Retiring Gold Kist, Inc. CEO Gaylord Coan is honored for his contribution to Georgia agriculture with a gift for UGA students.
"It is a tradition with Gold Kist to honor its retiring CEO with an endowment to an institution of his choice," explained John Bekkers, who will succeed Coan on July 6. "Gaylord is a UGA CAES graduate and chose the CAES ambassadors program because it helps students gain leadership and presentation skills as they support student and college programs throughout the year. We are proud to be associated with these outstanding young people."
CAES Ambassadors, established in 1988, are a select group of students dedicated to enhancing the image of the college. They assist at college- and UGA-sponsored events and are available to speak for civic groups, schools, clubs, assemblies, banquets or other events on topics related to agriculture, the environment or student opportunities.
The Gaylord Coan Leadership Endowment will secure the quality of the CAES Ambassador program and be a catalyst for leadership development activities such as team-building retreats, expanded travel opportunities and a successful recruitment program.
"We look for students who have strong communication skills and who are energetic and enthusiastic and aren't afraid to meet people," said Brice Nelson, CAES student recruitment coordinator and administrator of the ambassador program.
"The endowment will provide vital funding to strengthen the ambassador program," he said. "Because of these funds, this years' ambassadors will travel off-campus for a weekend leadership retreat at the beginning of the fall semester. The retreat will focus on team building and will help prepare them for upcoming projects."
The endowment will also help students attend regional and national ambassador events.
Coan, CEO and chairman of the management executive committee of Gold Kist, joined the company in 1959 when he graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in agricultural economics.
He completed the company's management training program, managed a farm supply store for two years and then was named director of field services of the grain division in Atlanta.
Later, he was given responsibility for all grain, soybean and peanut buying and processing operations and the company's farm stores in the Southeast.
In 1986, he directed the formation of Golden Peanut Company, a joint venture partnership that combined the peanut operations of Gold Kist, Archer Daniels Midland Company and Alimenta, Inc., a Swiss company, to form the world's largest peanut handler. He served as president and CEO until returning to Gold Kist in 1990 as executive vice president and member of the management executive committee.
He was named president and chief operating officer in 1991 and CEO in 1995.
He is a former vice chairman of the board of the Archer Daniels Midland Company, a director of SunTrust Banks of Georgia and the Cotton States Insurance Companies, and a member of the supervisory board of Alfred C. Toepfer International of Hamburg, Germany.
Gold Kist is the second largest and only farmer-owned cooperative in the U. S. poultry industry. It was established in 1933 at Carrollton, Ga., and is headquartered in Atlanta. Gold Kist employs approximately 18,000 people at poultry processing operations in Georgia, North and South Carolina, Florida and Alabama. U.S. and international sales exceed $1.7 billion annually.
(Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)