WSCC starting butchery, meat-cutting apprenticeship programs

Walters State Community College will enroll the first students in its new butchery program in fall 2023. The program becomes the first meat-cutting program offered by a Tennessee community college and one of only two programs in the state.

This program is designed to meet the workforce needs of our service area,” Dr. Tony Miksa, president of Walters State, in announcing the program during a press conference on Tuesday at the college’s Sevier County Campus. “Students will be prepared to work in artisan butcher shops, grocery stores, and wholesale markets. The program will be offered for credit as a technical certificate and as part of a butchery apprenticeship program.”

The butchery program will be part of the Maples Institute for Culinary Arts at the Walters State Sevier County Campus.

The technical certificate in butchery has been approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The apprenticeship program in butchery has been approved by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Equipment was purchased through a grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

The program was developed in collaboration with the Chamber of Crafts from the state of South Thuringia, Germany, and the German American Chamber of Commerce. The partnership grew out of an outreach from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Morristown Chamber of Commerce.

We recognized the need for butchers and began considering both the apprenticeship and the technical certificate several years ago,” Dr. Anita Ricker, assistant dean of workforce development, said. “Then, we learned about the availability of the German partnership. We have come together on content collaboration, tool selection, and building practical lab exercises.”

Harris Country Meats of Greeneville has been approved for the program’s first


Butchery has almost become a lost art and with labor shortages across all businesses,” Brian Dudash, treasurer of Harris Country Meats, said. “It has been a challenge to find skilled craftsmen who are interested in working in a small butcher shop. We are excited that this Walters State program will develop these craftsmen and we are honored to be a part of the apprenticeship program.”

The technical certificate in butchery will include a well-rounded curriculum covering different aspects of meat and the fundamentals of culinary arts.

Students enrolled in our butchery program will learn through intensive hands-on experience,” said Joe Cairns, head of the Maples Institute for Culinary Arts. “Students will learn meat science, including primal and sub-primal muscle groups, genetics, breeding, raising, finishing, processing of different meats, and how specific animals are best marketed and utilized.”

The college offers an associate of applied science in culinary arts with technical certificates available in both hot foods and baking/pastry. The Maples Institute for Culinary Arts is named in honor of the late Rel Maples, a pioneer of Gatlinburg’s restaurant scene. His widow, the late Wilma Maples, was a generous benefactor of the college.