ATLANTA — The US Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) presented five individuals with the annual Lamplighter Award. The award recognizes “sustained and exemplary service” to the poultry and egg industry.

USPOULTRY recognized the following individuals at the International Poultry Expo, an event at the 2023 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE): Hector Cervantes, Fidel Hegngi, Charles Hofacre, Nath Morris and Mike Welch.

Cervantes has served as an adjunct graduate professor of avian medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia and North Carolina State University since 1995. He received his DVM degree from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Autonomous National University of Mexico, his master’s degree from the University of Georgia, and an Avian Medicine Internship Certificate from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

In addition to teaching, Cervantes has worked with Cargill, Peterson Farms, Pfizer Animal Health and Phibro Animal Health.

Cervantes is a reoccurring speaker at several USPOULTRY seminars. He has also been involved with the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Pathologists, the American College of Poultry Veterinarians, the Poultry Science Association, the Southern Poultry Science Society, and Asociación Nacional de Especialistas en Ciencias Avícolas.

Hegngi is a senior staff veterinarian and the national coordinator of the United States, Live Bird Marketing System Avian Influenza Prevention and Control Program for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services. Before joining the USDA, Hegngi worked for Wampler-Longacre Foods Inc. and Rocco Turkeys Inc. He served as the laboratory director of the Salisbury Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory in Maryland and as the assistant state veterinarian, director of laboratory services and poultry specialist for the Maryland State Department of Agriculture.

Hegngi earned his doctorate in veterinary medicine from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and his master’s degree in Poultry Science at the University of Maryland. Additionally, he holds professional memberships in the World Veterinary Poultry Association and the American Association of Avian Pathologists.

Hofacre is president and chief executive officer of the Southern Poultry Research Group. Before starting his own company, he was a professor, director of clinical services, and graduate coordinator and faculty member in the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. He has also worked with Cuddy Farms, Ross Breeders and the Bayer Animal Health Poultry Business Unit. He completed his veterinary degree at The Ohio State University and earned a Master of Avian Medicine and a PhD in Medical Microbiology from the University of Georgia.

Since 2003, Hofacre has served as fifth secretary-treasurer (currently titled executive vice president) in the American Association Avian Pathologists. Hofacre has actively participated on national and international expert panels and committees, served long-term leadership roles in major professional organizations, and served on editorial boards of industry journals. Hofacre has contributed to industry research and discussion by publishing approximately 85 peer-reviewed journal papers, 12 book chapters, 25 lay publications and 116 scientific meeting presentations.

Morris is the executive vice president, of the expo for USPOULTRY, and manages the International Poultry Expo and IPPE. With 36 years of industry experience prior to joining USPOULTRY, Morris worked with Heritage Breeders, a subsidiary of Perdue Farms; Arbor Acres Farms, a subsidiary of Aviagen; Meyn USA and Seaboard Farms.

Morris earned his bachelor’s degree in poultry science from the University of Georgia. He earned his certificate in event management (CEM) designation in 2016 and currently serves on the International Association of Exhibitions & Events Major American Trade Show Organizers Committee. Since 2011, he has served on the Hall County Board of Education, where he currently holds the chairman’s role. He has also served as president of the Georgia School Board Association in 2015.

Working in the poultry industry since 1967, Welch is now the retired president and CEO of Harrison Poultry. Welch served as chairman of the National Chicken Council and as a board member of industry organizations including the Georgia Poultry Federation, the Georgia Poultry Improvement Association and the World Poultry Foundation.

“We value the commitment and support of this year’s Lamplighter Award recipients,” said Mike Levengood, Perdue Farms, and outgoing USPOULTRY chairman. “They have enthusiastically dedicated themselves to contributing to the poultry industry, and we sincerely appreciate their service to the industry.”