AgComplish 2023

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Second lieutenant provides solutions through engineering

The AGcomplish magazine is published by the Fort Valley State University College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology. Information published herein is for educational purposes in the furtherance of the University’s Land-Grant mission in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Materials contained in this publication may be reprinted for further educational use provided the meaning is not altered and proper credit is given to the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology at Fort Valley State University.

2 Making HERstory Alumna becomes first woman to serve as dean for Tuskegee University’s College of Agriculture 5 Upholding the Mission FVSU alumna helps farmers promote conservation and sustainability 8 Environmentally Sound Earn a graduate degree in public health 10 Committed Second lieutenant provides solutions through engineering 14 Creating Colorful Knowledge Diversifying agriculture through representation and experience 16 Perseverance Agriculture teacher maintains family farm, serves community 18 Heart of the City Alumna dedicates life to education and service 22 A Force to be Reckoned With Fort Valley State’s first meat judging team wins national award 24 Alumni News & Notes

Dr. Keith Howard Dean, College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology

Dr. Mark Latimore Jr. Associate Dean for Extension

Terrence Wolfork

Assistant Administrator of Communications, Conferencing and Technology

Marquinta Gonzalez Director, Agricultural Communications

ChaNaé Bradley Senior Communications Specialist

Russell Boone Jr. Public Information Editor/Writer

Latasha Ford Research Communications Specialist

Ervin Williams Videographer

Jeff Brothers Graphic Designer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal and, where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities and wish to file either an EEO or program complaint please contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 or (800) 845-6136 (in Spanish). Persons with disabilities who wish to file a program complaint, please see information above on how to contact us by mail directly or by email. If you require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) please contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Fort Valley State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Fort Valley State University. Fort Valley State University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate against applicants, students or employees on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability or marital or veteran status.

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Alumna becomes first woman to serve as dean for Tuskegee University’s College of Agriculture

Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller is the first woman to serve as dean of Tuskegee University’s College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences.

Although the 1997 Fort Valley State University animal science alumna holds decades of experience in the agricultural discipline, and has conducted research at top universities, as a young girl her initial aspirations were not in agriculture.

“I never thought about agriculture as a career,” Bolden-Tiller says chuckling, referring to herself as an accidental aggie. “Even though I chose animal science and understood that if I studied animals, [as] most of the advances in human reproduction are explored with animals, I never thought of it as a career.”

The Homerville, Georgia, native was no stranger to FVSU or agriculture, as her mother graduated from Fort Valley State College with a home economics degree and taught in the public school system for 38 years.

“She was the adviser for the high school Future Homemakers of America (FHA) Club, now called the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). She took students to Camp John Hope every summer of my childhood to participate in FHA and Future Farmers of America (FFA) activities,” Bolden-Tiller said. As part of the camp, she recalls visiting FVSU’s campus and talking to faculty and students.

Once Bolden-Tiller matriculated into high school, she realized she had a desire to study reproduction and considered majoring in

biology. However, during the summer prior to her senior year of high school, she had her first encounter with animal science as a participant in a research apprenticeship program offered to high school students by FVSU. This program allowed her to meet FVSU research faculty, conduct research and to learn about techniques related to reproductive biology under the mentorship of Dr. Eugene Amoah (retired).

“We did a lot of work associated with goat reproduction, laparoscopy and in-vitro fertilization. That piqued my interests because a lot of the work that we did could address humans and could address infertility in females,” Bolden-Tiller said.

In preparation for her future, the budding animal scientist applied to FVSU and received the James H. Porter Scholarship. In 1993, she began her undergraduate studies. As an undergraduate, she participated in fellowships and internships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Idaho as well as the Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland, and she also became president of the student chapter of the Minority in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) organization to which she was introduced by Dr. Charles Magee. These experiences allowed her to present research at conferences and meet and network with people from across the country.

“I think because I was open to learning and taking advantage of opportunities that were offered by faculty and staff based on my own interests, I was set up for success,” BoldenTiller said. From those experiences, she decided earning a doctorate was the next step.

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“I actually went directly into a Ph.D. program right after my bachelor’s. I ended up at the University of Missouri-Columbia and pursued a doctorate in animal sciences,” Bolden-Tiller said. The researcher said during her doctoral studies, she picked a great adviser (Dr. Michael Smith) who supported her desire to be in academia at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), particularly an 1890 LandGrant University. “My adviser respected the art of teaching and was known for being a great teacher,” she said.

In 2002, Bolden-Tiller completed her doctorate. To prepare for a career in academia, she pursued a postdoctoral fellowship with the National Institute of Health (NIH), which allowed her to conduct research at the UT-MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

In addition to her research, she also served as an adjunct professor for human anatomy and physiology at Houston Community College. With teaching experience under her belt, Bolden-Tiller was now prepared to pursue academia. After her two-year fellowship ended, she received a call about a junior faculty positon at Tuskegee University. She gladly accepted the role in 2006.

“I felt like I could come here (Tuskegee) and do well,” she said smiling. “In six months, I was assigned to be the program coordinator for the animal science program.” The college dean says she came with a lot of energy and ideas. As the years progressed, she was promoted to assistant department head and rose to the ranks of assistant dean until her appointment to dean in January 2022.

“I never aspired to be a dean, but I recognized that there may one day be a need for me to be one because I think it’s important that our leadership represents our student population,” Bolden-Tiller said. Bolden-Tiller served as the President of the National Society for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences in 2022.

