The Howard Family
Alumnus Ken Howard (BSA – Dairy Science, ’72) wanted his four children to have the same opportunities that he did.
While pursuing his University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences degree, he became involved in CAES activities. He served on Ag Hill Council and as UGA Dairy Science Club president. He also met his wife, Mona (Rogers) Howard, while at UGA. After graduation, he returned to work on his family’s Morgan County, Georgia, dairy operation. In 1979, the Howards were named the Georgia Farm Bureau Family and winners of the American Farm Bureau Family Achievement Award.
Ken Howard talked with his children about his experiences at UGA, but his intention was never to push them to follow in his footsteps. “I didn’t give it much thought,” he said of the idea of creating a legacy. “But it’s something I’m very proud of now.”
All of the Howard children attended UGA to obtain a CAES degree. Jason Howard, the oldest child, left the university to pursue his own agriculture-related business opportunity. He is currently growing a beef herd, and relies heavily on the services provided by UGA Cooperative Extension.
The Howards’ oldest daughter, Megan (Howard) Morris (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’00), said she only applied to UGA. She remembers interacting with CAES professors and staff at Georgia 4-H, FFA and other events.
“I had developed a relationship with people from UGA, so it never crossed my mind to go anywhere else,” she said.
During her time at UGA, Morris was a CAES Ambassador, student volunteer with the CAES Alumni Association and president of Ag Hill Council. She graduated 17 years ago, but stays involved with the college. She served as president of the CAES Alumni Association board in 2012 and still volunteers with the college, often through the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry program. Now the director of development and community relations at Morgan Memorial Hospital in Madison, Georgia, she is married to another UGA graduate, Jeb Morris, and they are raising two sons who have started their careers in 4-H.
“The college did so much for me and helped make me who I am now, it’s only fitting that I give back beyond a monetary perspective,” Megan Morris said.
Megan Morris was a senior when she introduced her middle sister, Emily (Howard) Watson (BSA – Agribusiness, ’02), to student life at the university and involvement in CAES. Watson participated in Ag Hill Council, Block and Bridle Club, Ag Econ Club and AGHON; acted as a CAES Ambassador like her older sister; and was chosen for a CAES Congressional Agricultural Fellowship. She interned in the office of then-Rep. Jack Kingston. After graduating early, she served as a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“My education from CAES was well rounded, and I felt capable of accepting the challenges that I faced as I began my career in D.C.,” Watson said.
Emily Watson met her future husband, Sam Watson (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’02), while on campus. They live in Colquitt County, Georgia, where they’re involved in vegetable and beef cattle production and are raising their two daughters, who are already showing livestock through 4-H. She is the director of marketing at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, Georgia, and a member of the Georgia Agricultural Expo Authority. Rep. Sam Watson is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives and the chairman of the Legislative Rural Caucus.
The youngest daughter of the Howards, Marilynn (Howard) Hopkins (BSA – Agribusiness, ’05), remembers hearing about her family’s experiences in CAES and followed suit. During the summers after her junior and senior years of high school, Hopkins interned with CAES through the Young Scholars Program, an internship that also took her to rural Costa Rica.
She met her husband, Chris Hopkins (BSA - Crop Science, ’02; MPPPM – Plant Protection and Pest Management, ’04), while they were both CAES students. He was familiar with the Howard family and impressed his future father-in-law early on.
“Our first date was at the Georgia Young Farmers Association convention,” Marilynn Hopkins said. She recalled her father happily approving the date locale.
Both Chris and Marilynn Hopkins were involved in the Agronomy and Ag Econ clubs, and other organizations. Chris Hopkins said the academic courses along with the agricultural clubs shaped Marilynn Hopkins and him into who they are now.
“Students have no idea what kind of knowledge they can gain even if all they want to do is return home and farm,” he said.
Marilynn Hopkins now works for Altamaha Electric Membership Corporation, and Chris Hopkins is the store manager of Lasseter Equipment in Lyons, Georgia. They grow peanuts, corn, cotton and watermelons on their farm in Toombs County, Georgia, where they’re also raising their two sons. The couple endowed the Chris and Marilynn Hopkins College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Scholarship. They want to further their legacy while providing students opportunities for similar CAES experiences.
By April Bailey