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Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame inducts three

By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

Robert Lowrey, the late Brooks Pennington Jr. and Garland Thompson were named to the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame Sept. 5 in Athens, Ga.

Since 1972, the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has recognized Georgians who have extraordinarily contributed to agriculture by inducting them into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The Hall includes Georgia governors, lawyers, farmers, bankers, educators and others. Their portraits are displayed in the CAES Activity Center on the UGA campus in Athens, Ga.

Robert Lowrey

Lowrey grew up in Floyd County, Ga. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in animal science from UGA and a Ph.D. in animal nutrition from Cornell University.

After working with the Atomic Energy Agricultural Research Lab in Oak Ridge, Tenn., he returned to UGA as an animal science researcher on a team studying beef cattle nutrition. The team's efforts led to the release of Coastcross-1 Bermuda grass.

Lowrey was highly regarded by his more than 3,000 students. He received many teaching awards, including the D.W. Brooks and Josiah Meigs awards. More than 50 of his former students work for the UGA Extension Service. Many more are successful vocational agriculture teachers, farmers and leaders.

Since Lowrey retired in 1999, an endowed scholarship in his name has attracted more than $37,000 in contributions, an indication of the high esteem in which his students, colleagues, friends and family hold him.

Brooks Pennington, Jr.

Pennington dedicated his life to building Pennington Seed, Inc., one of the most successful agribusinesses in the nation, which was founded by his father.

He studied agricultural engineering and agronomy at UGA and put his knowledge to work at his family business. His textbook, "Seeds and Planting in the South," is a standard for many Southern colleges of agriculture.

The chair of President Jimmy Carter's first campaign for governor, he was also Carter's presidential campaign agricultural coordinator in 1976.

Pennington served in both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly. For eight years he chaired the Georgia Senate agriculture and natural resources committee.

He donated his political pay to the Brooks Pennington Sr. Scholarship Fund. This fund has enabled more than 30 students to attend college. Seven years after his death, Pennington is still touching students' lives through his scholarship fund.

Garland Thompson

Thompson is an agricultural banker and avid soil conservationist. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he earned degrees from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and UGA.

At the Trust Company Bank of Coffee County, he pioneered banking services now offered in banks across Georgia.

Thompson is a member and past chairman of the Georgia Bankers Association Agriculture Committee, which informs bankers on community, economic and agribusiness development issues.

While chairing the Southeast Georgia Area Planning and Development Commission, Thompson helped establish a $4 million ethanol fuels distillery that bought wheat and corn from local farmers.

His efforts also led the expansion of a jet aircraft engine component manufacturer that created 300 new jobs, a $10 million Coats and Clark yarn plant (250 jobs) and Joseph Campbell Company's purchase of Douglas Foods (700 jobs).

He has been a district soil-and-water supervisor for almost 30 years, and in 1977, Gov. George Busbee appointed him to the State Soil Conservation Committee, which finds ways to develop land without harming the environment. He was reappointed by Governors Joe Frank Harris and Zell Miller and named chairman by Roy Barnes.

In 1982, Thompson was named Man of the Year in Service to Georgia by Progressive Farmer magazine for his solid, lifelong support of agriculture and agricultural research and extension in Georgia.

To learn more about the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame, see the Hall of Fame Web site (interests.caes.uga.edu/aghalloffame/).

(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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