Management-level professionals in the pork industry now have the opportunity to strengthen their leadership and business skills through a two-year certificate program uniquely tailored for their needs.

Developed by the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, the new Executive Pork Producers Program (EP3) is the first program to target owners and managers in the pork industry for skill development to both improve their company’s bottom line and cultivate the industry’s leadership community. This focused, intensive program is designed to teach real-world skills that can impact business practices.

The new program starts in November 2011 and runs through May 2013. Cost, registration, and other information are online at Enrollment is limited to 40 producers to ensure close interactions among participants and instructors. EP3 graduates will receive a certificate in business management.

The University of Illinois has a proven history of creating educational programs that integrate scientific and business content focused on skill development for key leaders in animal protein production. EP3 is modeled after the award-winning Executive Veterinary Program (EVP) in Swine Health Management, a program for veterinarians begun in 1991 at the university.

University of Illinois’ Larry Firkins, DVM, and Jim Lowe, DVM, Carthage (IL) Veterinary Service, Ltd., and a visiting clinical instructor at the veterinary college, are co-coordinators of EP3. Firkins is an international speaker on human resource and leadership skills in the animal production industry. Lowe brings a real-world focus on today's business challenges based on his years of experience in teaching, consulting, and managing pork production systems. Their combined contributions have served the global swine industry in 20 countries on issues related to swine health and management.

The structure of the new program follows that established by EVP: participants meet in Urbana, IL, every other month on a Thursday and Friday for a total of 10 sessions. Each session features a leading speaker on topics such as increasing employee engagement, optimizing profit and building efficient production systems. Between sessions, participants complete assigned work and continue to dialogue with classmates and instructors via electronic means.