After spending two years learning about Georgia's largest industry and developing leadership skills, the inaugural class of Advancing Georgia's Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry has graduated from the program.
University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty launched Advancing Georgia's Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry, or AGL, in 2012. The program is designed to educate and empower Georgia's agricultural and natural resource industry leaders to become effective advocates for the largest economic drivers in Georgia—the state's agricultural and forestry industries.
Thirteen industry leaders spent the last two years touring farms and processing plants, traveling throughout the state and across the nation. They also spent two weeks in India learning about Georgia agriculture's role in the global economy.
"This class has shared in a journey that has covered many counties in Georgia, multiple states and a foreign country," said Elliot Marsh, a precision agriculture coordinator at Southern States Cooperative and the AGL advisory board chairman. "These graduates are already making an impact in our communities and the state of Georgia. I believe that their experiences will play a tremendous role in Georgia's agriculture community for many years to come."
AGL program participants are from all segments of the state's agriculture and forestry industries.
"My experience with AGL made me a better leader and citizen," said AGL graduate Mark Risse, the UGA Georgia Power Professor of Water Resources and director of the UGA Marine Extension Service. "I met hundreds of leaders across Georgia, and my interactions with them taught me that leadership comes in many forms. The experiences that I had, the people that I met and what I learned about myself put me in a better position to accomplish my goals as well as to advocate for those things that I think are important."
The AGL program is coordinated by faculty in the college's department of agricultural leadership, education and communication.
"Adult non-formal educational opportunities sponsored by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences like AGL are helping Georgia become a top agricultural state in the nation and world," said Kay Kelsey, head of the department of agricultural leadership, education and communication. "It's an experience that will be a game changer for participants."
Graduates of the first AGL class include Risse; Brent Allen, UGA Extension in Washington County; Brandon Ashley, Georgia Farm Bureau Federation; Sarah Cook, Center of Innovation for Agribusiness; Steven Gibson, CAES Business Office; Jennifer Harris, White Oak Pastures; Jutt Howard, North Georgia Turf; Jesse Johnson, Southern Land Exchange; Duane Myers, Kroger; Tate Izlar O'Rouke, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson's Office; Amanda Tedrow, UGA Extension in Clarke County; Rebecca Thomas, UGA Extension in Chattooga County; and Derick Wooten, Rocky Hammock Farms.