Jim Smith, Susan Watkins Named Poultry Industry Leader of the Year

The Poultry Federation based in Little Rock presented the 2016 Industry Leader of the Year Awards to Jim Smith, president of the Keith Smith Company of Hot Springs, and Susan Watkins, professor of poultry science and poultry extension specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, at the 57th Annual Poultry Festival held June 17-18 in Rogers.

Smith, at the age of 30, was named president of the family-owned company that produces hatching eggs for the broiler industry to serve U.S. and international customers, and he’s guided its expansion, according to a news release.

Watkins joined the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in 1996, according to a news release. She is an expert in water quality and provides critical technical support to the state's poultry industry in litter management, nutrition, energy efficient lighting and sanitation.

The release states that Watkins is revered as a teacher and mentor and serves as the poultry science department’s internship coordinator. She is also director of the Division of Agriculture’s Applied Broiler Research Farm and coordinator of its field days.

She has planned and executed the annual Live Production Symposium for several years and serves as the secretary and program coordinator for the Poultry Federation's Turkey Committee.

According to another release, Smith has earned numerous other honors since 1994, including the most recent 2011 Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award and the 2010 Garland County Industrial Company of the Year award.

He is past president and current treasurer of the Poultry Federation Board of Directors.

Smith is also a Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce board member, Community Counseling Service board member and past vice-chairman and current member of the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board.

He and his wife, Janie, are members of the World Vision International - National Leadership Council’s "Campaign for Every Child."

In May, the Keith Smith Co. received from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker the President’s “E” Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. It’s the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

The company has also received an Arkansas Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade in 2010 and 2012.