AMES, IOWA – The Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University received commitments of more than $2 million in private donations for its new Turkey Teaching and Research Facility.

The college held a groundbreaking ceremony on April 8.

“This tremendous new turkey research, teaching and extension facility, with support from industry partners and private donors, will ensure we are providing the best hands-on education for students and the infrastructure to drive new scientific discoveries across the turkey industry,” said Dan Thomson, PhD, chair of the Iowa State University animal science department. “Adding this to our recently opened Hamilton Poultry Teaching and Research Farm will complete our cutting-edge facilities to write the next great chapter of Iowa State poultry science history.”

The Turkey Teaching and Research Facility plans to be a hands-on learning facility for modern production practices, flexible space and state-of-the-art equipment for research. The new facility also plans to have outreach, continuing education, peer-to-peer opportunities for professionals in the industry and observation areas where visitors can view examples of turkey production systems.

Iowa State said the facility will be the only one of its kind focused on turkey production at a major university.

A lead gift was provided by Jim and Julie Balloun of Atlanta, Ga. Jim received his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Iowa State and is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Acuity Brands Inc., a lighting and building management firm headquartered in Atlanta. His father, Stanley L. Balloun, served as professor in animal science at Iowa State and was an international expert and leader in the science of turkey feed.

West Liberty Foods, headquartered in West Liberty, Iowa, and the Iowa Turkey Federation, headquartered in Ames, Iowa, also made donations.

“Iowa’s turkey farmers have a continuous desire to learn new information on how to better care for their turkeys and the environment,” said Gretta Irwin, executive director of the Iowa Turkey Federation. “We are delighted to partner with Iowa State on an exceptional new facility that will serve its excellent faculty and students and help provide industry and farmers with the resources and information they need to move in the right direction with their operations.”

According to Iowa State, Iowa’s turkey industry is one of the largest in the United States, ranking seventh in turkey production, raising approximately 12 million turkeys annually. The industry supports over 38,000 jobs and is responsible for more than $10 billion annually in economic activity throughout Iowa.