Over the past decade, we have built a strong team of butchers, cowboys, farmers and everything in between.
Will Harris is a fourth generation cattleman, who tends the same land that his great-grandfather settled in 1866. Born and raised at White Oak Pastures, Will left home to attend the University of Georgia's School of Agriculture, where he was trained in the industrial farming methods that had taken hold after World War II. Will graduated in 1976 and returned to Bluffton where he and his father continued to raise cattle using pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics. They also fed their herd a high-carbohydrate diet of corn and soy.
These tools did a fantastic job of taking the cost out of the system, but in the mid-1990's Will became disenchanted with the excesses of these industrialized methods. They had created a monoculture for their cattle, and, as Will says, "nature abhors a monoculture." In 1995, Will made the audacious decision to return to the farming methods his great-grandfather had used 130 years before.
Since Will has successfully implemented these changes, he has been recognized all over the world as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability. Will is the immediate past President of the Board of Directors of Georgia Organics. He is the Beef Director of the American Grassfed Association and was selected 2011 Business Person of the year for Georgia by the Small Business Administration.
Will lives in his family home on the property with his wife Yvonne. He is the proud father of three daughters, Jessi, Jenni, and Jodi. His favorite place in the world to be is out in pastures, where he likes to have a big coffee at sunrise and a 750ml glass of wine at sunset.
Brian knows good beef. Growing up on a caladium farm in Lake Placid, Florida, Brian threw himself into the study of agriculture and food production at a young age, eventually earning a B.S. in Food and Resource Economics, as well as a Masters in Animal Sciences from the University of Florida. During his studies, he also got the opportunity to work in several different roles at the university's meat processing center.
In 2008 Brian brought his wealth of knowledge to White Oak Pastures' brand new certified humane beef processing plant where he is in charge of day-to-day operations. Recently Brian's domain widened when he was put in charge of constructing the new White Oak Pastures poultry processing plant.
Jenni Harris, Will's middle daughter, is the fifth generation of the Harris family to tend cattle at White Oak Pastures. After living on the farm her entire life, Jenni went to Valdosta State University and earned a degree in Business Marketing, graduating in 2009. She remained intimately involved in the family business throughout her studies.
After graduating, Jenni set out to learn the industry. She moved to Atlanta where she interned at Buckhead Beef, a SYSCO company. She put in time in every department, from shipping and receiving to the cut shop, and was later hired to work as a sales associate.
In June of 2010 Jenni returned home to Early County to work for White Oak Pastures full time. As the marketing manager, Jenni travels the East Coast promoting her family’s grassfed beef and lamb and pastured poultry to distributors, retailers, and restaurateurs.
Jean Turn has been the Comptroller of White Oak Pastures since 2012, overseeing the administrative and financial aspects of the company. This includes accounting, human resources, risk management, and special projects. Jean holds a B.S. in physics and an M.S. in Information Studies. While working for the agribusiness Gold Kist, she served in several capacities: cost accountant, operations manager, distribution manager, and procurement manager for agricultural chemicals. After a 12-year stint as a public librarian which ended in serving as Director of one of Georgia's regional public library systems, Jean returned to her accounting roots when she accepted a position with White Oak Pastures.
Justin "Buck" Wiley began working at White Oak Pastures in July of 2009. He was hired as a butcher and worked hard to prove himself until he was promoted to Beef Plant Manager. Buck takes pride in his work and in making our customers happy. He manages 38 employees and 35 head of cattle each day in the Red Meat Abattoir. He arrives at the plant early in the morning and is typically one of the last people to leave. He carries a lot of responsibility, but also has the pleasure of working with some of his best friends every day. He's a great guy, with a huge heart and a constant smile on his face. We couldn't be happier to have him as part of our work family!
Stokes Rodgers is White Oak Pastures Staff Accountant. Stokes was born and raised in Fitzgerald, Georgia, and graduated in 2012 from Valdosta State University with an Accounting degree. Stokes works closely with risk and loss control, as well as accounting.
John, White Oak Pastures' Director of Livestock, is from Fitzgerald, Georgia. John attended Valdosta State University and has been at White Oak Pastures since December 2012.
