The first student to complete the distance education online program offered through the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence has earned her certificate of completion. Emily Haugen says the Swine Science Online program was valuable and has helped her career path. "I really enjoyed it," she says. "The teachers were all great, really helpful. It was just as good as it would be in the classroom."
Swine Science Online is the first online undergraduate program in swine science, which was launched in 2010 by the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence based at Iowa State University in Ames. The goal of the program is to have more academically trained students entering the pork industry.
Haugen took the necessary 12 courses to complete the program, including swine feed mill management, basic swine science, swine breeding and gestation management, swine nursery and finishing management, employee management for the swine industry and swine environment management.
Swine Science Online was convenient, allowed her to still work full-time
Haugen grew up on a farm near Rochester, Minn., where the family had a sow operation and nursery. She was ready to leave the pigs behind when she left for college, deciding to pursue a career in business. "I was ready to get off the farm," Haugen says. "I didn't think I wanted anything to do with agriculture."
Her desires soon changed. "I started to miss the farm more and more," Haugen says. "I realized I enjoyed working in agriculture and with farmers." She has been exploring options ever since. "The Swine Science Online program was the first thing that popped up. It was convenient because I could still work full-time."
Haugen works as a service person for a large pork production company, and conducts daily walks through finishing barns and works with veterinarians and field staff on health issues. She also works with producers to ensure what's best for the pigs. "I really like working with producers and doing visits to the farms. It's something different every day," she says.
Program offers education and training of future pork professionals
Haugen sees Swine Science Online furthering her career and making her more marketable in the industry, based on all of the knowledge and hands-on experience she has gained. Her ultimate career goal is to work in the swine industry on research. She also hopes to work on improving the image of animal agriculture and eventually get a master's degree in animal science or agriculture.
"I think it will help me to be more academically trained in my field of work and help me to pursue a great career in the pig industry. I didn't realize all of the opportunities that exist with getting this certificate," Haugen says.
David Meisinger, executive director of the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence, says the Swine Science Online program is a perfect fit for people like Haugen.
Teaches science-based, management skills involved in pork production
"The program offers education and training of future pork professionals to benefit the pork industry by inspiring career interest through academic training and application," says Meisinger. "The vision is to ensure that the pork industry is led and managed by individuals who have broad educational and production experiences which have prepared them for these roles. Swine Science Online teaches scientific principles and management skills involved in pork production for an efficient and sustainable operation."