Fall Semester 2019 |Volume 4
Our Dean's Update
Happy fall! I hope everyone has had a great summer! We are all excited to welcome students back to campus and get the academic year started. Our Fall 2019 enrollment is 1,231 students (almost a 2% increase) which make us the largest school at ABAC. Of these students, we are welcoming 460 incoming Freshman. ABAC’s total enrollment is 3,951 students (for all campuses), which is a decrease of 8.29% (356 students) from Fall 2018 (4,292 - which was the all-time high enrollment).
Several changes have occurred over the summer. Dr. Marcus Johnson has changed roles on campus and will be the new Director of Faculty Development and the Center for Teaching and Learning. As a result, he has stepped down as the Head of the Department of Education. We are currently in a national search for a new Department Head (for a January 1 hire date). Mrs. Amy Warren has moved to the Provost’s Office to be the Director of Assessment. Both will continue to teach half time in the department. The Agricultural Communication program and faculty have moved from the School of Arts and Sciences to the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources. They will be part of a new Department of Education and Agricultural Communication (along with the Agricultural Education program). Nationwide, both of these programs are in the same department (and school/college). We are excited for the future opportunities from the merger of these two programs!
This Fall semester, we have added a new degree track in Animal Science under the BS in Agriculture. We have worked over a year to develop this track and are excited for those students interested in going to veterinary medicine or graduate school. We have four new minors available – Agribusiness, Agriculture, Agriculture Education, and Environmental Horticulture. Two new faculty have been hired - Dr. Shannon Kidombo, Assistant Professor of Forestry and Dr. Olumide Aborisade, Assistant Professor of Agribusiness. In addition, we hired, Mr. Ridge Harper, in July as the Assessment and Certification Coordinator in the Education and Agricultural Communication Department.
Sometime this fall, we will have a ribbon cutting to celebrate our new greenhouse out at the farm. This was funded jointly with the GA Department of Education (construction bond grant) and ABAC. Our faculty have begun to put plants in it. We are excited how this facility will enhance our lab activities (and, of course, the annual plant sale!).
These are just a few highlights of the many things happening in the School! We look forward to a great fall semester! Please stop by and see us when you are in the area! 
Dr. Mark Kistler
Department of Agriculture
Adding a new academic program is somewhat like adding a new child or pet to a family. The new family member brings excitement and hope for the future as well as new needs and challenges. Turf and Ornamental is our newest track under the BS in Environmental Horticulture degree. Ag Technology and Systems Management (ATSM) and Animal Science are our newest tracks under the BS in Agriculture degree. These three
new tracks bring excitement and hope for ABAC’s students.

A new teaching greenhouse was constructed over the summer, allowing for enhanced instruction in our Ag Education track as well as the new Turf and Ornamental track. Enhancements have also been made to our turf plots which allow for improved teaching and research in this field of study. Currently 20 percent of the students in the BS Environmental Horticulture program are in the Turf and Ornamental track.

The Animal Science track was introduced this fall and 42 students have already enrolled. This livestock-based track will allow students with an interest in veterinary medicine or animal science graduate schools to stay at ABAC for their entire undergraduate experience. Most of the courses needed for the new track were already being offered - through a concerted effort on the part of the animal science and biology faculty, we now provide a well-constructed program that will meet the requirements of veterinary or graduate school.
ATSM is a technology-intense track and during the summer we were able to make great strides in obtaining the necessary equipment to meet the needs of the students in this program. A local weather network consisting of four iMetos 3.3 weather stations was installed, one at the new Green Agronomy Unit, one near the farm shop, one at Forest Lakes Golf Course, and one at the new teaching forest. The weather stations upload data to the cloud, which can be can see and used anywhere there is internet access. There are plans to display this information in the lobby of Ag Sciences. The weather stations monitor rain, temperature, humidity, wind (speed and direction), solar radiation, and soil moisture. The stations will be used to teach data management, as well as create ET and water balance models. Three Kubota RTV-X1140 utility vehicles were purchased and are being outfitted with GPS, monitors, and autosteer so these important concepts and systems can be taught to our students. SMS Software from Ag Leader, a complete farm data management package for field stewardship, planting, application, and harvest, has been purchased and its use will be taught in classes. Tractor GPS/CAN simulator, a software solution to simulate GPS and CAN messages (data transmitted between the Tractor and Implements primarily), has been obtained. It will be useful when teaching students about electronics on modern farm equipment. The simulator gives us the ability to teach about equipment that is beyond our reach currently (sprayers, grain harvesters, water management, etc.). A new variable rate pivot was added to the farm which will allow faculty and staff to teach and demonstrate this critical aspect of crop production.
As with the addition of a new family member that garners a lot of attention at the beginning, the addition of these new tracks might lead someone to believe that the older tracks are no longer important or valued, but nothing could be further from the truth. The BS in Agribusiness is still by far our largest major. The Crop Production, Crop and Soil Science, General and Livestock tracks of the BS in Agriculture tracks as well as the Turfgrass and Golf Course Management and Turfgrass Science tracks associated with the BS in Environmental Horticulture are still fully supported and continue to produce well-trained graduates.

