Virginia Cooperative Extension graduates the first two cohorts of its Mobile Processing Unit Certification Program at the VSU Randolph Farm
ETTRICK, Va.— There were 42 farmers from across Virginia who graduated from Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Mobile Processing Unit (MPU) Certification Program. Each received a certificate, together with a USDA Grant of Inspection, that entitles these producers to borrow the MPU, which saves them time and money harvesting their sheep, goats and rabbits, and enables them to sell meat beyond Virginia’s borders.
The certification program consists of five modules—four online and one hands-on module at VSU-VCE’s Randolph Farm. Through these modules, participants learn how to process small-ruminant red meat safely, butcher consumer cuts, compost properly, manage waste and market their products. To receive an MPU certification, participants must complete all assignments and quizzes, and submit a USDA Grant of Inspection for processing at their farm.
“Today marks another example of how the College of Agriculture is ensuring that ‘Greater Happens Here’ at Virginia State University via our Mobile Processing Unit Certification Program,” said Dr. Robert N. Corley III, interim dean of Virginia State University College of Agriculture and associate vice provost for Academic Affairs.
He congratulated graduates of both cohorts for completing the comprehensive certification program and thanked project director Dr. Dahlia O’Brien, and project co-directors, Dr. Theresa Nartea and Dr. Stephan Wildeus for their visionary leadership.
“These Extension specialists are VSU leaders who recognized a state-wide problem that small-ruminant producers experienced and they effectively addressed it by developing and implementing this innovative program that provides a highly sought-after service,” said Corley. “I also acknowledge the support of Commissioner Guthrie of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and our associate Extension administrator, Dr. Janine Woods.”
In a congratulatory letter, Commissioner Joseph Guthrie of VDACS also thanked O’Brien, Nartea and Wildeus for their leadership in developing this important program, and commended graduates for their accomplishments. “By completing this program, you have taken the first step into a very worthy career and are able to provide a highly sought-after service to Virginia’s agricultural producers.”
“I have taken many, many courses in my life but I cannot think of one that was as worthwhile, useful, and enlightening as the Mobile Processing Unit certification course, particularly the hands-on Saturday and Sunday sessions,” said Bill Rogers, an MPUCP graduate and small farmer from Shenandoah County, Va.
Photo submitted by VSU
Front Row, Left to Right
Chinette Turner,* Renard Turner (Louisa County), Apryl McDowell (Orange County), Dr. Dahlia O’Brien, MPCP director, Dr. Robert N. Corley III, interim dean of Virginia State University College of Agriculture and associate vice provost for Academic Affairs, Natasha Hatton (Brunswick County), Kim Boulden* (Hanover County), Dr. Theresa Nartea, MPCP co-director, Jim Hilleary (Loudoun County)
Back Row, Left to Right
Yusef Grey, Adnan Grey, Mohammed Grey (Orange County), Darryl Seay (Nottoway County), Dr. Stephan Wildeus, MPU Certification Program co-director, Paul Boulden Jr. (Hanover County) and Reuben Smith (Charles City County). * Wives joined in celebrating their husbands’ graduation.