Graduation/Summer Semester 2019 |Volume 3
Our Dean's Update
Spring graduation was a very special one for the school and ABAC. Not only did SANR graduate 130 students (452 total for the college – 382 at the Tifton campus) but also this graduating class included our first cohort of 26 BS in Agricultural Education students! We held a special pinning ceremony for these students the evening before graduation where each student received a special ABAC Agricultural Education lapel pin. This was a great evening to celebrate the students and the accomplishments of the program with their parents, cooperating teachers, the State and Regional Agricultural Education staff, ABAC administration and faculty. At commencement, these students graduated as a cohort and were the first to walk across the stage to receive their diploma along with a special engraved school bell. This was a great cohort of students who have set the bar high for all future agricultural education students! I am very proud of the hard work by these students and the faculty of our Education Department to make this happen.
 
Construction of our new greenhouse is nearly complete! We are planning on a dedication and ribbon cutting at the start of the fall semester - please look for this announcement. Thanks again to the former and current State Agricultural Education staff, GA Department of Education (construction bond grant), and ABAC administration for making this happen. I know our faculty and students are anxious to use it for classes and, of course, for the annual plant sale!
 
This semester, we were privileged to have great corporate partners, who supported our farm, beef unit, and golf course; which in turn, supported our students through hands-on learning experiences. A new corporate partner for us is Remlinger Manufacturing Company, who donated a grain drill and a rolling finisher harrow. Long-time corporate partner, Kelly Manufacturing Company (KMC), has upgraded our tillage equipment by donating a new rip strip. Kubota Tractor Corporation continues to provide a one-year loan of a tractor, baler, and hay tedder. Both Yon Family Farms and Deer Valley Farms continue to provide an Angus bull for the beef unit’s use. Another new partner is The Grasshopper Company, who provided Forest Lakes Golf Club with a long-term loan of a new zero-turn mower with a power vacuum collection system, aerator, and edger attachments. I know I probably forgot someone, which I apologize, but this gives you some examples of the industry support we have. We really appreciate everyone’s generosity and support of our programs! We are always looking for new partners for our programs. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you or someone you know would be interested
 
These are just a few highlights of the many things happening in the School! We look forward to a great summer! Please stop by and see us when you are in the area! 
 
Sincerely,
Dr. Mark Kistler
Dean
Remlinger Manufacturing
Kubota
Kelly Manufacturing Company
Department of Agriculture
Anyone with investments has probably read or has been told, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Based on my experience with monetary investments, truer words have never been spoken. But when it comes to my experience with ABAC agricultural students, past performance is a good indicator of future results. In the eight years I have served here at ABAC, I have had the pleasure of attending 17 graduation ceremonies. After each graduation outstanding graduates leave ABAC and start contributing to their communities. 

A big part of our student’s success is their participation in internships. All agricultural degrees at ABAC require students to complete a minimum of one internship and two internships are highly recommended. Last year there were 132 agricultural students taking part in for-credit internships. This summer there are 173 students representing themselves and ABAC, not only across Georgia, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, but across large parts of the country. 

We’ve all seen the bumper stickers on people’s vehicles declaring they are proud parents of an honor student or other such accolades bestowed on their children. Similarly, I am a proud teacher of ABAC Ag Students. Parents often quote statistics about their children. My child did this or my child did that. As a proud teacher, I can brag that our ABAC Ag Students secured 173 internship positions this summer. It will be three months before we have feedback on this year’s crop of ABAC Interns but last year’s proud teacher moments are worth celebrating.

  • 92% of employers gave our students an overall grade of “A” on their internships.
  • 98% of employers indicated our students were qualified for full-time employment upon graduation.
  • 95% of employers indicated our students were either positive or very enthusiastic about their work.
  • 80% of employers indicated our students were able to work without supervision.
  • 84% of employers indicated our students react very quickly to new situations.

