Southscapes spring 2017

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A publication for alumni and friends of the University of Georgia® College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences





The heart of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences lives in its people. The CAES family stays true to its roots — innovation in an evolving agricultural landscape.


contents CAES


// SPRING 2017 // VOL. 13 • ISSUE 1


The heart of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences lives in its people. This issue explores the work of the CAES family.


For these stories and more, visit caes.uga. edu/alumni/news.

Family Traditions


26  The Tyson family 28  The Black family 30  The Howard family

Scientist Glen Rains, entomology professor on the UGA Tifton campus, is using 3-D imagery and robots in early identification of crop disease and insect pressure.

32  33  34  36

D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards Katrien Devos and finger millet Andrew Paterson and sorghum David Riley and black-eyed peas








Life-Changing Research

Student Empowerment

Georgia FFA and the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences work together to promote agriculture and leadership to middle and high school students.

37  Jesse Lafian’s tensiometer 38  Charles Orgbon’s Arctic study





 ON THE COVER: CAES alumni and members of the Tyson family (back row, left to right) Samantha Strickland, Tyson Strickland, Nathan Tyson, Edmond Strickland, Morgan Grizzle, (middle row, left to right) Anna Strickland, Jody Strickland, Tony Tyson and Reuben Flanders pose for a photo on Willie (front) and Barbara Tyson’s farm in Perry, Georgia. Photo by Dennis McDaniel


1 2 3 40 42 42 43

From the Dean By the Numbers Noteworthy Faculty Notes From Four Towers Class Notes Lead Dawgs




Georgia 4-H’ers have collected more than 160,000 pounds of pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia for a donation of more than $97,000.

The 2016 and 2017 Georgia Farmers of the Year — John McCormick and Everett Williams, respectively — are both alumni of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Georgia Grinders Pecan Butter took the grand prize at the 2017 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest.

From the Dean

southscapes DESIGNER Katie Walker COPY EDITORS Kathryn Schiliro, Erin Yates CONTRIBUTING WRITERS April Bailey, Sharon Dowdy Cruse, Allison Floyd, Merritt Melancon, Josh Paine, Kathryn Schiliro, Clint Thompson, Samantha White, Erin Yates CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS John Amis, Nathan Congleton/NBC, Sharon Dowdy Cruse, David Fisher, Peter Frey, Candace Gray, Dorothy Kozlowski, Blane Marable, Dennis McDaniel, Seth McWorter, Merritt Melancon, Stephen Morton, Corey Nolen, Samantha Okazaki, Josh Paine, Jacob Price, Tangie Renee Photography, Clint Thompson, BS Thurner HOF, Jesse Walker, Katie Walker, Jeff Williams, Natasha Wright/ DIRECTOR Angela Rowell Office of Communications and Creative Services DEAN AND DIRECTOR Sam Pardue College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences DIRECTOR OF ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT Suzanne Griffeth Office of External Relations

Suggestions? Questions?

SOUTHSCAPES is published semiannually for alumni, friends and supporters of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences by the CAES Office of External Relations and produced by the CAES Office of Communications and Creative Services.


n my first year as dean, one of the messages I have consistently heard around the state is of the affinity Georgians have for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and of their commitment to continuing its legacy for the betterment of the state. From the halls of the U.S. Capitol to farms across Georgia, I’ve heard moving stories of the difference this college makes in the lives of Georgia families. One congressman told me how valuable his father’s animal science degree was to their family. Another recounted the story of how his 84-year-old father considered his days of teaching entomology in this college among the most important times of his life. This theme of legacy has been repeated among so many people. Recently, I met with David Ratcliffe, former CEO of Southern Company, who started an endowment to provide experiential learning opportunities to our students in memory of his father, Jack, who was a Phi Kappa Phi graduate from the College of Agriculture in 1933, and returned to earn a master’s degree in 1941. Caroline Hofland graduated from CAES with two degrees in agricultural and applied economics. She now runs an international equipment company that she started in Georgia. Her daughter, Nicole, is currently a CAES student, also in agricultural and applied economics, and Caroline volunteers “From the halls of the U.S. her time bringing other students to campus Capitol to farms across to learn about the outstanding career and study opportunities in agriculture. Georgia, I’ve heard moving Among our own administration, Associate stories of the difference this Dean for Academic Affairs Josef Broder’s college makes in the lives of family has a tremendous legacy in our Georgia families.” college. Joe and six of his siblings are all CAES graduates. This year the Broder children endowed the Broder-Ackermann Global Citizenship Award in honor of their parents, Hans Broder and Margrit Ackermann. The award will be given each year to a CAES student who demonstrates dedication to global citizenship by working and studying abroad or engaging with the international community in Athens, Georgia. As associate dean for academic affairs, Joe works to ensure our students have the opportunities and reap the success this college afforded to so many in his family. Many of our students and alumni were the first in their families to attend college, but history tells us that they aren’t likely to be the last. We are fortunate to have Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue now leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He’s the first UGA alumnus to hold a Cabinet position and the first Georgian to serve in this post. As Congress begins developing the new farm bill, his strong experience and deep understanding of the value of land-grant universities will serve the nation well. In the years ahead, we are committed to continuing the CAES legacy. We are focused on providing the world-class education, groundbreaking research and hands-on outreach that is the true spirit of this college. COREY NOLEN

MANAGING EDITOR Kathryn Schiliro


Sam Pardue Dean and Director College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences SPRING 2017

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by the numbers With more than 18,000 total living alumni, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has one of the largest alumni bases at the University of Georgia. Nearly 2,000 of these alumni have multiple degrees from CAES.


caes alumni

CAES alumni by academic department

Alumni with degrees from different departments were counted more than once




















8 3


UGA-Athens 17,713 alumni


UGA-Griffin 89 alumni


5 UGA-Tifton 222 alumni



1,020 553 337 254 216 192 180 165 164 132

States with the most CAES alumni





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5,837 12,225





11,162 911 601 503 492 337 315 287 284 277

Georgia Florida North Carolina South Carolina New York California Texas Tennessee Virginia Alabama



Steep South UGA ornamental plant breeder Donglin Zhang works to bring tea production to the U.S. Sweet tea may be the “house wine” of the American South, but very few of the tea leaves used in the thousands of gallons of tea Southerners drink every year is grown nearby. Although experiments in tea farming in the Southern U.S. date back to Colonial times, this temperamental cousin of the camellia has never caught on as a cash crop. However, with growing interest in craft teas and innovations in breeding and harvesting technologies at hand, it may be time for the South to start supplying pitchers with locally grown tea. “Tea, or Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze, has been grown here, but for some reason — the cost of processing, the cost of cultivation, the cost of labor — it’s never become a large-scale crop,” said Donglin Zhang, a professor of horticulture in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences who is working to bring largescale tea production to the U.S. Today, tea harvesting has been mechanized, and the demand for tea has grown. U.S. sales grew from $1.8 billion in 1990 to $10.8 billion in 2014, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. That market trend, combined with consumers’ growing preference for locally sourced products, may mean that it’s finally tea time in the South. Currently there’s only one large, working tea farm in the U.S. — the Charleston Tea Plantation outside of Charleston, South Carolina. A new farm is under development in Mississippi, and Zhang feels that there will be more coming online in the near future. “Consumption has gone up, prices have gone up and the mechanical harvesting techniques have improved,” Zhang said. “This is why I think it could work here.” Zhang has a long history as an ornamental plant breeder. He was drawn to tea and Camellia species as ornamental plants. His breeding program focuses on producing plants that serve two purposes: food and beauty. Continued on page 4 SPRING 2017

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q Donglin Zhang, CAES horticulture professor, is breeding cold-tolerant tea cultivars that will be able to withstand Georgia’s temperature changes.

extension how-to



Continued from page 3 “People today have smaller yards, and I think there is interest in plants that have multiple purposes,” he said. He’s traveled to China to collect varieties of persimmon, jujube and waxberry to use as parent plants for Georgia-adapted ornamentals. With delicate foliage, variegated leaves, bright blooms in the form of camellia flowers and the prospect of a homegrown cup of tea, tea plants are also part of his ornamental breeding program. Then he thought, “If tea plants could be successfully grown in a yard, why couldn’t they grow on farms?” Many of the tea plants grown for beverage With delicate foliage, production are notoriously cold-sensitive variegated leaves, and don’t tolerate the rapid temperature bright blooms in the changes seen in Georgia. Zhang is working form of camellia flowers to breed more cold-tolerant plants that also and the prospect of a produce a distinctly delicious Southern tea. Today, Zhang has a selection of nine homegrown cup of tea, tea cultivars growing at the Durham tea plants are also Horticulture Farm outside the UGA Athens part of his ornamental campus, and he plans to add more varieties breeding program. to his breeding programs soon. In late 2016, Zhang toured China’s teaproducing regions with plant breeders from other Southeastern land-grant universities as part of a program organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Agriculture in China. The trip was paid for, in part, by a faculty travel grant provided by the CAES Office of Global Programs. With a 3,000-year history and about 2.8 million acres of land devoted to tea production, Zhang and his colleagues hoped that tea experts in China could help them determine what they needed to make tea work in the Southeast. The team was able to identify several dozen varieties out of the 4,000 currently being grown commercially in China that they believe will grow well in Georgia and throughout the South. Zhang hopes to add those varieties to his breeding program in the future. For more information about how UGA plant breeders are helping to diversify Georgia’s agriculture, visit • Merritt Melancon

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Veggies are trending. As our population grows and becomes more thoughtful about food, the demand for greens is blossoming. In 2016, per capita vegetable consumption was up to 381.2 pounds in the U.S., a 1.9 percent increase from the previous year, according Find these to the “2017 Georgia publications Ag Forecast Situation and more at and Outlook Reports.” https://t.uga. If you’ve been meaning edu/387. to cultivate your own quality, high-yield garden to supplement your diet and save your dollars, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension can help you tend your crop. Check out the following publications from UGA Extension agents, horticulturists and Master Gardener Extension Volunteers, and remember — with rigorous work comes vigorous veggies! Vegetable Gardening in Georgia (C 963) There is nothing quite like a home garden to supply you and your family with a variety of nutritious vegetables that can be enjoyed fresh or preserved for later use. When space is limited, a plentiful supply of crops can be grown with a few, properly tended plants. Home Garden Series: Vegetable Garden Calendar (C 943) You can plant or harvest something from your garden almost all year. The monthly recommendations in the vegetable calendar can be used as a guide to planning and implementing your garden work. Home Garden Series: Starting Plants from Seed for the Home Gardener (B 1432) A number of plants — particularly vegetables, annuals and herbs — can be grown from seed. There are several advantages to propagating plants from seed. Seeds are relatively inexpensive, allowing the home gardener to get many plants for the price of a few transplants. UGA faculty provide researchbased, peer-reviewed information and recommendations to the public through Extension publications. • Erin Yates


How sweet it is University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is instrumental in helping Vidalia onion farmers produce a sweeter onion crop. Through work at the UGA Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center and in surrounding southeast Georgia counties — the hub of Vidalia onion production — onion research has yielded timely information, including data relating to flavor, to aid growers in their production every year. “Growers want to know every year what varieties do the best in our trials. They use that information to help them in variety selection,” said Chris Tyson (BSA – Agriscience and Environmental Systems, ’06), UGA Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Tattnall County, Georgia. According to Tyson, the agents aren’t breeding onions. They’re researching varieties from onion companies to see how they perform in southeast Georgia’s conditions. The crop’s taste has been improved by UGA Extension research on the impact of low-sulfur application treatments. In previous years, agents have provided fertility recommendations aimed


Extension helps farmers grow sweeter onions through soil management

“What we’ve been able to do in recent years is to really study the depth of the sulfur and micromanage the soil to put out an even sweeter onion.” Cliff Riner at producing not only optimal yields, but also the best flavor possible. “We’ve always known that sandy soils are what create the sweet Vidalia onion. What we’ve been able to do in recent years is to really study the depth of the sulfur and micromanage the soil to put out an even sweeter onion,”

said Cliff Riner (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’06), Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center coordinator. “UGA research and Extension have always had a role in variety trials and variety evaluation, but we’re starting to see a major influx of new varieties within our industry from seed companies. It’s the job of county agents and myself to help figure out ways to manage those varieties — from how much fertilizer they like to planting dates — in order to try to maximize the potential of those varieties.” Riner has served in Extension for 11 years. He has been the center’s coordinator for four of those years.

Through research trials, Extension has made strides to improve direct seeding to save on labor and plant disease management. Riner thinks that Extension’s biggest accomplishment has been enhancing the onion’s flavor. “We’ve learned a lot from the flavor aspect of onions and how to take a good onion and make it even better,” Riner said. Vidalia onions are a major crop in Georgia. Onions were grown on 12,600 acres in the state in 2015, with a farm gate value near $149 million, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. • Clint Thompson SPRING 2017

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q Satsuma production is taking off in south Georgia. Twenty-two counties were growing commercial citrus as of March 2016.

SOUTH GEORGIA CITRUS 6  southscapes // SPRING 2017



UGA scientist Wayne Hanna and Extension agent Jacob Price hope that satsuma production research bears fruit for south Georgia growers Citrus production is ripening, with potential for growth in south Georgia, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agent Jacob Price (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’90), based in Lowndes County, Georgia. More than 150 acres of satsuma oranges have been planted in south Georgia in the last four years. And UGA scientist Wayne Hanna recently released a seedless tangerine, lemon and grapefruit after years of research on the UGA Tifton campus. Hanna’s goal is to develop citrus plants that could grow across the southernmost part of the U.S. “(If) you stretch a line across the United States, and a homeowner below that line wants to grow a tangerine, lemon or a grapefruit in their backyard, they should be able to grow it,” Hanna said. In Georgia, Hanna places that line through Cordele. While Hanna’s research targets homeowners, Price’s goal is to provide commercial growers with an alternative crop to produce. In 2013, he held the first official satsuma meeting in Georgia. The popularity of satsumas has grown so much in recent years, One acre of Price believes 10-year-old the number of satsumas can easily acres planted in Georgia will produce 120,000 at least double pieces of fruit. in 2017. There are challenges: cold weather, markets and the strong possibility of citrus greening, an infection that ruins groves. Price warns new growers that it only takes one cold night to cause a great deal of damage to the trees; fruit on the trees can freeze at 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of this fruit is available at the same time, making it crucial

to develop markets. One acre of 10-year-old satsumas can easily produce 120,000 pieces of fruit. If no additional trees are planted in the state and current plantings survive, there could be 18 million pieces of Georgia fruit that need to find a market. “Some farmers who grow vegetables or blueberries already have the infrastructure in place to process and move citrus,” Price said. “Their facilities can possibly be made available when most Georgia citrus ripens in mid-November. As of now, I do not know of any buying points for citrus, but one of the main focuses of the Georgia Citrus Growers Association, which was officially established at the Lowndes County Extension office on Oct. 5, 2016, is to try and develop markets.” According to Price, as of March 2016, there were 22 counties in south Georgia in which commercial citrus grows. While expanding the satsuma crop appears inevitable, it may not happen quickly. There simply aren’t enough trees to accommodate the growing number of interested producers. “Growers want more trees to plant this spring, but they (the trees) just aren’t there,” Price said. “I know many growers who have placed orders for trees for spring of 2018. It takes about 18 months to produce a 1-gallon satsuma tree.” Hanna cautions new growers who are eager to grow multiple acres of citrus. An acre can house approximately 145 trees. Producers need to make sure they can handle 1 acre before planting 20 acres. “It’s like anything else, you’ve got to get a feel for it,” Hanna said. “‘When do I do this?’ ‘When do I do that?’ It depends on a lot of variables, like temperature and the response you’re getting from your plant.”

Hanna was one of the first experts Price called on when he began to hold regular meetings regarding potential satsuma production in Georgia. Some of Hanna’s words of caution stem from growers who want to speed up a process that takes time. “I think one of the biggest concerns is that growers are going to buy small plants and want to grow them fast. They’re going to put nitrogen to them, and they’re going to pay the price,” Hanna said. “You don’t want to put too much nitrogen on after the first of June. That new growth will really be sensitive. You want hardened-off growth when the cold weather comes.” But, Price said, farmers with satsumas are finding reasonable market prices, whether at local schools, farmers markets or fruit stands. Some larger vegetable and blueberry farmers have brokers to sell their blueberries and vegetables, and those brokers may be able to sell the satsumas as well. Though there are issues to work out, with careful planning, the satsuma industry has the potential to thrive in Georgia. • Clint Thompson


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q Charlie, the “TODAY” show’s “Puppy with a Purpose,” and CAES alumna Olivia Poff, Charlie’s puppy raiser, navigate the busy streets of New York.