Although the college dean has received many accolades, she said her 15-year-old son is her greatest accomplishment. Bolden-Tiller, who is married to her high school sweetheart, resides in Tuskegee, Alabama, where she is actively involved in the community.

Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller mentors a student at Tuskegee University. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack serves on a panel with Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller at Tuskegee University. Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller poses in her Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANNRS) blazer. In 2022 she served as national president of the non-profit organization.
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photos courtesy of Tuskegee University


FVSU alumna helps farmers promote conservation and sustainability

Millicent (Cosby) Harrison sees working in her hometown as an opportunity to provide financial assistance to farmers in middle Georgia.

For the past seven years, Harrison, a 2015 graduate of Fort Valley State University (agricultural economics) has worked as a loan officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). After beginning her career in Greenville, North Carolina, she transferred to the Peach County office in 2018.

“My role is to help farmers and ranchers throughout 26 counties of my district receive financing to expand or purchase farms,” Harrison said. “We have several different

financing programs that can help farmers purchase equipment, livestock, seeds, plants, or real estate with no down payment required. The purpose of the programs is to encourage food and fiber production while promoting conservation and sustainability throughout the country,” the FVSU alumna said.

It’s no surprise that Harrison, a native of Fort Valley, enrolled at FVSU to receive her college education. Her mother (Flora) and father (Mack) both attended FVSC (now FVSU) and steered her to the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology.

“They always told me about the wonderful work in the agriculture department and the important legacy of attending an Historically Black College or University (HBCU). I also wanted to be in a


classroom where the professors knew me by my name and be around like-minded students,” she said.

Furthermore, Harrison described her undergraduate experience as dynamic, fun and memorable.

“There’s nothing like FVSU. We have a rich culture, inspiring professors and an absolutely beautiful campus. I’ve made lifelong friends while in college and gained a degree I’m very proud of,” Harrison said. She also participated in extracurricular activities such as the Agricultural Economics Club, 4-H and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS).

In addition, Harrison participated in internship programs at FVSU and in private business to prepare for a professional career. She interned for FVSU’s agricultural economics department and 4-H summer youth programs where she served as a student counselor. Her duties included promoting the college of agriculture and encouraging prospective students to enroll. She also helped supervise more than 200 4-H students visiting the campus.

“I served as their on-campus guide, provided mentorship and supervised them as they attended classes throughout the summer,” the FSA loan officer said.

The 30-year-old received hands-on training in her field by interning and networking.

“I interned with Ag South Farm Credit as a financial analyst where I learned the aspects of commercial lending, consumer lending and corporate culture. I was exposed to agricultural business throughout the state and got a chance to network professionally with other interns. I also interned with Global Incite as an executive assistant and traveled with the company to promote study abroad experiences to other universities,” Harrison said.

Global Incite is an academic and tourism company that emphasizes study abroad programs for minority students. Located in Washington, D.C., it is owned and operated by Carmen Fells, a graduate of Tuskegee University.

Harrison said taking part in quiz bowls, professional conferences and academic competitions carried her a long way while at FVSU.

“Without the determination of my department, I would not have the confidence to be a public speaker or realize my full potential. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to study abroad in the Dominican Republic through a University partnership with Global Incite. There, I truly

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Harrison (far left) wins an award with her classmates while attending the Association of Research Directors (ARD) conference in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2013.

learned the global impact of agriculture from an international experience by traveling abroad for the first time. An accumulation of all these experiences allowed me to be a top candidate for the career I have today,” she said.

For students interested in obtaining a degree in agriculture from FVSU, Harrison said a student must be open minded and flexible with their choices.

“Join organizations that will allow you to travel and gain new skills. Also, find and listen to your mentors. You will gain so much knowledge by learning from their experiences and following their safe guidance,” Harrison said.

Additionally, she said a student should not be afraid to relocate outside Georgia or the United States to seek employment. “Don’t be afraid to meet new people or step outside your comfort zone. Get comfortable with being in new spaces so that you can grow and be challenged. Opportunity always lies in the unknown,” she said.

Furthermore, the FSA employee said she experiences joy when she is able to help a client. “It feels great to truly help someone become successful. I know that the safety net FSA provides through programs is a big part of agricultural business. I work with a team every day that supports the American economy through creating jobs, offering support to farmers, rural homeowners and supporting food and fiber production in

our communities. We all need farmers to feed and clothe us every day, so to work at a place whose mission is to keep that going is very rewarding to me,” Harrison said.

“No day is the same and no farm operation is the same. It’s always something different to see and learn here,” she said.

Harrison is married to Jayson Harrison, a 2012 FVSU alumnus who she met in college.

Harrison, who studied abroad as an intern at FVSU, poses with fellow students and residents of the Dominican Republic.
There’s nothing like FVSU. We have a rich culture, inspiring professors and an absolutely beautiful campus. I’ve made lifelong friends while in college and gained a degree I’m very proud of.


Alumna improves knowledge by earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree

Danielle Hurst, a native of Nashville, Georgia, graduated from Fort Valley State University in December 2022 with a Master of Public Health degree. Her concentration is in environmental health.

She is currently employed with the Department of Public Health’s offices in Cook County located in Adel, Georgia, as an environmental health specialist.