As a parent, your children often behave better when they are away from you than when they are at home. This can leave you surprised by what your friends say about your children. The same can be said for some of our students. Just look at what employers had to say about some of our students:

  • Shows up every day with a smile on his face and willing to learn.
  • He has done a great job this summer. He has a positive attitude and learns quickly.
  • A great addition to our service team this summer. We have had some extensive repair projects, that he has been able to jump right in with. He is always prompt, arriving early every morning and most days staying late to finish projects up.
  • A hard-worker who always has a smile on her face, even in the 90+ degree heat.
  • Ready to go from the moment she stepped onto the farm. Outspoken and willing to learn everything related to the tasks.
  • Excellent attitude, go getter. He always goes above and beyond to get the job done.
  • Very impressed with her work ethic. On time each and every day and with a sense of urgency to start work each day.
  •  Came in with a positive attitude every single day. She wanted to work hard and learn more.
  • Regularly completed tasks that she saw needed to be done without supervision. Very impressive.
  • I knew I could always depend on him to complete whatever task needed to be done whether it was equipment maintenance, crop planting/preparing, or any other menial job that needed to be done.
  • It is increasingly difficult to find an employee with a good work ethic. I rank our intern in the top 5% of all hourly employees who have worked with me over the past 15 years.
  • Always the first person to volunteer for more work. Always willing to work long/late hours, and do whatever it takes to finish the job.
  • Comes to work with the initiative to go ahead and get things done without having to be told what to do.
  • We work with farmers and plans always change. He easily adapts to challenges that arise and does a great job thinking through how to work around it and be productive.
  • He is willing and able to compete for a job in any agriculture workplace he chooses. I think that's the goal for the program, and he certainly achieved it.
  • She is a hard worker and dedicated employee. She showed a workplace maturity beyond her age and experience.
  • He has been a pleasure to work with. I want him back next year!
  • We have been very fortunate to have numerous participants from ABAC. Your students are always intelligent, hard-working individuals. We would love to continue the partnership.
 
Just like parents, we as educators sometimes take credit for a student’s actions and abilities when in reality they came to us with those talents and we simply smoothed away the rough edges. Nonetheless we are still very proud of our student’s accomplishments and thrilled to have had a part in shaping them.
 
Dr. Ray Smith, Department Head
Department of Education
Our 1st cohort of Agricultural Education Graduates provided us with many reasons to " ring the bell " and to celebrate their amazing accomplishments...
Mr. BH Claxton, a legend in Ag Education and an ABAC graduate, was honored and received a pin with our graduates!
Ms. Ashley Denton from Perry High School was recognized as an Outstanding Cooperating Teacher.
Ms. Shayla Johnson from Irwin County High School was recognized as an Outstanding Cooperating Teacher.
Hannah Roberts was recognized for having a perfect 4.0 throughout college!

Kristin Thomas received the Outstanding Middle School Student Teacher.
Julia Roy received the High School Owl-Standing Advisor Award. This award recognizes the student who is most involved in FFA leadership during student teaching.
James Renshaw received the Blue and Gold Leadership Award.
Samantha Wilhoite received the Middle School Owl-Standing Advisor Award. This award recognizes the student who is most involved in FFA leadership during student teaching.
Emily Dean received the Outstanding High School Student Teacher.
What a special evening...
Our 1st Agricultural Education Pinning Ceremony!
Department of Forest Resources
Spring 2019 was an awesome semester! We are extremely proud of our graduates. We are sure that they will have a positive impact on our industry for years to come!

We are also successfully hosted the Wildlife Society Southeastern Student Conclave. This conclave is one of the most active and challenging wildlife-specific competitions in the world. College and university undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States compete for three days in a variety of physical, artistic, and intellectual events.
For the first time ever, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College recently hosted this most prestigious annual competition of wildlife minds. The University of Georgia (UGA) was the overall 2019 Conclave winner with the highest scores across all competitions. Mississippi State University finished second followed by North Carolina State University, and Haywood (N.C) Community College.

A total of 21 colleges and universities, all with wildlife-related programs, competed in the Conclave, bringing 359 registrants, including student competitors and their faculty advisors, to Tifton. Eleven states were represented, ranging from Maryland to Arkansas.

Competing in the Conclave were Auburn University, Clemson University, Arkansas State University, University of Arkansas at Monticello, Arkansas Tech University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, Murray State University, Eastern Kentucky University, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech University, Frostburg State University, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, Haywood Community College, Western Carolina University, Cleveland State Community College, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee Tech University, University of Tennessee at Martin, and Virginia Tech University.

