SCC’s Ammonia Program Gains Interstate Appeal

The buzz surrounding Sampson Community College continues this week as visitors from out-of-state visit campus in search of reliable training for employees across state lines. Sanderson Farms based in Laurel, Mississippi, sent representatives to SCC to scout the college’s Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration facilities and meet with instructors of the program in Clinton, NC.

“While we already know the level of training that we provide here, we always welcome industry from outside of our normal service area to come visit us,” says Katie Brown, Director of Customized Training for Sampson Community College. “We are one of the very few providers of this type of training that can do it and do it very cost-efficiently for our industry leaders and we are proud to say that.”


PHOTO: SCC Ammonia refrigeration instructor Leerkes (third from left) shows off the facility to Sanderson Corporate Maintenance Managers, Norman Butts (second from left) and Dean Jackson (R). Current student, Tevlen Murphy from Smithfield company’s Tarheel Plant, observes.

Sanderson Farms, which has processing plants in the proximity of Sampson Community College, the industry is interested in creating a partnership to send employees through industrial ammonia refrigeration training. Norman Butts, Corporate Maintenance Manager for Sanderson, says the company’s commitment to upgrade employee skills and certifications is an integral part to preserve the quality and traditional values founded years ago.

Sanderson is engaged in production, processing, marketing and distribution of fresh and frozen chicken. Ammonia refrigeration systems are, as the name implies, a system of refrigeration that uses ammonia. The ammonia is the chemical used to absorb the heat from one area and bring it to another area to dissipate.

Amanda Bradshaw, Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at the college says a facility like SCC’s is rare. “Understanding this facility is one of the very few in the nation, we are always eager to help industries train a skilled workforce that can support the North Carolina economy and the national economy,” she says. “Our ultimate goal is to help provide a skilled workforce for our state and any other state as well. Either way, we all benefit. Our door is always open to any industry interested in touring the facility.”

Within days of the visit, representatives from Sterling Industrial Refrigeration also paid a visit to the college. Sterling Industrial Refrigeration provides a quality refrigeration design/build services for the processing industry. Based on quality customer service, the industry manages installation projects and service contracts in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, New York, Indiana, Texas, California, Utah, New Mexico and Virginia.

“This is an exciting time for us,” says Brown. “Employers who utilize ammonia refrigeration and are geographically close to Sampson already know about us and the quality training we continue to provide local employees. I believe the word has gotten out and we are certainly not bound by state borders. More and more companies are finding out that we are a hidden gem when it comes to educating employees from this state or others. We are happy to show off the facility to anyone who can use it”

SCC’s Ammonia Refrigeration program boasts a lead instructor with more than four decades of experience in the food industry and in the field of Engineering and Maintenance. Fran Leerkes worked in many sectors, from new plant start-ups to setting up maintenance programs for pork and poultry processing plants. As Plant Engineering manager at the Tar Heel Plant for Smithfield, Leerkes was responsible for all maintenance and capital project activities.

While welcomed, this type of spotlight is hardly unfamiliar for the college in recent weeks. Last month, SCC’s online LPN to RN (licensed Practical Nursing to Registered Nursing) program option was ranked fourth in the entire nation by and SCC’s Truck Driver Training program was ranked first in North Carolina by the NC Community College System. Work also continues with the college’s new state-of-the-art welding facility and the new truck driver training facilities. For more information about SCC’s Ammonia Refrigeration program, contact Brown at or at 910.900.4055.