Georgia Grazing School - 2012
It is with a sad heart that I must inform you that we’ve had to cancel the 2012 Grazing School in Tifton.
Unfortunately, we have been forced to cancel this program as a result of poor registrations. Based on current registrations, conducting this meeting would cause us to take on a financial loss in excess of $1500, even after registration fees and sponsorships/exhibitor fees were included toward our balance. I am uncomfortable asking our sponsors/exhibitors to provide additional sponsorship to bridge this gap, especially since the turnout appears to be meager.
Changes for Future Efforts
As I see it, we had several factors working against us:
1) The timing of rainfall and the advanced progress of many crops has kept a lot of producers who would normally be available at this time of the year from being available this year.
2) We have conducted the introductory Grazing School program each year for the past 5 years. The content of this program, being introductory in scope, has essentially been the same during this time. We have seriously considered alternating each year between an Advanced Grazing School (1-day of intense discussion on specific area) and the original, introductory Grazing School curriculum. My gut instinct was that this year would be the year to start that rotation with the Advanced GS in Tifton in 2012, the introductory GS in Athens in 2013, etc. But, I didn't "go with my gut." In hindsight, we should have.
3) The Grazing School is a program that requires a tremendous amount of legwork ahead of the event. To pull this off, I need a LOT of help. In the past, I have depended upon technical assistance from my staff. However, with the retirement of my program’s technician, I am incapable of conducting my job’s routine efforts and produce the Grazing School a site that is so far from Tifton. Though I thought I could pull it off, I just cannot do it. If the meeting had been in Athens where I have students that can chip in to help, I may have been able to get this done. Even as supportive as my colleagues in Tifton are to this effort, there just isn’t any way to do it this year.
4) Conducting this meeting in Tifton would require more funding for travel to set up the demonstrations and to make other arrangements there. Whether it is setting up grazing demonstrations, fencing/cattle movement, setting up meals and snacks, or what have you, it takes a lot of time and/or money. In the end, the additional costs played a major role (perhaps, THE major role) in our low registrations.
Though hindsight is 20:20, we didn't anticipate these issues. I sincerely apologize that our best wasn’t good enough and that we don’t have the funding to absorb the loss.
We are already discussing how we should alter this program in the future. We are planning changes in our curriculum, scheduling, locations, etc. Though it is too early to announce when we will reschedule, know that we will plan another Grazing School soon and it will be stronger and more popular than ever before.
Thank you for patience and understanding. This is one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in professional career. The Grazing School is my favorite program.
Dr. Dennis Hancock, State Forage Extension Specialist (UGA)