Fall Semester 2019 |Volume 5
Our Dean's Update
It has been one year since we began to publish our quarterly digital newsletter! I hope you have found it to be informative on all of that is happening within the School and across the ABAC campus. Please feel free to forward it to others who may not receive it. We will be happy to add others to the mailing list - contact Vonda Fenn, vfenn@abac.edu , 279-391-5067. In addition, we post it to the School’s Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/ABACSANR ).
As I write this, we are getting ready for Thanksgiving break. We all have a lot to be thankful for, and the School is no different! We have great faculty, staff, students, alumni, and supporters. It takes a group effort to move us forward and I am appreciative for everyone who helps in this effort. It is hard to believe the semester is coming to a very quick end! The last class of the semester is on the Tuesday following the Thanksgiving break (December 3), with final exams beginning on Thursday, December 5, and graduation the following week on Thursday, December 12. Where did the fall semester go??!!
There are several exciting things planned for the end of this semester and for the coming Spring 2020 semester. We will have the official ribbon cutting for our new greenhouse on December 3. We are thankful for the construction bond grant through the Georgia Department of Education along with ABAC administration for making this happen. Our faculty and students are already utilizing the greenhouse this fall. It is a welcome addition to our agricultural education and environmental horticulture programs. I hope when you are in Tifton you will come out to the farm to see it (or at least for the annual plant sale at Homecoming in April!). The School will be hosting a breakfast for our fall graduates on the morning of graduation. We looking forward to celebrating their accomplishments and interacting with their family. 
SAVE THE DATE! The big event for the spring semester is the official unveiling and dedication our mural, South Georgia Roots . The School and the SANR Alumni Council will be hosting this event on Friday, January 24, 2020 at 6 pm in the atrium of the Agricultural Sciences Building. Invitations will be going out after the first of the year. This will also be a fundraising event for the School in which a limited edition, artist signed canvas prints will be auctioned and for sale. Refreshments, hors d’oeuvres, and live music will be part of the festivities. See further details under SANR Alumni Council Update.
As you can see, there is never a dull moment at ABAC! We are all thankful for the holiday season. It gives us time to reflect, interact with family and friends; as well as, rest and rejuvenate in preparation for the upcoming spring semester. Please stop by and see us when you are in the area! 
Dr. Mark Kistler
Department of Agriculture
A Season of Thanksgiving
As we enter the holiday season, I am reminded of all the reasons I am thankful to be a part of the Department of Agriculture here at ABAC. During my eight years as department head I have observed so many situations where the adage ‘ABAC is like a family’ comes to life. I continually observe faculty and staff reaching out to students on so many levels. Whether it be in the form of spending their nights and weekends creating formal networking and essential skills development opportunities for our students, or agonizing over how to help an individual student cope with academic or personal issues, or spending countless hours developing the best possible learning opportunities in their lectures and labs, I am always impressed with the dedication of our faculty and staff to our students. It is equally amazing to see our faculty and staff care for each other. Several of our faculty and/or their family members have been ill this past semester and the other faculty have come together to support them emotionally and assist in covering their classes. It is also so refreshing to see current students reach out to their fellow students who are struggling in either their academic or personal lives. Our alumni continue to impress me with their willingness to give back to ABAC in so many ways. Whether it be in the form of in-kind gifts of equipment, seeking out our graduates for job opportunities in their companies, or serving as guest speakers in our classes and clubs meetings, our alumni are truly a blessing to our department. 

All of the faculty, staff and students of the Department of Agriculture wish you and yours a happy and blessed holiday season. 

Dr. Ray Smith, Department Head

Other Highlights From The Department...

