For more than a decade, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) student Peyton Tipton has been raising chickens with her mom and dad in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“When I was 10 years old, my mom and I went to a feed store and we walked out with three baby chicks. We got them without having any prior knowledge, but we quickly learned,” Tipton says.
The May graduate came to NC State University because she wanted to be close to home and was interested in veterinary medicine.
“NC State has an excellent program. That was my main reason for choosing NC State,” Tipton says. She became more intrigued with the university after discovering she could even major in poultry science.
“I didn’t know that was even an option. As soon as I found out about the program, I knew that was the right choice for me,” says Tipton
Throughout her undergraduate studies, Tipton says she’s had a handful of experiential learning opportunities, many came from classes taught by Lynn Worley-Davis, professor and director of undergraduate programs for the Prestage Department of Poultry Science.
“Dr. Worley-Davis has been an excellent teacher and advisor. … We went on a tour of a processing plant in a hatchery and I feel like that’s really important to see things hands-on,” says Tipton. That experience changed her perspective on the meat industry and one might even say changed her life.
“Before that I didn’t eat meat at all. Now I eat poultry because I got to see the correct way to process animals. It was interesting to see how processing is supposed to be done and how humane it is,” Tipton says. “Not everyone gets that luxury to see that, so there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and it’s really important to educate people. I don’t know the best way to do that … but it’s really important.”
Tipton also spent time in research labs, working alongside Frank Edens, professor of physiology and immunology.
“We’ve done some really interesting research with the diversity of poultry based on its strain and how quickly some poultry grow and develop so that we can have better meat birds,” Tipton explains. And she’ll be back in Eden’s lab over the summer as she’s accepted a position as a research assistant. Her work in the lab will focus on infectious diseases in turkeys.
“My goal right now is to continue on to a Master of Physiology. From there, I’m going to apply to veterinary school,” she says. She hopes to primarily work with poultry and other large animals such as cows and pigs.
Although Tipton will pursue her master’s degree upon graduation, she says employers in the poultry industry are looking to fill available positions with new graduates — a promising sign for fellow and future poultry science graduates.
Tipton might have come to NC State for a degree in biology, but she couldn’t be happier with her degree in poultry science.
“I never imagined that I would major in poultry science and then go on to get my master’s in physiology. I wouldn’t have imagined that coming in as a freshman,” she says. Her advice to incoming freshmen: “Really explore and be open to new ideas. That allows you to find where you belong.”
This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.