Discovering Meat Science
Although he grew up in Idaho, Brendan Negri had never been north of Riggins prior to attending a University of Idaho recruitment event his senior year of high school.
Originally from Mountain Home, Negri also never saw himself joining the meat industry. His experiences in Moscow broadened his horizons and introduced him to new opportunities — and a career in meat science.
Negri grew up hunting and butchering game animals with his dad and was planning on a career as a fish and game warden. At the beginning of his sophomore year at U of I he realized his true passion.
“I’ve always enjoyed cutting meat and hunting with friends, but I didn’t realize that was my passion until I came to school here,” Negri said.
Negri applied for a position with the U of I meat science lab and Vandal Brand Meats his sophomore year on the recommendation of his now-wife, Lillie, a student in the U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
“It started as a hobby, but when I came back to work at the meat lab for my second year I realized I really enjoyed being there,” he said.
With the help of Vandal Brand Meats manager James Nasados and the late Ron Richard he recognized his passion for meat science.
“James and Ron both inspired me and helped me to acknowledge my desire and passion to work in the meat industry,” Negri said. “They were helpful to me in so many ways besides school, I consider them to be great friends and mentors who have helped me develop into who I want to be.”
Negri is excited for the new meat processing facility being built in Richard’s honor.
“What I’ve learned in our facility has been invaluable,” he said. “Having more space and more capability will benefit the entire community and bring new educational opportunities to students. They’ll be able to better relate the knowledge they gain at U of I to the meat industry.
“I’ve become really passionate about this industry and I love seeing people buy high quality steaks and know that I helped with every process of that. I’m excited for more students to have the opportunity to experience that joy.”
A Bright Future
Last year Negri was working in the U of I meat science lab during an animal science course and a student asked him why he didn’t teach meat science.
“After that I really thought about it a lot more, I thought about opening a custom meats shop, as well as other options with some direction from Michael Colle and Phil Bass,” he said. “I realized I really wanted to be in the industry and looked to them for guidance on what the next step should be. I realized all of the potential with going into the meat industry, it was a foot hold to lead me into whatever I wanted to do later.”
Negri credits CALS Assistant Professor Phil Bass for making his career opportunity a reality.
“After expressing my interest in the meat industry, Phil contacted me about an opportunity to meet with Agri Beef for a potential career opportunity,” Negri said. “Phil is a great attribute to the college and has a wealth of connections that help set students up for success and careers in the meat industry.”
As Negri looks to new horizons and a new career, he also reflects and reminisces about the experiences he has gained at U of I and how they have impacted his life and his future.
“I think the university is a hidden gem,” he said. “There’s a lot of outreach and known opportunities, but there’s also a lot of unknown opportunities. Whatever you’re expecting U of I to be, it’s going to be that, so much more, and something you will never expect. You’ll have opportunities you may have never seen coming.”
Negri will graduate in December 2019 with a degree in natural resource conservation from U of I’s College of Natural Resources. He has accepted a job in Toppenish, Washington at Agri Beef’s Washington Beef Processing Plant. Negri will join the management training program to become a beef packing plant supervisor.
“I’m really excited about being done with school, but still being able to continue to broaden my horizons with new things and new opportunities,” he said. “I’m really excited to take the next step forward in my career, as well as Lillie’s, and become more independent married people. I’m looking forward to seeing where life takes us and taking the next step in my life with my wife.”
Article by Hannah Doumit, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Photos by Joe Pallen, University Communications and Marketing
Published in December 2019
Whatever you’re expecting U of I to be, it’s going to be that, so much more, and something you will never expect. You’ll have opportunities you may have never seen coming.Brendan Negri