Two of our students, Megan Parker and Rebecca Gruver, from AENT 3200 (Drainage, Irrigation, and Erosion) applied for and were selected for the Irrigation Association E3 Program. They were two of the 35 students selected nationwide! The E3 program is an education and travel scholarship to attend the 2019 Irrigation Show and Education Week in Las Vegas, NV. While there, the students attended education classes, industry sessions, and networking events. They were also showcased during the keynote address.
Another highlight of the semester was Dr. Alex McLemore's & Dr. Erin Porter's AENG 1100 Introduction to ATSM students testing the Seed Metering Projects devices that they had planned, designed and built .
Andrew Russell is an undergraduate researcher for Dr. Micheal Maw and Dr. Alex McLemore. In this photograph, he is collecting the survey points to make maps with a drone.
Department of Education & Agricultural Communication
I am happy to announce the hiring of Dr. Andrew Thoron as the new Department Head for the Education and Agricultural Communication Department! Dr. Thoron will begin his duties at ABAC on January 2. He currently is an Associate Professor of Agricultural Education in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication at the University of Florida. He previously was on the faculty of the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, a Program Specialist in Agricultural Education with the Illinois Department of Education, and three years as a high school agriscience teacher in Mt. Pulaski, Illinois. 
D r. Thoron has 13 years of experience in higher education (as a faculty member and graduate assistant). He has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Agricultural Education & Communication from the University of Florida, and a B.S. in Agriculture (Agricultural Education sequence) from Illinois State University. Dr. Thoron’s wife, Ashley, is currently an agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Trenton High School in Trenton, FL. She hope to find an agricultural education teaching position within commuting distance of Tifton. We are very excited for Dr. Thoron and Ashley to be joining the ABAC family!

As I mentioned in our last newsletter, the BS in Agricultural Communication and the Agricultural Communication faculty have moved permanently over to the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources (the faculty previously had a joint appoint with the SANR). This has been a semester of transition for the program, faculty, and students. Both Dr. Joanne Littlefield and Mrs. Jessica Akins have relocated to the Environmental Horticulture Building to join their new departmental colleagues. We have been working on adding courses to the Agricultural Communication curriculum, as well as, providing consistency with their internship and other programs in the School. Overall, the transition is going well and I believe both the faculty and students are happy for the move.

Dr. Mark Kistler, Interim Department Head

Other Highlights From The Department...
Thirty-eight of our AgEd students attended the 2019 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Our students attended workshops, judged CDEs, recruited for ABAC, and many received the American FFA Degree. A great professional development experience!
We are proud of our ABAC Ag Communicators of Tomorrow Club members for all of their hard work at the 42nd Annual Sunbelt Ag Expo! They were part of the social media team. They did a phenomenal job!!

The Ag Communicators of Tomorrow Club also volunteered at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, GA.
Department of Forest Resources
Fall semester is always a busy time of year within the Department of Forest Resources. So far, the semester has brought the SANR Classic golf tournament, Career Connections, the annual Ag Expo, and a wildlife techniques field trip to Sapelo Island. The Department's two clubs, The ABAC Forestry Club and The ABAC Wildlife Society, hosted several guest speakers from their respective industries and each participated in a very successful Stallion's Day event. The ABAC Wildlife Society volunteered at the annual Jake's Day at Paradise Public Fishing Area and attended the Georgia Chapter of The Wildlife Society's annual meeting in Carrolton, Ga. The ABAC Forestry Club sent 4 members to compete at the Society of American Foresters national Quiz Bowl in Louisville, Ky. The faculty and staff are excited about finishing out the semester and seeing what new challenges and successes await in 2020.

