The 44 Farms International Beef Cattle Academy, IBCA, isn’t Animal Science 101, and the students aren’t roaming the campus. The unique advanced beef education immersion program offered by Texas A&M University is developing beef industry leaders for tomorrow from around the world.
“What the students learn is very unique in terms of content and not something you find in regular animal science programs,” said Reinaldo Cooke, Ph.D., program coordinator and associate professor in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University. “Our students learn the latest technologies in beef cattle production, and they have the responsibility to share that information once they complete the program with their companies and stakeholders.”
In its third year, the international academy is the brainchild of Cliff Lamb, Ph.D., head of the Department of Animal Science, and Cooke. The first year attracted students from eight different countries. Five countries were represented this year.
2020-2021 academy offers scholarships
The next academy begins in September and continues through August 2021. The 12-month program includes eight online modules of 30 hours each through the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service platform.
New this year is an offer of $100,000 in scholarships to cover up to 70% of tuition costs for scholarship recipients. The application process is underway and will close on Aug. 2.
Cooke said scholarships are limited and will be awarded based on student profile and potential contribution to the IBCA goal, which is to advance knowledge to enhance beef production and quality across the globe.
“We hope these new scholarships help extend participation in the academy to a broader audience,” he said. “There’s no such program like this that provides this level of information to stakeholders or students around the world. If you are not in the U.S. and you want to have some kind of involvement with Texas A&M, this is a way to do it.”
Not your ordinary student/classroom situation
Cooke said they want to attract students who are progressive and who are ready to learn from the best scientists from all disciplines in different states and nations. Approximately 25 Texas A&M faculty and another 20-plus come from outside the university.
Classes are taught online with pre-recorded lectures. Students have access to emerging technologies in cattle reproduction, nutrition, genetics, health and welfare pertaining to all phases of beef production, as well as the quality and safety of beef and its products.
Each week there is an interactive session which allows for one-on-one student/instructor interaction, he said. These interactive sessions are customized, unique experiences based on the needs and demands of the students.
Knowledge pays off
Amanda Faver, a rancher in Sargent, Nebraska, said going through the program changed many things for her personally and for her Angus cow/calf and stocker cattle operation.
“How often do you get to work one on one with the leading industry professionals and leaders in academia and beef cattle research?” Faver said. “How often do you get to ask them a question pertaining to your herd specifically and get a personally formulated reply? In this program, you do every day.”
She said since attending the academy in 2019 she has been able to streamline and implement multiple new reproductive technologies, achieving nearly 100% conception rates.
“Our weaning weights have never been better, and I now look at a lot of things differently when it comes to my operation. This program is designed for anyone who loves beef cattle. From industry leading professionals and CEO’s to those who might be new to cattle in general, there is no mold for this program.”
Faver said 44 Farms and Texas A&M have put together in a year-long program what it would take five years to achieve in academia.
“This program is a class act, and you will not be disappointed,” she said.