We are excited about beginning a new school year with the best programs we have ever offered. Our students continue to exceed our expectations and our faculty consistently raise the bar of excellence.

Dr. Ray Smith, Department Head
Department of Education & Agricultural Communication
The big news for the department is the addition of the Agricultural Communication program from the School of Arts and Sciences. As a result, the department has a new name – Education and Agricultural Communication. Agricultural Communication faculty, Dr. Joanne Littlefield, Associate Professor, and Mrs. Jessica Akins, Lecturer, have joined the department and are in the process of relocating to the Environmental Horticulture Building to join their new departmental colleagues. 

The department (and school) enrollment has grown by 40 students due to the addition of the BS in Agricultural Communication (240 total including the BS in Agricultural Education).
Dr. Joanne Littlefield
Mrs. Jessica Akins
Agriculture Education Program Encounters Outstanding Growth
The ABAC Agriculture Education program experienced phenomenal growth this fall. In only its second year the program has enrolled 205 AgEd majors. The ABAC AgEd program ranks among the largest agriculture teacher education programs in the United States. The 2019 cohort had 24 graduates, and the 2020 cohort will have approximately 34 graduates. In addition, the AgEd program had 76 new students enroll this Fall, of which 63 are recent 2019 high school graduates. Over the past 40 years, there has been an on-going shortage of qualified agricultural teachers to fill Georgia classrooms – as well as in most of the US. ABAC is rapidly fulfilling the need for additional agricultural teachers in Georgia.
Other Highlights from the Department of Education & Agricultural Communication:
 Dahlia Sutliff , Senior Agricultural Education major, was one of 18 selected from a national pool of applicants to attend the FAST Symposium (Future Agriscience Teacher) which will be held on September 19 at BASF Headquarters in Research Triangle Park, NC, as part of the National Teach Ag Day. The National Association of Agricultural Educators sponsors this event. Congratulations, Dahlia!
ABAC faculty hosted the Georgia Agriculture Teacher’s floral management workshop on campus July 15-16 with two full days of instruction. Instructors for the workshop included Dr. Frank Flanders, Associate Professor of AgEd, and Mr. Dean Pannell of Pannell Designs & Events, Bogart Georgia. Mr. Pannell is a Georgia Master Florist (GMS) and a Certified Professional Florist (CPF), as well as an ABAC graduate. We are very appreciative for Mr. Pannell’s volunteer work with his alma mater. Throughout the workshop, Dr. Flanders was assisted by student volunteers, Lexie Matson and Brittany Brady who are AgEd majors at ABAC.
The culmination of the workshop included, awards presented to the top designers. Maggie Reeves of Baconton Charter School was recognized as Designer of the year, i n second place was LaDonna Withrow of Bear Creek Middle School, and Anglia Webb-Crosby of Lowndes County High School received a third place certificate.
ABAC was well-represented at the Georgia Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association (GVATA) Summer Conference, July 7-10 at Lake Lanier Islands and Resort. Drs. Frank Flanders, Sallie McHugh, and Farish Mulkey attended and presented programs. Faculty met with the ABAC AgEd Advisory Committee, assisted with recruitment, and presented educational programs. The faculty presented a program on financial planning for teachers with the assistance of Mr. Daryl McMann, former agriculture teacher and now financial advisor. Dr. Flanders presented a workshop on floral management for thirty-three teachers. The faculty recognized twenty-two cooperating teachers for their work supervising ABAC student teachers. Each teacher was presented with a certificate and an ABAC shirt. In addition, the faculty was happy to welcome 21 recent ABAC graduates and now employed agriculture teachers, to the conference as colleagues!
ABAC Agricultural Education students, J essica Casaday and Morgan Sysskind, along with Dr. Frank Flanders , spent a recent Saturday volunteering with the Georgia FFA to prepare State AgriScience and Proficiency winners for national competition in October. The event was held at Camp John Hope near Fort Valley, August 17th. High school and middle school students presented their projects just as they will in National competition in Indianapolis. The ABAC volunteers questioned and scored the students in mock competition and provided constructive criticism and tips for a better performance. The all-day practice was a huge success and provided a good learning opportunity for the competitors. For the future agriculture teachers, Jessica and Morgan, the event provided an excellent engaged learning opportunity. Jessica is a member of the 2020 Cohort and Morgan is a member of the 2023 Cohort.
History Preserved & Tied to the Future
ABAC alumnus Robert Varnedoe, President of Lee Container, and a national leader in the packaging industry headquartered in Homerville, recently donated an historic copy of the Progressive Farmer magazine from August 1950. The cover features an Agriculture Education class studying poultry production. The cover will be printed and framed for display in the Agricultural Education office suite.