Charlie arrives at 30 Rockefeller Plaza at 6:30 each morning to prepare for his appearance on national television. After a morning routine with host Matt Lauer, he waits in the Orange Room through the 7 a.m. hard news block before taking the plaza stage outside the studio at 8 a.m. There’s an 8:30 a.m. appearance with Lauer or host Carson Daly, the filming of 9 a.m. teases with celebrities, then 10 a.m. downtime in the studio before returning home unless a trip to an NBC affiliate or video “pupdate” for social media is required. Charlie is the “TODAY” show’s “Puppy with a Purpose.” University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences alumna Olivia Poff (BSA – Animal Science, ’11) is responsible for him. Poff is a guide dog mobility

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instructor for America’s VetDogs and its sister organization, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, both charitable organizations that provide guide and service dogs to U.S. veterans, first responders and civilians. However, for this project, she is Charlie’s puppy raiser. She started raising Charlie on national television last August, after “TODAY” sought out the organization to sponsor its second “Puppy with a Purpose.” “He’s a good fit, a happy-golucky dog,” Poff said. “Not a lot fazes him.” When they return home, Poff continues training Charlie. He will become a service dog for a U.S. veteran. He’s learning to push buttons and lights with his nose, to retrieve dropped items, and to tug to open doors or pull off covers. Continued on page 10

q CAES alumna Sarah Hooper, pictured here at an open house for the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008, helped launch the puppy-raising program at UGA.


Dogged Pursuit

“TODAY” show puppy raiser Olivia Poff’s tale began with work for the Guide Dog Foundation while at CAES


“When I met the woman he went to and saw the difference he made in her life, that specific moment of puppy training is where my career path did a 180 (-degree turnaround) and I started pursuing (work in) the assistance dog industry.” Olivia Poff

CAES ALUMNA’S DAWG DAYS HELPED CREATE GUIDE DOG PROGRAM AT UGA It’s nearly impossible to walk on campus today without spotting a yellow-jacketed guide dog in training. There are between 100 and 120 on the University of Georgia’s Athens campus, and twice that number of puppy raisers, according to Deana Izzo, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind’s Southeastern field representative. The puppy-raising program has

spread to Kennesaw State, Emory and Augusta State universities in Georgia, as well as Auburn University and the University of North Carolina. The program took root at UGA through the work of alumna Sarah Hooper (BSA – Avian Biology, ’10). She began raising guide dogs as a Girl Scout Gold Award project in high school and wanted to continue her work in college.

She dealt with some resistance in the beginning, especially within her on-campus housing accommodations, a requirement for freshmen at the time. Her professors were all receptive to the idea, though. She even took her service-dog-in-training to her labs and to work at the college’s poultry farm. Now, the program has

grown so that there are coraisers who can split training responsiblities. Campers can take puppies for a week or more and buddies can babysit puppies for a matter of hours so students can attend labs and the like. As students approached Hooper and word got out, the program grew. Hooper and Izzo worked together to establish policies and procedures

for the puppy-raising program and on recruitment. Eventually, Hooper served as area coordinator. “We took our puppy-raising program and modified it to fit a college campus,” Izzo said. Today Hooper has her veterinary medicine degree, also from UGA, and she’s working toward her doctorate at the University of Missouri. Continued on page 10


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Continued from page 8 Poff thought she wanted to be a veterinarian and came to UGA for the animal science program. She rode on the university’s equestrian team and took on student work in veterinary medicine. One day she approached a student who had a golden retriever wearing a yellow “Future Guide Dog” jacket in tow. She learned that raising a guide and service dog required no prerequisites. She just Continued from page 9 had to put in the time, Her experience as both a energy and commitment College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to raising and training avian biology major and it. Her life changed. puppy raiser aid her higher “The first one I raised education pursuits. went to a veteran,” she “Much of my said. “When I met the Ph.D. is bench-top woman he went to and lab research saw the difference he where I work on To learn made in her life, that developing assays more or to specific moment of to measure apply to be a puppy training is where biomarkers,” puppy raiser, Hooper said. “We my career path did a 180 visit puppy. (-degree turnaround) run some assays called ‘ELISAs.’ My and I started pursuing research professor (work in) the assistance asked me how I dog industry.” understood how they worked. While still in college, It was through my avian CAES gave her credit bio techniques class.” hours for an internship Being a puppy raiser with the Guide Dog teaches ownership and Foundation. “They gave responsibility. Working in the program helps students me the flexibility to do stand out at interviews an internship that wasn’t and in veterinary school veterinary medicine or applications. And “working farm animal production,” with the other students she said. “They allowed me on campus allowed the freedom to explore the me to develop lifelong boundaries of what I could friendships,” Hooper said. do with my education.” Puppy raisers include Her CAES education students majoring in instilled in her the need disciplines throughout the university. • Kathryn Schiliro to research and question everything related to dogs’ care to ensure training is done in the “most efficient, humane way possible.” “It has helped me be inquisitive about canine cognition, how they think, and in my approach to training,” Poff said. “I was exposed to so many amazing professors who made sure I didn’t just spit information back, but made sure I understood why.” • Kathryn Schiliro

Landscapers can soon add a bit of Georgia’s native prairie to their designs thanks to the creation of three new little bluestem perennial grasses released through a University of Georgia-U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) partnership. Little bluestem grasses are native to North America and are a major component of the tallgrass prairie, the majority of which is located in the Midwest. The grasses typically produce green to blue-green foliage. With names that conjure up thoughts of the ‘70s, the new little bluestem varieties are much more colorful than their traditional parents. ‘Cinnamon Girl’ has a red-burgundy glow; ‘Seasons in the Sun’ has a lavender glow; and ‘Good Vibrations’ is a mix of colors — red-purple with green-yellow foliage. The idea to breed the colorful grasses came from Melanie Harrison (Ph.D. – Horticulture, ’03), a USDA scientist. Harrison curates more than 500 different species of grasses and


p CAES horticulturist Carol Robacker (left) and USDA scientist and CAES alumna Melanie Harrison partnered to research and develop three new varieties of little bluestem perennial grasses. Little bluestems provide good habitats for wildlife, such as bobwhite quail (inset).

safely cold stores them in the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit facility on the UGA Griffin campus. Most of these grasses will never be grown in home landscapes, but their genes may be used to breed specific characteristics into new grass varieties. Looking at little bluestems daily, Harrison noticed the colorful summer foliage and attractive form of the grasses and began to see them as ornamental. “I noticed some of the bluestems had ornamental characteristics,” she said. “My job is to conserve close to 500 different species of grasses, so there’s a lot of variety. I thought they were pretty, but I’m not a plant breeder, so I asked Carol what she thought.” Carol Robacker, a UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences horticulturist, is Harrison’s colleague at UGA-Griffin. She was also Harrison’s

major professor when she was earning her doctoral degree in the college’s horticulture department. Their 2006 conversation about little bluestems led to a research partnership that resulted in the new varieties. Having bred numerous abelia and vitex varieties, Robacker knows that home gardeners and professional landscapers like to have a variety of plants to choose from, but they don’t always know how to use them. “Little bluestem is growing in popularity, but people don’t know where to plant it,” she said. “It does well in mass plantings mixed with other plants. And it’s very attractive when the wind blows.”

Little bluestems are low maintenance and the new varieties are bred specifically for Georgia. The grasses retain their color in hot Georgia summers and go dormant in the winter. And, Robacker says, the color is “more intense in areas of north Georgia, like Blairsville.” After dieback, the grasses should be cut back in early spring. “They are at their peak in May, June and July and then they provide some pretty fall color,” Robacker said. “Bluestems are very peaceful and they make great habitats for wildlife,” Harrison said. “Birds use them for nesting and protection.” The research team has applied for patents and now seeks a company for licensing. • Sharon Dowdy Cruse

UGA-USDA partnership breeds native prairie grasses as colorful landscape plants and wildlife habitats


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q Of the world’s more than 7 billion people, 1 in 9 are undernourished, according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme. Research is being conducted at UGA that will improve millet (pictured below), a dietary staple for those in eastern Africa and southern Asia.


Former CAES Dean Buchanan’s book makes the case for agricultural research

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Gale A. Buchanan, retired dean and director of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and former U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for research, education and economics, has penned his second book, “Feeding the World: Agricultural Research in the Twenty-First Century.” His latest book, published by Texas A&M University Press, details his ideas on how increased agricultural research can lead to a more efficient food production system, one that can provide food for a projected population of more than 9 billion people by 2050. “Agricultural economists have shown that the sum total of land, labor and capital inputs employed in agriculture has hardly changed since 1948. However, by 2009, the output of crops and livestock had risen over 2 ½ times,” Buchanan said. “That increase in output, then, is almost entirely due to knowledge-based productivity gains. Agricultural research is essential to increasing output while holding inputs constant. This is, indeed, a challenge, but it is possible if we maintain robust support of agricultural research.” Buchanan’s book covers the grand challenges he sees that, if successfully addressed, would bring about a “new paradigm” in agricultural productivity. These challenges include improving soil quality and energy efficiency, eliminating animal diseases and breeding crop plants that are productive in unpredictable climates and have “greater water, nitrogen and other nutrient efficiencies.” Almost a billion people do not have adequate food, and many more do not consume the proteins, fats and minerals necessary for normal human development, he said.


Facing Hunger Global Food Security Fund established to help students take on food insecurity and malnutrition on local and international scales The statistics are nothing less than sobering. About 795 million of the world’s more than 7 billion people are undernourished, and most are living in developing countries, according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme. Domestically, Feeding America data shows that 29.1 million American adults and 13.1 million children live in food-insecure households as of 2015. Even closer to home, more than 1.7 million Georgians — around 17 percent of the state’s population — are food insecure. In an effort to combat this epidemic, Hiram Larew (BSA – Horticulture, ’75), adjunct professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC) in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, member of the CAES Dean’s Advisory Council and Office of Global Programs collaborator, established the college’s Global Food Security Fund. The fund will provide CAES students with the financial means to study and take on food insecurity and malnutrition on local, statewide and international scales through work, service, study and research. “The point of this fund is to allow students who are interested in trying to address that problem to study it, research it and understand it, then to apply what they learn, wherever they learn it, to other places,” Larew said. Larew and ALEC Associate Professor Maria Navarro, who established the fund’s purpose with Larew, wanted to put into place a funding source for students who want to address food insecurity individually, “outside of the most traveled path” and independent of existing programs. As an example of the kind of work the fund will support, student Ty Brooks immersed himself in Ethiopian culture and agriculture last summer. He conducted field observations and interviews with smallholder farmers in an effort to

learn about the conditions of farmers with limited access to resources. Brooks was exploring how perennial sorghum might “fit into global agricultural systems at varying scales.” “I not only learned about the challenges facing farmers in this context, but gained an appreciation of the complexity of factors at play while working globally … Through this experience I gained knowledge that would serve me well in future global agricultural work,” Brooks wrote. Existing programs tend to address food insecurity at the international “Hunger is a key level, but food insecurity exists at concern that exists the community, state and national worldwide, and levels, too. Larew and Navarro none of us, no place, wanted to enable students to is without it.” explore the issue close to home and on campus, a prospect that Hiram Larew may not require as much travel, but still requires funding. “We’re encouraging students to impact food security … by mentoring and supporting them economically,” Navarro said. The fund is open to contributions from anyone who feels compelled to donate. “Hunger is a key concern that exists worldwide, and none of us, no place, is without it,” Larew said. “Within five to 10 years, I’d like to see 20 to 50 students in CAES use the funds to help support their interest in (studying) hunger on campus, hunger in the county, hunger in the state, hunger in the U.S. and hunger around the world.” To contribute to the fund, contact the CAES Office of External Relations at 706-542-3390,, or visit and click “Give Now.” Be sure to select CAES from the school or college menu, and “Global Food Security Fund” as the designation. • Kathryn Schiliro

“For a secure and peaceful planet, all people must have a reasonable level of food security. We are fortunate to live in a country with an abundant food supply. All people on this planet are not so lucky,” Buchanan said. “Our system has been phenomenally successful with even meager funding for agricultural research. However, to meet the

part of Buchanan’s life since childhood, when he hoed weeds in peanuts on his family’s farm in Madison County, Florida. He left the farm to earn undergraduate degrees in agronomy from the University of Florida and traveled to corn country to earn a doctoral degree in plant physiology from Iowa State University. He then focused on

challenges that lie ahead, agricultural research must be better supported.” Buchanan sees agricultural research in the future that is adequately funded, internationally cooperative and based on research that involves scientists, administrators, educators, farmers, politicians and consumers. Agriculture has been an integral

research relating to the reduction of weed pressure in agronomic crops. In 2013, Buchanan co-authored “Leadership in Agriculture: Case Studies for a New Generation.” “Feeding the World: Agricultural Research in the Twenty-First Century” is available through Texas A&M Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. • Sharon Dowdy Cruse SPRING 2017

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From the brain of Bob Shulstad

Q: What CAES initiatives from your time as associate dean are you particularly proud of? A: We have been successful in hiring the very best new faculty and staff while significantly expanding our external funding, downsizing our physical facilities and improving facilities and equipment. The Iron Horse Farm; J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center; new greenhouses for horticulture, plant pathology, and the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies; as well as new turfgrass facilities

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and greenhouses on our Griffin, Tifton and Athens campuses are significant additions. The legislature provided bond funds for improving the facilities at each of the campus farms and research and education centers as well as replacing major farm equipment and irrigation systems. All of this significantly increased our ability to do applied research to improve the quality, yield, safety and nutrition of our food while improving the environment for all and profitability for our producers.

Q: What were the biggest challenges of the past 10 years? A: The recession significantly impacted our ability to meet the expectations of our agricultural clients. Critical faculty or staff positions had to be left unfilled, critical farm machinery and lab equipment could not be replaced, facilities could not be properly replaced and operating dollars were lost. Our industry supporters were successful in convincing the Georgia Legislature to fund the most critical vacant faculty positions. The board of regents and governor also approved the sale of four properties, the acquisition of two properties and demolition of 148 buildings to improve the efficiency of college agricultural experiment stations’ operations. Q: Do you feel that CAES is well prepared for the future of agricultural research? A: Yes. There is an excellent administrative team in place and our faculty and staff are recognized as among the very best in the world. Georgia continues to be among the leading states in providing funds for agricultural research and Extension, though state funds alone cannot cover the cost of a world-class research program. New and existing faculty members have aggressively sought external funding. Over five of the last six years, the legislature provided major repair and renovation bond funding to remove dilapidated facilities and improve our remaining

facilities. They also provided funds to update equipment at our research and education centers and departmental farms. This greatly increased our efficiency and the morale of our employees. UGA has also allowed our college to compete for funds to hire outstanding research and teaching faculty. External competitive funding has increased more than 100 percent over the last 10 years. Q: What makes you say “Wow!” when you think about the progress of agricultural research at UGA and across the country? A: Agricultural experiment stations were established to be the research and development departments for agricultural producers and agribusinesses. Our research and Extension faculty assess the problems facing agriculture and develop solutions to address those problems. Our health and safety depend on these programs, and the economic engine of the state of Georgia is its agricultural industry. At UGA, agricultural research is responsible for over 70 percent of all patents issued to UGA faculty and 65 percent of the royalty dollars received by UGA. Seventy-five percent of royalty funds from plant breeding is returned to the inventor and the college plant breeding program. •


The collective work of University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researchers has flourished under the guidance of CAES Associate Dean for Research Bob Shulstad for the past 16 years. He’s conducted research on production economics, water resource allocation, land and water policy, and recreation demand. Before UGA, Shulstad spent 14 years in the University of Arkansas’ Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness. He was department head for his last five years there. Shulstad joined CAES as the head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics from 1987 to 1997. “I am eternally grateful to my wife, Carol, for her love and support over these last 48 years,” Shulstad said. Southscapes writer Merritt Melancon asked Shulstad about his time as associate dean, a position he’s held since 2006. He’s set to change roles within the college this To read the full year. Allen J. Moore, UGA Distinguished interview, Research Professor and head of the Franklin go to caes. College of Arts and Sciences Department of Genetics, will begin in the role of CAES alumni/news. associate dean for research this summer.