Amber Harris, born in Adairsville, Georgia moved to White Oak Pastures in June of 2013. Before joining our team, she lived in Atlanta, working with the United States Federal Probation. After five years of living in the city, Amber decided to move south. Amber manages the egg candling and packaging, tallow soap making, hide tanning and leather making at White Oak Pastures. Amber is passionate about learning how to brain and protein tan grassfed beef, lamb and rabbit hides processed at the White Oak Pastures abattoir. She's looking forward to filling your home with furniture and decorations made from our hides, tallow candles, soap and eggs from our farm!
Jodi Harris Benoit, Will's youngest daughter, is the fifth generation of the Harris family to tend livestock at White Oak Pastures. Jodi has always played an active role in helping her dad and the cowboys work cattle each season. Jodi graduated from Valdosta State University and earned a degree in Speech Communication in 2012. After graduating, Jodi followed her dad's rule, working away from the farm for at least one year. She was a Support Coordinator for Professional Case Management Services of America. In this position, she was an advocate for adults with developmental disabilities. In January of 2014, Jodi began working full time at White Oak Pastures. As the Farm Events Manager, she is responsible for giving guided tours of the farm, in-house marketing, and planning various events.
Bubba started working at White Oak Pastures October 24th, 2013 boxing product in the cutting room. This job is tough physically and mentally. When he started he was really overwhelmed but kept his head up and kept a smile on his face. He worked as hard as he could trying to make sure all of the orders were correct and did everything he could from the cutting room to better the business. About a year and a half later Bubba was promoted to a head position over the cutting room and loved it. He had that position for about 6 months before he got his next promotion! These days Bubba is manager on the dock where he makes sure all the White Oak Pastures product reaches the correct destination. Bubba loves to work and will do whatever he can to make the company succeed. Sometimes he feels like he lives here but he wouldn't want it any other way. Bubba loves his job and loves the people he works with.
Felicia is from Blakely GA, born and raised, but now lives in Arlington GA. Lisa began working at White Oak Pastures in 2012 in the processing room of the poultry plant. Felicia became the poultry plant manager in 2016.
Bilal is our Community Development Manager and is a native of Atlanta, GA. He studied at Oxford College ('07) and Emory University ('09) where he majored in Human Biology and Anthropology, with a minor in Environmental Studies. His passion lies where health and sustainability meet, which guides him during everyday and long-term decision making for the growth of our town. Bilal's main projects involve revitalizing the Bluff (a unique natural area in town), training our staff in customer service, coordinating our tree-planting efforts, implementing creative ideas to keep the White Oak Pastures guest experience informative and fun, and beautifying the town of Bluffton. As the son of Afghan immigrants, Bilal gained an appreciation for the land and what it can mean to a people. Volunteering on the board of Slow Food Atlanta for five years, running a therapeutic gardening program at a psychiatric health center, working in Philly as an organic gardener, and serving with some of the best chefs in Atlanta has shaped the way Bilal works and implements his ideas. Jenni Harris, Amber Harris, and Bilal Sarwari have been close friends for years.
Jaime is our Small ruminants manager. She was born and raised on her family’s farm in Batesville, GA. There she helped raise 19 houses worth of chickens and Black Angus cattle that were spread out on 4 different farms. Farm life followed her on into high school where she was actively involved in FFA where she showed cattle and horses while also being involved in the GA Cattlemen Association. From there she went to study animal science and pre-vet at ABAC.
After college, she moved to Ashford, AL where she worked as a dog trainer for a few years in Dothan, AL. She came to White Oak Pastures in 2015 as a general store associate giving walking tours and guided horseback tours.
In 2017 she was promoted to assistant manager of small ruminants and then to manager. After working in many other departments as well, she says that she has finally found her happy place as a ‘FarmHer’. Her love for animals carries over to her spending her spare time with her horses King & Zoey, two dogs Astrid & Sonya, and her many baby goats.