Dr. Mark Kistler, Interim Department Head
Department of Forest Resources
Summer was a busy and exciting semester for the Department of Forest Resources. Both the wildlife and forestry summer session students participated in a wide variety of engaged learning activities.

The forestry students cruised timber on private property and developed a comprehensive management plan for the timber resources. The wildlife students spent a week on Sapelo Island working with Georgia Department of Natural Resources personnel and conducting several ecological studies, and then they traveled to the mountains of western North Carolina to work on a variety of things from hellbenders to salamanders to songbirds.

The sheer volume of hands-on learning activities that make up our summer session courses sets our forestry and wildlife programs apart from all others in the Southeast. Enjoy some photo highlights...
Everyone is excited to start the fall semester, where in addition to classes and labs, events such as the Georgia Chapter of The Wildlife Society annual meeting, the Georgia Prescribed Fire Council annual meeting, the annual conference of The Wildlife Society, the National Convention of the Society of American Foresters, and the annual Jake’s Day await our students and faculty.
Recruit-Retain-Reactiviate Hunter Program
 "Last year ABAC started our Recruit-Retain-Reactivate Hunters Program, funded by the Georgia Wildlife Federation and led by Natural Resources Management student Parker Gerdes. This statewide cooperative program between the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Georgia Wildlife Federation, and other non-governmental organizations aims to get more people involved in hunting. ABAC's program is designed to teach and provide safe, mentored experiences for first-time hunters who may not otherwise have the knowledge, equipment, or connections to go hunting.
We have several exciting mentored hunts this fall, with required pre-hunt training sessions to get everyone comfortable with wildlife identification, hunting regulations, and firearm safety. Our first mentored hunt will be an amazing opportunity to hunt dove on opening day at a field specifically reserved for this program at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Jasper County! All equipment, including shotguns and ammunition, is provided thanks to the Georgia Wildlife Federation. 
Please contact Campus R3 Coordinator Parker Gerdes, pgerdes@stallions.abac.edu , for any questions regarding ABAC's R3 program.
To facilitate ABAC's R3 program, Dr. Vanessa Lane is now a certified hunter education instructor for the state of Georgia. ABAC's next in-person Hunter Safety Class will be on October 7-8 from 6-10pm in Yow Forestry Building room 103, co-taught by Dr. Lane and Tift County Game Warden Kristie Carpenter. This course is free and anyone 10 years of age or older is welcome to attend. Register online at GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com. "

We are also proud to welcome our newest faculty member, Assistant Professor of Forestry  Dr. Shannon Kidombo, to ABAC’s Forest Resources Department!

Dr. William Moore, Department Head

Student Spotlight - SANR Leaders
We kicked off the fall semester by launching our first group of SANR Leaders ! This group of 9 selected students underwent an application and interview process and will represent the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at a variety of events throughout the year. As the face of the SANR, you will find them at various events and programs recruiting others and representing us at Stallion Days, the Sunbelt Ag Expo, Farm Tours, and so much more. The team recently completed a training to prepare them for their year as Leaders.

Our 2019-20 Leaders are Shelbie Jordan, Louie Canevari, David Hall, Savannah Eastall, Makayla Pulsifer, Justin Henderson, Audrey McGee, Claire Hunkler, and Ben Mediate.
Student Clubs
The SANR Annual Club PIcnic was held recently. The clubs and organizations that students can get involved with to enhance their educational experience and network with industry professionals were highlighted!