The 37-year-old took time out of her schedule to answer a few questions about her career in public health and why she selected FVSU’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program to further her studies.

How did you find out about the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at FVSU?

I found out about the MPH Program from my director. My director and some of my other colleagues completed the program several years ago and highly recommended pursuing my master’s at Fort Valley State University.

Why did you select FVSU to pursue your MPH graduate degree?

I selected FVSU because it came highly recommended from colleagues. It’s web hybrid courses made it convenient, and it was cost efficient.

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What are your main duties at the Cook County Health Department?

As an environmentalist, my duties consist of providing inspections, permits and consultation of state rules and regulations for food service, public swimming pools, tourist accommodations and body art studios. I also provide services for wastewater management, well water, emergency preparedness, lead program, and other environmental health programs. Additionally, I investigate all assigned health-related complaints received.

How would you rate your experience as a graduate student in the MPH program? What impressed you the most?

My experience at Fort Valley was excellent. I was impressed with the professor’s passion for their respective fields of study. Dr. Oreta Samples, director of the program, is one of the most dedicated professors I have had the pleasure of working with. She truly gets excited about the courses she offers!

How will the information you learned in the MPH program help you perform your duties?

The information I learned in the MPH program expounded on a lot of subject matter that I work with day to day. I feel like I have increased my comprehensive understanding of those subjects which allow me to better serve the community.

If any of your peers or people you know showed an interest in enrolling in the MPH program, what would be your sales pitch? Jump into the MPH program at FVSU. It will equip you with multiple skills to be successful within your profession. It is convenient because if offers web hybrid courses, and is one of the most cost-efficient programs in the state.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I like the challenges that my job can pose at times as it requires thinking outside the box to achieve desired outcomes. I also enjoy helping people, and I love that I get the opportunity to teach people concepts that will help them and the people they serve.

Earn a graduate degree in public health

The Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program offers a course of study that prepares students to identify problems and propose solutions to a variety of environmental conditions that affect the health of minority, rural, agricultural and disadvantaged populations at disproportionate rates. Listed below are many of the job opportunities available with an MPH degree from Fort Valley State University (FVSU).

Master of Public Health with a concentration in environmental health.

Career Opportunities

• U.S. Department of Public Health

• State Departments of Public Health, Agriculture

• Local Departments of Public Health, Agriculture

• Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

• Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

• Hospitals, Clinics and Medical Facilities

• Private Sector

• Non-profits

For more information

For more information about FVSU’s MPH program visit, or contact:

Dr. Saul Mofya

Interim Department Head, Assistant Professor, Veterinary Science and Public Health

phone (478) 825-6900 or (478) 827-3023


Dr. Oreta M. Samples

Public Health Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor

phone (478) 825-6904 or (478) 827-3073



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Second lieutenant provides solutions through engineering


Kenneth (Kenny) Payne graduated from Fort Valley State University in the fall of 2020 with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering technology (AET).

Since graduation, Payne has worked as a civil engineering technician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) in Pittsboro, North Carolina.

“As a civil engineering technician, I am responsible for assisting and providing support to civil engineers working on building and construction projects. My role is generally that of an assistant who performs tasks such as creating plans, surveying sites and inspecting projects,” the FVSU alumnus said.

Payne said he really enjoys his work.

“I love that I can problem solve and be the solution to assist with growing foods for the U.S. population,” the 25-year-old said.

Considering Payne’s family history, it is no surprise that the Atlanta, Georgia, native chose the middle Georgia university to pursue his college education.

His mother, Dr. Tamara (Brown) Payne, (’94, infant and child development; ’96, Master of Science, rehabilitation counseling), father, Donald Jr. (’96, biology), grandfather Donald Sr. (’76, business administration), grandmother Betty (Oglesby) Payne (’75, elementary education) and great grandmother Ledicia (Spivey) Payne (’47, elementary education), all

graduated from Fort Valley State. Currently, Payne’s younger sister, Kamora, is majoring in plant science with a concentration in biotechnology.

He said that his mother and father introduced him to the university, and he immediately fell in love with the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences, and Technology.

Coming from the metropolitan sprawl of Atlanta, Payne knew that pursuing a degree in agriculture would be a unique endeavor, but that did not deter him.

“I am a problem solver and had an interest in the nature of soil and plants,” he said.

Payne said one of his fondest memories as an undergraduate was traveling to conferences as a member of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) program. “While on the trips, I connected with

photos courtesy of the Payne family. Payne poses with his mother Tamara (left) and father Kenneth Sr. (right) who are also FVSU alumni.
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Payne and his family celebrate his commission as an officer in the U.S. Army.

interns and was exposed to job opportunities,” Payne said.

Despite being occupied with classes and assignments, Payne still had time to participate in numerous extracurricular activities. In addition to MANRRS, he was a member of the National Society of Pershing Rifles, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated.

Furthermore, Payne participated in several internships. During Payne’s sophomore year of high school, he joined FVSU’s Young Scholars Program (2014). Likewise, while enrolled at FVSU he interned with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the Air Protection Branch in Atlanta. In 2019, he interned with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Career Discovery Program in Virginia. Lastly, in 2022, Payne was commissioned in the U.S. Army Reserves through FVSU’s ROTC program as a second lieutenant.

Payne’s future plans include traveling with the USDA and the U.S. Army, where he is currently completing officer’s training at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia.