Alena is our Lead Craftswoman. She was born in Ukraine and moved to America when she was 6 years old. Some of her earliest memories are of helping her grandmother tend to their vegetable garden. That involvement with family as well as the connection to community is part of the reason she has made her way to White Oak Pastures. After living in Massachusetts for most of her childhood, her family moved out west to Salt Lake City, UT. She graduated from Westminster College in 2010 with a B.S. in Sociology and an Art Minor.
Following college, she joined Utah Conservation Corps and helped public land agencies build trails and became a backcountry saw crew leader. After spending a season working for a Forest Service Trails crew in Alaska, she turned her sights to her farming dreams and made her way to Atlanta, GA. She began her time at White Oak Pastures as an Organic Garden Intern and as the growing season winded down, found a love for creating handmade pieces for our Leather department. Following a year spent in Brevard, NC apprenticing at Pitch Pine Farm, she has made her way back to South Georgia and can now be found leading our Leather Department.
Kiersten Cartwright grew up in rural Indiantown, Fl., where her family owned approximately 500 head of brangus cattle, which Kiersten helped work. Through 4H, Kiersten showed swine, steers and heifers for 11 years at the local fair to raise money for college. In High school, Kiersten focused on taking as many agriculture classes as possible. Having a passion for animals, Kiersten knew she wanted to be involved in a career focused on Animal Agriculture.
In 2011, Kiersten was accepted into Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC). Kiersten visited White Oak Pastures on a class field trip. After graduating in 2016 with a Bachelors of Science in Diversified Agriculture, Kiersten applied for a position at White Oak and was hired in August 2016.
Kiersten is HACCP certified, as well as, an Animal Welfare and a Poultry Welfare Officer. Kiersten thoroughly enjoys working at White Oak Pastures and couldn’t be more thankful to work with such wonderful people.
Laura grew up in Marietta, GA and attended Georgia State University where she studied Marketing and Business Management. She was a very successful saleswoman in the high-end fashion industry for years before she finally decided to hang up her high heels and change her career path.
Laura's versatility and out-going nature led her to jobs such as restaurant management and even being an equine beach trail guide on Sea Island. She eventually moved to Southwest GA and started working at White Oak Pastures in April of 2014.
She was extremely drawn to White Oak Pastures due to her love of good, clean food and desire to connect with its source. Laura is our Human Resources Manager and Internship Coordinator. She currently lives in Shellman, GA with her daughter Sydney.
Johnny Jacobs, known as “Jake” to most, grew up near Gainesville, FL before embarking on his military career. After Jake retired from the military, he and his wife, along with their four sons, moved through the states of South Dakota, Florida, and Minnesota before settling in Blakely, GA. Jake, having an abundance of butchering experience, joined the White Oak Pastures team in May 2015. Jake got a running start in the Red Meat Abattoir Cutting Room, then moved to the Kill Floor. He advanced into the position of Further Processing Manager,
Ban “Banjo” Stewart is our Quality Control Manager. He has spent many years in the hot and fast paced environment of professional kitchens utilizing locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and after college, he graduated from Capital Culinary Institute at Keiser University. His passion for food led him to work in 2 of Tallahassee’s finest culinary establishments, Cypress Restaurant and Governors Club. Banjo and his wife, Alli, moved to Montgomery, Alabama in 2009 when he accepted a position at a progressive farm to table restaurant where he utilized the freshest, hand-picked ingredients from the on-site farm. This was a great learning experience for Banjo but Alli’s small hometown of Union Springs, Alabama was calling and Banjo became the Executive Chef/Manager of the Unions Springs Country Club. To further challenge himself, Banjo accepted the role of Executive Chef of Kowaliga Restaurant on Lake Martin in Eclectic, Alabama in 2014.
After meeting Will Harris years ago at the Tupelo Bakery Anniversary in Monticello, Florida and tasting grass-fed beef for the first time, Banjo and Alli began studying the history and transition of White Oak Pastures. Stopping by for visits and a bite to eat on frequent trips between Florida and Alabama, they have watched the farm grow for nearly 10 years. When opportunities were presented to both of them, they knew they could not pass up a chance to join the White Oak Pastures Family. The Stewarts packed up and moved to Bluffton at the beginning of 2018 to embrace the farm life. Banjo brings his culinary background and passion for regenerative sustainability to aid in an improved quality product for all of our customers.
