The U.S. Department of Agriculture/Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service have awarded three-year grant to develop Swine Schools a $460,000, to the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence (USPCE).

The USPCE requested the funding in response to the declining number of swine science programs available at universities in the United States. Funding available Oct. 1 will be used to develop courses in several different aspects of pork production, pilot testing and evaluating the results.

“We have been working hard to find a way to provide for more graduates academically trained in swine science,” says Mike Wehler, a USPCE board member and pork producer from Plain, WI. “We think this is a very good start to find people with capabilities to be managers or allied industry representatives, or to even attend graduate school in the swine sciences.”

College students involved in the Swine Schools project will have the opportunity of enrolling in an intensive swine science course followed by a summer internship at a production facility. The internship will provide learning with credits to be transferred back to their respective institution.

Swine School students will partake in distance learning, laboratory instruction, problem solving and critical thinking.

The steering committee for the Swine School project will be announced in October and will work to set the policy for the project this fall.

“This funding will provide the impetus to develop a much-needed program to counter the disappearance of swine school courses in our university system,” says USPCE Executive Director David Meisinger. “The next step will be to utilize the base knowledge to develop a shorter course for those already working in the pork industry.”

The U.S. Pork Center of Excellence was established in 2005 as a public/private partnership to bring together academic expertise in research, teaching and Extension geared to pork production. USPCE is housed at the National Swine Research and Information Center on the Iowa State University campus in Ames, IA.