Six recent Fresno State graduates have started the Ag One Meat Science Laboratory Scholarship Endowment to support students who work in the unit and produce an array of popular meat products sold at the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market.
The former meats lab student employees graduated in 2013 or later and pledged a combined $25,000 to the Ag One Foundation.
Four of the donors — Macc Rigdon, Chad Bower, Chance Reeder and John Woodcock — earned bachelor’s degrees in meat technology. Josh Hasty earned a master’s degree in meat sciences, and Kyle Mendes earned a bachelor’s in agricultural education.
Bower, Hasty and Reeder are also former managers of the student-run facility, and five of the alumni were also part of the campus meat science judging team.
“‘To whom much is given, much is expected’ is a quote that has rung loud in my ears since the first time I heard my ag teacher say it,” Hasty said. “In the Fresno State meat lab, we were given more than we could ever give back. The lessons that we learned and the friends that became family continue to shape us long after graduation. We loved our time working there and simply wanted to help another group of kids experience what we did. Plus, as Anne Frank put it, ‘No one ever went poor by giving.’”
Their Fresno State educations have encouraged Bower and Rigdon to pursue doctoral degrees at the University of Nebraska and the University of Georgia, respectively. Hasty received his doctoral degree from Colorado State in 2017. Mendes is currently working on his master’s degree at the University of Florida.
Hasty is a senior food scientist at Cargill in Wichita, Kansas. Reeder is a plant superintendent for the Yosemite Meat Company in Modesto. Woodcock is a food microbiology technician for Food Safety Net Services in Fresno.
The Fresno State meat science laboratory is a full-service, USDA-inspected meat processing facility that employs seven Fresno State students and three volunteers. Faculty member Dr. John Henson serves as the unit adviser and teaches classes with Dr. Amanda McKeith that cover animal selection, food safety, meat evaluation, muscle biology production systems, technology and equipment.
The campus meat lab is the nation’s only university meat lab that specializes in Italian dry products such as a red wine and garlic salami and a spicy Calabrese salami. Students currently develop and market 30 different varieties of pork, lamb and beef sausages, jerky and snack sticks, and add new products regularly.
Fresno State meat products are sold on campus at Bulldog Stadium and Save Mart Center, as well as China Peak, Cravings Wood Grill, Michelangelo’s Italian Pizzeria and Rocket Dog restaurants.
“As an alumnus and former University meat lab employee, I find the passion, dedication and generosity of these six young people both humbling and inspiring,” Henson said. “It is satisfying to know that their time at Fresno State has played a part in fostering a love of hands-on education that will be shared by other students who take equally great pride in producing high-quality products for our community. I can think of no greater compliment as an educator than helping develop young people with this type of character, and I am very proud of the professionals that they have become.”
The campus meat science laboratory is one of 22 student-managed units that are part of the 1,000-acrea University Agricultural Laboratory.
Established in 1979, Ag One has raised more than $19.5 million to benefit, promote and support the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and its programs. In that span, more than 3,700 students have received more than $2.7 million in scholarships and grants. In the 2017-18 academic year, Ag One will provide nearly $600,000 to deserving students and programs.
To discuss potential partnership opportunities, contact Alcidia Freitas Gomes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 559.278.4266.