Dr. William Moore, Department Head
Below: ABAC Wildlife Society members assisting the Georgia Department of Natural Resources with Jake's Day at Paradise PFA. Over 650 children plus adults attended this event.
Student Spotlight - Justin Henderson
Meet SANR Leader and December graduate, Justin Henderson. Justin will be graduating with his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a concentration in Livestock Production. He has played an instrumental role in our first team of SANR Leaders by hosting our first SANR Information Session in conjunction with ABAC’s enrollment team. During his time at ABAC, he is also managed his role as a Pasture Rangeland and Forage Specialist with Insure My Forage, interned with Stran Smith and Abbott Equine in Stephenville, Texas, managed arena prep for all ABAC Horsemen Association’s barrel races and ropings, and served as Vice President of ABAC Horsemen’s Association just to name a few of his contributions. Upon graduation, Justin plans to enter the livestock industry and is still undergoing the application process to find his niche serving our producers and growers. It’s always a bitter-sweet “goodbye”, but we are excited to witness Justin pave his way as a young professional in this great industry. To Justin and the rest of our Fall 2019 School of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ graduates: Congratulations and never forget to stop by “home” every now and then!
Student Club Spotlight - ABAC Cattlemen's Association
The ABAC Cattlemen's Association has been very busy this semester! Their fall events included the Cornhole Tournament for Breast Cancer Awareness and the All American Beef Chili Cookoff in honor of Veteran's Day.

They have hosted multiple industry speakers of state and regional importance - Brent Galloway - Georgia Cattlemen's President and Matt Pearce - Florida Cattlemen's President (both are ABAC alums.) In addition, Dr. Francis Fluharty - Animal and Dairy Science Department Head from UGA and Kevin Yon with Yon Family Farms - Swisher Sweets 2018 Farmer of the Year as well as past President and Board of Directors member for the American Angus Association - have also been guest speakers.

The current Vice President - Louis Canevari - has been chosen as a convention intern for the 2020 National Cattlemen's Beef Association Convention and Trade Show in San Antonio, Texas. Several members will also be attending.
Academic & Career Update
Career Connections: Our annual SANR Career Connections event was held November 12th. Over sixty companies met over 250 of our outstanding SANR students to discuss internship and career opportunities. Some employers held interviews on site at the event and on the following day. We received excellent feedback from our employers and plan to continue to grow next year. Our industry partners were complimentary of the preparation of our students. Kim Walden with Ag-Pro Companies said, “Excellent event, I have so many interviews scheduled! We LOVE hiring ABAC students and find that their education prepares them very well for a position with Ag-Pro Companies. We appreciate the most excellent way this career fair is handled and today we were even met with special parking! THANK YOU for that as it can be pretty challenging when you have so much to tote into the building! Great Job!”.

Save the date for our next Career Connections: Tuesday, November 10, 2020!

Enjoy some photo highlights from the event...
Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference: A lumnus Kylie Bruce, along with current students Megan Abram - Junior Agriculture (Livestock Production Track), John David Lee - Sophomore Agribusiness, and Katibeth Mims - Junior Agricultural Communication flew to Kansas City, MO to participate in the conference where they attended professional development sessions and networking events with industry professionals from across the nation. They were selected to attend the conference after completing a rigorous application process. There is a limited number of students nationwide who are selected to attend each year and we are proud to be a participating college!

Students Pictured: John David Lee, Kylie Bruce, Megan Abram, Katibeth Mims
Senior Series: We wrapped up our Fall Senior Exclusive Series last week. At each session we had over 25 graduating seniors in attendance. We are thankful for our partnership with Alltech and the continued support they are provided throughout this series. The sessions included finding the Job, Benefits and Job Offers, Budgeting, and Taxes. At the last session, we drew for our ultimate career starter gift basket which went home with our winner, Rebecca Gruver . We are looking forward to our Spring Senior Exclusive Series! Spring graduates should look forward to receiving their invitations in January.

Photo is of Alltech’s Sales Coordinator, Rita Amisson covering the 2 nd session on Benefits and Job Offers.

Suzanne Bentley, Academic & Career Coordinator
SANR Alumni Council Update
As we approach this season of thankfulness, the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources Alumni Council has much to be thankful for! We are proud that the school continues to have record enrollments, new faculty members are being added and a host of amazing degree options are available to the students!