Lashona Butler, our Pavilion and Food Truck Manager, came to White Oak Pastures in 2012 with years of experience in the food industry. However, she has continued to learn, progress, and develop strategies that enrich our dining experiences, for both employees and guests. From working in our Poultry Department and making tallow and pet chews in our Pet Chew Department, Lashona has come full circle, back to her passion of cooking. Lashona has the gift of knowing how to effectively manage her staff and all the responsibilities that come with being the manager of our Dining Pavilion and Food Truck. As busy as Lashona is at work, she might be just as busy, if not more, at home. With three athletic sons, fifteen-year-old TreShawn and nine-year-old twins, Rae’Shawn and Dre’Shawn, LaShonna spends her leisure time at her sons’ football, basketball, and baseball games. Last but not least, LaShona is engaged to William Clyde, who we must say, has found himself an amazing woman!
Marty grew up in Miami, FL, where he heavily pursued having an NBA career until injuries halted that pursuit. Having family split between Miami and South Georiga, it gave Marty a choice after my career ended due to injuries. Georgia and its serenity was the place for Marty. While Marty doesn't consider himself an animal farmer, he came to White Oak Pastures in 2014 and fell in love with the animals and the work. I started in the poultry field moving chicken houses and worked my way up to Field Supervisor. I'm listed as Dry Goods Control and Sanitation Manager, but I've done and do it all. Poultry, Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Turkeys, Rabbits, Mechanic, Carpentry, and anything else involving the farm and making it work for the better just to name a few.
Sarah Jordan and raised in Elmer, New Jersey. She graduated from Saint Joseph's University in 2013 with a Bachelors in Sociology. After college, Sarah volunteered for a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, working in Chicago as a case manager for adults with mental health diagnoses. Sarah next moved to Denver where she continued to work in the mental health field, but kept garden jobs in the back of her mind. In August of 2017, Sarah made yet another move to the booming metropolis of Bluffton, Georgia where she started as an intern at White Oak Pastures. She knew right away that she wanted to work in the garden, and after learning a little about the animals of White Oak Pastures, accepted a full-time job growing organic vegetables. Sarah loves to weed, watch the vegetables grow, and eat fresh peppers straight from the plant.
Kylan manages our hog production program. Born in Livermore CA, Kylan started raising pigs when he was 9 years old and has rarely been far from one since. Kylan studied at UC Berkeley and The New College of California, focusing on Systems Theory and Ecological Design. After graduation, he began a promising career in green building. However, circumstances and serendipity had other plans, and he was soon swept back to farm life when he launched a niche hog operation in the mountains above Livermore. Later Kylan was recruited to join an R&D team in far northern California, which in the years that followed, would become Belcampo Farms. During his time with Belcampo, Kylan built their hog program from the ground up; starting at zero, up to annually farrowing and finishing thousands of pasture-based organic pigs.
In 2015 Kylan visited White Oak Pastures while researching Black Soldier Fly Larvae production. That trip began a friendship with Will and the rest of the team that would eventually lead to his coming to join us in 2018. Kylan brings to the farm a wealth of experience with both hogs, and multi-species regenerative meat production as a whole. Having spent many years studying and practicing the techniques of the late Bud Williams, he is a dedicated proponent of low-stress stockmanship. When not farming Kylan can most often be found pursuing, preparing, and sharing wild game great and small.
Diana Collins might be considered one of Will Harris’ “recycled” employees. Shortly after graduating from college in 1982 with a BBA in accounting, she began working with Will at Gold Kist, an agricultural service business. Fast forward 34 years. Diana retired from a major utility company, Georgia Power Company, with plans to travel, as she is quite the world traveler! However, Will had different plans for her and recruited her to once again join his team, albeit this time at White Oak Pastures in the role of Accounts Receivable Manager in 2016.
When away from her desk in the charming old church that serves as the accounting offices, Diana loves the adventures of traveling with her two daughters, Marlena and Leila. It is quite probable that she has a bag packed and ready to jet off to parts unknown at any given time! She and her husband, Marty, live on her family farm where she grew up, conveniently just five miles away from White Oak Pastures.
