An ESPN film crew shoots footage of the poultry facility before the football game against Boise State. It is the first humane-certified university poultry facility in the nation. Photo courtesy Michelle Ganci
Michelle Ganci, a Fresno State animal science professor, received the California Poultry Federation’s highest honor at its annual conference in Monterey last month.
The federation’s awards committee unanimously voted to grant Ganci the Golden Rooster Award for her major contributions to the poultry industry.
“It’s such a special award for me to be honored in the same way some of our amazing industry leaders have been awarded,” Ganci said. “There are so many people that do so many great things for the industry – for moving it forward, for students – so it was a really great surprise for me. It was an honor.”
Nick Wolfenden is a Fresno State student studying animal science and livestock management. He said he cannot think of anyone more deserving of the award than Ganci.
“She’s really a leader in the industry of poultry,” he said. “Anybody you talk to in the industry—the CEO of Foster Farms, the CEO of Pitman, all the big producers—they all know her by heart.”
Ganci is the owner and operator of California Poultry Consultants and teaches at Fresno State.
In 2005, Ganci started the poultry production program, in which students at the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology get practical education to prepare them for jobs in the industry after they graduate.
Ganci also helped bring the Foster Farms Poultry Education and Research Facility to the university in March. She said the facility, which is on the Fresno State farm north of Barstow Avenue, meets all the standards of the American Humane Association, and every chicken raised there is American Humane Certified.
It is the first humane-certified university poultry facility in the nation.
“My focus is making sure we do quality research and do the best job we can to make sure we take care of the animals at the Fresno State farm,” she said. “The industry is very viable here, and we have a lot of great students.”
Wolfenden said he can speak from experience that students involved in the poultry program at Fresno State are benefitting from Ganci’s expertise.
“She’s such an informative teacher,” he said. “She’s there for her students. She helps you with your résumé; she can get you jobs when you graduate. There’s so many reasons why she’s deserving of this award.”
Ganci said that her main goal is to help students prosper in the poultry industry.
“It’s about being able to work with students and help them realize their abilities and successes through getting good jobs and internships,” she said. “To see so many students that come from Fresno State be so successful in the animal science and poultry industry—that’s probably my greatest accomplishment—to be involved in that and help them.”
Ganci said she hopes to continue her career in the animal science industry by expanding what she started at Fresno State.
“I definitely want to grow the poultry program and continue to do science-based education and research,” she said. “I think we’ve got a great thing started that we can continue to expand upon.”