Antonio Beitia’s plans to change the world were fueled by The Poultry Federation’s commitment to developing future leaders.
Beitia obtained his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Arkansas with the help of The Poultry Federation’s scholarship.
The state’s poultry trade association has awarded scholarships to more than 300 qualifying Arkansas college students over the last two decades.
Beitia was a recipient of the scholarship for multiple semesters while earning his bachelor’s degree in poultry science, master’s degree in agricultural economics, and Ph.D. in poultry science and nutrition. He began working for an international broiler breeder and supplier, Aviagen. Beitia is part of Aviagen’s executive training program, immersing himself in every aspect of the company’s operations.
“I see the power the poultry industry has in the battle against hunger, and that was a turning point for me to learn as much as I can about it,” Beitia said. “Working for a genetics company, we have a huge impact in the fight against world hunger. There’s a symbiotic relationship in how everything works and comes together. Being able to see every part of the company and understand it is just one step closer to being able to keep fighting against hunger everywhere.”
Beitia is a first-generation American college graduate from a four-generation farm family in Panama. His family raised cattle and grew rice and corn. When he relocated to the United States to attend community college, he met some University of Arkansas educators at a national conference and continued his education in Fayetteville.
Recognizing the economic challenges he faced as an international student, he sought out The Poultry Federation scholarship. “It is very challenging economically to be able to afford an education abroad,” he said. “You have these dreams and the passion, but you might not necessarily have the economic opportunity to pursue them. The scholarship was a great thing and it was how I could keep pushing my dreams.”
Holly Duval, director of marketing and business development for The Poultry Federation, said The Poultry Federation Allied Industries Scholarship Fund pays scholarships of between $500 and $15,000 depending on the student’s academic level. Students who have previously received a scholarship may reapply each year, as Beitia did. Duval said the federation’s goal is to support students throughout their time in college.
An applicant must be a full-time student at a university/college in Arkansas. Students must be at least a sophomore with a 2.5 grade point average and must be pursuing a degree that may lead them to a career in the poultry industry.
“Part of our mission statement is to encourage and support youth programs in poultry work,” Duval said. “We believe that by providing financial assistance to students pursuing a career in the poultry industry, we are a part of developing the future leaders of the poultry and egg industry, not only in Arkansas, but across the world.”
Duval said the state’s poultry integrators gain a significant benefit from the scholarship program because it broadens the talent pool for qualified professionals in the industry. Many recipients have secured good jobs in the industry from integrators who have recognized their skills as interns before they have graduated.
Beitia said there was more than just monetary benefit to the scholarship. For Beitia, The Poultry Federation opened the door to the industry through networking events offered to scholarship recipients. He met The Poultry Federation President Marvin Childers and others because he received the scholarship.
“There’s a huge amount of value in that. You get to meet those people and learn from them, and that is as valuable as the financial support they give,” Beitia said. “My achievements have all come from the help that has been provided to me, and I’m thankful for the people who believed in me.”
Source: Arkansas Grown 2021