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Bringing Industry, CALS Admins and Poultry Extension Together at Turkey Industry Days

six men in front of a banner making a wolf symbol with their hands
Dean Richard Linton with industry attendees and poultry Extension faculty

42. According to a popular sci-fi book, that’s the meaning of everything – definitely more sci-fi than science. For the Prestage Department of Poultry Science (PDPS), though, 42 has a more specific meaning this month. As of October 2, that’s how many years the department’s poultry Extension group has hosted North Carolina Turkey Industry Days.

Turkey Industry Days is an annual event that presents updated research, policy and practice to turkey producers from around the state. The event invites turkey industry workers, managers, executives and researchers to Wilmington to share what’s new and what challenges need savvy collaborations to solve.

A major focus this year was turkey diseases. One third of the presentations addressed diseases challenging the industry, including blackhead disease and salmonella.

This year’s meeting also had a couple of extras. First, it was PDPS professor Jesse Grimes’ 25th year coordinating the meeting.

Second, attendees were joined by College of Agriculture and Life Sciences administration: Dean Richard Linton, Natalie Hummel, director of NC State University’s field laboratories and research stations, and Rich Bonanno, Associate Dean and Director, NC Cooperative Extension all attended this year. They offered remarks and engaged with attendees during breaks, lunch and the Wednesday evening reception.

Jesse Grimes seated at a table
Jesse Grimes, PDPS professor and Extension lead, hosts Turkey Industry Days
Rich Bonanno and Natalie Hummel laughing and pointing at the camera
Natalie Hummel and Rich Bonanno
Turkey Industry Days attendees seated while watching a speaker
Dean Linton offers remarks

Over 200 attendees heard from 12 speakers, including three CALS researchers:

  • Elle Chadwick, PDPS graduate student in Robert Beckstead’s lab, presented on cochlosoma infection in turkeys.
  • Prafulla Regmi, PDPS assistant professor in animal welfare, presented on turkey welfare.
  • Mahmoud Sharara, assistant professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, presented on value-added products.

Other presenters from six companies and two research institutions presented on topics ranging from solar power for turkey farms to biosecurity to fundamentals of maintaining turkey flocks. Two of the speakers, Marcus Kenny of Aviagen in the UK and Ben Dehaeck of Huvepharma in Belgium, added international perspectives to the program.

In addition to the yearly updates that help them maintain and improve their businesses, attendees at Turkey Industry Days look forward to seeing each other. The event offers opportunities for formal and informal networking.

Many are looking for help attracting NC State students for internships and jobs because they recognize the quality of PDPS and CALS degrees.

Another group gets an added bonus by attending Turkey Industry Days. Yes, they get important information and yes, they strengthen important connections, but most importantly, Turkey Industry Days is a mini-homecoming. Many attendees are NC State alumni and have known the program coordinators since their undergraduate years in CALS.

Alumna Summer Lanier shows Lynn Strother her phone
Alumna Summer Lanier and poultry Extension administrative associate Lynn Strother

Relationships that started five, ten or even 20+ years ago are just getting stronger, thanks in part to the ability to attend Turkey Days (as attendees call it).

Between sessions, it’s normal to see hugs and overhear updates about new jobs, new kids and new directions. That kind of public engagement is what poultry Extension is all about.

Our research and consultation services get to who needs them because we build trust and grow relationships over time.

Those relationships don’t stop with alumni – they include the over 30 companies who support the event through sponsorship.

And next year will make 43. Forty-three years of supporting the turkey industry with meaningful work and meaningful connections.

Now that’s really the meaning of everything.