by Hannah Rogers, ’12
Since the 1980s, the Rosenthal Meat Science Center, nestled behind Kleberg on west campus, has been serving Texas A&M and the Bryan-College Station community through its harvesting and meat processing practices, while also playing a pivotal role in A&M agricultural students that seek hands on experience.
The purpose of the meat center is to provide teaching to students, research, and public service activities to the Department of Animal Science. Students are able to receive hands on learning experience from harvest to retail.
“Our students participate in harvesting the livestock, processing the carcasses, packaging and distributing the retail cuts, and merchandizing the products,” Said Ray Riley, manager of the Rosenthal Meat Center.
Proceeds of the center compensate for the cost of the livestock, meat supplies, labor, and maintenance of the physical facilities to enhance the experience of students.
The Texas Barbecue class is a favorite among students, and is one of many first year seminar classes available to students at A&M. The purpose of the seminar class is to ensure a successful college experience and to help students’ transition into college life.
“We want to help first year students make their transition to college as simple and exciting as possible,” Riley said. “We do this by teaching the rich heritage of Texas Barbecue.”
The self-titled “super sophomores” are known to those freshmen that have taken the Texas Barbecue class as mentors for the freshman in their adjustment to college. These sophomores help the students with future course and instructor selections, parking lot tips, and all other decisions students face.
The student-workers at Rosenthal are involved in all faucets of the meat industry, such as: food safety, livestock harvesting, processing, curling and smoking, sausage manufacturing, packaging and merchandising.
“After graduation, our students are very prepared for the meat industry or to further their education in the graduate level,” Riley said.
Riley added that he is frequently contacted by industry people looking for his students after they graduate.
“At Rosenthal I have gained knowledge on proper harvest methods, the importance of adequate record keeping and inspection, as well as the skills to effectively cut meat for the retail sector of the meat industry,” Said Nathan Labus, senior animal science major and student worker at Rosenthal.
Student workers are often put into situations where they have to perform or make important decisions on their own, their skills learned from working at the center help them during these times.
“Although supervised, the majority of the work preformed at Rosenthal is done by students and graduate students.” Labus said. “This allows us to get a hands on feel for what its like to work in the industry, allowing us to form an opinion on a career that we might want to pursue.”
“Though the skills I have learned are important for my involvement at Rosenthal, the one that I have personally gained from being a student-worker has been the confidence to perform any task,” Labus said.
Hannah Rogers is a senior Agricultural Communications and Journalism major from Boerne, Texas.