Food Science Alum Giving Back to Northwest Arkansas

U of A alumni visiting at a local school's culinary programs.
Rosa Buescher

U of A alumni visiting at a local school's culinary programs.

In a season of giving, stories like Sergio Herrera's bring joy to everyone. Previously a student at the U of A in food science, Herrera is now an executive chef at Tyson Foods. However, he didn't leave others behind as his success grew. 

A first-generation student whose parents are immigrants from El Salvador, Herrera grew up in Springdale and has always been interested in food and culinary arts. Since his graduation, he has been dedicated to giving back to the community. 

In 2019, Herrera visited a culinary class in career and technical education at Bentonville West High School. Audra Weeks, the class instructor, hosted as he shared with students how science, food safety and food sensory are all essential in creating a desirable food product. He also showed students how to select visually pleasing ingredients to create an appealing presentation for consumers.

Fast forward to November 2022, when Herrera joined Rosa Buescher from the Department of Food Science, along with Travis Hester, owner of Eat My Catfish local eatery, to speak to Fayetteville High School students. This time, Herrera provided a cooking demo and shared about his background and how that diversity and a lot of hard work led him to success. 

The FHS students are part of a new hands-on program that offers up to 30 college credits in culinary to Fayetteville and other local high schools. Providing examples of a solid track for high school students to gain credits at NorthWest Arkansas Community College and eventually end up in food science in U of A's Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, Richard Bell, FHS class instructor, was excited for the guests to speak with his students. Herrera emphasized his desire to give back to the community and encourage students to find love in culinary, food science, business and education. 

As a non-traditional minority who graduated from NWACC and U of A, Herrera uses his successes as a chef to encourage others to find hope in the discipline and take advantage of the opportunities available to them. "To me, food is an art with a sprinkle of science. I am so blessed to be able to connect and educate the younger generations, and I hope I can continue to do so in the future," Herrera said.



Karli Yarber, communications graduate assistant
Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences


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