Our People: Chrysta Beck
Author: Connor Guyton
"I was recruited by Mississippi State's Poultry Science Department while I was participating in a science fair. Everything has snowballed from there."
Chrysta Beck, a sophomore, started raising chickens in third grade as part of her involvement in 4H. Learning about production methods developed into researching how different diets effected her brood. By high school, she was researching avian diseases.
At an international science fair in California, she was convinced by recruiters to consider MSU when she started looking at colleges. Being from Ohio, attending school in Mississippi would be a long way from home.
"When I visited MSU, it wasn't competitive when you first walked in," Beck said. "I felt comfortable and it seemed like everyone was here to help you—I wasn't just going to be a number. It was nice to know that they really cared about my future."
Being "just a number" in the MSU Poultry Science Department, though, has a history of being a good thing. Since the first Poultry Science degree was awarded in 1948, graduating seniors have had many opportunities for employment within the poultry industry—giving the department a 100 percent placement rate.
Beck has continued avian research since coming to MSU. Serving as a research assistant to Assistant Professor Dr. Aaron Kiess, Beck is working on an ongoing project to study effects of probiotics in chickens' diets.
"We started with broiler eggs and injected them with a probiotic to see if that would improve their health when they hatched—or if it effected hatchability at all," Beck said. "Since they hatched, we have been looking at different diets with probiotics."
Beck plans to attend veterinary school upon completion of her poultry science degree, then return to the poultry industry to continue research.
One of her favorite aspects of the poultry science program so far has been the hands-on experiences she has had in- and outside of the classroom. Beck said working with live birds in classes is a welcome change from sitting in lectures learning information that she doesn't know if she'll need in the future. However, students considering poultry science shouldn't chicken out if research and working with animals isn't what they ultimately see themselves doing.
"Poultry Science is a really specific major, but the program is really diverse," Beck said. "Once you're here, you can go toward the business side and learn about the marketing or human resources side of the industry; you can go the science route with the pre-veterinary program; or you can go into live production. There are so many options and there's really so much we can learn about."