“I want to move every three years while I’m young, not be tied to one location and adapt to new skills and gain experiences in different fields and terrains,” he said.

For more information about the AET program at FVSU, visit

Agricultural engineering technology (AET) graduates are prepared for careers as well as graduate study in agricultural engineering technology and management, biological systems engineering, biomedical engineering and medicine. Listed below are the many employment opportunities available with an AET degree from Fort Valley State University (FVSU).

Career Opportunities

• Agricultural Equipment Specialist

• Agricultural Imports Inspector

• Biological Systems Engineering

• Biomedical Engineering

• Computer Aided Design (CAD) Programmer

• Design Technician

• Energy Advisor

• Engineering Technician

• Environmental Consultant

• Experimental Mechanic

• Farm Manager/Operator

• Plant Operations Manager

• Precision Agricultural Specialist

• Quality Control Manager

• Research Technician

• Safety Specialist

• Systems Designer

• Water Management/Quality Specialist Visit the American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers at to learn more about agricultural and biological engineering careers and graduate study opportunities.

For More Information

For more information about FVSU’s AET program visit, or contact:

Dr. Archie L. Williams

professor and chair of FVSU’s Agricultural Engineering Department

phone (478) 825-6275 or (478) 827-3062


Dr. Cedric Ogden

assistant professor and FVSU Extension engineer specialist

phone (478) 825-6590 or (478) 825-6299



Payne puts his engineering skills to use in the field as a technician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS).


Dr. Thelma Madzima is molding future leaders and changing the way people see the world as a scientist and professor.

The Fort Valley State University (FVSU) alumna grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe. Her supportive parents, Dr. Welbourne and Rufaro Madzima, and grandfather, Dr. Alec Chibanguza, inspired her as a child. She witnessed her grandfather, who was awarded an honorary doctorate for his works, break barriers by advocating for women to further their education. One of her childhood memories is of her typing his notes.

Although intrigued by science and the arts at a young age, she was not exposed to alternative careers in science until she attended FVSU. Her uncle, a former employee, encouraged the educator and her older sister, Pamela, who played tennis for the university on a scholarship and earned an agricultural economics degree, to become Wildcats.

“Research started to inspire me instead of the medical field,” she said.

An international student, Madzima worked in the laboratories on campus. Then, Dr. Sarwan Dhir, an FVSU professor of plant biotechnology, introduced her to summer research opportunities, where she interned at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of Florida (UF).

“Those experiences continued to reinforce my interest in research. However, I was still flirting with the idea of going into pharmacy,” she admitted. “I decided to switch my major from biology to plant science.”

Diversifying agriculture through representation and experience

Madzima earned a bachelor’s degree in plant science in 2004. Her internship experience opened the door to graduate school at UF, where she earned a doctorate in plant molecular biology in 2009. She recalled befriending FVSU alumna Dr. Erika Styles, who is also a UF graduate.

“The family connection we made at FVSU continued there,” Madzima said.

Her attraction to the style of teaching and mentoring on a small campus fared well for her at the University of Washington (UW) Bothell, a smaller branch campus with primarily undergraduate students. Madzima joined the university’s faculty in 2015 as an assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology in the School of STEM, Division of Biological Sciences ( She was promoted to associate professor in September 2022.

“I would not be here if I had not been at a Historically Black University,” she said. “Most of us come from HBCUs at a disproportionally higher rate than those who come from primarily white institutions because we received that sense of belonging early in our careers. That gave us more fuel to persevere through some of the challenges.”

One of those challenges for the FVSU alumna was finding the courage to apply for the internship at Caltech. She saw no one who looked like her.

“There was no diversity on the campus, which was a barrier for sure,” she said.

Until relatively recently, Madzima is the only Black person to graduate with a Ph.D. in her graduate program at UF.

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“I was dealing with all those microaggressions. What fuels me is that I never want anyone to go through the things I went through, no matter how far in rank I go,” she declared.

This further motivated her to speak up more about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) issues on Twitter.

“Who is going to advocate for our early career scientists? I could not sit around and wait for someone more senior than me,” she said because there are very few Black faculty in her field. “I knew that it was a risk to my career, but my silence would be too costly.”

The young researcher is using her innovative paintbrush to show change and understanding in a field that lacks diversity. She wants to recruit more underrepresented groups into STEM.

“I am very optimistic that is changing. I attend conferences and smile because there are so many more early-career researchers of diverse backgrounds. I want to keep that momentum going,” she said.

Her love for research stems from seeing the outcomes of the work. “I enjoy the impact I can make in people’s lives,” Madzima expressed.

The long-term goal of her research program is to understand how epigenetic mechanisms

facilitate responses to abiotic stress in plants. She uses maize as her predominant organism of study.

“I always tell people that America is corn-fed,” she said. “I wanted to work on a crop that is important to agriculture and the economy.”

When starting this research in 2009, Madzima thought about her own upbringing in Zimbabwe. “Zimbabwe heavily depends on maize as a crop because it is a staple. I witnessed firsthand how drought can affect maize production and yield. I wanted to understand how the environment affects the chemical tags on DNA, which ultimately affects the yield,” she explained. Her research is featured in nine publications.

Having worn many diverse hats – international student, Black woman and Black woman in STEM and academia, Madzima’s most rewarding hat is educator. As she continues to create art with science, she values her role as someone students can lean on for encouragement.

