Monday, September 25, 2023

Georgia poultry leader inducted into Agricultural Hall of Fame

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. — One of Georgia’s true poultry industry dignitaries was recently inducted into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The late J. Henry Massey, a former head of the University of Georgia Extension Poultry Science, was added to the hall of fame during this year’s 66th UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association Awards in Athens, Ga.

Massey received his bachelor’s degree in poultry science from UGA in 1943, and a master’s degree in 1960. His work with helping find research-based solutions for what would become the state’s number one agricultural commodity helped him earn the moniker, “Mr. Poultry Science of the South.”

But there are actually two Masseys that are extremely integral to the success of Georgia’s poultry industry. Abit Massey, president emeritus of the Georgia Poultry Federation, is the brother of Henry Massey.

“He (Henry) was so well respected in the poultry industry that it gave me instant credibility when I took the job (with the federation),” Abit Massey said in a video presentation prepared for this year’s awards. “Henry’s impact on the state of Georgia was considerable starting with the poultry industry. He was with Extension Poultry Science in Tifton and then in Athens. He was the head of the Extension Poultry Science Department and later was a district agent for North Georgia.”

Henry Massey’s work came at a time of tremendous growth for the poultry industry in Georgia, as well as the U.S.

Dr. Todd Applegate, head of the UGA Department of Poultry Science, and R. Harold and Patsy Harrison Chair in Poultry Science, said in the video presentation that, “Henry’s career happened at a very critical time in the poultry industry from the 1950s through the 1970s, and really his growth in the poultry industry and prominence of recruiting that next generation of students, creating those ties with the poultry industry were key to the growth of that industry but also linking our department to that of the poultry world which has essentially set that foundation in place.”

Massey is remembered as someone who worked very diligently to help advance, as well as promote the poultry industry.

“Well, my dad’s favorite part of any of his jobs, whether it was poultry specialist or when he became a district agent was just people, was interacting with people,” said Julie Massey Jenkins, Henry Massey’s daughter, during the video presentation. “He really worked hard and studied and tried to find better ways to make the industry more profitable.”

Among his many contributions to poultry daily operations was developing an affordable feed formulation that assisted producers make the best use of their ingredients, as well as assisting with costs, Abit Massey noted.

A fun promotional effort that Massey initiated was a chicken-cue, showing people how to prepare chicken in new and tasty ways.

“No matter where my dad was, he always wanted to promote the chicken industry,” Jenkins said. “He wanted more and more people to enjoy different ways that they could cook chicken”

“He was the founder of the chicken-cue project that taught people how to cook chicken and how to barbecue chicken,” Abit Massey said.

His work to save what was once the dairy barn, which was set for demolition, on the UGA campus led to how many headquarters are still now located in this facility that is known as the Four Towers.

“Henry put together a committee, reached out to a number of his friends in the poultry industry to essentially create a fundraiser for a creation of new offices for the poultry Extension group here at what is now Four Towers,” Applegate said.

The Four Towers houses the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame, the CAES Alumni Association, the CAES Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication, as well as a UGA visitors center.

There is also a “Henry Massey Pavilion” at the UGA Poultry Research Center.

Applegate added that another way the university recognizes Massey is with the “Abit and Henry Massey Scholarship which we still give today to our poultry science students so that legacy of honoring their history and what they’ve done for the poultry world in Georgia lives on today for that next generation of poultry science students.”

Massey’s recognitions also go beyond just poultry industry efforts. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, during World War II he earned the Okinawa Battle Star. He also spent 33 years in the Marine Reserves; and was the fourth person from Georgia to receive the Brigade Volunteer Award.

“His influence is far beyond poultry. He was appointed by the governor to positions such as the Georgia Committee on Agriculture, and advisory committee for vocational agriculture,” Abit Massey said. “He was honored with resolutions of commendation by the House and the Senate.”

Massey was with UGA Cooperative Extension for more than 26 years and his leadership and work ethic will always be remembered, recognized, and honored.

“He could be an outstanding leader, but he could also be the quiet, unassuming, behind-the-scenes person who would help other people get it done,” Abit Massey said.

“I see my father’s legacy alive through the poultry industry,” Jenkins said. “He really believed it was the number one industry in the world and he wanted to make sure that it was, and it continued to be so.”

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