As he entered College of Charleston, Wes Eason ’00 never thought he would be the third generation to go into the family business, but today he is one of the faces of #FamilyGrown at Sunburst Trout Farms – the first commercial trout farm in the South.

Sunburst was founded in 1948 by Eason’s grandfather, Dick Jennings. Today, Eason serves as chief operating officer and director of sales for the business, an artesian producer of fresh trout products based in Waynesville, North Carolina.

Wes Eason ’00 believes aquaculture can provide a long-term solution to feeding the planet. Photo by Reese Moore.

“When I was a college student I had no aspirations of getting into the family business,” says Eason. “It was only after college that I felt drawn to the business.  I could see the value in the service that the business provided in that not only do we provide delicious, nutritious food to people, but we employ 25 people with full-time year-round work in an area that is often seasonal. I was proud of what my parents were doing and wanted to continue that.”  

Eason was a sociology major, which on the surface may not seem to fit with aquaculture, but he says his degree has benefited him tremendously as a manager and in his interactions with employees.

“With employees of many different backgrounds having the information and tools to manage effectively has been priceless,” he says. “I wanted a liberal arts education, but it was the beauty of the campus that really struck me.”

Eason believes that aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, can provide a viable, long-term solution to feeding the planet.

“Wild seafood can simply not keep up with the growing demand,” he says. “If people were to only eat wild seafood, there would be no wild fish left. Aquaculture is a must to take some of the strain off wild fisheries. I would encourage any young person to further research aquaculture and the many ways in which it is benefiting the planet.”

All photos by Reese Moore.