BIT ABOUT BOB Milwaukee native Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics and agribusiness from the University of Wisconsin Doctorate in agriculture and natural resource economics from Oregon State University


q UGA Tifton campus and UGA C.M. Stripling Irrigation Research Park (SIRP) personnel thank Tom Stallings (second from right), owner of Funston Gin, for donating a module builder (left) and boll buggy (right) to the park. Pictured are (left to right) SIRP personnel Ivey Griner, Superintendent Calvin Perry, Assistant Dean of UGA-Tifton Joe West, Stallings and B.J. Johnson.

Ginning up support

Module builder, boll buggy donated to UGA’s Stripling Irrigation Research Park

Cotton harvesting just got a bit more “It’s a great pleasure harvested cotton, but most current cotton gins efficient at the University of Georgia’s C.M. are not set up to handle trailers. More modern to be able to help Stripling Irrigation Research Park (SIRP). cotton-handling equipment was required. them. I fully intend Funston Gin, out of Funston, Georgia, donated a Funston Gin has been ginning the park’s to solicit my other cotton module builder and cotton boll buggy, valued at cotton for many years, and owner Tom Stallings cotton partners in the was eager to aid UGA with its cotton research. $25,000, last harvest season to help the park harvest ginning industry and its cotton plots in the fall. SIRP Superintendent “It’s a great pleasure to be able to help Calvin Perry said the module builder and boll buggy them. I fully intend to solicit my other cotton production industry are welcome additions to the park’s inventory. partners in the ginning industry and production to see if we can’t “We just needed a way to better handle industry to see if we can’t get more money get more money into cotton between researchers,” Perry said. into researching cotton,” Stallings said. researching cotton.” SIRP is devoted to studying the effects of irrigation The cotton picker dumps the cotton on crops including cotton, peanuts and corn. Perry into the boll buggy trailer after moving Tom Stallings said 25 acres went to cotton research last year. through the field. The picked cotton is Those 25 acres were divided into hundreds then transferred into the module builder, of different plots that a big, rectangular mechanism that presses contained the research it into big bundles of cotton. This allows the gin truckers of different scientists to haul the harvested crop easily from the field. within the UGA College “If we’re waiting a couple of days for a scientist’s plots of Agricultural and to be ready, we can let the cotton sit in that boll buggy for Environmental a few days under a shelter without having to put it into a Sciences. module builder and run the risk of having rain get on it,” In previous years, Perry said. “It definitely serves our needs quite well.” the park used trailers • Clint Thompson to transport the

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Kealey would like to see the center become good idea about how big their business the best facility of its kind in the U.S. potential is,” Kealey said. “They can Past FoodPIC projects include improved then go to their own manufacturing site drying technologies for Georgia’s rabbiteye or to a co-manufacturer who will make blueberries, frozen desserts using Georgia their recipe to their specifications.” fruits and a grain-based milk beverage Some potential clients decide to stay now being produced in California. An small and create recipes in their home ingredient company is kitchen to share with currently working with friends and family. campus close up FoodPIC and hopes to “FoodPIC is where food Food Product Innovation and see its reduced-sodium entrepreneurs go with Commercialization Center salt used in convenience their ideas, and we turn foods like potato chips. them into reality — into FoodPIC scientists are physical prototypes that also working with a company that plans to they can eat,” Kealey said. “If they decide incorporate its probiotic into extruded foods. they want to continue their journey, we FoodPIC is designed for short-term can help them with process development, partnerships between food entrepreneurs package development, shelf-stable and UGA scientists, not long-term studies, thermal process validation and food production and packaging. the Nutrition Facts panel. We’re a one“We help companies get a pretty stop shop.” • Sharon Dowdy Cruse



University of Georgia scientists are better equipped to help businesses launch new food products thanks to the opening of the Food Technology Center, which houses the Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center (FoodPIC), on the UGA Griffin campus. The $7.4 million project was funded with $3.5 million from the state of Georgia and additional funds provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority and UGA. The state-of-the-art, 14,500-squarefoot facility was dedicated on Jan. 30. “The Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center is an outstanding example of the University of Georgia using its resources to help strengthen our state’s economy,” UGA President Jere W. Morehead said. “We are grateful for the support we have received for the new Food Technology Center, and we are excited to expand the reach of FoodPIC within the global food industry.” While awaiting construction of the building, UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty used existing laboratories at UGA-Griffin to help food entrepreneurs with product development, packaging, food safety, consumer acceptance and marketing. “Ideally, what we have now is a place where we can help people scale up their products. If they’ve gone beyond the kitchen and need help to make more product in larger batches, we can now help them much more efficiently than we could last year,” said FoodPIC Director Kirk Kealey, whose career in food development includes launches of products for General Mills Inc., Mars Inc. and PepsiCo Inc. The new Food Technology Center and its equipment gives UGA faculty working there the ability to develop larger batches and more finished products. FoodPIC focuses on Georgia food companies and Georgia commodities, such as peaches, peanuts and blueberries, but

UGA-Griffin facility gives food product developers a place to innovate, test new food products

p Pike County High School STEM interns Dylan Blohm and Megan Pitts make and serve samples of bite-sized cheesecakes topped with Georgia-grown blueberries and pecans to FoodPIC building dedication attendees during the building tour following the ceremony. Top of page: FoodPIC Director Kirk Kealey (left) and Dick Phillips, UGA food science and technology professor emeritus and former FoodPIC director, develop and launch new food products through their work at the center. SPRING 2017

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SOCIAL BUTTERFL p As part of the LepNet project, Joe McHugh, CAES professor of entomology and curator of the arthropod collection at the Georgia Museum of Natural History, will help lead the effort to digitize millions of butterfly and moth specimens from museum collections across the nation.

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Locked in museums across the world, millions of insect specimens tell the story of the world’s climatic shifts, moving animals and changing fauna. The complete story told by these pinned bees, beetles and butterflies has been buried for centuries under the sheer number of specimens. Researchers at the Georgia Museum of Natural History at the University of Georgia are working to digitize specimens and set a framework for other museums’ collections. Joe McHugh, curator of the arthropod collection at the museum and professor of entomology in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will help lead a National Science Foundation-funded effort to digitize around 2.1 million specimens from the order Lepidoptera — moths and butterflies — and to make that data available to scientists studying climate, natural habitats and agricultural pests. When LepNet is complete, it will be one of the largest

databases of insect information, opening centuries of scientific inquiry to the new world of data analytics. “People don’t really want to spend five years going around the world visiting collections in museums and transcribing data from tiny little labels just to understand the basic biology and distribution of a species,” said McHugh. “Researchers need to be able to address important questions quickly by going to some web-based resource and pulling down all the relevant information in some standard format for analysis.” Scientists have been collecting and organizing insect specimens since before the Enlightenment, and museums worldwide have solid collections dating back 300 years. Museums in North America alone house around 250 million insect specimens from around the world. Most specimens are stored with details of their capture: the date and the time of day they were found, their food, climatic data, the geographic


MOTHS TO A MAINFRAME The LepNet team, including curators, student researchers and collection managers from across North America, started the digitization process last fall of 29 major insect collections. In addition to the UGA Collection of Arthropods at the Georgia Museum of Natural History, participating museums and institutions include:


Researchers digitize 2.1 million Lepidoptera specimens to build database, app

location, the condition of the insect and been collected there,” he said. “All of the their interactions with other organisms. data from various sources could indicate Each entry represents a data point that that a location has the right conditions can now be used to construct for a particular species.” a clearer understanding of These kinds of models are the biology of that species almost impossible to generate and of how populations move today because only a very small To learn and change, and why. portion of the collections in more about “We can use this information to museums across the globe has LepNet, see look at questions about invasive been digitized, and what has the video at species, climate change or been done has been erratic. caes.uga. human impact on environments For many years, there was edu/alumni/ by seeing how, over time, the nothing comprehensive and news. ranges of insect species have little agreement in the scientific changed,” McHugh said. community about the format Researchers can also build models to for these electronic records. In recent project when and where problem insects, years, however, great progress has been like crop-devouring caterpillars, will made to develop universal standards appear, allowing farmers to prepare for for digitizing museum specimens. the arrival of a species, McHugh said. McHugh and his colleagues are hoping “You can layer in climate information, to further refine the process. soil information and host plant While butterflies and moths are not information, and you can predict — McHugh’s main research focus — he pretty accurately in many cases — where studies beetles — his team chose a species will occur, even if it has never Lepidoptera to start the digitization

Arizona State University Clemson University Colorado State University Denver Museum of Nature and Science Drexel University Harvard University Kansas State University Michigan State University Milwaukee Public Museum Mississippi State University New Mexico State University Northern Arizona University Ohio State University Oregon State University Purdue University University of Alaska University of California, Davis University of Delaware University of Florida University of Idaho University of Minnesota University of Missouri University of Nevada, Reno University of Oklahoma University of Utah University of Wisconsin Western Washington University Yale University

project because the order includes many major pests and some beneficial species. Also, scientists and naturalists have been collecting specimens for hundreds of years. There are more than 15 million specimens in museums in North America. “They are a group that’s charismatic, highly visible, frequently collected and more easily identified than others,” he said. “You can identify over 50 percent of butterflies and macro-moths to species with a picture book, just by sight.” LepNet will include 95,000 quality specimen photos that will represent 60 percent of North America’s Lepidoptera species. Eventually photo recognition software may enable these images to be used in a publicly available butterfly and moth identification app called “LepSnap.” • Merritt Melancon SPRING 2017

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Georgia 4-H personnel take seats on national board Georgia 4-H faculty members aren’t strangers to lead roles in national organizations, but it is unusual to have several of them serving on the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) board of trustees at the same time. In August 2016, members elected the national board, which includes MULL three officers from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Casey Mull, state 4-H specialist for military programs; Abby Smith, Effingham County 4-H agent and county Extension coordinator; and Rebecca Brewer Thomas, Chattooga County 4-H agent and county Extension coordinator. In addition, State 4-H Leader Arch Smith (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’77), pictured SMITH on the opposite page, serves as an ex officio member of the board, as he is currently chair of the state program leaders working group. Mull will lead the organization over a threeyear period as president-elect, president and past president. He is in charge of a board of about 30 youth development professionals. “We know that one of the most THOMAS important factors in youth development is a relationship with a caring adult other than a parent,” Mull said. “For over 6 million 4-H’ers, that caring adult is a 4-H volunteer or a 4-H professional like our UGA Extension faculty and staff. We must motivate and inspire our youth professionals to their calling: their service to our nation’s communities.” Abby Smith and Thomas will serve two-year roles as vice president for professional development and Southern Region director, respectively. “Involvement in NAE4-HA is a perfect platform to foster professional growth, collaborative efforts and leadership opportunities. It provides an outlet to enhance our knowledge, sharpen our skills and network with colleagues across the nation,” Abby Smith said. NAE4-HA is the largest organization of its kind for youth development professionals, boasting more than 3,000 members. Communication is extremely important and Thomas has already hit the ground running. “It’s very important to keep our Extension staff abreast of pertinent news, program highlights and opportunities for networking, along with expanding opportunities for professional development,” she said. Serving in these types of leadership positions provides an opportunity for youth development professionals to practice what they preach — making the best better. “Serving on the board provides me with the opportunity to be engaged in meaningful contributions to my profession while encouraging leadership and mentoring across generations,” Thomas said. • Josh Paine

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p Georgia 4-H environmental educator Diane Davies (left) envisioned Rock Eagle 4-H Center as a “classroom without walls.” Eventually, environmental education was expanded to all Georgia 4-H centers.

School A newly published history of Rock Eagle 4-H Center, “Rock Eagle: Centerpiece of Georgia 4-H,” details how the camp, which started as a dream of then-State 4-H Leader Bill Sutton, grew into a place where millions of Georgia 4-H’ers create lifelong memories. It took the book’s author Ina Cook Hopkins, a former Walton County, Georgia, 4-H’er, almost nine years to compile data, interview key subjects, write the text and work with graphic designer Carol Williamson to complete the book. “This campus is not about bricks and mortar. It’s about people with a passion, and people are what this book is about,” Hopkins said of the 640-page publication, which includes almost 900 photos and resembles Order a copy of a textbook. “Never again “Rock Eagle: will I take for granted what Centerpiece of was accomplished by the Georgia 4-H” founders (of Rock Eagle 4-H at http://tinyurl. Center) and their successors com/RockEagle to provide a brighter future HistoryBook. for Georgia’s children.”



p Rock Eagle 4-H Center updated the camp with modern attractions, including a climbing wall. Right: Sports and recreation counselors are prepared for the day’s activities with their clipboards and whistles in 1980.

Jerry Whiteside is a former Polk County, Georgia, 4-H member and retired University of Georgia Cooperative Extension human resources director, who was the state 4-H leader when Rock Eagle 4-H Center was dedicated. At a launch event for the book held in December at the 4-H center, located outside of Eatonton, Georgia, he recounted his memories of attending 4-H camp before the Rock Eagle 4-H Center was built. “He (Bill Sutton) convinced us that we, 4-H’ers, were going to play a major role in building that camp by conducting fundraisers and getting our parents, friends, neighbors and local business leaders excited about being a part of making our dream a reality for all Georgians … My first visit to Rock Eagle was from a State 4-H Council meeting in Milledgeville, (Georgia). We visited the Rock Eagle (Effigy) Mound and participated in the groundbreaking ceremony. The next year, we dedicated the first cabin. Then, in the fall of 1955, thousands of us participated in the

center dedication. That next summer, I and 11 other lucky young people had the privilege of being members of the first group of Rock Eagle counselors. Over the past 60-plus years, the camp’s impact has been amazing,” said Whiteside. Tom Rodgers, who was the state 4-H leader for 14 years, says the history book brought him back to his days as a camp counselor at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center. “The memories and the good times poured from the pages,” said Rodgers, who initially visited the 4-H center to attend camp 57 years ago as a fifth-grade 4-H’er. Georgia 4-H State Leader Arch Smith sees the book as much more than a history of the Rock Eagle 4-H Center. “This book is also the story of the Native Americans; of the cotton and livestock that once covered this area; the Piedmont area; the Rock Eagle Effigy; the Rock Hawk Effigy; G.C. Adams, the father of 4-H; the creation of the Georgia 4-H Foundation,” said Smith, who joined the Georgia 4-H faculty as Rock Eagle’s center coordinator in


of Rock

New book details 60-plus-year history of Rock Eagle 4-H Center

p Author Ina Cook Hopkins (seated), designer Carol Williamson and State 4-H Leader Arch Smith are pictured at a book signing at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in December 2016. 1988. “It’s about the children at the Baptist Children’s Home who gave up their eggs for breakfast to help fund the center, the prisoners who built the camp and their talents, the development of the camping program and, later, the environmental education program. It’s also about the other Georgia 4-H centers across the state, and it’s the best record book that’s ever been prepared by a Georgia 4-H’er.” • Sharon Dowdy Cruse

q Students visit the beach as part of environmental education programming. Inset: Gov. Nathan Deal and first lady Sandra Deal gathered with the Jekyll Island Authority board, 4-H staff, local 4-H’ers and state 4-H board officers for the opening of Camp Jekyll.

New camp opens on ‘Georgia’s Jewel’


A revamped, 1,080-foot boardwalk leads to a pristine Jekyll Island, Georgia, beach. There are no hotels, condominiums or houses in sight, just the ocean, washedup driftwood and sand dunes built up over time. The shrubs and small trees in the dunes provide protection for wild animals and mask views of the new, 15.89-acre camp for youth on the other side of the boardwalk. At the beginning of February, students from Northbrook Middle School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, comprised the first group to participate in environmental education again at the site of the former Jekyll Island 4-H Center, now called “Camp Jekyll.” This continues the legacy of 4-H programming and events held at the site from 1983 to 2014. Many schools that visited the facility clamored to schedule trips to the new camp when the sign-up date was announced nearly six months in advance of the opening. Within a month of reservations opening, more than 5,000 participants booked spring 2017 environmental education trips and another 9,500 people booked trips For more for the 2017-2018 school year. Seven weeks of 4-H information or to camp in the summer welcomes another 1,500 visitors. schedule a group “It’s an outstanding facility and we’re deeply The new, $17 million, state-of-the-art camp visit, see www. appreciative of Gov. Deal,” said Richard Royal, was dedicated on Dec. 5, 2016, with ceremonies former JIA chairman. “I’m extremely pleased led by Gov. Nathan Deal, Georgia first lady Sandra with the design and construction. Everyone’s Deal, Jekyll Island Authority (JIA) Director Jones excited about the new Camp Jekyll and the Hooks and State 4-H Leader Arch Smith, alongside mission that it’s going to play in the education of youth.” local 4-H club members and state 4-H board officers. The new JIA-owned facility will continue to be managed daily “This new facility is a place to visit, study and learn for by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Youth all the youth of Georgia and those beyond its borders,” Development program under an operations agreement. Richard said Gov. Nathan Deal. “The heart of this camp is Chewning, who served as program coordinator for the center education … (It) is a magnificent opportunity for youth to for nearly a decade, leads as the camp director and Lauren Nys understand there is a big world to explore. Young people Kuschner oversees environmental education programming. are in a very impressionable part of their lives. Many “Georgia 4-H is pleased to be continuing our relationship of them have never had the opportunity to even see the with the Jekyll Island Authority at Camp Jekyll,” said Smith. ocean, so this is a tremendously important facility.” “We appreciate Gov. Nathan Deal’s commitment to make this Following a 2013 visit to the center, Gov. Nathan Deal wonderful new facility a reality. We are also excited to welcome proposed funding for the project, and that funding was voted other K-12 youth groups to rent and use Camp Jekyll.” into the fiscal year 2014 budget by the state legislature.

