generations to come.”
Robust support from industry, alumni and other donors has contributed to significant progress toward the goal of $27 million in private funding for the project, said Mary Ann Parsons, senior director of development for CAES. Lead donors of $1 million or more to date include the R. Harold and Patsy Harrison Foundation, Wayne Farms and the Luther & Susie Harrison Foundation.
Industry leaders such as AgGeorgia Farm Credit, the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, Aviagen, CBH International, Claxton Chicken, Crider Foods, Crystal Farms, the Georgia Poultry Federation, Columbia Farms of Georgia/House of Raeford, Merck Animal Health and Southeastern Minerals also have contributed to the project.
Abit Massey, chair of the steering committee for the new building and president emeritus of the Georgia Poultry Federation, was on hand to participate in the ceremonial event.
“We are very excited and pleased to have the best poultry science department in the country, and this new facility will only serve to make it better,” Massey said.
To learn more about the new Poultry Science Complex, including its direct impact and naming opportunities, visit poultrybuilding.caes.uga.edu.