Alumni Spotlight: McKenna Lupkes
McKenna Lupkes received her bachelor’s degree in animal science with a minor in meat science in 2015, and her Master’s degree in meat science in 2017. Currently, McKenna works as a technical service manager for Kemin in their pet food unit.
In her role, she works to support sales and customers, sends results from the lab testing services and works with lab samples. This includes rendered protein meals, fats and oils, finished kibble and treats, meat slurries, freeze-dried products and anything else going into pet food. McKenna interprets lab results and communicates them and any findings to customers. Before COVID, McKenna also traveled 75-80% of the time, covering the U.S. and Mexico.
“It’s the most rewarding when a customer comes with a problem and I can help solve it. I enjoy the investigation,” says McKenna. She encourages graduating students to keep Kemin on their radar. “Kemin is family owned and operated and cares about its people. There are many business units within Kemin with opportunities to move around and learn through internal classes and trainings.”
McKenna credits courses offered in the animal science department for providing her with a solid foundation. “AN S 270, Foods of Animal Origin, set the stage and made me excited about meat science; AN S 324, Food Processing for Companion Animals, introduced me to the pet food industry; and AN S 460, Processed Meats, sealed the deal for me in pursuing my Master’s degree in meat science.” McKenna uses this knowledge to better understand the pet food industry and how it utilizes meats in products.
While at Iowa State, McKenna was involved in the Meat Science Club, Graduate Student Association of Animal Scientists, the meat science quiz bowl team and worked during the summer in Dr. Lonergan’s lab.
McKenna encourages students to seek out mentors and make connections. “Connect with who you work with and your mentors or professors - it can help get your foot in the door at companies across the industry.” Making and valuing connections is an essential part of learning and growing throughout any undergrad, graduate or professional career. “Agriculture is a small world and smaller industry, just say 'hello' and branch outside your comfort zone to talk with people every chance you can.”