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Down by the Sea The architecture maintains a beach feel, with plenty of room for classes, outdoor activities, dining and housing for up to 256 guests. It includes a learning center honoring Sandra Deal for her commitment to youth education, which has a 300-seat auditorium, classrooms and offices; two 64-bed and four 32-bed cabins; one 16-bed staff cabin with two private, live-in apartments; one 300seat dining hall; three outdoor pavilions; basketball and volleyball areas; and one maintenance building. The dune crossover for beach access was partially renovated and extended, and includes new washing stations for patrons coming back from the beach. The one preserved and restored structure is the historic pavilion, home to the camp’s canteen and gift shop, which was constructed in 1955 as a place for African-Americans to visit the then-segregated beach.

The site was originally home to the Dolphin Club and Motor Hotel that opened in 1959. Many famous musicians visited the Dolphin Club lounge and restaurant, including B.B. King. It closed in 1966 and was later leased by the JIA to UGA for use as a 4-H summer camp in 1983. In 1987, the program was expanded to include a year-round environmental education program. More than 279,000 students participated in classes like beach ecology, herpetology, seining and more since the program began at Jekyll Island. • Josh Paine SPRING 2017

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“This college has given me a family and a home at UGA. I’ve learned so much. I’ve explored agriculture around the state and country, presented at two American Dairy Science Association national conferences and studied in France. CAES has afforded me opportunities I never imagined thanks to donors like you.” SARAH JANE THOMSEN Salem, Virginia BSA – Animal Science and Dairy Science, ‘17


You can ensure that future students have experiential learning opportunities, like education abroad, internships, research and leadership programs, by giving to CAES today. Give online at or by mailing in the attached envelope.





THE HEART OF THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES LIVES IN ITS PEOPLE. The work of CAES alumni, students, faculty and staff leaves a lasting impact on communities in Georgia and worldwide. In this issue, Southscapes explores multigenerational CAES and UGA Cooperative Extension families with histories of service, the college’s grower-empowering research on orphan crops and two CAES students who are making a difference through their extracurricular work. Throughout time, the CAES family has stayed true to its roots. Our commitment to innovation in the world’s evolving agricultural landscape has remained steadfast since 1859.



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illie Tyson (BSAE – Agricultural Engineering, ’57) may be the longestserving University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences recruiter not employed by the college. He grew up on a Tifton, Georgia, farm and was living at home, attending Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, when he found out about the university’s agricultural engineering degree. He then transferred into and, later, graduated from CAES. He devoted his entire career to the U.S. Air Force, spending most of his years in personnel management. He says his degree served him well there. His CAES recruitment efforts began in the Air Force. “I convinced the Air Force there are lots of good people coming out of the ag college, that the best engineers coming out of Georgia were in Athens,” he said. There are a number of agricultural engineers working at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia, as a result of Tyson’s efforts. He never pushed his children into CAES, they said, but Tyson’s influence did extend to his family. He first learned of his son, Tony Tyson’s (BSAE – Agricultural Engineering, ’79; MS – Agricultural Engineering, ’80) interest in pursuing a CAES degree in the local newspaper. “When Tony got some scholarships in high school … someone interviewed him and I read that in the newspaper,” Willie Tyson said. “That’s the first I learned he wanted to go into agricultural engineering.”

p Morgan Grizzle (center) celebrated her 2013 graduation with her grandparents, Barbara and Willie Tyson. Opposite page (clockwise, from bottom left): Tony Tyson, age 5, helps with the tobacco harvest on his grandfather’s farm in Tifton, Georgia. Brother and sister Tony Tyson and Jody Strickland both majored in agricultural engineering, like their father. Jody Strickland, pictured with her parents, Barbara and Willie Tyson, was on the UGA homecoming court in 1985. Edmond Strickland feeds the cows at the Tyson family farm in Perry, Georgia.

“He had an influence,” Tony Tyson said of his father’s Jody Strickland married another UGA agricultural role in his degree choice. “I knew Dad went to the university, engineer, Edmond Strickland (BSAE – Agricultural that our family had a close affinity to the university.” Engineering, ’84). Tony Tyson and Jody Strickland’s sister, Willie Tyson was always open to sharing his knowledge Betsy (Tyson) Flanders, is married to Reuben Flanders and CAES experiences with his children and their friends. (BSA – Animal Science, ’81), another CAES alumnus. “When they were trying to decide what they wanted He earned a veterinary degree from UGA in 1984. to do, I talked to them and other young people,” he said. Tony Tyson’s son, Nathan Tyson (BSA – Agribusiness, “We’d have cookouts and they’d ask questions about the ’08; MPPPM – Plant Protection and Pest Management, ’10), college. I saw several of them go to the UGA college of ag.” now a regional account manager for CNI, an agricultural Tony Tyson went on to work for the college, first as a retailer supplier, attended the college, as did all three of Jody student worker, then graduate assistant, Strickland’s children: Tyson Strickland (BSA then spent nearly 40 years working in UGA – Animal Science, ’11), who took part in the Cooperative Extension, including one year at college’s Food Animal Veterinary Incentive the Tifton Coastal Plain Station. “It was my Program, graduated from UGA with a pleasure to be involved in the early days of veterinary degree in 2016 and now works as irrigated agriculture in Georgia,” he said. a cattle veterinarian; Morgan (Strickland) Tony Tyson’s younger sister, Jody (Tyson) Grizzle (BSA – Agribusiness, ’13), who Strickland (BSAE – Agricultural Engineering, went on to get a master’s degree from ’86), came to CAES undecided as to her UGA in forestry resources and now works major. She knew her father and brother had at AgGeorgia Farm Credit; and Samantha good experiences in their major, but she was Strickland, an agribusiness and food industry interested in all aspects of agriculture. Then marketing and administration double major Willie Tyson shared an article with her. who graduated in May with plans to go into “My father read an article that Dr. Robert food safety. Tyson Strickland’s wife, Anna Brown, who was the head of ag engineering (McIntyre) Strickland (BSA – Agricultural – SAMANTHA STRICKLAND at the time, had written in the Market Communication, ’12; MAL - Master of Bulletin about careers in ag engineering, Agricultural Leadership, ’17), the UGA how good they were and how they were needed,” Strickland Archway Professional in Hart County, is also a CAES graduate. said. “My dad showed me that article and encouraged me. I was “Having my mom, dad, uncle, granddad and siblings go strong in math and science and I have always had a passion to the college, to UGA, was a tradition I wanted to keep,” for agriculture, so I decided to major in ag engineering.” Samantha Strickland said. Strickland began her career working as an engineer for Another tradition, Tony Tyson, Reuben Flanders, Proctor and Gamble Cellulose, which was later bought by Jody Strickland, Tyson Strickland, Anna Strickland, Weyerhaeuser. She served in many leadership positions with Morgan Grizzle and Samantha Strickland are all members the company, and says her education opened many doors. She of the honor society, AGHON. is currently the vice president of F&W Forestry Services. Continued on page 31




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f not for another University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences alumnus, Agriculture Commissioner of Georgia Gary Black’s (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’80) career would look different today. In fall 1979, Randy Nuckolls (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’74) asked Black what he was doing next quarter. Black planned to student teach, but Nuckolls offered him a Washington, D.C., internship. Nuckolls was the legislative director for then-Sen. Herman Talmadge and persuaded Black to go to Washington to intern for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Talmadge was the chairman of that committee. “I had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C., to work for Sen. Talmadge after I finished law school at UGA primarily because of my involvement with South Campus student leadership organizations such as Ag Hill Council, the college 4-H club and AGHON,” Nuckolls said. “I knew how beneficial my experience on Capitol Hill was and I wanted other outstanding students from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to have the same opportunity, so I reached out to Gary about coming to D.C. to intern in our office.” This internship changed the path of Black’s career. “There’s no doubt that experience in the winter of 1980 changed my course toward policy and politics more, so that’s one of the reasons I never taught ag,” Black said. Black tried to glean as much as he could from professors and administrators. “I would never be able to put a value on or express enough appreciation for literally the hundreds of hours that I spent with Dick Knowles (the CAES associate dean for instruction), Tom Frasier (an assistant in the academic

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affairs office) and Bob Wheeler operated a drapery (later the associate dean for business for 14 instruction),” he said. “They took years, taught science interest in every student that came at Commerce their way. They were active in Ag High School Hill Council. It was just the benefit for three years, of being around wise people and, if then family and we were wise, we would listen. In consumer sciences my view, they were Rhodes scholars at Jackson County when it came to life skills.” Comprehensive High After college, Black began his School for 11 years. GEORGIAN OF career in 1980 with Georgia Farm They raised their THE YEAR Bureau, where he supervised children, as well as Gary Black’s the Young Farmer Program for beef cattle, on their commitment to Georgia leadership development, then was Commerce, Georgia, agriculture spans assistant director of field services. 72-acre farm, nearly four decades of Toward the beginning of his time where they still live advocating for farmers, at Farm Bureau, he dated and later now. Gary Black’s businesses and married Lydia Black, née Beavers. father bought the agricultural education “We were buddies and fortunate farm in 1969. across the state. This, to run in the same pack in FFA “We grew up plus his leadership and 4-H,” Gary Black said. “We attending South in strengthening the had a strong group of friends. But Campus Tailgate and state’s largest economic it wasn’t until after we both left calling the Dawgs,” sector and the Georgia campus that we started dating.” Lewallen said. Grown marketing Lydia Black was a UGA The event was program, were why Cooperative Extension home one Lydia Black Georgia Trend magazine economist in Coweta County, helped start in the named him the 2017 Georgia, from 1981 to 1983, early ‘90s as a way Georgian of the Year. after graduating from UGA with to connect CAES a degree in home economics. and UGA College She then moved to Macon, of Family and Georgia, to be the Bibb County home Consumer Sciences alumni with whom economist for three more years. they had lost touch. “We only intended She followed in the footsteps of her to have it for a few years, and it ended mother, Louise (Kemp) Beavers, who was up lasting over 20,” she said. “Every an Extension home demonstration agent time I would go, I would find alumni in Cherokee County, Georgia, for two and friends I hadn’t seen in years.” years after graduating from UGA in 1952. “Athens became a special place, but Louise Beavers was active in Ag Hill my parents didn’t force UGA on me,” Council during her time at the university, said Lewallen. “When I chose a career as were Lydia Black, Gary Black and their path in agriculture, a degree from children, Ward Black (BSA – Agricultural UGA became very important to me.” and Applied Economics, ’09; MS – Ward Black attended his first CAES Agricultural and Applied Economics, alumni meeting with his father ’11) and Caroline (Black) Lewallen when he was about 6 months old, (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’11). and commencement at a year old. In 1989, Gary Black was selected as the Growing up, he and Lewallen were president of the Georgia Agribusiness part of 4-H and FFA. Each sibling Council. He served in that role for 21 continued their active roles in college, years, until he was elected Georgia’s including as CAES Ambassadors. commissioner of agriculture in 2010. During college, Ward Black interned in After leaving Extension, Lydia Black D.C. and worked for the UGA Center for


















Agribusiness and Economic Development (CAED), the THE economic development and outreach partner of the college’s agricultural and applied economics department, for two years. He used part of that time to work on research for his master’s degree and to gain some insight on how the college helps the food industry. “The applied stuff I really enjoyed,” he said. “They (CAED) would be the ones to help people trying to get into the food business who needed the expertise of the university to help them figure it out. Seeing stuff like Flavor of Georgia, that’s what opens so many doors for people.” Those experiences, coupled with a family background in Extension, demonstrated to Ward Black the ways in which the university serves the public. He now works as a category manager and buyer for Sherwood Foods in Atlanta, dealing with meat sales to grocery stores. His knowledge from meat science classes and 4-H cattle shows and livestock judging immediately came in handy. “When I first started doing this job, I knew what my fellow employees were talking about,” Ward Black said. “Due to 4-H and classes at UGA, I could put technical agricultural experiences with that business side from the classroom and I felt prepared on day one.” Continued on page 31

p Clockwise, from top of page: Ward Black, Agriculture Commissioner of Georgia Gary Black, Lydia Black, Caroline (Black) Lewallen and Kyle Lewallen are pictured outside UGA’s Conner Hall. Ward Black accepts a CAES Alumni Association Freshman Scholarship in 2005. Caroline Lewallen and Ward Black pause for a photo at a football game in 2013. Caroline Lewallen leads Banks County, Georgia, 4-H’ers through a peach orchard at Jaemor Farms. Gary Black participates in a milking contest at the 2012 Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia. Louise Beavers, mother of Lydia Black, teaches sewing as an Extension home demonstration agent. SPRING 2017

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t Megan Morris (left to right), Marilynn Hopkins, Mona Howard, Ken Howard, Emily Watson and Jason Howard (and their families, below) are pictured at Ken and Mona Howard’s home in Morgan County, Georgia.




lumnus Ken Howard (BSA – Dairy Science, ’72) wanted his four children to have the same opportunities that he did. While pursuing his University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences degree, he became involved in CAES activities. He served on Ag Hill Council and as UGA Dairy Science Club president. He also met his wife, Mona (Rogers) Howard, while at UGA. After graduation, he returned to work on his family’s Morgan County, Georgia, dairy operation. In 1979, the Howards were named the Georgia Farm Bureau Family and winners of the American Farm Bureau Family Achievement Award. Ken Howard talked with his children about his experiences at UGA, but his intention was never to push them to follow in his footsteps. “I didn’t give it much thought,” he said of the idea of creating a legacy. “But it’s something I’m very proud of now.” All of the Howard children attended UGA to obtain a CAES degree. Jason Howard, the oldest child, left the university to pursue his own agriculture-related business opportunity. He is currently growing a beef herd, and relies heavily on

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the services provided by UGA Cooperative Extension. The Howards’ oldest daughter, Megan (Howard) Morris (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’00), said she only applied to UGA. She remembers interacting with CAES professors and staff at Georgia 4-H, FFA and other events. “I had developed a relationship with people from UGA, so it never crossed my mind to go anywhere else,” she said. During her time at UGA, Morris was a CAES Ambassador, student volunteer with the CAES Alumni Association and president of Ag Hill Council. She graduated 17 years ago, but stays involved with the college. She served as president of the CAES Alumni Association board in 2012 and still volunteers with the college, often through the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry program. Now the director of development and community relations at Morgan Memorial Hospital in Madison, Georgia, she is married to another UGA graduate, Jeb Morris, and they are raising two sons who have started their careers in 4-H. “The college did so much for me and helped make me who I am now, it’s only fitting that I give back beyond a monetary perspective,” Megan Morris said.

