Agriculture is Georgia’s top industry, and students from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences are learning about the diversity of agriculture during a weeklong tour across the state.
Thirty-three students are spending their spring break immersing themselves in learning more about poultry, Vidalia onions, peanuts, turfgrass and many other commodities that make agriculture an almost $14 billion industry in Georgia.
“This is an amazing tour that allows students to see Georgia agriculture up close and personal. Students learn about the complexity and sophistication of Georgia agriculture,” said Josef Broder, CAES associate dean for academic affairs. “They gain a perspective and appreciation for agriculture that better prepares them for careers in and outside of agriculture.”
The tour began on Monday in north Georgia with stops to learn about apples at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia; wine at Wolf Mountain Vineyards in Dahlonega, Georgia; poultry production at the Georgia Poultry Laboratory in Gainesville, Georgia; and nursery production at James Greenhouses, a family-owned and -operated perennial plug operation in Colbert, Georgia.
On Tuesday, the tour progressed south, visiting Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia; FPL Food, a beef processing plant in Augusta, Georgia; M&T Farms, a 500-acre Vidalia onion farm in Lyons, Georgia; and the UGA Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center, also in Lyons, where research is conducted on the latest Vidalia onion varieties.
On Wednesday, the tour visited stops in south Georgia, including Premium Peanut Company in Douglas, Georgia; UGA Tifton Campus; Rutland Farms and Market, and Lewis Taylor Farms in Tifton, Georgia; and Pike Creek Turf in Adel, Georgia. The following day, students visited Lewis Taylor Farms in Tifton; the Glass Alligator Farm in Camilla, Georgia; Thrush Ag Aviation in Albany, Georgia; and The Rock Ranch in The Rock, Georgia.
The tour concludes on Friday with a visit to the UGA Griffin Campus and to the Chick-fil-A test kitchens in Atlanta.
“The trip is meant to give students a new perspective on agriculture and its diversity across the state,” said Breanna Coursey, student recruiter on the UGA Tifton Campus. “Students should value what they learn this week because it’s an educational opportunity unlike any other.”
The trip is also unique in that it offers students a chance to visit the UGA Tifton and UGA Griffin campuses, extended campuses of CAES.
“This is a great opportunity for students who have never been to our campus to see the Future Farmstead, an energy-efficient home of the future, and our dairy, for students who may have never seen a dairy cow before,” said UGA Tifton Assistant Dean Joe West. “That’s the most rewarding thing about a trip like this, it allows students to see Georgia agriculture’s broad landscape in just a week’s time.”
Christina Garner, a UGA Tifton student who was on the tour last year, values the education she received during her week traveling across Georgia.
“The tour provided many networking opportunities in the agricultural industry. These opportunities are incredibly important as graduation rapidly approaches,” Garner said. “I do not believe I will have another opportunity like the Spring Break Georgia Ag Tour.”
To learn more about the Spring Break Georgia Ag Tour from CAES students, visit blog.caes.uga.edu/georgiaagtour.
“I wish more of our students could have this experience during their college years. More than others, these students will truly understand where their food comes from,” Broder said.
[Julia Rodriguez is an intern for UGA Tifton.]
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)