Physical events included canoeing, skeet and air rifle shooting, archery, and the exhausting but highly entertaining obstacle course, which this year included crawling through a mud pit, wading through a pond, and hoisting team members over an eight-foot-high wooden wall.

Artistic events included the annual art and photography contests, which have a variety of submission categories and a live-photography event where students have just a few hours to make a professional wildlife and/or habitat photograph.

Intellectual competitions such as team competition and quiz bowl, essentially wildlife jeopardy on steroids, challenged students’ knowledge on topics ranging from plant and animal identification and taxonomy, invasive species, history and policy, equipment, habitat and wildlife management techniques, and much more.

ABAC used the opportunity as the Conclave host to showcase its newly acquired 1,000 acre working school forest, which contained the obstacle course, archery, air rifle, and orienteering competitions. Field photography was held at the nearby Paradise Public Fishing Area, and the skeet shoot was held on nearby private property.
ABAC’s vast campus served as the host for the team competition, an event where entire school teams run to and complete 22 various stations on equally diverse topics within five minutes on a 1.7-mile route. The ABAC campus also served as the site for the fishing competition, field estimations, lab practical, museum study skin preparation of hispid cotton rats, GIS Practical, and dendrology.

Quiz Bowl was once again a major draw at the Conclave when the teams competed in a double-elimination tournament that spanned two full mornings. The event was held at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. UGA emerged as the Quiz Bowl champion followed by the University of Tennessee at Martin and Mississippi State University.

While ABAC judges graded all the events on a rigorous Saturday morning in time for the awards ceremony and banquet that night, Conclave participants enjoyed a variety of field trips and educational opportunities. Project Wild, Project Learning Tree, and farm equipment workshops were offered on the ABAC campus. 

Other participants chose field trips to the Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Broxton Rocks owned by The Nature Conservancy, Grand Bay WMA, Montezuma WMA, the Flint RiverQuarium, Cordele Fish Hatchery, and a private hunting ranch managed by Buck Country Wildlife Consulting. Each field trip and educational opportunity offered a broad view of the ecology, natural history, and management of wildlife and habitat in South Georgia.
Finally, we are thankful for our corporate and individual Conclave Sponsors! We could not have hosted such a successful event without their support!

Dr. William Moore, Department Head
Student Spotlights

Brittany Braddy, a freshman at ABAC in Agricultural Education, was selected to serve on the First Lady’s Congressional Luncheon Design Team. Brittany traveled to Washington DC in on May 9 and worked with master florists from around the country to prepare florals for the event. Brittany attended the event as a special guest of the Congressional Club.

As the youngest designer at the event, Brittany represented ABAC well. Brittany and the floral team prepared over 1100 boutonnieres, 140 center pieces, hundreds of bud vases, and other florals for the First Lady Melania Trump, Second Lady Karen Pence, and their 1400 guests. Flowers were provided by Certified American Grown growers and wholesale florists.

Brittany was enrolled in the Floral Management class at ABAC and returns with a wealth of experience to share with her fellow students. She states that, “She definitely recommends this experience should other ABAC students be invited to participate next year.”

Congratulations to Alexandra "Ali" Ikner, one of recent Agricultural Education graduates! She was selected as the J.G. Woodroof Scholar, the top academic student at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College during Spring Semester's Honors Day.

During graduation, Ali was named the winner of the ABAC Alumni Association Award which goes to the top bachelor’s degree graduate participating in the ceremony. Ikner has been on the President’s List five times while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. 
Student Clubs
Our clubs and student leaders were recognized during the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources Annual Banquet. Club officers, outgoing and incoming, and accomplishments were shared and celebrated. Special awards were presented and much more. Highlights are below...
Larry Allen Student Leadership Award Winners
Jessica Casaday from Jefferson and Matthew Cooper from Flowery Branch are the recipients of the prestigious Larry Allen Student Leadership Awards presented annually by the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. Dr. Mark Kistler, Dean of the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said recipients must exemplify the characteristics demonstrated and encouraged by Dr. Larry D. Allen, Agriculture Division Chair at ABAC from 1994 to 2005. The characteristics include solid academic performance, strong leadership skills, devotion to the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources and ABAC, and a genuine desire to make the world a better place.

