The University of Wisconsin Poultry Club has catered to the needs of its fowl-fascinated members and the surrounding Madison community since the early 1950s.
Members of the organization strive to raise awareness about poultry its surrounding industry. There are no membership requirements, besides an interest in birds.
Poultry club secretary Annie Hudkins said the current membership board of the organization boasts a diverse range of majors and academic interests.
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“Right now, our president studies entomology, our treasurer studies animal science, our CALS representative studies music education and I study elementary education and Spanish,” Hudkins said.
Hudkins said some club members have a background in raising flocks of birds, but others have never interacted with one before joining the club.
Alexis Reily, vice president, said the organization’s main focus is outreach. The club partakes in multiple campus and statewide events each year, Reily said.
Reily said one of the club’s primary events used to be CALS Day for Kids, where local fourth graders would pay the UW campus a visit to meet with agriculture-based student groups.
“Poultry club would bring pullets, young hens and teach basic chicken anatomy, as well as answer questions,” Reily said.
The event has since been discontinued, but Reily said the club continues to stay involved through participating in an event called Saturday Science at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.
The poultry club also focuses its efforts on fundraising. More recently, the organization ran its turkey sale. The sale is the main fundraising activity of the club and has taken place every year for over 60 years, as reported by the Wisconsin State Farmer.
According to the article, the turkey sale has undergone several changes throughout its six-decade lifespan.
In the early years of the turkey sale, turkeys left over from research projects were both raised and processed by the poultry club, Hudkins said. After turkey research came to a close, a Madisonian grower provided the organization live turkeys for processing.
Size limitations of birds offered by the local grower led to the club’s decision to switch to buying pre-dressed, fresh turkeys from a Minnesotan grower, Hudkins said.
The club sells around 140 turkeys each year and customers can place orders based on their preferred size of bird, Hudkins said.
Reily said club members remain involved in the turkey sale despite its many changes.
“Although we don’t raise, harvest and process the Thanksgiving turkeys anymore, the snack sticks are still made by poultry science club members,” Reily said
A springtime sale of poultry meat in the form of “snack sticks” is the club’s other main fundraiser, Reily said.
Hudkins said that some years, club members have even gotten the opportunity to participate in the preparation of snack sticks by visiting the campus Meat Lab.
According to the article by the Wisconsin State Farmer, money raised from the turkey and snack stick sales goes towards funding the cost of travel for club members to attend the International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta.
“[The expo] is the world’s largest annual poultry, meat and feed industry event of its kind,” Reily said.
Hudkins said about four to five club members get the chance to attend IPPE each year.
Interested students can partake in job interviews at the event, and a large trade show advertises new commercial poultry technology to producers, Hudkins said.
“[The expo] allows those with commercial poultry interests to become informed on the latest issues facing the industry,” Hudkins said.
Monthly meetings of the organization even include meals prepared by retired UW poultry specialist professor Lou Arrington. Last month’s meal was duck fajitas using a recipe featured at the Wisconsin State Fair.
For more information on the poultry club, visit their Facebook page or their Wisconsin Involvement Network webpage.