Marlow Students Demonstrate New Ag Lab

by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard

Marlow High School hosted State leadership and media on Tuesday for a tour of the new meat processing lab on campus. The lab is funded using CARES Act money through a partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and Oklahoma CareerTech.

Among the guests was Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur, who emphasized the importance of skill development in meat processing in the state.

“There are facilities throughout the state who are ready to hire skilled personnel right away,” Arthur said.

The Secretary added that profits increase when food is produced and processed locally. “It’s value-added when consumers know food producers. They know how their food is raised, and people don’t mind paying a little extra when they know that the producer is their neighbor.”

The collaboration with CareerTech includes online certification curriculum that teaches students food safety and equipment operation. The equipment, which is commercial-grade and state-of-the-art, is supplied as part of the program.

State CareerTech director Dr Marcie Mack was also in attendance at the tour of the new lab.

“The online curriculum is available to anyone in addition to being used in classrooms,” Mack said. “Knowing the equipment and how to use it opens doors to job opportunities.”

In addition to 11 labs in high schools and CareerTech sites, the program also offers a mobile meat trailer with the same equipment and a built-in freezer that can be used at educational sites state-wide. Mack said that the trailer has a full schedule through July 2021.

Students in the program demonstrated processing techniques including grinding, tenderizing, and vacuum-packing fresh pork that they had previously learned to break down into different cuts of meat.

Other learning objectives include profit analysis when spices and seasonings are added, as well as ensuring food safety and sanitizing the equipment.

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