Earlier this year, I had the chance to take a tour through the new meat science facilities of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s an amazing, state-of-the-art complex that will do a wonderful job of educating its students, conducting valuable research projects and helping processors solve dilemmas. In the time I’ve been in the industry, I’ve also visited Texas Tech, Iowa State and Auburn Universities, and I left impressed with all of their capabilities as well.

None of those facilities were easy to come by. Frankly, the academic side of public universities doesn’t generate nearly the money that a good football or basketball team does. Higher education isn’t supposed to be about turning a profit, but that’s the reality of the time. Colleges won’t think twice about building a new training facility or renovating a football stadium, because there’s easy money in a successful sports program. But pour money into a meat or poultry science lab? It’s not an impossibility, but it’s also not as easy as it should be.

These meat science schools depend on private donors to help stay modern and relevant to the industry. Making a donation can pose a dilemma for companies. If you’re a graduate of a given school, you may feel like a donation to your alma mater is a responsible thing to do. But if you’re not, It could be difficult to rationalize parting with a few hundred or thousand dollars when your shop probably needs new equipment or restocked supplies. There’s no concrete return on your investment, but your donation can help inspire a meat science student to enter the industry or complete some breakthrough research work.

I’ve made some donations to museums that I love over the last year, even though I haven’t visited any of them due to the COVID pandemic. They were future investments, a little something that would help ensure that the they would still be operating when I could enjoy them at a later date. That’s what a donation to the meat science department of your choice is – an investment that will help ensure it will be an important resource for your company or your industry for a long time to come.

Sam Gazdziak