Our clubs include: Agribusiness Club & National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), Agricultural Engineering Technology Club (AET), Horsemen's Association, Young Farmers & Ranchers, Dairy Science Club, Beekeeper's Association, Agronomy Club, Cattlemen's Association, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT), ABAC FFA, ABAC Collegiate 4-H, Horticulture Club, Turf Club, Wildlife Society, Forestry Club.
Careers & Interns Update
The School of Agriculture & Natural Resources had a busy summer with just over 180 student interns. Students traveled across the nation and abroad for their internships. We had students out west in big sky country, down south in the Florida Keys, some even made their way traveling to the Bahamas and Ecuador. Students concluded their summer with a final presentation compiling their experiences and reflecting on the knowledge and experienced they gained.
Slaton Lunsford, intern at Walther Farms in
Three Rivers Michigan.
Megan Abram, interned
at Victoria Farms in
 Alachua, FL .
Luke Andrews, intern at
The Yellowstone Club in
 Big Sky, Montana.
Senior Series Exclusive "Where to go from here?"
Career Connections
November 12, 2019
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Ag Sciences Building

Join us at our 2019 Career Connections to meet and recruit future interns and employees in the fields of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Our students are earning bachelor’s degrees in Agribusiness, Agriculture, Agricultural Communication, Agricultural Education, Environmental Horticulture, and Natural Resource Management.

Click HERE for additional information and to register!

Suzanne Bentley, Academic & Career Coordinator
Alumni & Friend Spotlight - Ben Smith
A love for agriculture has defined Ben Smith’s life and he was recognized at the 2019 Homecoming as the recipient of the J. Lamar Branch Award. Ben, a 1965 graduate of ABAC in forestry, went on to receive a bachelor of science degree in forestry from the University of Georgia. 
After more than 45 years, Ben recently retired from Snyder’s-Lance, formerly known as Lance and Tom’s Food where he worked in various leadership positions within the company’s peanut division. He has served as the Director of Distribution, the Manager of Peanut Operations, the Plant Manager for Peanut and Candy Operations, and retired as a Senior Consultant for Peanut Operations in 2015. He started with the company in 1968 as the Assistant Manager of Peanut Purchasing and Shelling.
He embodies the spirit of the J. Lamar Branch award and has contributed additionally to the Ag industry by serving on the American Peanut Council, the American Peanut Research Foundation, and the USDA Peanut Standards Board. He completed two terms as president of the American Peanut Shellers Association and a term as chairman of the Board of Directors for American Peanut Product Manufactures, Inc. and the American Peanut Council. Ben has also been inducted into the American Peanut Shellers Hall of Fame and American Peanut Council Hall of Fame.
Ben states in his philosophy of agriculture that he has seen the dedication that peanut farmers devote to their trade. Their respect for the soil and the land is notable and it has been his honor to work closely with peanut farmers for many years.
          Ben invests into his community as a member of First Baptist Church in Columbus, where he has served as Youth Director, Deacon Board member, Assistant Treasurer, and with Victory Mission. He also participates in local Red Cross Initiatives and mentors Columbus State University Students. He served a term as chairman of the United Way Budget and Allocations Committee in his area.
         Ben is a member of the ABAC Alumni Association, he served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors from 1975 to 1978.  
The J. Lamar Branch Award for Outstanding Leadership in Agriculture is presented in recognition of alumni who have distinguished themselves through community service, professional achievement, and service to the College. The award was first presented in 1987. It is named in memory of the late J. Lamar Branch, a dedicated alumnus and statewide agricultural leader.
Upcoming Events
Join us for the 19th Annual

SANR Classic Golf Tournament.....

Friday September 27, 2019
Forest Lakes
Golf Course
Morning and Afternoon Flights

Players, Teams and Sponsors NEEDED to support of student scholarship program and faculty/staff development opportunities!

For additional information and/or to register: www.abac.edu/sanr-classic.
9/27: Horsemen's Barrel Race Fundraiser
11/12: Career Connections
12/12: SANR Graduation Breakfast
12/12: ABAC Graduation
ABAC SANR Needs Your Support...
Please consider making a financial contribution to the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources! Every contribution helps us to meet the needs of our students and faculty/staff!