People of Poultry: Julia Neyedly, PRCSC President 2023

Life as a university student can be challenging. The stress of exams, uncertainty about the future, money woes and, for many, the trials of adjusting to life away from home for the first time. But it can also be a time when lifelong friendships are formed, careers are discovered, and unexpected new passions revealed. 

One of the ways that students can connect and learn from each other and their mentors is through university based clubs. The Poultry Research Centre Student Club (PRCSC) is a long-running organization for like-minded university students who are passionate about poultry. Members meet for wing nights and social events while seeking opportunities to partner with industry professionals and University of Alberta staff to volunteer and learn more about all aspects of the field of poultry science.

Over the years, the PRCSC has enjoyed both full, active membership and times when the club came close to disbanding. Current PRCSC President, Julia Neyedly, a 4th year student studying Animal Health in the Faculty of ALES, joined the PRCSC in a period of rejuvenation. Club participation numbers had already been declining when Covid-19 delivered a crushing blow to the organization. Many in academia and industry were working hard to reach out virtually and offer experience and opportunities to the students in whatever ways were possible at that time.  

Julia was approached in 2020 by then president Gabrielle Jensen, who was broadly campaigning friends and colleagues to step up and revive the club. 

“I never really thought about joining a club that was so niche,” she recalled. “But I had good friends that were involved, and it seemed like a great project to join and help get going again.”

They started with a bare bones group, with help from Dr. Doug Korver and Dr. Martin Zuidhof, Professors in the Faculty of ALES- Department of Agriculture, Food & Nutritional Science. Yet again, the charm and friendliness of the poultry community cast its spell and Julia discovered a world that she had not known to exist before. 

“I fell in love with the community,” said Neyedly. “I loved volunteering for the PRC whenever they needed help. And I just loved how relaxing some of the networking opportunities were.” 

Neyedly is one of the longest standing members of the current club, stepping up to be president in the fall of 2022. The PRCSC now has over 40 members that are on the mailing list, participate in social media and are available for volunteer opportunities. Many of the current PRCSC executive members are in the ALES Animal Health degree program and other members are in a pre-vet stream or represent a wide variety of university faculties including Mechanical Engineering, Conservation Biology, Anthropology and Crop Science. Everyone is welcome.

The club was originally formed to offer volunteer, research, and employment opportunities, and social events have always been an important part of the organization. Wing nights at the university pub, game nights, paint nights, fundraising activities such as bake sales and activities through Facebook and other virtual platforms keep members connected and add a fun social element to campus life. 

“The club executive is always brainstorming ideas to get people out for wing nights, social and fundraising events,” said Neyedly. “Most are really interested in volunteer opportunities.” 

Connecting students with industry and producer mentors and bridging the gap between classroom learning and hands-on experience is a passion for Dr. Frank Robinson, who developed the Ales Mini Internship Program (AMIP), highlighted in the January PIP Newsletter. Members of the current PRCSC have participated in the AMIP as well as volunteering for work at the U of A Poultry Unit. 

“So far we’re doing a lot of volunteering with the labs of Dr. Korver and Dr. Zuidhof,” said Neyedly. “When they finish a trial, they need help with processing, dissecting or cutting up the chickens for consumption.”

“Their labs will normally reach out to us and say they need help on these dates and we will forward the email to our members and try and get the word out. That’s kind of what we do, we help to disseminate the information.” 

“I don’t think a lot of the poultry club members have experience with things like that, so it was really cool for them to take a more hands on approach to seeing how their chicken comes to their plate,” she continued. 

“I was like, wow! I didn’t know that there was this much prep that went into processing these chickens.”

Members of the PRCSC are hungry for more hands-on activities, which have been challenging with the avian influenza (AI) outbreaks devastating farms across Alberta for the past year. PIP has created a form on its website with the intention of matchmaking farmers who need help with students eager to learn and get their hands dirty. The project has been on hold with the ongoing challenges of AI, but hopes are to get it up and running as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Neyedly acknowledges that, despite challenges like COVID-19 and the AI crisis, the desire to offer students opportunities for experiential learning and exposure to the poultry industry is strong on all fronts. 

“I do think that the will is there, and the desire to help and to build the club. I love that. I love that the producers and PIP and the professors are all making a big effort from all sides.”

Poultry students and industry professionals took part in a Get Set for your Future event in September 2022. Everyone enjoyed a pizza dinner and then students rotated through tables to have conversations and ask questions of 8 different poultry industry experts. There were representatives from turkey, chicken, egg and pullet farmers, poultry vets, the feed industry, processing, the U of A Poultry Unit, the Heritage Chicken Program and university academics and researchers. The evening was a great success, marking the first in-person student event for years. Participants also went home with an overflowing swag bag of items donated from the poultry industry and students reported that meeting face to face and having real conversations was inspiring and even life-changing in terms of career path potential and important networking contacts. Another Get Set for your Future event is in the planning stage for fall 2023.

PRCSC at the student event Get Set for Your Future in 2022

Neyedly also attended the event along with other members of the PRCSC.

“I thought it was a really neat opportunity to meet actually working people in industry,” she said. “We’d never done anything like that before, I thought it was great.”

She muses about what is special about the PRCSC and what students can expect if they sign up. 

“I don’t want to discredit other agriculture clubs because I think that they are important in their own way, but there’s not really a club that’s specific like this club,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for students to learn more about the poultry industry and to network with industry professionals and to meet people that are like-minded. That’s what I love about it.”

“At first, I wondered, how is this experience going to help me? And what I’ve realized is, it does make you stand out. It does give you a bit of an upper hand because you can speak from your lived experience. It’s really valuable.” 

How to join the PRCSC or get in touch with the club if you need volunteers. 

If you are interested in learning more about the PRCSC, please visit their Facebook page 

If you are an industry producer or farmer and you could use some volunteer help, please connect with Val Carney, PIP Lead at or Dr. Doug Korver at for next steps. 

To join the PRCSC, please fill out this form. You will be added to the mailing list and contacted for all upcoming activities and volunteer opportunities.

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