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Camp Hand receives Extension cotton specialist award

University of Georgia Extension Cotton Agronomist Camp Hand is named the 2024 Beltwide Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Fort Worth, Texas.

Shelley E. Huguley

January 4, 2024

3 Min Read
Camp Hand Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year
Camp Hand, University of Georgia Extension cotton agronomist, center, is named the 2024 Beltwide Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year. He is flanked by Extension cotton specialists Hunter Frame, Virgina Tech, and Steve Brown, Auburn University.Shelley E, Huguley

Camp Hand, University of Georgia cotton agronomist and associate professor, Tifton, Ga., was recognized by his peers as the 2024 Beltwide Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Fort Worth, Texas. Hand is the 35th honoree of this award.

“We’ve got a tight-knit group with the cotton Extension specialists,” Hand told Farm Press after being recognized. “In this group, we vote on each other to win this award, so for them to think I’ve done such a good job, that’s really what makes it special.”

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Hand completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in horticultural sciences at Auburn University and his doctorate in crop and soil science at the University of Georgia.

While Hand began in soybeans, it was a rotation as a graduate student worker that began to shift his focus towards cotton. “We did work on the Old Rotation at Auburn, the oldest continuous cotton study in the world. So, I got to fertilize that on my own. My boss, Dr. Delaney, entrusted me enough to do that.

“That was the start of it, being able to see that—fertilize it at the beginning of the year and then harvest it at the end.”

But his love for cotton began as a boy accompanying his father, John Hand, down turnrows and dirt roads checking crops for Bayer Crop Science. “That was really the start of it, riding with my dad and then it led to other stuff like working in grad school.”

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Hand cites the variability of his job as an aspect he enjoys most. “It’s something different every day, every year. But at the end of the day, it’s the people that I get to work with that makes it so rewarding. I get to talk with Georgia producers about their issues and potentially try to find solutions.”

Steve Brown, Auburn University Extension cotton agronomist and a previous Beltwide Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year recipient, presented Hand the award. “I count it a great privilege to introduce him,” he told the crowd, noting his various contributions to the industry. “He is wise beyond his age and yet quite youthful.”

The award is sponsored by Bayer Crop Science. “Bayer and our Deltapine brand have a close connection with the Extension Cotton Specialist organization,” says Dave Albers, Bayer Crop Science product development manager, referring to field tests and other projects. “We’re excited about being involved with this Cotton Specialist of the Year. It’s a great opportunity to recognize a specialist who’s made a strong contribution to their state and broader to their region.”

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Albers, formerly a cotton specialist, has worked directly with Hand. “He’s in Georgia, the second largest cotton state in the U.S. and that state certainly has its challenges --a lot of Coastal Plains sands, irrigated and dryland. There are a lot of soils there that if growers don’t plant cotton, there aren’t a lot of other good row crop options. So, for him to step into that role, fresh out of grad school, and take the bull by the horns, per se, speaks a lot for him.”

Eric Best, Deltapine cotton product manager, noted the specialists’ history and the importance of mentoring. “When I look through this list of who has received this award in the past, there’s some folks that I consider great mentors like Tom Kerby, Tom Burch,” he told the crowd. “You guys have a great opportunity to mentor so many folks that are going to the be the future in the cotton industry. Besides what you do for the growers, making right decisions for production, that mentoring role is important as you think about your career.”

Past recipients of the Beltwide Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year award are as follows: 

  • J.C. Banks 

  • Tom Barber 

  • Randy Boman 

  • Claude Bonner 

  • Steve Brown 

  • Tom Burch 

  • Charles Burmester 

  • Seth Byrd 

  • Guy Collins 

  • Johnny Crawford 

  • Darrin Dodds

  • Stewart Duncan 

  • Keith Edmisten 

  • Dan Fromme 

  • Lawrence Harvey 

  • Bob Hutmacher 

  • Andrea Jones 

  • Mike Jones 

  • Tom Kerby 

  • Robert Lemon 

  • Chris Main 

  • Jim Maitland 

  • Will McCarty 

  • Bob Metzer 

  • Murilo Maeda

  • Dale Monks 

  • Gaylon Morgan 

  • Randy Norton 

  • Bobby Phipps 

  • Tyson Raper 

  • Bill Robertson 

  • Paulus Shelby 

  • James Supak 

  • David Wright

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About the Author(s)

Shelley E. Huguley

Editor, Southwest Farm Press

Shelley Huguley has been involved in agriculture for the last 25 years. She began her career in agricultural communications at the Texas Forest Service West Texas Nursery in Lubbock, where she developed and produced the Windbreak Quarterly, a newspaper about windbreak trees and their benefit to wildlife, production agriculture and livestock operations. While with the Forest Service she also served as an information officer and team leader on fires during the 1998 fire season and later produced the Firebrands newsletter that was distributed quarterly throughout Texas to Volunteer Fire Departments. Her most personal involvement in agriculture also came in 1998, when she married the love of her life and cotton farmer Preston Huguley of Olton, Texas. As a farmwife, she knows first-hand the ups and downs of farming, the endless decisions made each season based on “if” it rains, “if” the drought continues, “if” the market holds. She is the bookkeeper for their family farming operation and cherishes moments on the farm such as taking harvest meals to the field or starting a sprinkler in the summer with the whole family lending a hand. Shelley has also freelanced for agricultural companies such as Olton CO-OP Gin, producing the newsletter Cotton Connections while also designing marketing materials to promote the gin. She has published articles in agricultural publications such as Southwest Farm Press while also volunteering her marketing and writing skills to non-profit organizations such as Refuge Services, an equine-assisted therapy group in Lubbock. She and her husband reside in Olton with their three children Breely, Brennon and HalleeKate.

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