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    Graduate Students Make an Impact – Honored for Research Benefiting North Carolina

    Each year, the UNC at Chapel Hill Graduate School recognizes graduate student research that is improving the lives of people in North Carolina and beyond. The Impact Awards recognize outstanding graduate students whose research covers a variety of areas: education, the environment, economic development, health, public administration and more.


    “For the seventh year, the Impact Awards are recognizing outstanding graduate students whose research offers reason for hope—whether it's the promise of saving a life or saving a way of life,” said Graduate School Dean Steve Matson. “This year's award-winning research covers a variety of areas: education, the environment, economic development, health, public administration and more. The recipients, however, share a determination to find answers to some of our state's most compelling challenges.”

    2012 IMPACT Award:
    From Farm to Fork? An Empirical Investigation of Challenges Faced by North Carolina's Small Meatpackers

    Tina Prevatte (MCRP '09, City and Regional Planning and MBA '09, Business Administration)

    The “local food” trend gains momentum each year, presenting opportunities and challenges for North Carolina's small farms and meatpacking operations.

    “Tina stands out among her cohort for her ability and willingness to take the lessons learned from her research and go the next logical step in authoring a tangible solution,” said Prevatte's adviser, Nichola Lowe, Ph.D.

    Tina Prevatte, who received her master's degrees in city and regional planning and business administration in 2009, investigated barriers to success for small meatpackers. Ultimately, she co-founded a business to expand market opportunities for the state's livestock producers and small meatpackers. She surveyed 20 small meatpackers and conducted extensive interviews with some in that group. Prevatte also interviewed stakeholders who regularly interact with the state's small meatpackers and researched the industry as a whole.

    Her findings come down to the importance of collaboration, that “bringing interested packers together into a marketing and sales cooperative would be an important step in developing them as more viable and dynamic links in the local food system.”

    Prevatte and Jennifer Curtis, who directs NC Choices (a Center for Environmental Farming Systems initiative), developed a business plan that became an independent business: Farmhand Foods. Their business sources whole animals from a network of North Carolina's pasture-based livestock producers who are raising their animals humanely. “We work with two different small meatpackers to create product, and then do the legwork necessary to market and distribute these local meats to local restaurant and retail customers.” The business began selling into wholesale markets in March 2011.

    “I hope to contribute to rural economic development here in my home state for many years to come,” Prevatte said.

    Learn more about the 2012 IMPACT Awards and the research that benefits North Carolina.

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