“Everyone in Life Teaches You a Lesson”: International Interns Reflect on Time at Talley

Talley Turkey Education Unit sign

Learning by Doing. That’s the guiding principle of the Universidad Zamorano, an agricultural and natural resources university in Honduras. Sound familiar? It should – NC State takes pride in its similar “Think and Do” motto.

As part of its support of a global poultry industry, the Prestage Department of Poultry Science (PDPS) participates in an internship program with Zamorano, bringing students from “Learning by Doing” to “Think and Do” – a combination of the familiar and the new for the students.

Jesse Grimes, Professor, Extension Lead and Director, Graduate and Certificate Programs, coordinates the Zamorano program, bringing students to Raleigh to work at the Talley Turkey Education Unit (TTEU), Chicken Education Unit (CEU) and the Feed Mill Education Unit. Participation in the program started when Abel Gernat returned to Zamorano after working for PDPS. He was the poultry program lead in Zamorano and connected NC State with their internship program.

During their internships, students report to Stephen Hocutt, unit manager for the TTEU and Ryan Patterson, research operations manager at the CEU, and work with other student employees, staff and faculty.

As the latest interns prepared to return to Honduras, they reflected on their experiences in Raleigh. Read what Mauricio Delgadillo from Nicaragua and Joel Quintero from Honduras shared about their time with us.

What is your role at NC State? How did you end up here?

Mauricio Delgadillo holding a heritage turkey
Mauricio Delgadillo holding a heritage turkey

Mauricio
I am currently a student intern at the Talley Turkey Education Unit. I am here because my university in Honduras has an internship program, which provides opportunities for us to have a taste of what the real world is like once we graduate.

Poultry is a big deal in Central America so I wanted to take a peek and see what the industry has to offer. After the selection in my university, I contacted the person in charge of the Zamorano internships at NC State and passed an interview with her and Dr. Grimes to be accepted.

Joel
I am a student intern student at the Talley Turkey Education Unit.

Zamorano has a wide internship program with opportunities in different entities around the world including universities and business. NC State has been part of the options in the program for many years, and it drew my attention so I applied for this internship.

How is Zamorano like Raleigh? How is it different?

Mauricio
Zamorano is a boarding school basically. We wear uniforms, have strict rules and schedules that in the end help us out.

Zamorano is a recognized university in Latin America in agricultural topics; it has a teaching system based on learning by doing and academic excellence. The work in Zamorano and in the Talley Turkey Educational Unit are similar in the activities that are done for the birds.

The main difference is in the tools that are used to do things, because in Zamorano things are done with different tools and a little less technology. The cold weather was definitely a change for us but we managed.

Joel

Joel Quintero in a pen with heritage turkeys
Joel Quintero in a pen with heritage turkeys

Zamorano is an agricultural Pan-American university that receives students from all Latin America, located in Honduras. It offers 4 different careers to choose:

  • Food science
  • Agro business
  • Environment and social development
  • Agricultural Science (which is the one I belong to)

Zamorano is not easy at all. Getting used to the system was hard, I think to this day it is hard to keep up with work and various classes each trimester.

We have what is called “learning by doing” which means we are taught things, while we work. It’s kind of like the lemma [motto] here, “Think and Do.” We get to experience everything about agriculture from animals and plants to machinery and food processing.

Tell us about your work/experience.

Mauricio
It was a good experience to learn more about poultry production and to work with such nice people, the farm crew and department have been very welcoming. In addition, I managed to improve my English skills; I learned a lot about turkeys, which we don’t have over there since there is no market for them. The poultry industry is huge!

Joel
During the 4 months I’ve been here I’ve extended my knowledge about turkeys and poultry science since we have been involved in different activities at the unit supporting the daily work at the farm and also during the trials that were taking place in it for different investigation purposes. I didn’t know poultry had so much to it. Getting to experience the whole process was pretty cool.

What’s the most important thing for people to know about your time here?

Mauricio
Everything and everyone in life teaches you a lesson. Being out of my comfort zone was hard but taught me new things about myself that I didn’t know.

Joel
It’s been a great experience to be part of the university during my internship because I got to experience a whole different spectrum of life, cultures and what the future holds. I am proud to say that I am studying to hopefully one day help to feed the world. Being here made that worthwhile! I sure do eat more chicken and turkey now.

What’s next for you?

Mauricio
Go back to Honduras to finish my senior year, and then return to my country Nicaragua where with my family we will continue to work at our farm and hopefully one day have our own broiler houses.

Joel
Graduation is in December of this year. Plans are still in the making but for now I will help my family out in the business we have and hopefully in a near future apply for a Food Science masters, possible with a poultry minor.

Any wisdom, advice or final thoughts?

Mauricio
Very thankful for this opportunity that was provided to us by Dr. Grimes. It was nice to get a taste of a new culture, people, food and experiences.

Joel
It is up to you to take advantage of the opportunities life gives you. Learn as much as you can, make friends and enjoy the ride.

I would like to thank Dr. Grimes for giving me the opportunity to do my internship here. I would also like to thank the Talley Turkey Education Unit staff for making this experience the best, for their patience and for always making us feel like at home.