Casaday is a junior pursuing the bachelor’s degree in agricultural education, and Cooper is a junior majoring in the wildlife track of the bachelor’s degree in natural resource management. Casaday has served as president of the ABAC Collegiate FFA for the past two years. She holds both state and national FFA degrees and has served as an official judge at the state and national FFA conventions. She is also a member of the Horticulture Club, where she was the reporter.

“Jessica is of the highest character,” Dr. Frank Flanders said in his recommendation. “She is a leader, a team player, and a big asset to ABAC. She is well-liked by faculty, administrators, and her fellow students.”

Cooper served as president of the ABAC Wildlife Society this year and was a key component of the ABAC team which coordinated and hosted The Wildlife Society Southeastern Student Conclave in March. The event attracted 359 registrants from 21 colleges and universities from across the nation. Cooper was also a member of the ABAC Quiz Bowl team at the Wildlife Society’s annual conference and participated in other club events such as Jake’s Day and wood duck box construction.

“Matthew has proven to be an extremely effective leader and has performed exceptionally well with all responsibilities that have been given to him,” Dr. William Moore said in his recommendation. “He is dedicated, has an outstanding work ethic, and has always taken the initiative to get the work done before even being asked.”
Jessica Cassaday
Matthew Cooper
NACTA Teaching Awards
Three faculty members in the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources have been selected as recipients of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Teaching Award of Merit for the 2018-19 academic year at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. This year’s recipients are Dr. Frank Flanders, Associate Professor of Agricultural Education; Dr. George Lowerts, Associate Professor of Forestry; and Dr. Erin Porter, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Engineering.
  
Dr. Mark Kistler, Dean of the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and department heads selected the three faculty members based on their performance during the school year.
NACTA is a professional society formed in 1955 that focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning in agriculture and related disciplines at the postsecondary level. It provides professors of agriculture a forum for discussion of questions and answers, seeks improvement of agricultural related teaching, and rewards instructional excellence in agriculture and research.
Dr. Frank Flanders
Dr. George Lowerts
Dr. Erin Porter
Alumni & Friend Spotlight - Mr. Andy Bell
We would like to recognize the 2019 Master Farmer Award winner, Mr. Andy Bell, ABAC Class of 1980. During his time at ABAC, Andy served as a student senator and was a member of the ABAC Rodeo Club. After completing his associate's degree, Andy received a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from the University of Georgia. He has been farming in Georgia for more than 40 years. Andy was raised on his family's farm and got his own start as a farmer when his grandfather gave him 50 acres of land. In 1986, Andy purchased his first tractor, and that same machine is still in operation today on his farm. At the beginning of his career, hog farming was an important part of operations. As the hog industry decreased in Georgia, Andy and his brother, Buster, began incorporating more row crops into their yearly rotation in addition to cattle operations.
Today, Andy and Buster maintain a diversified operation of row crops and cattle in and around Bainbridge, GA. They currently grow approximately 1,100 acres of cotton, 750 acres of peanuts, 150 acres of corn, 150 acres of pine timber, 15 acres of pecans and 350 acres of hay and pasture land.
Our recipient is a founding director of the grower-owned peanut shelling plant, American Peanut Growers Group, in Donalsonville, GA and he is a shareholder in Decatur Gin. He was named the Ag Man of the Year in Decatur County, and received the Georgia Young Farmers Association President’s Award. He also serves the Georgia Farm Bureau on the Peanut Commodity Committee.
Andy invests into his community by serving on the Bainbridge Decatur County Development Authority and the Ag Advisory Board at the former Bainbridge State College. He attends Sutton Chapel United Methodist Church in Bainbridge and supports local initiatives such as Relay for Life. He is also a member of the Decatur County Cattleman's Association and Georgia Peanut Commission Advisory Board.

Andy's farming philosophy is based on the premise that conversation is key. His operation takes direct steps to conserve water and energy in an effort to leave the land better than he found it. He also believes in the mission of educating young people about the processes and people who grow and supply our nation's food supply.

Upcoming Events
Summer Semester Full Term Begins May 28, 2019
Natural Resources Conservation Workshop June 9 - 13, 2019
Summer Semester Ends July 22, 2019
Summer Semester Finals July 24, 25, 26, 2019

Fall Semester Begins August 13, 2019
SANR Picnic August 19, 2019
ABAC SANR Needs Your Support...
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Phone: 229-391-4790 | Fax : 229-391-4791