WILBURTON, Okla. – The Oklahoma Agriculture Enhancement and Diversification Board recently awarded Eastern Oklahoma State College a $600,000 grant to fund renovations and purchase new equipment for the college’s meat processing facility. The State of Oklahoma received 196 applications for the $10 million available in grant funding.
“We are thrilled to have been chosen as a recipient for this grant,” said Larriann Livingston, dean of the Eastern Agriculture Division. “These funds will allow us to make much-needed updates and improvements to our processing facility and better serve our students and customers.”
Livingston said the funds will be used to expand freezer space, update cooling rooms and purchase new equipment. With these updates, the facility will be able to increase production by processing beef from the College’s farm, as well as continue to serve outside customers with custom harvest options, she said.
“With these implementations, the processing facility will be able to increase the number of animals being harvested for custom harvest, as well as create an opportunity to harvest our own college beef,” Livingston said. “With Eastern beef, our goal is to produce a premium, single-source beef product that can be sold to local schools, nursing homes, community centers and others within the community.”
The educational benefits for Eastern students will be improved as well, Livingston said. The grant will allow faculty to make the updates needed in their teaching methods, as well as provide them the opportunity to expose students to new types of technology. The updates will not only give students access to new equipment and technology, but also allow them to have a better understanding of how to operate a successful business, she said.
Livingston said the Eastern meat processing facility currently employs one instructor/plant manager, making time-management between classes and harvesting difficult. Making these improvements should allow the processing facility to attract and employ more hands and give the students a more realistic picture of the industry, she said.
“With these updates, we can ensure students are getting the best education possible and gaining the knowledge they need to succeed in the industry,” Livingston said. “Many of our students will go on to become meat cutters, plant managers or even inspectors. The best education is crucial for not only their career, but for the future of the meat and food science industry, as well.”