14:29 PM

Developing the Nation’s First Food Safety & Quality Degree

Johnsonville & other food manufacturers collaborate with Lakeland University to create new bachelor’s program

SHEBOYGAN, Wis.— The nation’s first Food Safety and Quality bachelor’s degree is now possible, thanks to collaboration among Wisconsin’s food manufacturers and Lakeland University in Sheboygan County, Wis.

Lakeland University will make this new accredited bachelor’s degree available for the first time this fall.

In support of this new accredited degree, Johnsonville donated $500,000 to help Lakeland create a state-of-the-art, on-campus lab allowing hands-on experience that replicates the work conditions that students will find on the job. Johnsonville joined the University and other business supporters in a ribbon-cutting event held in April at the school’s campus.

“Producing safe and wholesome products is mission critical for any food manufacturer,” said Kevin Ladwig, vice president at Johnsonville. “With targeted classroom studies and hands-on experience, students will be well prepared to find challenging and rewarding careers in the food industry.”

In partnering with Johnsonville and the state’s other food manufacturers, Lakeland said this new degree blends the science of biology and chemistry with best business practices to prepare students for careers in food processing. Graduates will be well-rounded manufacturing professionals equipped to advance in the production of food, while also possessing finance, management philosophy and other skills needed to lead people to their potential.

Lakeland also enlisted several other Wisconsin major corporate meat and cheese partners in developing the program, including: Sargento, Masters Gallery Foods, Old Wisconsin, Usinger’s, Klement’s Sausage and Miesfeld’s.

“As we talked more with food-industry employers, it became clear there was a need for this degree,” said Brian Frink, dean of Lakeland’s School of Science, Technology & Education. “Employers often struggle to find people interested in going into this industry, and many people don’t understand these jobs exist.”

Unlike a food-science degree, which prepares students for food research and development, Lakeland’s food safety and quality program focuses on the safe production of food. Students in the program will learn from food industry leaders by working and earning credit both in Lakeland’s classrooms and at local employers.

For food-industry employers, the program provides a new pipeline for employees in a critically important career.

For people already working in the food industry, the degree can assist by exposing the worker to new roles or a new career path within the food-safety field. Lakeland will work with experienced foodservice employees and their employers to design their own coursework that will allow them to earn academic credit for projects happening at their workplace.

“We are so thankful to Johnsonville for being a corporate partner in this program and making this generous investment in our shared vision,” said Lakeland President David Black. “Johnsonville’s investment is an example of the partnership we are developing with local companies who are dedicated to developing the curriculum needed in this major to create a premier and sought-after degree in the food industry.”

Added Michael Stayer-Suprick, president, Johnsonville-International: “Johnsonville is excited to partner with Lakeland to create a unique degree in the food industry that combines science, technology and business acumen to enhance food safety and production throughout the entire industry. This will be a great opportunity for many in the years to come as they seek exciting and rewarding careers.”

About Johnsonville, LLC

Wisconsin-based Johnsonville is the No. 1 national sausage brand, featuring: brats, Italian sausage, smoked-cooked links, breakfast sausage, summer sausage, Grillers and meatballs. Johnsonville products are served in more than 130 professional, college and semi-pro sports stadiums throughout the U.S.

Johnsonville employs approximately 1,900 members. Founded in 1945 by the late Ralph F. and Alice Stayer, the privately held company remains family owned today, providing various sausage products in more than 40 countries. For additional information, visit www.johnsonville.com.