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First 'Outstanding Ag Economist' winners announced

By Cat Holmes
University of Georgia

David McElyea, Randy Nuckolls and John Hayes garnered the first Outstanding Agricultural Economist Awards during the J.W. Fanning Lecture and Awards Luncheon Nov. 11 in Athens, Ga.

The awards, sponsored by the Agricultural Economics Association of Georgia, recognize agricultural economists who have shown outstanding achievement and leadership.

McElyea and Nuckolls each won the Distinguished Professional Award.

"Both candidates were so exceptional that we decided each deserved the award," said Fred White, head of the University of Georgia agricultural and applied economics department.

McElyea is the vice president of global financial services information management at American Express. He was responsible for re-engineering the company's risk management systems worldwide.

He pioneered the use of statistical models and economic logic. When McElyea started work at American Express, the company had no other applied economists on staff. He persuaded the company to hire four of his former UGA classmates.

This core group modeled economic decisions for American Express that resulted in annual savings of more than $100 million. The company now employs 400 financial and corporate planning and marketing professionals.

In 1992, McElyea received the Smithsonian Computer Science Award.

Nuckolls is the managing partner of the Washington, D.C., law firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge. He served as legislative counsel for Georgia Senator Herman Talmadge and chief counsel and legislative director for Georgia Senator Sam Nunn before turning to private practice.

Today, with expertise in higher education, agriculture, environmental issues and natural resource policy issues, Nuckolls serves as general counsel or Washington counsel for a number of corporations, trade associations and nonprofit organizations.

The distinguished young professional award went to Hayes, a territory manager for John Deere. Hayes counsels dealers on sales programs, inventory management, business and development planning and retail sales promotion.

Hayes won the 2000 John Deere Leader's Circle Award given to top territory field teams in the company.

Paul A. Drazek presented the 19th Annual J.W. Fanning Lecture, "Trade Negotiations and Agriculture: What Can Georgia Farmers Expect?"

Drazek is an agricultural trade policy specialist and former special assistant for international affairs to the U.S. secretary of agriculture.

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

(Cat Holmes was a science writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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