BUFORD, Ga. — The poultry industry nationwide is slowly working toward to a post-pandemic world with in-person meetings, seminars, golf tournaments and concerts.

And Georgia is no different, and in the process is highlighting the industry's importance.

During its recent annual meeting, the first one in-person since 2019, the Georgia Poultry Federation elected its new chairman for the upcoming year.

David Bleth, Harrison Poultry, takes the helm as GPF chairman for 2021-2022. Lucas Hill, Pilgrim's, now becomes the group's immediate past chairman.

The unprecedented events stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic of the previous year presented many challenges.

"In the trade association business, you want to be helpful and relevant to your members," said Mile Giles, GPF president.

"Although I would never again want to go through a year like we've gone through, I have to say that for me and the poultry federation team ... it really was one of the most rewarding years that I've ever had with the trade association business," he added. "Because there were needs in the industry that we were able to meet. I hope that it is behind us. But, in the end, there will always be challenges and that is what the federation is here to do."

Giles also noted that the federation has made special efforts, even during the pandemic year, to enhance workforce development.

He noted that when asked what is one of the most important issues facing the poultry industry today, he answers, "labor labor labor."

Last year saw the first class of high school graduates complete a poultry-specific training course that is promoted by the Georgia Poultry Federation.

"There are young people now working in the industry that would never have realized that they had an opportunity to work and have careers in the poultry industry," Giles said. "They only graduated last October, and 100 percent of the students got job offers and were employed in the industry within two weeks ... we are very excited about this program."

He added the federation is also working with the Georgia technical college system to hopefully make the program available throughout the state.

Poultry Strong

Along with the many challenges that Georgia, and most state organizations faced, included how to present the annual fundraising concert event.

The Georgia federation has developed an outdoor concert concept that will replace the longstanding Night of Knights event. This new event is titled Georgia Poultry Strong.

The recent annual meeting was held in the same location where the newly revamped concert will also be held on Saturday, Aug. 28 — Lake Lanier Islands Resort near Buford, Ga.

"A tremendous amount of work has been done to develop this new concept," Giles said. "We think it's going to be a lot of fun and there is a lot of enthusiasm about our concert. It's going to be more casual, with a whole weekend of opportunities to do other things at the resort as well."

Highlights of the new location and event style will include a 40-foot stage, jumbo screen for easy viewing and a barbecue dinner.

Entertainment this year will be performer Chris Janson.

"This venue is absolutely incredible for an outdoor concert like this," said Jody Jackson, who has served for several years as the event's organizer.

"We are really excited about how we are poised now to launch this new event," Giles added.

For more information about the Georgia Poultry Strong event, visit www.gapf.org.

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