Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity. This scholarship will make a great impact on my future studies and help me further myself in the food animal industry.
My name is Darian Brooks, and I am currently a graduate student at The Ohio State University studying agricultural communications and leadership with a focus in meat science. I also obtained my bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University with a major in animal science specializing in beef and poultry and a minor in meat science. I have chosen to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural communications and leadership because I am passionate about sharing knowledge, leading innovation, and progressing the agricultural industry. While studying under Dr. Lyda Garcia and competing on the 2021 Meat Judging Team, a current industry problem was brought to my attention. This problem was the adult learning aspect of our industry. I witnessed this problem firsthand when traveling to meet with small processors throughout the state of Ohio and by participating in the Meat Cutting Clinics put on by Dr. Garcia and the meat science department. This is an issue that has become close to my heart as I talked to local processors firsthand and grew up in a household where I am a first-generation college student and witnessed these challenges throughout my life. To put this concept into perspective, my father owns a construction company but never went to college. He was taught everything he knows from his uncle. However new regulations and opportunities reach the industry every day and to really thrive as a business owner, adjustments and growth are always happening. That’s where educational opportunities come into play. But if I, as a college student, attended those same educational opportunities as my father, we would have very different takeaways. This is because of transfer of learning. Transfer of learning is how the knowledge/information given to adult learners is applied to real-life experiences outside of the learning opportunity. This concept is the same for many of our processors and employees in the meat industry with most of them falling under the adult learner’s category. Therefore, as the demand for products from our meat industry continually rises, we now realize more educational opportunities need to be put into place. This need within our industry is what helped light the fire behind my future aspirations. I plan to open a meat processing plant and educational facility in Ohio. This plant will be a fully functioning multi-species processing plant with a retail market including custom and wholesale meat cuts. It will have an educational center to host local school FFA and 4-H programs allowing students to have hands-on educational and practical opportunities. Working in a meat processing facility takes training that is not offered in many places and with such a high demand for trained employees, this educational facility will allow for appropriate training to decrease the turnover rate in meat processors around the state and meet employee shortages. Finally, the facility will host educational opportunities for current and new meat processors/producers around the state on topics such as increasing efficiency, good financial/management practices, marketing, and making the most out of their current products.