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LHS meat lab targets national shortage

From Staff Reports
March 7, 2015 at 11:15 p.m.

Longview High School seniors DeKaylon Dudley, right, and Erik Perez, left, stand next to the smoker at Longview High School's new meat processing lab Sept. 24.

Longview High School opened a $2.2 million meat processing lab this past fall to prepare students for work as butchers and other jobs in the meat industry that are facing growing demand for personnel.

The lab is the only one of its kind east of Interstate 45, agriculture and science instructor John Denson said at the time.

It is aligned with similar facilities at Texas Tech, Tarleton and Texas A&M universities.

In addition to a state-of-the-art smoker, the lab includes a harvest floor, where students can learn how to process cuts of meat from an animal. The room boasts some of the newest equipment on the market. There also is a chilled room, aging room and processing room.

The lab has its own storage room with an additional freezer and refrigerator to store products.

Job opportunities for meat processing students are plentiful, Denson said. Graduates can get jobs straight from the program, or go on to further training in college.

"I've talked to several local grocers, and they all need trained meat processors," he said last fall.

"They have to train every person they're hiring right now."

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