Editor's note: Farm Journal Media’s 40 Under 40 program recognizes young leaders in agriculture who will be instrumental in meeting the 2050 challenge of feeding a growing global population. Up-and-coming leaders from every segment of agriculture have been and are being honored through this program. PORK Network is proud to have had four pork industry winners recognized in the 2015 40 Under 40 program. Veterinarian Dr. Aaron Lower and Sherrie Webb with the National Pork Board were recognized in the PORK Network January-February issue. This month, two outstanding individuals who are directly involved in pork production are featured.

It seems Thomas Titus was always meant for great things in the pork industry. He even jokes that he was “born into the pig pen,” and anyone who meets Titus can attest to his dedication and unrelenting enthusiasm.

Titus, who represents the sixth generation of his Illinois farming family, has always been active within the industry and serves as a worthy advocate for agriculture. He worked within the agricultural sector for six years before returning to his roots in pig farming, joining his wife’s family’s pig farm in 2012. Titus is also a graduate of the National Pork Producers Council’s Pork Leadership Institute.

Even with such a strong background in agriculture, Titus credits Jim Kaitschuk, former executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association, for his “entire life.” An internship at the organization provided Titus with networking opportunities and career mentoring. Conversely, Titus made a distinct impression on Kaitschuk.

“When I was director at the IPPA, Thomas was our ambassador. He was an up-and-comer at that point – a bright and energetic kid who was enthusiastic about the industry. He did about everything and anything you ever asked and then more.”

Kaitschuk also takes credit for aiding Titus in meeting his wife, Breann. It was this chance meeting that led Titus to his current endeavors.

“Today, I farm with my wife’s family,” Titus said. “I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity, which I can partially attribute to the guidance of Jim and his ‘match made in pork heaven.’”

Today, Titus manages TriPork Inc., alongside his father-inlaw. Titus also speaks nationally as a “Faces of Farming” winner. This contest is sponsored and run by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

Titus is actively involved with many national programs, including the National Pork Board’s Pork Checkoff Operation Main Street (OMS) Launched in 2004, the OMS program has trained thousands of volunteers across the country who help tell the pork industry’s story of innovation, quality and stewardship, starting at the local level.

To date, OMS speakers have scheduled more than 7,000 speaking engagements touching firsthand more than 218,500 people in 42 states. A media outreach program to generate positive pork industry stories in communities where OMS speakers present has also resulted in more than 34 million people reading or listening to the educational, informative pork industry message.

Titus is a worthy contributor to this valuable program. Titus encourages other producers to open the doors on their farms, speak up about agriculture, and educate disconnected consumers.

He stressed, “The luxury that generations of past had to understand how their food was raised is quickly fading.

Advocating for agriculture will become essential for the success of our industry in the future.”