u T H E T Y S O N FA M I LY Megan Morris was a senior when she introduced her middle sister, Emily (Howard) Watson (BSA – Agribusiness, ’02), to student life at the university and involvement in CAES. Watson participated in Ag Hill Council, Block and Bridle Club, Ag Econ Club and AGHON; acted as a CAES Ambassador like her older sister; and was chosen for a CAES Congressional Agricultural Fellowship. She interned in the office of thenRep. Jack Kingston. After graduating early, she served as a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives. “My education from CAES was well rounded, and I felt capable of accepting the challenges that I faced as I began my career in D.C.,” Watson said. Emily Watson met her future husband, Sam Watson (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’02), while on campus. They live in Colquitt County, Georgia, where they’re involved in vegetable and beef cattle production and are raising their two daughters, who are already showing livestock through 4-H. She is the director of marketing at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, Georgia, and a member of the Georgia Agricultural Expo Authority. – CHRIS HOPKINS Rep. Sam Watson is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives and the chairman of the Legislative Rural Caucus. The youngest daughter of the Howards, Marilynn (Howard) Hopkins (BSA – Agribusiness, ’05), remembers hearing about her family’s experiences in CAES and followed suit. During the summers after her junior and senior years of high school, Hopkins interned with CAES through the Young Scholars Program, an internship that also took her to rural Costa Rica. She met her husband, Chris Hopkins (BSA - Crop Science, ’02; MPPPM – Plant Protection and Pest Management, ’04), while they were both CAES students. He was familiar with the Howard family and impressed his future father-in-law early on. “Our first date was at the Georgia Young Farmers Association convention,” Marilynn Hopkins said. She recalled her father happily approving the date locale. Both Chris and Marilynn Hopkins were involved in the Agronomy and Ag Econ clubs, and other organizations. Chris Hopkins said the academic courses along with the agricultural clubs shaped Marilynn Hopkins and him into who they are now. “Students have no idea what kind of knowledge they can gain even if all they want to do is return home and farm,” he said. Marilynn Hopkins now works for Altamaha Electric Membership Corporation, and Chris Hopkins is the store manager of Lasseter Equipment in Lyons, Georgia. They grow peanuts, corn, cotton and watermelons on their farm in Toombs County, Georgia, where they’re also raising their two sons. The couple endowed the Chris and Marilynn Hopkins College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Scholarship. They want to further their legacy while providing students opportunities for similar CAES experiences. • April Bailey




Continued from page 27 Samantha Strickland recalls her mother’s time as CAES Alumni Association president from 2001 to 2002 — her grandfather served as president of the association from 1991 to 1992 — and going to association banquets and events with her whole family. “There are pictures of me there in my baby carrier,” she said. “CAES has been a family to our family,” Jody Strickland said. “We have been very active and involved in the alumni association. It’s a chance for us to reconnect as a family and to our friends and family in CAES.” Willie Tyson continues to recruit students to CAES. He serves on the board of his county Farm Bureau and still encourages students at local schools to consider careers in agriculture. And he hopes that he’s set an example. His legacy of not only representing the college, but supporting it — also the legacy his children leave — is not lost on the latest Tyson-Strickland generation of CAES graduates. “This college has given me more than an education,” Samantha Strickland said. “Once I get out and on my feet, I’m going to give back.” “You can see from the way we are involved, we do love this college and the university,” Tony Tyson said. “We try to support it the best we can. Those of us who came here are proud of the education we have.” • Kathryn Schiliro

u T H E B L A C K FA M I LY Continued from page 29 Lewallen also interned in Washington, like her father and brother. She worked for then-Rep. Jack Kingston, while Ward Black worked for then-Sen. Saxby Chambliss. “After student teaching, I participated in the (Congressional) Ag Fellowship, which opened my eyes to my passion for educating consumers,” she said. After graduate school in Texas, where she met her husband, Kyle Lewallen, she became the marketing coordinator for Jaemor Farms. “I work with consumers on a daily basis, sharing with them Jaemor’s story of sustainability and the important role that fresh produce plays in our diets,” she said. As for all of the family being a part of UGA and of agriculture, Gary Black says it’s been a blessing. “I wanted them to be successful in whatever path they chose,” he said. “It’s delightful to see it turn out the way it has.” • Josh Paine SPRING 2017

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D.W. B R O O K S L E C T U R E A N D AW A R D S 6




D.W. BROOKS FACULTY AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE 1. Extension: Julia Gaskin 2. Global Programs: Wayne Parrott 3. Public Service Extension: Bill Tyson 4. Research: Tim Brenneman 5. Teaching: Darold Batzer

D.W. BROOKS DIVERSITY AWARDS 6. Department: Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication 7. Faculty: Ron Walcott

CAES OUTSTANDING UNDERGRADUATE ADVISER AWARDS 8. Outstanding Faculty Adviser: Brian Fairchild 9. Outstanding Staff and Professional Adviser: JoAnne Norris

CAES STAFF AWARDS 10. Professional/Administrative: Lindsey Barner 11. Skilled Trades: Carla Barnett 12. Technical: Peter LaFayette

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Thurow addresses global epidemic of malnutrition One in 4 children will suffer severe developmental issues due to hunger. This number is overwhelming, but nothing will change if the problem is continually ignored. That was the message that Roger Thurow, veteran foreign correspondent and global food and agriculture senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, shared with the more than 200 people gathered at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences D.W. Brooks Lecture last fall. Thurow has reported on the causes and effects of hunger in the U.S. and developing world since covering the 2003 famine in Ethiopia for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book on the subject, “The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children – And the World,” delves into the importance of proper nutrition in the womb and in the first two years of life, when the blueprint for a child’s cognitive and physical development is being formed. Worldwide, 25 percent of children are inadequately nourished during this crucial developmental period and become stunted, meaning that their cognitive and physical development will be limited for life because of this early period of malnutrition and hunger.

“A lost chance at greatness for one is a lost chance at greatness for all,” Thurow told the audience of mainly agricultural scientists, agricultural and journalism students. “That’s why everything you do here is so important and so vital to this great challenge that we’re facing — ending hunger, ending malnutrition and ending stunting.” Thurow challenged the audience not to turn away from what can seem like a background condition for the world’s poor. Reshaping agricultural policy, providing agricultural and health education to smallholder farmers, and developing new crop varieties with an eye for both nutrition and yield will be key for meeting the United Nations’ goal of ending malnutrition by 2030, he said. In addition to Thurow’s lecture, CAES Dean Sam Pardue recognized the winners of this year’s D.W. Brooks Faculty Awards for Excellence, D.W. Brooks Diversity Awards, Outstanding Academic Adviser Awards and CAES Staff Awards. “These winners are nominated by their peers and selected by a panel of judges as the most outstanding individuals in their fields. They really are the best of the best,” Pardue said. • Merritt Melancon







u Katrien Devos, UGA professor, plant breeder and geneticist, is working to make finger millet more productive and disease resistant.



Aiding food security by decoding genetics


inger millet has served as the dietary staple of families in eastern Africa and southern Asia for thousands of years. Research on orphan crops, like finger millet, which are locally important but largely unresearched, could create a more secure food supply. Millions of people rely on finger millet for the bulk of their daily calories. Katrien Devos, a molecular geneticist at the University of Georgia, is hoping that a recent $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will lay the groundwork to make the crop more productive and disease resistant.

Devos’ research is being funded through the NSF’s Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) Program. “Working on developing country crops can be a struggle because these crops have traditionally received very little attention from funding agencies. On the flip side, because very little breeding and research have been done on finger millet, we expect our efforts to quickly translate into substantial yield gains for farmers,” Devos said. Devos is a professor in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Crop and Soil Sciences’ Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics and in the UGA

Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Plant Biology. She studies the genetics of a range of economically important plants in the grass family, including finger millet, pearl millet, wheat and switchgrass. For the finger millet project, Devos will work with a team of geneticists, plant pathologists, bioinformatics experts and plant breeders in the U.S. and in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia to sequence both the genome of finger millet and that of its primary pathogen, the finger millet blast fungus. The project will also work to decode the interactions of the millet and the fungus on a genetic level. Continued on page 35

Enhancing sorghum’s drought resiliency










hen University of Georgia plant geneticist seeds in the next season. This Andrew Paterson began searching for requires farmers to till and replant lines of sorghum that might survive in each year, disturbing the soil each some of the most parched places in the time. Minimizing that soil disruption can world, he didn’t plant trials in the desert. curtail erosion and keep topsoil in place. He started by researching plants that Growing trials in Georgia and coordinating could survive a winter in Georgia. with Stan Cox of The Land Institute in Kansas, “We don’t see a lot of Paterson started to see which lines of sorghum correlation between surviving could survive the cold of winter, a first step to cold and surviving drought,” Paterson said. seeing which lines might live weeks without rain. When sorghum that could withstand a Georgia winter “We had many genotypes that could overwinter in Georgia was planted half a world away, the results were stunning and even a few that could overwinter in Kansas,” he said. — 48 percent survived eight months without rain in Mali. A student working with Paterson and Cox, Wenqian Paterson, a Regents’ Professor in UGA’s College of Kong, chose about 100 lines that had favorable yields Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, heads up the Feed the and other properties, and a collaborator in Mali, Future Innovation Laboratory for Climate-Resilient Sorghum. Eva Weltzien with the International Crops Research The $4.98 million U.S. Agency for International Development Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, took over. Feed the Future project is aimed at creating varieties of “She planted the lines about June, and they went through sorghum that can survive extreme drought and appeal to those their normal growing season. Then, they had an eight-month who eat the cereal as part of their traditional diet. period with absolutely no rainfall. About 48 percent Sorghum — a crop sometimes called the “camel of of the lines had some survival,” Paterson said. cereals” because of its ability to withstand drought Now, Paterson and colleagues are looking for — requires about one-third less water than wheat diagnostic DNA markers in those survivors that and half of the water that maize needs. It is a native might help them select for the resiliency trait plant and traditional staple crop in some African without enduring another eight-month dry season. countries where climate change is exacerbating The ability to survive both cold and drought is food insecurity, so providing farmers with an even connected to the plant’s ability to make rhizomes, PATERSON more drought-resilient sorghum could give them underground shoots that may seem like roots, a crop to count on, even in the driest years. but are actually stems that can store energy for “Sorghum is an important food in parts of the plant and grow into an above-ground stem. Africa, where some people may receive 30 percent Its ability to grow rhizomes led Paterson to another plant that of their daily calories from it,” Paterson said. might lend some of its resiliency to sorghum: johnsongrass. In its third year, the climate-resilient Considered by farmers and gardeners to be a noxious weed, sorghum project has made progress in its johnsongrass is prolific at growing rhizomes, spreading itself mission to use genomics tools to create into fields, gardens and pastures throughout the U.S. Looking hardier varieties of sorghum. The work to give a small portion of that ability to sorghum, Paterson used started in Georgia when Paterson backcrossing, a traditional breeding process that repeatedly began to look for sorghum lines introduces a desired trait into a cross between two plants. that could grow perennially. “We made a backcross to sorghum, so the progeny are Like most cereal grains, 75 percent sorghum, 25 percent johnsongrass,” he said. sorghum is an annual, The progeny flowered at the wrong time for producing seeds and Africa, but proved the concept that the johnsongrass dying at the end of trait could be transferred into sorghum. each growing season, The discovery couldn’t come at a better time. The countries only to start again from of sub-Saharan Africa — where sorghum is a traditional crop

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— are some of the most vulnerable in the world to climate change. Drought has always been a concern, but now prolonged and extreme drought has become the worry. In 2015, Ethiopia was gripped in a drought so intense that Paterson’s partners there couldn’t test the new varieties’ drought tolerance. “They had no irrigation, so they were dependent on rainfall that they just weren’t getting. They made a judgment call that they didn’t want to lose the seed, so they didn’t plant that year,” he said. THE COUNTRIES In 2016, Ethiopia received more rain and the experiment is going well. OF SUB-SAHARAN Paterson notes that it is a challenge AFRICA — WHERE to “study drought in certain places because drought has gotten so bad that even sorghum isn’t going to make it.” By 2018, plant breeders in Mali, IS A TRADITIONAL Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa will CROP — ARE have adapted lines of sorghum based on their local varieties, but bred with SOME OF THE MOST new mechanisms of drought resiliency. “That will be the biggest single deliverable of the project,” Paterson IN THE WORLD TO said. “It is also important that CLIMATE CHANGE. we were able to get the perennial lines through both cold seasons and dry seasons. Our African partners will continue to work toward creating perennial lines that can get multiple crops from a single planting.” Paterson, who also heads UGA’s Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory in the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies, started working with sorghum 25 years ago. “Among cereals, sorghum has a relatively small genome, which was useful for genomics studies. But it has some interesting features, including climate resilience,” he said. “Drought tolerance is only going to become more important over time.” • Allison Floyd



Continued from page 33 High-yielding cash crops such as maize were once considered the key to prosperity in the developing world, but the abandonment of traditional subsistence crops for maize led to food shortages in many regions. The reintroduction of landrace varieties of millet in eastern African villages improved food security in those villages, but yields are still very low. Hybridization-based breeding of finger millet in eastern Africa only started about two decades ago. Very little research has been done on breeding diseaseresistant varieties of millet and best production practices, Devos said. The next step in developing food security in eastern Africa involves improving the yields of drought-tolerant grains, she said. Blast fungal disease severely limits the amount of millet that farmers can expect to produce from a single acre. In extreme cases, it can reduce yields by 80 percent, and it’s a major obstacle to improving food security in areas where millet is a staple. To that end, Devos’ team, including Assistant Professor Chang Hyun Khang of the plant biology department, is building on research funded by the biotechnology nonprofit Bio-Innovate Africa and the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC). The Bio-Innovate Africa and AOCC teams, of which Devos is a member, initiated sequencing of the genome of finger millet, which has proven to be large and complex. Funding through NSF’s BREAD Program will allow use of longread sequencing technologies to generate a reference-quality sequence of the finger millet genome. Devos’ lab at UGA has already generated two genetic maps of some 5,000 markers each that provide a framework that geneticists can use to anchor the sequence of millet’s genome. “(Existing) initiatives provide a start, but need to be complemented by additional research to fully achieve the objectives of developing the genetic and genomic tools and knowledge needed to enhance finger millet for blast and other traits, and help lift smallholder farmers out of poverty,” Devos wrote in a project introduction for NSF. During this effort, they also hope to determine the sections of the genome responsible for resistance or susceptibility to blast, so that resistance can be bred into future varieties of millet. • Merritt Melancon SPRING 2017

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Combatting curculio in black-eyed pea crops


lack-eyed peas have long been a symbol of New Year’s luck in the South, but black-eyed pea farmers aren’t feeling that fortunate. The legume has been part of a boom-and-bust cycle for the past three decades thanks to a pod-feeding weevil, the cowpea curculio, that has evaded farmers’ best pest control practices. This year is going to be a bust due to high pest pressure, said David Riley, a University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences professor of entomology. “The crop is really under severe pest pressure,” Riley said. “Some years the crop is good, but the reason this has reached a critical point this year is because the last few available insecticides that we were using to control

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of curculio problems. Georgia blackeyed peas were just too riddled with damage to meet consumer demand. The acreage of black-eyed peas in Georgia plummeted, and with it, so did cowpea curculio populations. With fewer curculio problems, acreage began to rebound, peaking in 2015 at about 7,600 acres, according to UGA’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. Then, as the acreage peaked, so did curculio problems, Riley said. UGA vegetable horticulturists and entomologists have robust pest-control research RILEY programs for most of Georgia’s larger vegetable crops. But those integrated pest management programs have been developed through years of research, and that research costs money, money that often isn’t abundant for smallacreage crops like black-eyed peas.

A rich history At the turn of the 20th century, Southern peas — the family of legumes including black-eyed peas, purple-hulled peas and crowder peas — covered close to 6 million acres of the Southeast. They were the primary legume grown during that period and used for livestock feed until World War II, when the soybean took over. What was left in the Southeast was the close to 30,000 acres of cowpeas that make their way to our local supermarkets each year. Southern peas started facing pressure from the cowpea curculio in Georgia in 1873, and by the 1910s, the pest was widespread throughout the South. By the 1980s, pyrethroid insecticides were the most effective control, but even that group of insecticides can’t control the pest. Populations of the cowpea curculio overwinter readily, and after a few years of building up populations, become unmanageable. When farmers stop planting Southern peas for a few years, the curculio population can drop if no peas are grown in the region. Then farmers start growing Southern peas again, and the cycle reboots. Riley took his post as a vegetable entomologist with UGA in 1996, and in 1997, the large black-eyed pea marketers pulled out of Georgia because

Solutions to the problem Research at UGA is focused on ways to reduce the impact of the overwintering curculio population in the Southeast. Riley believes that the solution to the pea problem will involve developing a trap crop that can be planted in the spring to trick the curculios into laying their eggs early and in the wrong crop. There are also efforts underway to breed weevil-resistant Southern peas. Hitting on resistance would have a larger impact not only on south Georgia pea farmers, but on families around the world who rely on Southern pea varieties as dietary staples. Across Africa, farmers grow about 26 million acres of Southern pea varieties. “If you don’t have the curculio, it becomes one of the easiest, cheapest crops to grow,” Riley said. “It naturally fixes its own nitrogen in the soil, and most of the disease and other insect problems are easily manageable. They’re the most droughttolerant legume you can grow. “It’s got all of the pluses and this one, big minus. If we would just take care of this curculio, we could have large acreage again because it is truly a very utilitarian crop.” • Merritt Melancon


this pest have stopped working.” The pest pressure was so bad last year that the largest pea grower in Georgia’s largest pea-growing county, Colquitt County, sold his pea-shelling equipment at the end of the season, said Jenna Brock, a UGA Cooperative Extension agent in Colquitt County. “They were our main pea grower, with hundreds of acres, and he’s just gotten out of it,” Brock said. “He still grows other vegetables — spinach and some corn — but peas that were packaged and sold frozen in the grocery store have been a big part of his business.” Colquitt County went from growing almost 1,800 acres of Southern peas in 2015 to less than 500 acres in 2016, Brock said. “If we can’t solve this problem, Southern peas will never come back to Georgia in a big way,” Riley said.





p CAES horticulture student Jesse Lafian developed a type of soil moisture sensor, called a “tensiometer” (left), that triggers irrigation when it senses that plants require moisture.

