In Press: AFS’s Raider Red Meats carves out a niche during COVID-19 pandemic
By: Tyne Morgan
Recently, Michael Orth, the chair of Texas Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Tate Corliss, director of Raider Red Meats, and Wendy Woerner, Raider Red Meats sales manager, spoke with the Farm Journal's-Pork Tyne Morgan about some of their efforts during COVID-19, an effort aimed at proving the department is a cut above the rest. Here's part of the conversation.
Behind the doors at Texas Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences, students and faculty have found a recipe of success. "We've been growing at 16 percent a year since 2008," says Michael Orth, department chair. "And this year, in 2020, even with the pandemic, we actually have reached 1,000 undergraduate students for the first time in our history."
Orth and others within the department at Texas Tech are also celebrating success beyond the classroom. In this case, it was carefully-timed adjustments to the operations of Raider Red Meats, a retail meat store at Texas Tech, and one run by students.
"It was a huge switch over to a lot of the staples: ground beef, chuck, roast, round roast, things like that," said Tate Corliss, director of Raider Red Meats.
"I have to brag on them [the students]," added Raider Red Meats Sales Manager Wendy Woerner. "They're the elite group on campus, and we have students from all across the board: ag economics, ag communications, and a lot of our students are animal and food science students here in the department."
Those students shined even during the pandemic, not even skipping a beat when they were being called on to serve a growing need. As the pandemic threw the meat supply chain into chaos, Raider Red Meats carved out a new niche. The team did that by moving to a lot of curbside home deliveries, and just adapting its normal sales model.
"They were dealing with a new type of customer need," Woerner said. "Customers were coming in and calling in and they wanted to pick up a curbside order, our students really stepped up to the plate, they were willing to put that mask on and go out and greet that customer and take good care of them." The overflowing demand wasn't just at the retail meat counter, but also in calls for custom harvesting.
For Orth, the work done during the pandemic highlights how the university is preparing students for a field of opportunities. "Raider Red Meats is just a prime example of that high-impact learning experience so that they can get here," he said. Even as some campus departments are focused on a majority of online courses this fall, Orth said his department is 75-to-80 percent in-person learning.
"We fight for that because our motto is 'discovering solutions, empowering students and serving society,'" Orth said. "With that high-impact learning experience, which is something that our students need, we were going to do whatever it took in order to make that possible for our students."
CONTACT: Michael Orth, chairman, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-5653 or firstname.lastname@example.org
1006NM20 / Editor's Note: For the full-text version of Tyne Morgan news item in the Farm Journal's-Pork, please click here
For more information about Raider Red Meats, please click here
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