The Magic of Experiential Learning and Mentorship – Tony Krynski

Tony Krynski, BSc, is the Western Canada Technical Service Manager at Aviagen. Krynski works closely with Aviagen internal experts to help customers achieve the best-possible welfare, performance, and sustainability with their Ross birds. He is passionate about improving bird well-being and his experience, leadership skills and a deep understanding of the western Canadian poultry industry have proved invaluable to both his customers and his team at Aviagen. Krynski graduated from the U of A in 2015 with a BSc in Animal Health with focus on Food Safety and Quality. After working as Poultry Sales and Service Representative for Trouw Nutrition, Krynski joined Aviagen in 2023.

Tony Krynski entered university without a clear direction for his career. He signed up for a variety of general agriculture courses and poultry, in particular, was not top of mind. The combined mentorship of three powerful professors and a challenging assignment lit a spark that would ultimately fuel both passion and profession in the commercial poultry industry.

  1. Please describe the moment when you realized that working in the poultry industry could be a very real career choice for you.

This is an interesting question, because I think it is difficult to pin-point exactly when that happened.  My best guess is that the moment took place sometime after my first Animal Science 200 class. Dr. Robinson & Dr. Zuidhof (a poultry dream-team of lecturers) entered the classroom on the first day of the semester and proceeded to frighten everyone with what appeared to be an overwhelming required project proposal.  It turned out to be a difficult assignment, but it was also an amazing learning experience.  From there, things seemed to flow, and you could say my interests were hatched at this point, and the growing phase began.  As a young cockerel,  I was eager to learn, and there was a great environment of wonderful people who were very happy to teach.

  1. Did experiential learning influence your decision to work in poultry? (Example, hands-on work in the poultry unit, or as part of your grad studies, or through an internship?) How?

Experiential learning was key for me, and I am very thankful for all of the opportunities that I had. The best part was the people. I did not pursue graduate studies (sorry Martin), but I did volunteer to be free labour for behavior observations, dissections, layer trials, layer ship out, peeling eggs for pickled egg fundraiser, pullet transfers, and assisting undergraduate students with general husbandry in Dr. Zuidhof’s Animal Science Poultry Production class. This all led to working on a hatching egg farm with a great family of hatching egg producers. In the Food Safety/Quality Assurance direction, I also completed an independent project working in collaboration with Dr. Lynn McMullen, Richard Smith, and Dr. Petr Miller. The project involved working in a Biosafety level 2 laboratory, which is something most undergraduate students do not get the opportunity to do. This set me up to be a candidate for my first job out of university as a Quality Assurance Technician at a broiler hatchery, which encompassed my passions of both Food Microbiology and Poultry. 

  1. What teachers or poultry community mentors influenced your decision to work in poultry? What advice would you share based on your experience? 

This is perhaps the toughest question of all, because there are a number of individuals that I have met that have influenced who I am today. As mentioned before, together Dr. Frank Robinson and Dr. Martin Zuidhof, first in vivo implanted the idea of a career in poultry. Like good parents, they also nurtured the idea. Nancy Robinson (AHEP) has always been very passionate and an excellent person to converse with. Dr. Lynn McMullen was hugely motivational, always encouraging interest in the field of food microbes.  Dr. McMullen gave me the key advice that expressing ambition is a quality trait.  When I was first getting my footing in the scratch area of the poultry industry, Ryan, Ashley, Pieter, and Nettie Rietveld (Reitveld Poultry Farms) were also hugely influential and we had a lot of fun sharing successes while constantly quoting “A Night at the Roxbury.” 

Also on the farm, the service people who came around like Alex McCready, Dixie Dolan, Frank Maenhout, Stan Goth, and Matt Klassen always offered a different perspective, further piquing my curiosity.  Later, during my time in the feed industry, this was further cemented because of individuals such as Dave Dorland, Peter Klita, Don Buhay, Bill Smook, Al Richards, Art van Zanten, and Nancy Fischer. I found that when people genuinely enjoy and are passionate about what they do, that passion becomes infectious.  These people, whether they know it or not, have all helped me grow from a young cockerel into an experienced and contributing member in the industry.  

I would suggest that if a young pullet or cockerel is considering making a run at a career in this industry or any industry, they might learn from the following advice. 

1. Show interest and curiosity, be involved, and learn, both by your own experiences, but also by the successes and challenges of others.  

2. Most of all, own up to your mistakes. We all make mistakes as much as we all try not to, but being accountable and a team-player are excellent traits. 

3. Develop connections and find mentors to help you grow.  It is people who help stimulate us to be productive members in the workforce. We are who we are because of the people around us. 

4. Try to have fun with what you do. Having passion and enjoying what you do leads to growth and organic success.

Not to over-do it with the poultry references but imagine yourself as a pullet. It takes time, work, nutrition, self-care/health, and patience to develop a pullet with all of the characteristics required for production. It is only when that pullet has carefully developed all of the requirements for maturity that it will produce well, and for a long time.  

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