Student builds smart irrigation startup


emote soil-moisture sensors and smart irrigation systems have the potential to revolutionize the way that farmers, landscapers and homeowners use water. University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences horticulture student Jesse Lafian has secured $24,700 in grant funding to develop a solar-powered, automated irrigation controller. Today, most automated irrigation systems are controlled by timers, regardless of soil moisture. A conventional tensiometer, a type of soil-moisture sensor, is not used to control irrigation systems because it requires continual supervision. Lafian’s tensiometer does not. Lafian’s sensor enables irrigation control based on availability of water to plants. Sprinklers only engage when plants have restricted access to water and run as long as it takes to restore adequate moisture. “What makes my tensiometer different is that it is virtually maintenance-free,” Lafian said. “Regular tensiometers

are impractical for large-scale use because they fail when the soil becomes too dry. They must be checked often to ensure they are still working correctly. If a landscaper had 100 regular tensiometers on 100 different job sites, it would be impossible to check them all every few days.” The technology is being tested as part of Lafian’s startup, Reservoir, a business he launched in early 2016 and plans to grow after his graduation in May. He moved to Athens, Georgia, to work as a research assistant in the UGA College of Engineering in 2014 after receiving his associate’s degree from Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, New York, and completing a National Science Foundation-funded oceanography internship. He began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in horticulture in fall 2015. “When I started this project, I wanted to create an accurate and affordable way for researchers to measure plant-available water in soil,” Lafian said. Continued on page 39 SPRING 2017

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Student studies Arctic taiga


niversity of Georgia student Charles Orgbon, an environmental economics and management major in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has been working to convince people of the reality of climate change since he was 12 years old. But last fall, while knee-deep in a Canadian bog of melted permafrost and wearing shin-high boots, the impacts of climate change started to crystallize for him. “In the coming decades, I think it will be necessary to have greater scientific competency around those (environmental) issues, and this trip challenged my understanding of climate science and global issues,” Orgbon said. Orgbon was working with a group, the Earthwatch Institute, to monitor the expansion of the taiga, the old-growth, snowy forest that connects the icy tundra to the rest of the world. While expanding forests may seem like a good thing, climate scientists have been tracking the northward expansion of the taiga because it’s a sign that the permanently frozen soils of the tundra are thawing enough to support new tree growth. Orgbon’s job was to trudge through the boggy edges of the tundra counting tree saplings. It was muckier work than usual for a dedicated policy wonk, but the

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experience helped answer a question he started asking when he was younger: “Why can’t we just fix this?” Orgbon’s travel to the Canadian Arctic was part of an independent study project overseen by CAES Professor Terence Centner. “Charles’ experience in the Arctic exposed him to actual biological research, the tediousness of the research and the need for data over time,” Centner said about the project. “It gave him a new appreciation for the organization and carrying out research, including the depth required for making an intellectual contribution.” Orgbon’s Arctic adventure gave him a glimpse into the ways in which policies impact the Arctic and painted a clearer picture of why international climate negotiations can be so fraught. “My counting seedlings in the tundra relates to a long deliberation that scientists have had about what a tree is, but what I’m interested in is how data are collected on the international scene and how that influences policy,” Orgbon said. “And can Arctic nations come together to make meaningful change around Arctic issues? … The motives of all of the countries are not very aligned … the political will is divergent. All of these countries have

t CAES environmental economics and management student Charles Orgbon traveled to the Canadian Arctic, where he worked with the Earthwatch Institute to monitor expansion of the taiga and thawing of the tundra.


Trip to Canadian Arctic connects policy, reality for environmental economics and management major Charles Orgbon different approaches to environmental regulation.” No stranger to environmental science and activism, Orgbon started Greening Forward, a nonprofit that trains people to advocate for environmental issues and provides funding for educational programming, when he was a 12-year-old student in Gwinnett County, Georgia. He was still running that organization when he came to UGA as part of the CAES Young Scholars Program in 2013. His job that summer was to crush Vidalia onions so that they could be tested for their sweetness and sulfur content at UGA Cooperative Extension’s Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories. Later he enrolled at the university, and during that time he’s studied Spanish in Spain, volunteered with the UGA Office of Diversity Affairs and organized community forums that introduce students to African-American pioneers who are UGA alumni. Through an Erasmus+ grant, Orgbon will spend six months this year in an exchange with Universidad Publica de Navarra, studying Spanish and taking courses related to his major before traveling to Colombia. He will graduate in December and, in January 2018, will start his position as a sustainability consultant with Deloitte in San Francisco. • Merritt Melancon

Continued from page 37 “Fortunately, it has expanded into an opportunity to reduce water usage, pollution and expenses for other customers as well.” Lafian has applied for a patent on his sensor and plans to sell it to landscapers, farmers, golf course superintendents, scientists and homeowners. “Jesse’s sensor works fundamentally differently from the sensors I have used in the past,” said Marc van Iersel, a professor of horticulture at UGA, smart-irrigation pioneer and Lafian’s adviser. “The soilmoisture sensors I have been using measure how much water is in the soil, but not how tightly that water is held in the soil. Some — or much, depending on soil type — of the water in the soil cannot be extracted by plants because the soil holds it too tightly. Jesse’s sensor measures exactly that — how tightly the water is bound to the soil. That tells us whether the plants can actually use that water.” Lafian thought of creating the tensiometer in fall 2015 while taking a “Soils and Hydrology” course. In spring 2016 he turned his idea into a business, and in the fall, he participated in the Idea Accelerator program run by Thinc at UGA and Four Athens, a local technology incubator. “During the Accelerator program, I interviewed 45 potential customers, and I got the best response from landscapers who install and warranty trees,” Lafian said. “Besides improving survival of trees, landscapers need a way to check soil moisture remotely so they can reduce travel to job sites. Reservoir is currently working to integrate our tensiometer with an app and a website to meet this need.” Lafian is using the grants he secured to develop and test his technology so that field trials can begin. Several institutions at UGA have supported his work, including the Office of Sustainability, the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, the Terry College of Business and CAES through its newly launched FABricate entrepreneurship program. Lafian won the FABricate grand prize of $1,000 in March. In April, Lafian won $10,000 through UGA’s Next Top Entrepreneur, a UGA Entrepreneurship Program contest. Lafian has hired two UGA students in engineering to fine-tune the tensiometer’s electronics, website and app. He has collaborated with the UGA Instrument Shop to build several prototypes to be tested on UGA’s Athens campus. • Merritt Melancon SPRING 2017

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faculty notes DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL LEADERSHIP, EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION Abigail Borron, assistant professor, authored an article called “Closing the Professional Gap Between Journalism and Civic Engagement Using the Culture-Centered Approach” that received top paper honors from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the Kettering Foundation. Both organizations joined to challenge communication scholars nationwide to address civic responsibility in journalism. Nick Fuhrman, associate professor, collaborates with the Georgia Farm Bureau to produce an environmental education television series titled “Ranger Nick.” Episodes air on 13 television stations in Georgia and on national television through the RFD-TV network. They reach more than 12 million people annually.


DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS Travis Smith, assistant professor, studied whether school food programs improve the quality of children’s diets, and the American Journal of Agricultural Economics published an article about his work on Dec. 15, 2016. There is not much improvement on average, according to Smith. He found large boosts in diet quality from school meals for children who typically eat poorly at home, whereas those who typically eat well at home see no improvements. Improvements to diet quality from school meals are exceptionally pronounced for vulnerable subpopulations, such as children from low-income or food-insecure households.

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DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL AND DAIRY SCIENCE Steve Nickerson, professor and lactation physiologist and mastitis control expert based on the University of Georgia Athens campus, organized a major conference of the Southeast Quality Milk Initiative (SQMI) on the UGA Tifton campus in fall 2016. SQMI is composed of scientists from six Southeastern land-grant universities, and is designed to provide research and Cooperative Extension programs to enable dairy farmers to improve milk quality and move profitability toward production practices compatible with a sustainable dairy industry. Over 80 people attended the conference, including dairy producers, veterinarians, dairy industry and government representatives, and university faculty and students. Jacob Segers, assistant professor and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension beef specialist based on the UGA Tifton campus, received the Outstanding Junior Specialist Award from the Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents. Steve Stice, a D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor, received the 2017 Georgia Bio Industry Growth Award from Georgia’s life sciences industry association, Georgia Bio. This is the highest honor bestowed annually by Georgia Bio. Stice was recognized for his commitment to advancing the life science industry and regenerative medicine research and commercialization in Georgia.

DEPARTMENT OF CROP AND SOIL SCIENCES William K. Vencill, professor, was named the University of Georgia associate vice president for instruction in October 2016. In this position, he will “design and implement new instructional initiatives and improve levels of support for students,” according to a universitywide press release. Vencill started at UGA as a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty member in 1989. DEPARTMENT OF ENTOMOLOGY David Buntin, professor, has been chosen to receive the Southern Region IPM Center’s 2017 Friends of IPM Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is given to individuals to recognize their history of achievement and involvement in the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM). Buntin has made outstanding contributions to IPM implementation in the Southern region and has been a key leader in the IPM community for several decades. DEPARTMENT OF FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Ronald B. Pegg, professor, is the recipient of the 2016 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) William V. Cruess Award for Excellence in Teaching. Pegg was honored at the IFT Annual Meeting held in Chicago in July 2016.

DEPARTMENT OF HORTICULTURE Matthew Chappell, associate professor, accepted the position of editor at large for Ball Publishing’s “Nursery and Landscape Insider” newsletter in July 2016. With a combined readership of more than 150,000 subscribers, Ball Publishing is the nation’s largest commercial horticulture publisher. Chappell’s newsletter focuses on timely news and product information for ornamental horticulture producers and commercial landscape contractors worldwide. Patrick Conner, professor, and Lenny Wells, associate professor, were part of a multistate team that received a five-year, $4.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grant will enable the researchers to develop resources to identify genetic elements in pecans that control various traits like disease resistance, drought tolerance and nut quality. John M. Ruter, the Allan M. Armitage Endowed Professor of Horticulture and director of the Trial Gardens, was recognized as a Fellow by the International Plant Propagators’ Society. This recognition is given to an individual who made outstanding contributions to plant propagation and the nursery industry.

faculty news

Marin Brewer, assistant professor, was one of three University of Georgia faculty members named 20162017 Public Service and Outreach Fellows. Brewer is collaborating with the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, one the university’s eight public service and outreach units, to develop programs for the public focused on mushroom and fungi identification in the garden. The collaboration is also conducting a pilot study on the effects of Chinese privet removal on fungal diversity. Ron Gitaitis, professor, received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Onion Association (NOA) at the NOA Convention and Allium Research Conference in Savannah, Georgia, in December 2016. The award recognizes Gitaitis’ long-standing efforts to improve the onion industry in Georgia and beyond by communicating the ecology, epidemiology, pathogen biology and management of bacterial diseases of onions.

DEPARTMENT OF POULTRY SCIENCE Woo Kyun Kim, assistant professor, was awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to examine strategies involving nutrients and bioactive molecules in the regulation of bone, muscle and fat formation in chickens. His primary research focus is to optimize bone and muscle development and reduce excess fat accumulation. Casey Ritz, professor, is leading the revision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service’s “Poultry Water Quality Handbook.” The handbook centers on how air, water and soil relate to poultry production residuals, mortality management, alternative waste management technologies and more. He received partner funds from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for work with the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory to assess viral inactivation and potential dissipation during composting of mass poultry mortality after avian influenza depopulation. Manpreet Singh, professor and University of Georgia Cooperative Extension specialist, joined the poultry science faculty in January. Singh held prior faculty appointments in food science at Purdue University and poultry science at Auburn University. He will work with stakeholders on food safety programs and regulatory guidelines throughout Georgia. His work focuses on the development and validation of pre- and post-harvest food safety strategies to control foodborne pathogens and enhance public health.


Voice for farmers Culpepper joins EPA Science Advisory Board University of Georgia Cooperative Extension weed scientist Stanley Culpepper is one of 19 scientists recently selected to serve on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board. Culpepper will provide advice on matters that impact farming and other agriculture-related industries. “My goal in helping our amazing farmers feed and clothe the world will not change with this new appointment,” Culpepper said. “In fact, this position will foster an even stronger relationship with the EPA, enhancing our ability to help them in the use of sound science and practical experience when making decisions that impact agriculture.” He views his appointment as a way to improve the agricultural community’s communication with the EPA, which will “benefit everyone,” he said, and help the EPA better understand potential issues faced by American farmers. Culpepper joined Extension on the UGA Tifton campus in 1999. During his award-winning career, he has been instrumental in finding ways to combat glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, a weed that seriously threatens Georgia’s cotton production, and finding Georgia’s vegetable industry alternatives to the pesticide, methyl bromide. Culpepper has also been in the field, providing educational information to growers on the importance of targeted pesticide applications. Perhaps nothing is more valuable to Culpepper than his childhood growing up on a bicentennial family farm in North Carolina. He knows what it takes to be a successful farmer and hopes to provide a different perspective to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. “Hopefully, I can take that family-farm perspective and help those who are a little unfamiliar with our way of life better understand the complexities and difficulties farmers face each day,” Culpepper said. “In my experience as a weed scientist, working with the EPA to address significant issues facing our farmers has been almost all positive — a little painful at times, but still positive for agriculture, for me and I think even the EPA. I look forward to doing an even better job in the future.” • Clint Thompson DOROTHY KOZLOWSKI

DEPARTMENT OF PLANT PATHOLOGY Phil Brannen, professor; Harald Scherm, professor and department head; and Marin Brewer, assistant professor, authored or co-authored a total of six chapters on blueberry diseases for the second edition of the “Compendium of Blueberry, Cranberry, and Lingonberry Diseases and Pests,” published by the American Phytopathological Society in early 2017. This compendium is a key resource for identifying, managing and understanding the biology of blueberry pests and is used by growers, advisory services and consultants worldwide.


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 UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences  @UGA_CollegeofAg  UGA CAES Alumni

class notes FROM FOUR TOWERS What is your legacy? How will your story be told? The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences plays a role each day in establishing a lasting legacy not only in our state, but around the world, through research, academics and Extension. From mapping the genomes of peanuts and other crops to establishing protocols for fighting harmful pathogens that ELLIOTT MARSH could impact our food supply, the research done at CAES is life-changing. Faculty and staff enable students to determine their own routes to success in their chosen majors. These students are following our paths and experiencing incredible learning opportunities beyond the traditional classroom environment. UGA Cooperative Extension spreads CAES’s research-based knowledge around the state. From working with our youth to connecting with growers, Extension furthers the CAES legacy every day. This is my last note as president of the CAES Alumni Association. It has been a great honor to work with you, and I am proud of the board’s legacy. Through the board’s leadership, we have awarded six scholarships, revised the association’s bylaws and created a strategic plan to guide the future of the association during the last year of my presidency. Would you like to become part of the alumni association and add a new chapter to your story? Think about how you can share your time, talent and treasure with the college, then please contact our alumni director, Suzanne Griffeth, at 706-542-5264 or

Elliott Marsh BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’02; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ‘11

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1950s Dean Long (BSA – Agriculture, ’50) was a student at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) in Tifton, Georgia, from 1945 until 1948. His college days were interrupted by his U.S. Army Air Corps service, and it took him four years to obtain two years of college credit. He has produced a short booklet, “Dean’s Memories of ABAC, ABAC Wayback.” Tommy Cullens (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’52) is a salesman for TradeMark Nitrogen. He resides in Winter Park, Florida. Mayer Needle (BSA – Agriculture, ’57) is a food safety inspection officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Needle resides in Portland, Connecticut. Robert Whitaker (BSA – Dairy Science, ’54; MS – Dairy Science, ’59) was recognized in 2016 by the Boy Scouts of America for 50 years of service. He’s served as president in his AARP and Kiwanis organizations, as a board member for the Shepherd Center Retirement Group, is involved in the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association and the United Methodist Church, and has 35 years of Masonic activity and 15 years of driving for Meals on Wheels under his belt. Whitaker retired in 1991 as officer in charge for the National Reports Office, Poultry Market News, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Kansas City, Missouri, after 35 years of federal service.

