“I lost my father when I was eleven years old. All I ever had in my life was my mother, Teresa Huff, so that’s who keeps me going and motivated. She works at a financial company, and my step-dad runs a lawn and tree service. He was raising hogs, so I guess it grew on me.” That may be why Jamaal gravitated towards White Oak Pastures. “I liked to be around animals and wanted to learn techniques to raise them.” Jamaal works in our Poultry Production Department caring for our pasture-raised chickens and says, “White Oak Pastures is family.”
“I basically raise the chickens, making sure their environment is suitable for living.” However, Jamaal has recently been cross-training in different departments including the hog, sheep, goat, and cattle departments. “It gets hard sometimes, but with good people around, we get it done. I’ve got a good team, and when things get tough, they don’t quit. We tough it out. My biggest challenge is supervising four or five guys and having to deal with different personalities, but it isn’t so bad.”
Jamaal says he is most proud of meeting different employees and becoming a better person, as well as “improving my communication skills. I don’t really have a favorite chore on the farm because helping others is what I like to do. Dealing with the weather is the biggest problem because you never know how the day is going to turn out. No matter what the weather is, I still have to go out and make sure the animals are safe.” Given the opportunity, Jamaal would choose our Fried Chicken with macaroni and cheese in our Dining Pavilion, but if he is cooking at home, it’s going to be “Ribs and Chicken.”
While Jamaal is always willing to help others in different departments, if he could trade places with someone, it would be none other than “Mr. Will, because I wanna learn more about the business and the things he is trying to accomplish.” Jamaal’s manager, Mark Harrison, shared, “Being new to White Oak Pastures was a bit overwhelming in the beginning. Jamaal’s immediate support and positive attitude made my transition to the poultry team and the community much easier. Watching his continued growth as an employee has been one of the most rewarding parts of my job as the poultry production manager for White Oak Pastures.
When the day is done, and it’s time to go home, Jamaal isn’t going home to rest. “My favorite thing to do when I get home is to play with my kids”.........all six of them! “They are into sports: football, baseball, basketball, and I have a little cheerleader, but I can’t get into that too much.”
While Jamaal may not be the best cheerleader around, he is an attentive, active father, a hard worker, a helpful co-worker, a team player, and is eager to learn all aspects of the farm, and managerial skills as well. These fine qualities are why we here at White Oak Pastures are happy that he is a part of the farm family!