Thanks to many sponsors and teams, we raised over $25,000 during the 19 th Annual SANR Classic Golf tournament. The proceeds support our scholarship program plus many enrichment and engagement activities for our students. We had over 20 teams participate in the morning and afternoon flights. Mark your calendars for the 20 th Annual SANR Classic Golf Tournament which will be on Friday, September 25, 2020.  
Also, our Mural Project Fundraiser is ramping up ! The mural, South Georgia Roots, has been completed and is absolutely breathtaking! It truly brings all the aspects of our school together in one painting. Our students love it! We are currently investigating our options for reproducing the mural on canvases, prints, shirts, etc. The date for our celebration and the official “unveiling” and fundraiser has been set for Friday, January 24, 2020 from 6 to 8 pm in the Agricultural Science building.  This event, will include heavy hors d’oeuvres, the sale of limited-edition canvas prints with artist, Jill Whitley, on site to sign them. Let Vonda Fenn at vfenn@abac.edu know if you would like additional information on this event.

Chad Hancock, SANR Alumni Council Chair
Alumni Spotlight: Melea Baldwin Runyon

Life isn’t measured by the awards you receive but the experiences you’ve had and the people you met. I have received many achievements throughout my college life and career but I would have to say that the thing I treasure the most are the people that I have met along the way and I’ve met some amazing people especially at ABAC,” said Melea Baldwin Runyon, class of 2012.

 Runyon attended ABAC from 2010 to 2012 when she transferred to The University of Georgia right before graduating with her associate’s degree in agriculture from ABAC. She attended Georgia from the years of 2012 to 2015 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communication and a Certificate in Leadership and Service in 2015. She then returned to ABAC to continue with two more classes and received her Associates in Agriculture from ABAC in 2015.
ABAC was the perfect school for Runyon after deciding she wanted to attend a wonderful school with a small feel. She knew that she wanted to major in something agriculturally related and ABAC was the best place to do so. Runyon grew up on the opposite side of the state from Tifton and was able to gain the full college experience by being away from home.
Runyon grew up in Hartwell, Georgia on a large commercial cattle farm. Because of this, she took an interest in agriculture and showing livestock. From the time she could walk, Runyon showed cattle, sheep, goats and hogs. She remained active in her community, 4-H and her church youth group, advocating for the agriculture industry and educating others on the importance of farming
Currently, Runyon works as the Event Manager at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. Churchill Downs is known as the home of the Kentucky Derby that happens every May but Runyon assists in managing all the events that take place throughout the year. “From weddings, corporate events, non-profit events and any other event that comes along, I assist in making sure that the details of each one are taken care of and that our guests have a positive experience,” Runyon said. Before working at Churchill Downs, she started working for the Kentucky State Fair Board as the Assistant to the Manager of the North American International Livestock where she assisted in managing the North American Livestock Exposition. After a year, she was promoted to the Assistant Manager of the Horse Show Office. She served in that role for four years before moving to Churchill Downs in March of 2019.
While attending ABAC, Runyon remained active and involved as a student worker in admissions, in SGA as Communications Coordinator in 2010-2011 and as Sophomore Class President in 2011-2012. She was a founding sister of Sigma Alpha, a CA at Lakeside from 2011-2012, a member of the AG Business Club, Collegiate 4-H and the Cattlemen’s Association. Returning to campus is always a trip down memory lane for Runyon. The last time she visited campus was in 2015 and the front of campus had changed. “The new administrative building that was all under construction while I was a student looked beautiful,” Runyon said.
Thanks to her time at ABAC and her childhood connected to livestock, Runyon has made a name for herself in livestock showing and event managing. “ABAC helped to lay the foundation for not only my college career but also my professional career. I truly enjoyed my time at ABAC and will forever be grateful that I made the choice to start my college experience there,” Runyon said. “It was more than a school – it was a family.”

Written by: TeeKayy King, Office of College Advancement Intern
Upcoming Events
12/12/19: SANR Graduation Breakfast
12/12/19: ABAC Graduation
1/7/20: First Day of Classes - Spring 2020
1/24/20: SANR Mural Unveiling & Fundraiser
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!