1960s Ernie Ford (BSA – Agronomy, ’69) is part of the Georgia Farm Bureau and on the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Beef. The efficacy of his cattle herd at Ford Farms in Edison, Georgia, was documented in an article, “Fertility and Versatility at Ford Farms,” in the January 2017 issue of Georgia Cattleman magazine. 1970s Nancy Lovingood (BSA – Horticulture, ’75) works for the city of Dahlonega, Georgia’s Main Street Program. She retired from the Gwinnett County, Georgia, government after 25 years as the manager of long-range planning. Lovingood resides in Buford, Georgia. D.G. Pugh (BSA – Biological Science, ’75; MS – Dairy Science, ’78) is the Western Veterinary Conference’s 2016 Food Animal Continuing Educator of the Year. Pugh is a professor of pathobiology at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the director of the four veterinary diagnostic laboratories in Alabama. He and his wife, Jayne, also a UGA graduate, have a sheep farm in Waverly, Alabama. Everett Williams (BSA – Dairy Science, ’75), a Morgan County, Georgia, dairy farmer, is the Georgia Farmer of the Year. Nominated for the award by Morgan County University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent Lucy Ray,

Williams was awarded the honor by Gov. Nathan Deal in March. Williams will represent the state at the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo in Moultrie, Georgia, in October, when the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award is presented. Rick Hubert (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’77; BSA – Agricultural Education, ’77) retired after 35 years of serving as the Georgia Farm Bureau’s 4th District field representative. He resides in Taliaferro County, Georgia. Justin Schmidt (Ph.D. – Entomology, ’77) recently published a book, “The Sting of the Wild,” to “inspire future scientists and readers of all stripes.” The book has received wide acclaim from ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” NPR’s “Science Friday” podcast and The New York Times. Schmidt resides in Tucson, Arizona, and has been a research biologist for 36 years. Gary Parrone (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’79) is a thermal performance engineer with General Motors. He resides in Royal Oak, Michigan. 1980s Gary Black (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’80), agriculture commissioner of Georgia, was named the 2017 Georgian of the Year by Georgia Trend magazine. John David Williams (BSA – Agriculture, ’80; MAEX – Agricultural Extension, ’81) served eight years as chairman of the board of Antioch Christian Church in Watkinsville, Georgia.

alumni news

Kevin Corrigan (BSA – Poultry Science, ’82) is a selfemployed veterinarian. He resides in Ontario, Canada. Jonathan Fischer (BSA – Poultry Science, ’82; MS – Poultry Science, ’84) is the vice president of food safety/quality for the Cargill agriculture supply chain. He resides in Flowery Branch, Georgia.


Samuel Beall (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’83) is the president/CEO of the Bank of Dudley in Dublin, Georgia, a position he has been in for 12 years. Previously, he worked for Farmers and Merchants Bank in Dublin for 25 years. Beall also manages his family’s land and timber-growing operation, small rental business and, with his wife, the former Katherine Guyton Porter, has operated Beall’s Christmas Tree Farm for the past 15 years. He is a member of Dublin First United Methodist Church and the Exchange Club, and stays active in civic events in and around Laurens County, Georgia. Byron “Lamar” Smith (BSAE – Agricultural Engineering, ’83) is serving as the Home Builders Association of Georgia state president. He represents 3,200 builder-members across Georgia. Smith is the founder and president of Lamar Smith Homes, based in Savannah, Georgia.

Tim Miller (BSA – Agricultural Mechanization Technology, ’86) is the senior manager for the new Yanmar America Training and Customer Experience Center under construction in Acworth, Georgia. Miller resides in Buford, Georgia. Philip Szmedra (Ph.D. – Agricultural Economics, ’86) received the Jane and Larry Comer Faculty Scholar Award for School of Business Administration faculty at Georgia Southwestern State University. Szmedra is a professor of economics at the university. He resides in Americus, Georgia. Jean Bertrand (Ph.D. – Animal and Dairy Science, ’87) is the associate dean of undergraduate studies in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences at Clemson University. Previously, she was the assistant dean for academic affairs at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Tim Varnedore (BSA – Animal Science, ’87) is the Southwest District director for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. He oversees all faculty and staff for the 41-county district, as well as the district’s budgetary responsibilities. UGA Extension has employed him since December 1987, and he started in this position in May 2016.


Community leader Bryan Lackey makes gains in Gainesville The city manager of Gainesville, Georgia, oversees 10 departments with more than 650 employees. He’s responsible for carrying out policies and services adopted by the city council. It’s a position that Bryan Lackey (BSAE – Agricultural Engineering, ’95) embraces despite the workload. “Working in government is more than pushing paperwork and having regulatory things done,” he said. “You really strive for those tangible things on the ground that make a community better.” Gainesville is a full-service city — it funds public services, such as police, fire and public transit. Lackey’s day is usually filled with meetings across departments that cover everything from improving transportation to building more green space. His team also has to address community problems called in by residents. “I can’t always dive into things the way I want, so I have to trust my staff and give them direction to get things done,” he said. Before moving to Gainesville in 2015, Lackey held multiple positions in Gwinnett County, Georgia. He started as a water resources engineer in 1996 and worked his way up to become the director of the county’s Department of Planning and Development. Lackey was no stranger to Gainesville. His parents grew up in the town and he spent a lot of time there while visiting his grandparents. However, he had to learn the community in a different way when he became city manager. A master plan of downtown Gainesville, with a list of potential projects, sits on Lackey’s desk at all times. He said it allows him to relish what’s been accomplished while also dreaming of what’s ahead. “In 10 or 15 years when someone asks about a certain project, I’ll get to proudly say I had a small part in getting that done,” Lackey said. Lackey said his time at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and being involved in the college’s Engineering Club was pivotal for him. He explained that the technical components of his degree, coupled with the interpersonal skills he gained, allowed him to grow as an engineer and as a leader. “Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom, work your way up and continue to learn from all of your experiences,” he said. • April Bailey CONTRIBUTED

Another alumnus, Brent Marable (BSA – Horticulture, ’96; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’13), succeeded him. Marable is the assistant director for plant licensing for Innovation Gateway at UGA.


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Two-thousand miles Ryan Kerr hikes AT from Georgia to Maine


Despite a calf injury and an aggressive black bear, not to mention time and mileage, alumnus Ryan Kerr (BSES – Environmental Economics and Management, ’15) emerged victorious at Mt. Katahdin, Maine, the end of the Appalachian Trail and the conclusion of his thru-hike, on Sept. 22, 2016. Kerr, a Suwanee, Georgia, native who now samples and monitors groundwater and methane for Woodstock, Georgiabased EM Services, started his seven-month, 2,189.1-mile journey on Feb. 28, 2016, at Springer Mountain, Georgia. A lifelong dream, Kerr thought the time between graduation and starting his career provided the best opportunity to pursue the thru-hike. He was able to slowly acquire gear. A month before he left, he started using the stair machine at the gym, wearing his backpack with a 35-pound weight inside. A few months — about 900 miles — into his journey, Kerr injured his calf and was off the trail for three weeks. “I thought it was the end of my hike, but I didn’t want to give up,” he said. Back on the trail, he encountered a juvenile black bear, scared it away, then came across the mother bear. When she started running at him, making noises with her jaw and huffing, Kerr said he “stood his ground” and talked to the bear while trying to remain calm. She took off after a “very long” 10 seconds. “That was the scariest moment of my life,” Kerr said. Kerr found practical applications for his University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences education during his thru-hike. Research skills paid off in his pre-hike study of terrain and weather patterns, and in his use of GPS to chart meal drops. Problemsolving skills and his knowledge of hydrology and basic geology helped him to find water sources not listed in the trail guide. “I learned how to think outside the box at school,” Kerr said. “I learned stewardship and sustainability in the classroom, and I saw it applied on the trail.” • Kathryn Schiliro

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class notes 1980s Brian Carnes (BSA – Poultry Science, ’89) was named Cherokee County, Georgia, School District’s 2017 Teacher of the Year in November 2016. Carnes teaches Advanced Placement and honors chemistry courses at Sequoyah High School, where he was named that school’s Teacher of the Year prior to receiving the honor at the district level. Carnes spent 15 years in the poultry industry before becoming a teacher in 2004. He resides in Woodstock, Georgia, with his wife, Pam, who graduated from UGA in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in home economics journalism, and daughters, Sarah Carnes (BSES – Environmental Economics and Management, ’15) and Rebekah, a high school junior. 1990s Steve Morgan (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’90; MS – Agricultural Economics, ’92) is the district sales manager for Monsanto BioAg in Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Morgan works with retailers and farmers who specialize in the proper selection of biologics and seed-applied technologies. He resides in Carrollton, Georgia. Rob Elsner (MS – Food Science, ’95) established a “Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation” minor and graduate certificate program at Erskine College, where he is a professor and chair of psychology. The first graduate of the program has completed projects on the provision of sustainable

drinking water in Thailand and aquaculture farming methods in South Carolina. Using funding from the Sullivan Foundation, many other environmentally friendly projects are being developed by Elsner’s students as sustainable alternatives to traditional charities and to provide employment to underprivileged and disabled persons. Brent Dykes (BSA – Crop Science, ’96) is a special projects manager for the Division of Family and Children Services. He resides in Athens, Georgia. Brent Marable (BSA – Horticulture, ’96; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’13) succeeded alumnus John David Williams (BSA – Agriculture, ’80; MAEX – Agricultural Extension, ’81) as chairman of the board of Antioch Christian Church in Watkinsville, Georgia. Marable is the assistant director for plant licensing for Innovation Gateway at UGA. Thomas “Tommy” Bass (BSA – Animal Science, ’97) is an associate Extension specialist at Montana State University focusing on livestock sustainability and environmental management. He is currently working part time on a doctorate, studying spatial and temporal optimization of Montana’s local beef supply chain.

alumni news Heath Baker (BSA – Animal Science, ’99) is a registered nurse in the emergency department at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center in Athens, Georgia. He resides in Arnoldsville, Georgia. Jaime (Hinsdale) Foster (BSA – Animal Science, ’99) and her husband, Harry Foster, are the grand prize winners of the University of Georgia’s 2017 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest. The Fosters, who own Georgia Grinders Nut Butters out of Chamblee, Georgia, won for their Georgia Grinders Pecan Butter. 2000s Ruth Allport (MS – Agricultural and Applied Economics, ’00) is selfemployed as a consultant for strategic planning and management, and program and project management. She lives in Atlanta. Linda (Brothers) Purvis (BSA – Poultry Science, ’02), a lecturer at the University of North Georgia, was named the school’s Ann Matthews Purdy Outstanding Full-time Faculty Member in spring 2016. She was nominated by students and voted to receive the honor by the student body. She resides in Commerce, Georgia. Rep. Sam Watson (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’02) received the national Grand President’s Award from the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. Watson represents District 172 in the Georgia House and is the chairperson of the Georgia Rural Caucus.

Megan (Mullis) Green (BSA – Animal Science, ’03) is the regional manager for Henry Schein Animal Health, a world-renowned, Fortune 500 company that distributes animal health products to veterinarians worldwide. Green started in the position in August 2016, and her region covers Georgia and South Carolina. Cameron Tribble (BSES – Environmental Economics and Management, ’04) was elected as a partner in the Barnes Law Group, LLC, a Marietta, Georgia, law firm headed by former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes. Tribble resides in Atlanta. Carla (Moore) Wood (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’04; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’06) is part of a team that won the Gold Award for Exhibits at the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences’ 2016 program. The award recognized the University of Georgia’s Sunbelt Agricultural Expo building display, which highlighted Georgia commodities. Wood and her husband, John, also a UGA graduate, are co-owners of Watkinsville, Georgia-based Moore-Wood Timber Company, Inc. Previously she was the director of conferencing and special events for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.


Thoughts for food Ola Afolayan works on front line of food safety Born in Oyo, a historic city in southwest Nigeria, Olamide “Ola” Afolayan’s (MS – Food Science, ’09; Ph.D. – Food Science, ’14) ties to agriculture are rooted in culture and rich history. With grandparents who practiced subsistence farming, Afolayan’s parents grew up completing chores each morning before attending school. While they went on to academia, they farmed on a smaller scale. “I still have fond memories of my mom and I working on her farm,” Afolayan said. Today, Afolayan works as a food safety scientist at the Kellogg Company’s corporate headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan. After checking lab results and food safety recalls, a typical day for Afolayan involves reviewing ongoing projects, recipes and ingredients for food safety risks and taking the appropriate measures to mitigate these risks. She is responsible for supporting product innovation, ensuring product safety and visiting manufacturing plants across the nation. She provides food safety support for different products. “Every decision I make is critical and can impact major parts of our business processes. I have to pay keen attention to every detail while ensuring that I have all the information needed to make the best decision each time,” she said. Afolayan finds reward in tackling her challenges. “The most rewarding is when I see the products that I was actively involved with in stores all over the country because I know our customers will enjoy products that have passed through the highest quality and safety measures,” she said. As a graduate of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Afolayan said she would gladly return to CAES if she had to do it all again. “CAES not only imparted me with an excellent food science and microbiology education, one that I consider the best in the country, but CAES also provided opportunities to interact with industry professionals by encouraging participation in national conferences and meetings,” Afolayan said. During her time at CAES, Afolayan found inspiration through her professors and the way they encouraged thinking outside the box, a skill she says is highly sought after in the corporate world. When given the opportunity to speak with high school students about careers in agriculture, Afolayan always encourages them to consider CAES for their education. “As an international student, UGA was a place where I felt at home,” said Afolayan. • Samantha White CONTRIBUTED

Jason Morris (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’97) was promoted to market president at First Community Bank of Tifton, a division of Synovus Bank.


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Maid to succeed Ron Holt part of award-winning company


Starting a business can be scary, especially when an owner uses his personal savings to fund that business. But fear did not stop Ron Holt (BSA - Biological Science, ’97) from pursuing his dream. “There was definitely some initial fear, nervousness and stress, but no hesitancy,” he said. “I had a plan, and that plan couldn’t begin until I started the business.” Holt opened Two Maids & A Mop, a residential cleaning service, in 2003 in Pensacola, Florida. The company began offering franchise opportunities across the country after building 12 corporate office locations. The company offers a competitive advantage by using a pay-for-performance model in which homeowners rate the cleaners, and ratings determine compensation. The business now has more than 36 office locations across the nation and was on track to make $17 million in revenues for 2016. Holt worked as an environmental laboratory director and compares the CAES ALUMNI NAMED lab to the service industry in terms of TO THE BULLDOG 100 customer care. He credits his customer service skills Four UGA College of Agricultural to his work in his father’s convenience and Environmental Sciences store in Colquitt, Georgia. “It was a alumni were named to the UGA business, but it was also like a family Alumni Association’s 2017 because my dad really cared about Bulldog 100 list of growing knowing the customers,” Holt said. “I alumni companies. feel the same way with our franchise Ron Holt’s (BSA – Biological owners. I want them to know we care.” Science, ’97) Two Maids & The company received national A Mop, out of Birmingham, recognition, and Holt was named Alabama, came in at No. 6 on to the University of Georgia Alumni the Bulldog 100 list. Association’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2013 and the association’s 2014, Rebecca Babcock’s (BSA 2015 and 2017 Bulldog 100 lists. Holt – Animal Science,’94) Red founded the college’s Holt Family Barn Veterinary Hospital, in Student Support Fund. It is an annual Dahlonega, Georgia, is No. 49. $1,000 scholarship to help cover the William Means’ (BSA – financial costs of attending UGA for Horticulture, ’03) Salon dm3, in students from rural communities. Athens, Georgia, is No. 53. “My time at UGA was really transformational for me and I wanted Jackie Hartley’s (MS to provide someone else with an – Agricultural Economics, ’78) opportunity to have that same kind of Home Instead Senior Care, out experience,” Holt said. • April Bailey of Valdosta, Georgia, is No. 73.

