Tom Hensley, president of Fieldale Farms, was named USPOULTRY’s Workhorse of the Year during the International Poultry Expo, part of the 2024 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). The poultry industry’s most prestigious honor is awarded annually in recognition of dedicated service and valuable leadership given to the Association and poultry industry.

A native of West Virginia, Hensley graduated with a degree in business from Marshall University. Before joining Fieldale Farms, Hensley was a tax manager at Price Waterhouse & Co. He is currently president of Fieldale Farms where he has worked for 45 years, as well as a member of Fieldale Farms Corporation’s board of directors. In addition, he is past chair of the National Chicken Council and a life member of the Georgia Poultry Federation.

Jarod Morrison, chief financial officer for Farbest Foods, and outgoing USPOULTRY chair, presenting the Workhorse of the Year plaque to Tom Hensley, president of Fieldale Farms and past USPOULTRY chair while he is being “collared” by Greg Hinton, vice president of sales at Rose Acre Farms and past USPOULTRY chair. Photo courtesy of U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.

John Starkey, former USPOULTRY president received the Harold E. Ford Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to an individual whose dedication and leadership over the years have far exceeded the ordinary and impacted both the poultry industry and USPOULTRY in an exemplary manner. The award is presented non-annually and when the Awards and Recognition Committee unanimously recognizes and endorses the need for occasional, unique recognition for exceptional contributions.

Starkey was president of USPOULTRY from August 2007 to August 2023 after succeeding retiring president, Don Dalton. He began his professional career as an environmental engineer for Gold Kist in Atlanta in 1982 after completing his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Purdue University and a master’s degree in sanitary engineering at Georgia Tech. After several years at Gold Kist, Starkey joined Hudson Foods as director of environmental affairs. He later became a principal in the engineering firm of Vaughn, Coltrane & Associates when Hudson Foods was sold to Tyson Foods.

John Starkey (right), former president of the USPOULTRY, was honored with the Harold E. Ford Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2024 IPPE. He was presented with the award by Nath Morris (left), president of USPOULTRY.

In addition to these two awards, five industry leaders were recognized with the USPOULTRY Lamplighter Award. This year’s honorees are:

Mike Giles is president of the Georgia Poultry Federation, the nation’s leading poultry-producing state. Giles joined the Federation staff on Jan. 1, 2000, as assistant executive director. He was named president in January 2009. Before assuming his position with the Federation, Giles worked for the University of Georgia in the Office of External Affairs and the University of Georgia Alumni Association. Before joining the University of Georgia, Giles held positions with U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and Sandoz Corporation. Giles is a past president of the Rotary Club of Gainesville and serves on the Georgia 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees and the Georgia FFA Sponsors Board. Giles is a 1983 graduate of the University of Georgia.

Dr. Ken Opengart is vice president of animal welfare and international sustainability for Tyson Foods. Before joining Tyson Foods, Dr. Opengart worked with Keystone Foods where he held a variety of positions, with the last being vice president of global sustainability and animal welfare. Other past employers include Eli Lilly and Company / Elanco Animal Health, Wampler Foods, and Seaboard Farms / ConAgra Poultry. Dr. Opengart received his master’s degree in Poultry Science from Virginia Tech, his veterinary degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, and his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech. Dr. Opengart is a Diplomate of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians and was certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization as a Foundation Poultry Welfare Auditor. He is a current board member of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs / International Poultry Welfare Alliance.

Sherman Miller is president and CEO of Cal-Maine Foods. Miller joined Cal-Maine Foods in 1996, where he devoted his professional career to Cal-Maine Foods by serving in various positions of increasing responsibility in operations and management, including serving as vice president of operations, chief operations officer, and president. Miller’s current and prior board service includes contributions to the United Egg Producers, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and the Mississippi State University Poultry Science Advisory Board, among others. Miller has served on the USPOULTRY Board of Directors since 2012 and was chair of the USPOULTRY Board in 2015. Miller earned his B.S. in Poultry Science from Mississippi State University, where he currently serves as the Distinguished Fellow for the Department of Poultry Science.

Dr. David Swayne is a veterinarian with specialization as a veterinary pathologist and poultry veterinarian. For the past 36 years, his research has focused on the pathobiology and control of poultry diseases, primarily avian influenza. He has published more than 354 peer-reviewed papers and 117 book chapters, given 369 invited lectures, and served as editor or associate editor for 16 text and proceedings books, including Diseases of Poultry, and associate editor for five peer-reviewed journals, including Emerging Infectious Diseases and Avian Diseases. He serves in leadership roles at the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) where he has led updates to the Avian Influenza chapters in Terrestrial Animal Health Code and Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals and completed a 16-month sabbatical to study highly pathogenic avian influenza control programs. He currently serves as a member of the Steering Committee for OFFLU, the joint World Organization for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organization Animal Influenza Network. Previously, he served as the laboratory director of the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, U.S. National Poultry Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Athens, Georgia, USA, and as a tenured faculty member at The Ohio State University. He is currently a private veterinarian consulting on avian influenza control.

Barbara Jenkins began her career with USPOULTRY in 2000, working in various positions in the education department. She was promoted to vice president of education programs in 2011, and student programs were added to her list of job responsibilities in 2014. Through her hard work and continued education, she has grown throughout her career. She was named executive director of the USPOULTRY Foundation in 2018. In addition to maintaining her role as vice president of education and student programs for USPOULTRY, she has assumed responsibility for the USPOULTRY Foundation’s day-to-day operations. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from DeVry University in 2006 and was recognized in 2016 with an Honorary American FFA Degree by the National FFA Organization, the highest honorary degree presented by the organization. Jenkins is dedicated to our industry’s growth in her relentless passion for growing USPOULTRY’s youth outreach program. She also dedicates her time to various boards and committees. She is the current chair of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events Education Committee and is on the Board of Directors and the Sponsors Board of the National FFA Organization.