Daryl Thomas (left) and Dennis Byrne of Herr's.

Good neighbors

University and Herr's renew commitment

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7:54 a.m., Feb. 22, 2013--The University of Delaware and Herr’s have renewed their commitment, assuring that a longstanding and fruitful relationship will remain strong into the future.

The agreement will see Herr’s products return to the UD campus beginning this spring and includes opportunities for tours of the Herr's plant and cattle farm for students and faculty in support of the education mission of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).

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Also, the agreement provides for the consideration of qualified CANR students to participate in formal internships at Herr's; continued support for other UD educational activities, including workshops on topics such as beef cattle quality assurance; participation of Herr's representatives at UD career fairs, and consideration of qualified UD students for employment opportunities.

Herr’s has been extremely helpful to UD over the years, especially when it comes to CANR, college officials said.

According to Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Herr’s was instrumental in helping equip UD with an Angus cattle herd. In particular, she cited the efforts of Dennis Byrne, manager of Herr Angus Farm and a 1977 UD graduate who was recently named an Ag Distinguished Alumni. 

“I came to UD in the late 1980s, and I was tasked with oversight of the beef cattle herd,” said Griffiths. She explained that at the time, UD’s herd consisted of a half-dozen crossbred animals that were not suitable to tell students were representative of beef cattle. 

Griffiths looked at various farms, planning to purchase cattle in order to start the new program, and met Byrne. “Through Dennis, Herr’s was very instrumental in providing us with some of our initial breeding stock,” said Griffiths. “So, essentially, the Angus cattle herd at UD was started with the assistance of Dennis Byrne and Herr’s.” 

Byrne said he has had great experiences working with CANR and noted that when he returned to campus to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, he was excited to see both the research being done at CANR and the job opportunities afforded to those who graduate from the college.

“The opportunities that [CANR] is creating for people in that field is really impressive,” Byrne said. “In my opinion, they’re going to continue to be on the cutting edge in the agriculture world.” 

In addition to the cattle herd, Herr’s has also helped CANR in other ways. The company, for instance, has a working cattle operation with 1,000 head of Angus that includes a feedlot, something that Griffiths stressed is very rare in the eastern part of the United States.

“Herr’s has a feedlot that is utilizing byproduct feeds from the manufacturing plant. They have very strict environmental standards to follow because they are dealing with not only the waste from the snack food manufacturing but also waste from the cattle operation,” said Griffiths. “So it’s a great place for students to go to look at all of the different things that are in place to deal with the environment and sustainability.”

Daryl Thomas, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Herr’s, explained that the students have also learned about how Herr’s recycles its wastewater, about its irrigation program, how the company utilizes recycled packaging and about its state of the art fuel saving program — the Herr’s plant is equipped with a steam recovery system. 

Nutrition and food science classes have also toured the Herr’s plant, and students have participated in workshops. One such workshop, Griffiths pointed out, was a beef quality assurance workshop at which Byrne showed students how to handle beef cattle, using a load of cattle Herr’s had just brought in from Virginia as an example of how to give vaccines and to see what happens in an intake situation with a large number of livestock arriving at a new farm. 

But it isn’t just CANR that benefits from the relationship with Herr’s. Thomas explained that he has also been able to give presentations to many business and marketing students, as well.  

“I have been a guest lecturer, and I was trying to calculate how long I have lectured for over the years -- if it was 100 hours, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration,” said Thomas. 

Thomas said that Herr’s is always receptive to doing events with UD, whether it be a company representative speaking at a class, UD students using Herr’s as part of their class projects, or CANR students from touring the Herr’s farm to learn about sustainability practices. 

“I would just say that we’ve been really good neighbors,” said Thomas. “We obviously have done business with UD in terms of selling our products on campus and so many of our employees reside in Delaware. We’ve had members of our management team get their master of business administration (MBA) degrees from UD, and we have also provided internships, so it’s the kind of an agreement in which the door is open and the receptivity is very warm.” 

Article by Adam Thomas

Photos by Danielle Quigley

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