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class notes 2000s Mary Ellen (Edwards) Levie (BSA – Agribusiness, ’05) is the human resources administrator and accountant for AgGeorgia. She resides in Warner Robins, Georgia. Carrie (Ross) Crabtree (BSA – Animal Science, ’06; Ph.D. – Animal and Dairy Science, ’12) is a laboratory quality director for the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Stevie Daniels (BSA – Horticulture, ’06) is an assistant horticulturist for Juniper Level Botanic Garden at Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina. Daniels lives in Durham, North Carolina. Mallory Black (BSA – Agribusiness, ’07) is the communications and public relations manager for CNI Ag Independent Retailers in Leesburg, Georgia. Adam Hebert (BSA – Agribusiness, ’08) is the senior relationship manager for AgGeorgia Farm Credit in Waynesboro, Georgia. Cathy (Strickland) Atchley (BSA – Agribusiness, ’09) was chosen as a Class X participant in the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources. The two-year program broadens participants’ perspectives and networks. Graduates are able to address local, state, national and global challenges. Atchley owns On Point Ag, Inc., an agronomy services business. She resides in LaBelle, Florida.

2010s Calvin Meeks (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’10; MS – Crop and Soil Sciences, ’13), current University of Georgia crop and soil sciences doctoral student, won the $1,000 grand prize at the Georgia Environmental Conference’s student poster competition in August 2016. His project involved reducing the amount of water used in growing cotton by restricting irrigation in early growth stages. Katie (Thomason) Sponberger (BSA – Agribusiness, ’10) is the economic development coordinator for the Catoosa County, Georgia, Economic Development Authority. She’s married to Jake Sponberger (BSA – Agribusiness, ’10), a fleet manager for U.S. Xpress in Tunnel Hill, Georgia. They reside in Ringgold, Georgia. Caroline (Black) Lewallen (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’11), of Hall County, Georgia, was a finalist in the 2016 Georgia Farm Bureau Young Farmer Discussion Meet. Carmisha (McKenzie) Ramsey (BSA – Food Science, ’11) has been the product development chef manager for Denny’s in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for two years. She enjoys the research-and-development aspect of her role, participates in developing many of the limitedtime offers and attends photo and commercial shoots. She resides in Greer, South Carolina.

alumni news

Stephanie Bolton (MS – Food Science, ’12; Ph.D. – Plant Pathology, ’16) is the grower communications and sustainable winegrowing director at the Lodi Winegrape Commission in Lodi, California. According to a press release, “Bolton will provide targeted and daily support to Lodi winegrape growers in the areas of advanced grower education and outreach, marketing and promotions of the region’s diverse winegrapes, and — most notably — viticultural research and sustainability programming, including Lodi’s world-renowned Lodi Rules™ sustainable certification program.” Justin Brown (BSA – Animal Science, ’12) is a postdoctoral research associate at Iowa State University. He resides in Ames, Iowa. Josh Paine (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’12) is part of a team that won the Gold Award for Exhibits at the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences’ 2016 program. The award recognized the University of Georgia’s Sunbelt Agricultural Expo building display, which highlighted Georgia commodities. He is a marketing specialist for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.


Cultivating curiosity Tim Griffeth steers young minds to agriculture through class University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences alumnus Tim Griffeth (MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’10) believes there’s no more rewarding career than teaching agriculture. “I always knew that I wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives over multiple generations, and I get to do that,” he said. Griffeth is an agriculture teacher at North Oconee High School in Bogart, Georgia. He teaches three classes a day that may include basic agriculture, horticulture, wildlife management and nursery landscape. Griffeth also serves as the adviser for the school’s chapter of the National FFA Organization, which promotes agriculture and leadership. He is responsible for overseeing students’ supervised agricultural experiences (SAE). Through SAE projects, students manage the campus’s forestry plot, tend the livestock or spend time in the greenhouse, among other options. There are off-campus opportunities as well. Griffeth’s students write plans for their SAEs and try to anticipate pNorth Oconee High School obstacles within those plans. “I tell them what we’re trying to agriculture teacher and accomplish as opposed to telling them what to do,” Griffeth said. CAES alumnus Tim Griffeth Griffeth earned his bachelor’s degree in recreation and leisure (left) speaks about seeds studies administration, a program that is no longer offered at while student Nick Dress UGA. He was certified to be an agriculture educator through looks on. the agricultural leadership master’s program in CAES. GEORGIA FFA The college’s Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC) certifies students to teach in three AND CAES GROW ways. Undergraduate students become certified to teach upon AGRICULTURE graduation, when they’ve completed the necessary coursework EDUCATORS and student teaching. Students who have graduated from another bachelor’s degree program can take the coursework necessary for With more than 41,000 certification through ALEC. Graduate students can follow Griffeth’s members, Georgia FFA path and graduate as certified teachers. The master’s program is the third-largest includes a specialized education course; three courses in agricultural state association education instruction strategies, curriculum development and of the National FFA total program management; and 12 hours of student teaching. Organization. The state All student teachers must also pass edTPA to become certified office is housed on UGA’s in the state of Georgia and throughout most of the nation. Athens campus in the In its second year of implementation in the state, edTPA is a poultry science building. national program that requires student teachers to compile a portfolio that addresses their planning, instruction and assessment skills. UGA is one of only two universities in the state to offer teacher preparation for agricultural education. Griffeth’s degrees complement each other. “So much of what I do is recreation and just caring for my students,” he said. “The teacher education program did a phenomenal job of painting a picture of reality.” North Oconee High School was named the 2013 North Region FFA Chapter of the Year and, in 2015, Griffeth was selected as the school’s Teacher of the Year. He said it was humbling to receive the award and represent such an important industry. “I tell my students all the time that what they’re going to do in life is going to matter because this industry goes beyond us,” he said. • April Bailey CONTRIBUTED

Gena Perry (BSA – Agribusiness, ’11; MAB – Agribusiness, ’14) is the chief of staff for AgriCorps, a nonprofit that promotes agricultural education in developing countries, mainly in West Africa. Prior to accepting this chief of staff position in Dallas, Perry served as an AgriCorps Fellow in Koforidua, Ghana, for a year.


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2010s Jacob Sandeford (BSA – Agribusiness, ’12) received the Best Cotton Award — “awarded to the Georgia cotton producer with the highest loan value and premium” — from the Georgia Cotton Commission and Bayer CropScience at the commission’s 10th annual meeting and University of Georgia Cotton Production Workshop. Ralph Sandeford (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’81), of Midville Warehouse, ginned the cotton. Jenna Saxon (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’12) is the government relations representative for Georgia EMC; co-chair of the Alumni Connections Committee, part of the CAES Alumni Association board of directors; and was a member of the 2015-2017 Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry class. She resides in Atlanta. Anna (McIntyre) Strickland (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’12) is the University of Georgia Archway Professional in Hart County, Georgia. She previously worked as the director of events and member relations for the Georgia Agribusiness Council. Olivia Browning (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’14; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’16) is the associate director of alumni chapters for the University of Georgia Alumni Association. Previously, she worked for UGA Cooperative Extension as a 4-H Youth Development program specialist. She resides in Athens, Georgia.

Deanna Edmonds (MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’14) is an agriculture teacher for the Rowan-Salisbury School System in North Carolina. She resides in Sandy Ridge, North Carolina. Annie Rich (BSA – Animal Science, ’14; BSA – Biological Science, ’15) is a graduate student in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She graduates this year. Keaton (Griner) Walker (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’14) is the director of marketing and sponsorship at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Georgia. Previously, she worked as the sponsorship and special programs coordinator at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter. She resides in Perry. William Hembree (BSA – Horticulture, ’15) is currently pursuing a master’s degree at North Carolina State University, where he’s studying ornamental plant breeding under Professor Thomas Ranney. Hembree spent the year following his undergraduate graduation completing the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)Garden Club of America Interchange Fellowship. He spent 10 months in the United Kingdom, where he worked and studied at 10 historic and botanical gardens across the country, including the RHS Garden, Wisley; the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; and the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

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Aaron Hayes (BSA – Turfgrass Management, ’16) is the assistant superintendent at Hawaii’s Nanea Golf Club. Previously, Hayes worked for nine months as a spray technician at Ko’Olau Golf Club on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Nicole Holden (BSA – Agribusiness, ’16) is an associate examiner with the Farm Credit Administration. She resides in Vienna, Virginia. Haley Nagle (BSES – Entomology, ’16) is a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow. Through the fellowship, Nagle will attend Piedmont College to pursue a master’s degree in education. She will become a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educator in a high-need secondary school in Georgia. Weston Quintrell (BSA – Biological Science, ’16) is a student at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy. He resides in Johns Island, South Carolina. Will Shelley (MS – Agricultural and Applied Economics, ’16) is a decision support analyst with the McKee Foods Corporation. He resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Submit your professional activities, honors and career updates to share in Southscapes at caes.uga. edu/alumni/be-engaged/ contact-us.html.


class notes

Allison Fortner (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’16) is the assistant marketing director for Super-Sod. She resides in Dallas, Georgia.

p Former state Rep. Richard Royal (left), of Camilla, Georgia, and UGA soybean pioneer John Woodruff, of Tifton, Georgia, were inducted into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame.

GEORGIA AG HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES University of Georgia soybean pioneer John Woodruff, of Tifton, Georgia, and former state Rep. Richard Royal, of Camilla, Georgia, were inducted into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2016. A former UGA Cooperative Extension soybean specialist and professor, Woodruff aided soybean producers throughout the U.S. and other countries by adapting more profitable production systems through his research. He convinced the Georgia Soybean Association to make Georgia the first state in the U.S. to recognize farmers for production efficiency instead of yield, which led to recognition of farmers who produced soybeans more efficiently at the lowest cost per bushel. Woodruff developed computer programs to help county Extension agents in variety selection and assisted in irrigation projects in Tanzania Learn more at https://t. and Kenya. He remains involved with Georgia soybean producers. Royal was a poultry, then petroleum, businessman, and he served on the Camilla City Council. He was in the Georgia House of Representatives for 25 years. In the Georgia House, he served as the Ways and Means Committee chairman and on the Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, where he led efforts to ensure Georgia 4-H and similar organizations had the necessary funding to rebuild aging facilities. He also advocated for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to receive funding. In 1990, Royal crafted the Conservation Use Valuation Assessment law, which allows forestor agricultural lands to be placed in a covenant for a lower ad valorem tax rate. After retirement, he played an instrumental role in crafting the law that created the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption, which overhauled the patchwork of sales tax exemptions for all agricultural inputs. • Merritt Melancon

alumni news Alumni luminaries

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CAES announces Alumni Awards of Excellence and Young Alumni Achievement Award recipients The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and CAES Alumni Association recognized a former agriculture commissioner, bankers, a farmer and UGA Cooperative Extension leaders as part of its annual awards program. “These awards not only allow us to recognize the accomplishments of our fellow alumni, but also the ways in which CAES has contributed to our collective success,” said Elliott Marsh, president of the alumni association. The alumni association recognized its 2016 award winners, as well as the 2016 Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees, at the annual CAES Alumni Awards Banquet on Nov. 11, 2016, in Athens, Georgia. This year, the alumni association awarded four Alumni Awards of Excellence. 1. CHARLES HUBERT BRONSON JR., FORMER FLORIDA COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES Over the course of his career, Bronson (BSA – Animal Science, ’73) taught agricultural science

at Gainesville High School in Florida, worked as an agricultural supply salesman and was elected to the Florida Senate to represent Brevard and Osceola counties. In addition to serving on several authorities and

advisory committees across Florida, Bronson served as state senator from 1994 to 2001, when he was named commissioner of agriculture and consumer services by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. He was subsequently re-elected to two more terms, serving in the post until he retired in 2011. Bronson was inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2013. 2. BEVERLY SPARKS, FORMER CAES ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR EXTENSION After a long career in UGA Extension, Sparks (BSA – Horticulture, ’78; MS – Entomology, ’80) was named associate dean for Extension within CAES in 2007. She was the first woman to lead UGA Extension, and she served as director of Extension until 2014. Her leadership is credited with helping UGA Extension weather the financial turmoil that accompanied the Great

Recession. Sparks also received the 2016 Excellence in Leadership Award from the Association of Southern Region Extension Directors in April 2016. 3. D. WAYNE AKINS JR., CHIEF RETAIL BANKING OFFICER OF SYNOVUS BANK From 1998 to 2011, Akins (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’85) served as the CEO and president of Sea Island Bank in Statesboro, Georgia. In 2011, Akins assumed an expanded role for the bank’s parent company, Synovus Financial, headquartered in Columbus, Georgia. Currently, Akins serves as chief retail banking officer for the company, which operates 245 branch offices with 1,500 team members in five Southeastern states.

The 63rd annual CAES Alumni Association Awards Banquet is set for Friday, Sept. 22, at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. A reception will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner and awards program at 7 p.m. Please register online by Sept. 15 at caes.uga. edu/alumni. Call 706-5423390 for more information.

4. LOWRY WEYMAN HUNT JR., SIXTH-GENERATION MORGAN COUNTY, GEORGIA, FARMER Hunt (BSA – Animal Science, ’80) was the first in his family to seek a college degree in agriculture. He knew the knowledge he gained would help him run the family business, Godfrey’s Feed, and the family farm, Innisfail Farm. Innisfail, a 2,200-acre timber and cattle farm, has been in Hunt’s family for six generations. Hunt took over operations in 1972.

The alumni association also honored three young alumni through its CAES Young Alumni Achievement Awards. These awards recognize CAES alumni under 35 who have achieved excellence in their chosen fields or in their communities.

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5. CLIFF RINER, COORDINATOR OF THE VIDALIA ONION AND VEGETABLE RESEARCH CENTER AND VIDALIA ONION AREA EXTENSION AGENT Riner (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’06) started his career as the Agriculture and Natural Resources UGA Extension agent in Tattnall County, Georgia, and was promoted to his current position in 2013. He is pursuing his master’s degree in agricultural and environmental education.

6. LUKE LANIER, ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT OF METTER BANK After graduation, Lanier (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’07) accepted a job at Durden Banking Company and moved back to his family farm in Candler County, Georgia. Lanier spent the last eight years coordinating agricultural lending to help local farmers.

7. ALLISON PERKINS, UGA EXTENSION 4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AGENT IN BARTOW COUNTY, GEORGIA In her current position, Perkins (BSA – Animal Science, ’05; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’10) is responsible for implementing and carrying out educational programs, including equine programs, for 4-H youth in Bartow County. • Merritt Melancon


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Michasia (Harris) Dowdy (BSA – Agriscience and Environmental Systems, ’14; MPPPM – Plant Protection and Pest Management, ’16) and her father, Glen Harris, share more than a father-daughter bond. They are also colleagues who rely on each other. Dowdy officially became an Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in Lowndes County, Georgia, last June, then became the agent in Brooks County, Georgia, in May. Her father is an Extension agronomist based on the UGA Tifton campus. He delivers scientific, research-based information to agents like Dowdy, who relay that information to local growers. Dowdy has already called on her father’s expertise. “I would say the middle of July, about a month and a half into my job, I had a peanut field where there were some nutrition problems. It wasn’t long before I had to have him come down and help us,” Dowdy said. “It’s one of my favorite parts of my job as an Extension specialist, working with the agents. We always tell people that they’re not just colleagues or friends, they’re family,” Harris said. “It makes me proud to have Michasia in Extension.” Having a father serve as an Extension specialist and practically growing up at UGA-Tifton helped Dowdy transition to Lowndes County Extension agent. She grew up knowing many of the specialists that she works with now, and some were her professors. “She took advantage not only of the degree programs offered, but also sought internships and applied research experience. I was delighted to have hired her

into our organization and look forward to the bright future both Michasia and Glen have with UGA Extension,” said Associate Dean for Extension Laura Perry Johnson. As for Harris, the proud father only offers advice if asked. He doesn’t want to hover over Dowdy’s work, as a parent might. But when Dowdy solicits advice, Harris is quick to respond. “Probably one of the best pieces of advice I ever received was when I

started at UGA-Tifton 22 years ago. Someone told me our job is to make the agent look good, especially when we go into the county. That was super advice and I always try to follow that,” Harris said. “It’s a two-way street. It’s not me telling them what to do. We communicate together and work it out together. That’s what makes our Extension system special, I think, the relationship between the specialist and the agent.” • Clint Thompson


Like father, like daughter

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