Monica McLendon was hired by Jenni Harris to work in our wholesale department. Jenni saw that Monica had a knack for writing and editing, so Monica transitioned to the marketing department. She accepted the responsibility of planning the marketing content while continuing to write and edit our newsletters, blogs, and various publications for White Oak Pastures. “I’ve heard ‘if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ and truer words have never been spoken,” states Monica.
The Marketing Department isn't the only place Monica hangs her hat. After graduating from college, Monica worked at EPCOT Center’s Guest Relations at the Walt Disney World Company where she learned different facets of tourism. This experience enables her to assist Jodi Benoit with various projects in the tourism department. While marketing and tourism fit hand-in-hand, Monica stumbled into a completely different department on the farm. “All I wanted to do was see where we raise our rabbits; but, when I saw them, I wanted to raise and nurture them. That is precisely what I do."
Outside of work, Monica spends most of her time with her children, Collier and Lillie. "Having a football/basketball player and a cheerleader leads to many nights on the road traveling to games, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. After Collier and Lillie both graduate, I’ll probably be looking for added responsibilities at White Oak Pastures as it is my ‘home away from home.’ I was raised on a farm, and there is nowhere else I’d rather be.”
Kyndall Bright joined the White Oak Pastures team in the summer of 2016. Initially, Kyndall was working in our organic garden, along with assisting in the care of the hogs, sheep, and goats. It wasn’t long before Kyndall was recruited by Jenni Harris to work alongside our former inventory manager. Allocating products was a new venture with tedious and detailed responsibilities, and she loved it! “Inventory to me is like a kid walking into a candy store. There are many flavors, and I get to try all of them! In other words, I’m never just working alone. I have to work with all the production managers and sales team to get our products in stores to please our customers.” Kyndall’s hard work has paid off, and she was recently named Inventory Manager. She looks forward to a “Bright” future at White Oak Pastures!
Justin Beggs was born and raised in Conyers, Georgia until he moved to Lake Walter F. George in Ft. Gaines, Georgia upon high school graduation. While pursuing a degree in agriculture at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, GA, Justin worked for a crop consulting company for two years until he graduated, holding a B.S. in Diversified Agriculture.
Justin returned to Eufaula and was gainfully employed at White Oak Pastures in May 2017 managing the fence crew until January 2018. Currently, Justin is our shipping manager in our Internet Fulfillment Center, where he continues to ensure our products are picked, packed, and shipped to consumers all over the United States.
Justin has recently moved to Bluffton to be closer to the White Oak Pastures family. This allows him the opportunity to be closer to the farm to help other managers when needed. Justin also monitors and documents our managed grazing and livestock which captures aerial details using drone technology and software.
Denna Peterson is our Accounts Payable Manager and calls Blakely, GA home. Hailing from a military family, Denna was born in Italy and has lived in Florida, Hawaii, and Washington before settling in Georgia. She provides valuable support to our farm by managing our fixed assets, maintaining our accounts payable, and serving as a liaison with our Purchasing Department. Her skills extend beyond finance to her incredible artistic ability as a craftswoman. Embracing sustainability in her work, Denna uses reclaimed materials to create imaginative forms for others to enjoy. Her pieces include decorated skulls from the farm, festive trees made from oyster shells, driftwood, and bone wall sconces, and light fixtures using repurposed metal and wire.
William (Bill) Perryman began working at White Oak Pastures in October of 2016. He holds a BS in Business Administration with a minor in Management.
Bill worked for the largest independent oil company in the US at the time as manager of their Warehouse/Purchasing Department in Breckenridge, Texas. Bill returned to Georgia in 1994 and worked for Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance as a Field Adjuster for eleven counties. He retired from the Farm Bureau in 2015.
He joined White Oak Pastures as IFC Manager and is currently working as Purchasing Manager. Bill enjoys working with the farm managers to get the materials needed to do their jobs more efficiently.
Bill spends weekends and free time on his small farm in Randolph County, Georgia. He enjoys trips to South Dakota with family and friends to hunt pheasant. Bill also helps take care of all the rescue dogs his wife, JoDel, brings home.