“It’s inspirational for students knowing that I went through some of the same struggles and moments of uncertainty and still made it,” she said. “Helping them achieve their dreams is paramount. They are my purpose.”

I would not be here if I had not been at a Historically Black University. Most of us come from HBCUs... because we received that sense of belonging early in our careers. That gave us more fuel to persevere through some of the challenges.


Wearing multiple hats is essential to the livelihood of Glen Gosier. The Dixie, Georgia, native is well known throughout his community and other parts of the state as a farmer, teacher and funeral home director.

During the school year, Gosier can be found teaching agriculture at Thomas County Central High School. In addition, he works as a licensed funeral home director at Hatcher Peoples Funeral Home in Thomasville, and he is a certified embalmer in the states of Georgia and Florida.

Gosier also owns Rusty Bucket Farms LLC, a 105acre farm of row crops, produce and cattle. Some of the items grown on the farm include soybeans, peanuts, cucumbers, okra and field peas.

“The beauty of farm life is it gives me time to spend with my family,” Gosier said. “Everything we do on the farm involving produce gives me time to spend with my wife and kids. We can be running peas through a sheller, harvesting okra, or pickling cucumbers. It’s all family-oriented, and that’s what I love about it.”

In addition to spending time with his family, the produce from the family farm serves as a commodity to residents throughout the state.

“I have customers that buy from me every summer,” Gosier said. “We do four to five trips a year to my wife’s hometown in Jeffersonville, where we sell peas, squash, peppers and okra.”

Gosier also travels to Darien and Brunswick to sell his produce, but he also sells his vegetables to a nearby store in a minority neighborhood community where local residents purchase it.

“The people purchase from me for the quality,” Gosier said. “Even though I could charge more, I try not to because it’s a service industry and you’re serving the people. That’s what’s allowed us to have consistent customers.”

The Fort Valley State University agricultural education alumnus, whose wife is also a biology alumna of FVSU, is no stranger to farm life. He grew up on the small farm that he inherited from his family.

Agriculture teacher maintains family farm, serves community

In addition, he purchased land from his mentor who passed away in 2020. The remaining acreage is rented from his cousin and grandmother. Reflecting on it all, Gosier said land is significant to him because he watched his father labor in the soil.

“It’s important to me,” he said. “It’s something I’ve seen my dad work hard for and I want to carry the torch and keep it going. It’s not a lot of minority farmers. I have boys and hopefully I can inspire my children to keep it going.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, the share of Black farmers has declined significantly over the last century. Today just 1.4 percent of farmers identify as Black. These farmers represent less than 0.5 percent of total U.S. farm sales. Gosier is a part of that 1.4 percent.

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Glen Gosier uses machinery in his classroom at Thomas Central High School where he serves as an agriculture educator.

Gosier said that one of the many challenges facing small, minority farmers is securing funding from state agencies.

“The first time I tried to apply for a Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan, they denied it because they said it wasn’t enough acreage,” Gosier said. “They couldn’t see how I justified making enough money for a loan.”

Admittedly frustrated, he did not try to appeal the denial.

A year later, Gosier reapplied and was able to secure the FSA Equipment Loan to help purchase two tractors.

“The biggest blessing about that loan is it came at a 1 percent interest rate.” Gosier said. “You can’t beat that.”

The small farmer said purchasing tractors with cabs made spraying pesticides and herbicides much easier.

“I saw so many of the older minority farmers get sick and die from chemical exposure,” he said. “I mostly use the tractor with the cab to spray chemicals and it keeps me from having to breathe in those toxins.”

Since securing the loan, Gosier said he has developed a good relationship with FSA.

“What helped us get to this point is not giving up,” he said. “We had to be persistent. It can be a lot of obstacles, but if you want it, you have to stick with it and keep pushing.”

In addition to persistence, Gosier also acknowledges how several people have been helpful along the way.

One particular person is Rodney Brooks, who serves as the beginning farmer regional coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) FSA in Leesburg, Georgia. A 2001 alumnus of Fort Valley State University, Brooks helps beginning farmers engage with

stakeholders and connects small farmers with government programs.

Gosier also received help from Carey Norton, a loan officer for FSA and Vhonda Richardson of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Extension.

“Historically, minority farmers have faced discrimination,” Gosier said. “Now I see the federal agencies taking better strides than ever. We have people in positions of power within the agency that we never had before to look out for

minority farmers.

“It’s still battles being fought. The key to our survival and success is we have to work together. You may be good today, but everyone needs someone to help them out at some point in life.”

The entrepreneur said wearing multiple hats can be challenging, but he is thankful for the relationships he’s built with employees from federal agencies to help him by persevering through the process. “It can be a daunting task, but it can be accomplished,” he said.

Glen Gosier is married to Endia Gosier. They are the parents of Glen Jr., Grant and Grayson. In addition, Glen holds a master’s and specialist degree from Auburn University where he is currently a doctoral candidate in agricultural education.

Fort Valley State University alumni Glen and Endia Gosier, pose with their three sons Glen Jr., Grant and Grayson on the family farm in Brooks County.


Alumna dedicates life to education and service

Home is where the heart is for a small-town southerner with big dreams for her community.

Born and bred on 149 acres in Irwinton, Georgia, Terralon Chaney spent her summers as a child fishing and cooking with her grandmother, Daisy. She recalls fun times in the country, sitting on her grandmother’s counter as they baked cakes and biscuits. Four-wheelers, plum and fig trees, and strawberry patches were at her disposal to enjoy.

