Meat Cutting program to begin Fall 2022 at Ridgewater
February 8, 2022
Community and technical colleges like Ridgewater College have long offered solutions to workforce needs. Beginning in Fall 2022, Ridgewater will do so again by offering a new Meat Cutting program to expand its nationally-recognized Agriculture Department.
“Retirements of small-town butchers and growing shortages of meat processing workers due to the pandemic have elevated the need for this new Meat Cutting option,” said Jeff Miller, one of Ridgewater College’s deans of instruction. “We’ve been talking about it for months, doing our research with industry and potential partners.” The need is real.
“As a regional leader in agricultural education, we are very connected to our industry partners and local and regional producers, and they’re struggling to have accessible options for getting their animals slaughtered and processed for consumers,” Miller added.
Although news of the developing program addition has gained state media attention in the last couple of months, Ridgewater’s approval of the addition just became official on February 1.
Students will learn the meat cutting and processing business from farm to slaughter and market to consumer. The training will start with one full-time semester for the approved 18-credit Beginning Meat Cutting certificate available Fall Semester 2022. Two additional certificates are currently pending approval. These include an Advanced Meat Processing certificate and a Meat Cutting & Processing Entrepreneur certificate. The goal is to have these approved by spring of 2023.
In an effort to make the courses convenient for working students, Ridgewater will offer the courses two evenings a week and one weekend per month with both online and in-person learning.
Hands-on slaughtering experience will not take place at Ridgewater, but rather at an off-site, licensed facility.
“We have options,” Miller was pleased to share. “Several industry partners have shared an interest to partner as instructors, facility hosts, on-the-job trainers, and internship sponsors.” Ridgewater is also seeking accreditation approval through the Higher Learning Commission to ensure quality training.
“Students will graduate from Ridgewater and enter the workforce at an apprentice level knowing the foundations of meat cutting, food safety and handling,” Miller said.
To learn more about the Meat Cutting program as final details develop for Fall 2022, complete an interest form on the Ridgewater website at https://ridgewater.edu/academics/areas-of-study/agriculture-veterinary-technology/meat-cutting/.