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Poultry the Right Path for New Association President

By Caleb Hicks

Ask incoming Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, or APEA, President Jason Shell what his plans are while heading up the organization, and he’ll say two words: “Give back.”

After being inspired by Albertville High School ag teachers Ricky Todd and Phillip Williams and awarded a full-tuition scholarship from APEA his senior year, the Marshall County native turned his eyes to the state’s largest agricultural industry.

Jason and Melissa Shell reside in Boaz with their two children. Emma, 17, attends Albertville High School, while Brady, 12, is at Albertville Junior High School.

“I was blessed to be mentored and guided by several great leaders throughout my life who knew this industry,” Shell, 44, said. “This organization (APEA) gave me my first big chance. I didn’t take that lightly then, and I don’t now.”

Growing up, Shell wasn’t sure what he would choose for his career, but he knew poultry was the right decision once Gold Kist pinned him for summer work experiences prior to offering him a job his senior year at Auburn University.

“When I came home for the summer, I’d go to Snead {State Community College} during the day and work in the evisceration department on the night shift,” Shell said. “That whole experience lit a fire in me. I knew then God was leading me down the right path.”

Shell graduated in poultry science in 1998 and is now the plant manager for Food Ingredients Technology Company in Anniston.

The Lord led Shell not only down his career path but also to his bride of nearly 21 years, Melissa. The two met in church more than 30 years ago and finally went out after some convincing by a mutual friend.

“When Jason came home from Auburn in ’98, we saw each other at a football game here in Albertville,” said Melissa, who is executive director at the Marshall County Habitat for Humanity. “I was in school at Jacksonville State University at the time, and one of our friends told him we had fought off dating for long enough. The rest is history.”

With Shell as APEA president, Melissa said she couldn’t be prouder of her husband and the accomplishments he has made in his career.

“He gives everything 110 percent,” Melissa, 42, said. “I am excited for him in this new role and proud I get to stand by his side.”

With two kids — 17-year-old Emma and Brady, 12 — three dogs, a full-time job and his role in APEA, Shell said he doesn’t get a lot of free time. When a sliver comes available, though, if he’s not on vacation with his family, you can find him at Talladega Superspeedway managing the media center and other events at the track on race weekends.

“Being able to be a part of that twice a year and seeing everything that goes into putting the show on, because that’s what it is, is one of my favorite things to do,” Shell said. “I also get to give track rides on race weekends sometimes.”

To fuel his passion for fast cars, Shell keeps a prized Lemans Blue, numbers matching, ’69 RS/SS Camaro in his home garage.

Jason enjoys taking his beloved 1969 Camaro out for a spin when he has the chance.

In the end, Shell is here to serve APEA and Alabama’s poultry industry, something he considers an honor.

“Being involved in this industry is very humbling,” Shell said. “I want to learn more about what our growers are faced with and what we can do as an industry for them to be more successful. I’m also looking forward to following in the footsteps of people I have looked up to for so long and continuing to support this great industry.”

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