“The family and consumer sciences part came from my grandmother,” Chaney declared.

Her love for food, nutrition and gardening was further fueled by her high school home economics teacher, Lucille Dennard. The fascination came from seeing the love of the students, the passion for the job and the many career options in home economics.

“She was that teacher who inspired me,” Chaney said. “We sewed, cooked and participated in state competitions as members of Future Homemakers of America, now FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America). I was a member for four years, and the passion just grew.”

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However, she was uncertain about her career choice after graduating high school. An entrepreneur at heart, she used her hair styling skills to obtain a cosmetology license, completing technical school in nine months. She then opened a salon at age 19 in her hometown.

“I had a little corner space and very good clientele. I’ve been a master cosmetologist for about 34 years,” Chaney said.

After two years, her late father, who gave her the nickname “Grown,” walked into her salon and strongly encouraged her to obtain a college degree.

“He allowed me to figure out what I wanted to do but knew that this would not last forever,” she said.

She enrolled at Fort Valley State University the following Monday. She had heard about the Historically Black University from two women who promoted the institution in her community. Her agricultural upbringing came back to her as she realized her passion for family and consumer sciences. Her experience on campus and the family environment reassured her that she chose correctly. She even met her husband of 28 years, LeVert, on campus.

“I knew this was where I was supposed to be,” Chaney said. “Mrs. Hunt, Dr. (Vivian) Fluellen and Dr. (Linda) Johnson inspired me.”

The Twiggs County native continued to run her salon, working every weekend all through college.

“It made me tough and feel as though I could survive anything,” she said, noting she learned leadership skills. “It made me proud to run a business at an early age and earn a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences in infant and child development.”

She later received a master’s degree in instructional technology from Georgia College and State University and a specialist degree in administration and instructional technology from Nova Southeastern University.

The FVSU alumna used her skills in the classroom to pay it forward at Progressive Christian Academy in Macon, Georgia. For five years, she served as the coordinator and taught second, third and fifth grades.

“I feel as though God led me there to prepare me for what was going to come next,” she said.

Returning to her roots and what she loves, Chaney taught family and consumer sciences at Twiggs County High School for eight years. She also served as the FCCLA adviser and started a cosmetology program that still exists.

“It was exciting to return home and A Twiggs County resident helps refresh the raised beds at a local community center.

Twiggs is tiny but can be super mighty. There is a lot of love and great things here.

teach many of the students of the parents I attended school with,” she said. “Consumer education and basic food skills are needed in the classroom.”

Chaney’s desire to educate her community continued as she did home visits for two years under an Early Reading First grant and taught children how to read through pictures. She became a national parent educator, serving more than 200 parents in her county. She also served as an alternative school director for two years and chair of the school board for one term.

Her excitement to serve her community in these various roles spilled over into her return to her alma mater as the family and consumer sciences Extension agent for Twiggs County. She praised the support she has received while serving in this position, which she has held for 14 years.

“We are here to make things happen for the community,” she said.

With a lot of years in education, Chaney was always interested in FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program because of the flexibility of being out in the community and the ability to create programs based on the community’s needs.

Some of her activities include veggie giveaways for Thanksgiving, community gardens and an annual walk-a-thon. She also offered a healthy

night out event for two years, where she had more than 1,000 participants the first year and partnered with various businesses and organizations to educate the community about healthy living. Her biggest impact has been building community relationships among families. A recipient of national and state awards, she supports her community by serving on various committees and through her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Chaney, the devoted driver of a black and red 1300 Hayabusa, keeps going even after being diagnosed with lupus.

“I did not let that keep me down,” she said. “Sometimes I must remind myself. That is where healthy living came in. I started with myself and that rolled out into the community. I am walking into what God intended for me.”

Her motivation is blessing someone and building people up.

“Twiggs is tiny but can be super mighty. There is a lot of love and great things here,” Chaney said. “It takes strong people to stand in the gap and say they are going to do something. I am one of those people.”

Terralon Chaney dances with a Twiggs County resident who joins in the fun.
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Photos by Latasha Ford


Selecting a major in college may be easy for some, but for those who are undecided, agriculture is a viable option. Fort Valley State University offers 12 degrees through its College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology. These programs can prepare students to become dieticians, engineers, or veterinarians just to name a few. Below is a list of programs offered that can be a jumpstart to an exciting career.

› Agricultural Economics

› Agricultural Education

› Agricultural Engineering Technology

› Electronic Engineering Technology

› Food and Nutrition

› Infant and Child Development

› Plant Science

› Environmental soil science

› Biotechnology

› Veterinary Technology

› Biotechnology (M.S.)

› Plant

› Animal

› Applied

› Animal Science (M.S.)

› Public Health (MPH)

› Environmental Health

For more information, visit:

What can graduates do with a degree from the College of Agriculture?

Students are prepared for many careers; Possible jobs include:

› Economist

› Teacher

› Veterinary Technician

› County Extension Agent

› Government employee

contact: Fanisha Maize marketing and outreach coordinator 478-342-8215


Fort Valley State’s first meat judging team wins national award

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports 1890 Land-grant University students, as well as their institutions, in order to develop the nation’s future science and agriculture leaders. The Meats Judging Program at Fort Valley State University (FVSU) is one of many examples of how an 1890 institute is cultivating the next generation of agriculturalists.

Seven FVSU students made history as the first Meat Judging Team for the historically Black institution. This all-female team of trailblazers is a force to be reckoned with after they competed for the first time in the 2023 Spring Intercollegiate Meat Judging contest, where they took home several awards.

Hosted by the American Meat Science Association (AMSA), the competition drew more than 300 students from across the nation, from Australia and Honduras to Greeley, Colorado. The FVSU team ranked in the top 10 of Division A with a ninth-place win and placed third overall in judging.

This accomplishment is especially rewarding because the group had only two months of one-day per week virtual training sessions and two in-person meetings prior to traveling to Colorado. They also participated in an intense week of in-person training prior to the contest.

“We trained in the meat locker from early in the morning to about 10 p.m.,” said 19-yearold Nylah Simpson of Hinesville, Georgia. The animal science major placed 19th overall in judging.

All competing students judged beef, lamb and pork. The criteria involved knowing the various cuts, fat content and anatomy. The students described the judging process as intricate and like speaking a different language.

“I want to be a large-animal veterinarian,” Simpson said. “Meat judging is a different world. I learned the inside and outside of a cow and humane ways to care for them. Everything I am doing is helping build my knowledge about the animal as a whole.”

Not only did Simpson earn a win, 18-year-old Raven McRae also placed fifth in lamb judging,

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and 19-year-old McKenzie McCluskey had a perfect score on the beef cut questions.

“It was a learning experience for me. We had to deal with cultural differences, but we worked hard as a group. We all came together despite the challenges and persevered,” said McRae, a freshman computer science major.

Although she has had some exposure growing up on a farm, it never occurred to the Decatur, Georgia, native that agriculture could be a career option. This experience has taught her that she can apply her knowledge and skills as a computer science major to support agriculture.

Shocked by her own perfect score, McCluskey of Cedartown, Georgia, said learning all the different parts of the animal has helped her in the classroom. The sophomore animal science major wants to be a veterinarian and work with breeding and artificial insemination.

Avience Baker, 32, of Covington, Georgia, said she not only gained a lot of knowledge but also friends. As a nontraditional student, she joined the team because she was intrigued.

“These group of ladies are very smart, and they helped me along the way,” she said.

The junior veterinary technology major plans to pursue veterinary school and is interested in doing research. She also aspires to own a farm and expose her son more to agriculture.

To know they represented FVSU as the first Black all-female team is monumental for the team.

“We are making history. This is a field that nobody expects women or Black people, in general, to be in,” Simpson said. “It’s special because we are bringing diversity to a field that I did not even know about.”

Simpson is a USDA 1890 National Scholar, along with 19-year-old Chantia Fletcher. “It can be scary being a trailblazer, but with certain opportunities like these, you learn, grow and make it possible for others to follow the same path,” declared Fletcher, who is determined to forge a path for other young women.

The freshman veterinary technology major plans to pursue veterinary school after graduation. She takes advantage of experiences like these for a broader perspective.

“Everything truly comes together whether on a small scale or a larger scale,” said the Grayson, Georgia, native. “As I think about my career, I am

considering where I can fit in, where I can help and how I can use my expertise to truly make things better.”

The team thanked Terrell Hollis, meat laboratory manager of FVSU’s Meat Technology Center and assistant farm manager, and Karla Hollis, USDA liaison, for their support and believing in them.

“They never gave up on us,” Simpson said.

Both mentors are proud of the students’ achievements. The development of the team was a partnership between FVSU’s Meat Technology Center and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Livestock and Poultry Programs.

“If it had not been for their support, then USDA would not have done the coaching and brought diversity and excellence into the meat judging competition. It was one of the goals of the AMSA to bring in students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Karla Hollis explained. “These young ladies stepped up. Despite the challenges they had, they still rose to the top, and I am proud of them.”

The next step is to participate in additional competitions and become junior coaches and mentors for the succeeding cohort of team members.

Fletcher emphasized the importance of having a foundation, confidence and learning to navigate unfamiliar environments that can be challenging.

“Know who you are, where you come from and what you bring to the table,” she strongly advised. “When you have more experiences like that, you master it over time and there is no stopping you.”

The meat judging team poses with their mentors and coaches after ranking in the top 10 of Division A.


Alumna publishes first manual for veterinary technology students

“He is one of very few people in the world who does bird surgery,” Samples noted.

Echols connected her with Teton NewMedia, the premier source for veterinary and human medicine books, which led to the birth of her first published book as a co-author. This project is a labor of love for Samples because in 1995, when she started as a veterinary technician at FVSU, lab manuals for students did not exist. Therefore, she and other instructors began developing their own lab exercises.

“I kept them in notebooks and would revise them every year. I made notes about what worked, what didn’t work and what could be added,” Samples said.

explaining what the results mean. In addition, the manual includes lab guidelines and an online portion for instructors’ references.

With this project complete, Samples is now working on a companion volume in parasitology and other major projects.

“I am so grateful to Dr. Echols for getting my foot in the door because he was the one who believed in my vision and got me started in this genre, being able to publish for veterinary technicians,” Samples said. “It was a learning process for me. I am anxious to get the next one done.”

Fort Valley State University assistant professor Dr. Oreta Samples co-authored the book, “Laboratory Manual for Clinical Veterinary Technology,” along with Dr. M. Scott Echols, an avian veterinary specialist.

This newly published laboratory manual addressing clinical pathology and chemistry of veterinary technology is the first of its kind to enable veterinary technology students and practicing technicians to excel in their careers.

The Master of Public Health Program coordinator said she and Echols met at a veterinary technology convention in 2009 in Reno, Nevada, where she shared her interest in publishing a laboratory manual to assist instructors and benefit students. She was already familiar with Echols as she had previously reviewed some of his books and videos during her stint as an editor for the Book Review Column of the Veterinary Support Personnel Network (VSPN), an online community for veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

The manual is a compilation of work that she started creating back in 1995. After years of writing and collecting, Samples is proud that the long-awaited exercises are now available for veterinary technology programs around the world. There are 20 chapters that fit students’ needs. The manual also covers microbiology and a chapter on avian laboratory procedures, which Echols provided, along with photos for the book.

“Each chapter addresses a task that is required by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) within their guidelines for accredited veterinary technician programs of which FVSU is one. Students must master these skills,” explained the MPH coordinator.

She added that one chapter identifies the three H’s of hematology (hematocrit, hemoglobinometer and hemacytometer). This includes the importance of and instructions on mastering the laboratory skills associated with veterinary hematology, as well as

The “Laboratory Manual for Clinical Veterinary Technology” is available on Amazon at and on Taylor & Francis Group’s website at

Wakefield publishes book about historic African American organization

Dr. Dexter Wakefield, a 1990 FVSU graduate, joined forces with friends Dr. Antoine Alston and Netta Cox of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to produce a pictorial, “The Legacy of the New Farmers of America.”

New Farmers of America (NFA)

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was a student-based organization dating back to 1927 that supported African American males in agriculture.

“It was running in unison with the Future Farmers of America (FFA), one of the largest studentbased organizations in the nation,” Wakefield explained. “It started around the same time so that Black men would have an organization for student development. At its peak, the NFA had more than 60,000 members involved in agriculture. This was before the integration of women in 1969.”

The FVSU alumnus said today, there are only about 40,000 Black men and women total involved in FFA.

“NFA provided teacher and agriculture training and career success for Black men,” Wakefield said. He added that there were only two NFA camps in the nation. One was S.B. Simmons Camp in North Carolina, and the other was Camp John Hope in Fort Valley, Georgia, near FVSU.

He said the camp provided leadership development for Black youths for many years.

“They taught Black kids how to swim, arts and craft, and teamwork. All those skills related to being effective as a citizen,” he emphasized. He noted many members from Georgia were actively involved in NFA as state and national officers, including several FVSU graduates like the late Josiah Phelps and Ira Hicks.

Wakefield said it took more than 20 years to complete the book. He started this research back in 1997 when working on his dissertation at Purdue University for a doctorate in agriculture Extension and education. His extensive background in education and working for the National FFA prepared him for creating this valuable resource to showcase forgotten history.

Adding this book to his list of accomplishments, Wakefield said this project is significant because there is not a lot of information

available about African Americans in agriculture.

Wakefield learned firsthand from his father, who taught adult classes at night for the Black farmers in Quitman. He said throughout the book, readers can see the progression of Black men dedicated to leadership, success and being a role model to their communities and society.

The next phase is highlighting the NFA voices through interviews of former members to further expand the knowledge of the organization.

“If you don’t learn from your history, you will learn it the next time it comes around,” he said, noting his father would remind him of this. “If we hide our past, the next generation will take for granted that their pathway was easy.”

For that reason, Wakefield uses his educational platform and memorable experiences at FVSU to impact youths. “The Legacy of the New Farmers of America” is available on Amazon at

Alumnus retires to farm

ment,” Baker said.

Striving to be efficient, Baker learned from successful farmers as much as he could while employed by FSA. He credits those experiences for where he is today.

When he first started farming full-time, Baker said he had about 200 acres and minimal equipment. In 2022, the retiree farmed approximately 2,700 acres of corn, cotton, peanuts, a cover crop and timber with two of his brothers. He also owns the latest equipment, including a grain combine, peanut combine, peanut plow and several tractors.

Some of the land Baker farms he inherited from his father and grandfather, but the majority of the land came through other means.

“The Lord was good to me,” Baker said. “The majority of the land we farm came from someone asking me if I was interested in being their banker.”

He also credits his father’s reputation to his success.

Seeing both sides of the business as a loan officer and now as a fulltime farmer, Baker understand the hurdles that small farmers face.

While working for FSA he said he aimed to educate small farmers about doing their research.

“Know what you’re asking for, know your crop,” Baker said. “Knowledge is the main way to get over the hurdles.”

In 2012, Sam Baker retired from the Farm Service Agency after serving as a loan officer for 32 years. Now operating as a full-time farmer and managing Sam Baker Farms LLC, he aims to change the status quo of how Black farmers are perceived.

“Most of the time when people think about Black farmers, they tend to think of us as being smaller and not having the latest equip-

He also suggests that small farmers develop detailed written plans. “Be committed and be convinced of it, and be able to sell it to someone else, showing that you can do what you set out to do,” he said.

The 1979 Fort Valley State University alumnus said he hopes his operation inspires small farmers to develop confidence.

“I hope I’ve been a positive role model showing that if a person wants to farm, they can do it,” Baker said.



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