University of Georgia
Two men born in the 1930s had such a powerful impact on Georgia agriculture that they were named to the Agricultural Hall of Fame at the University of Georgia on Sept. 14. They are Melvin H. Johnson, former Georgia director of agricultural education, and Wycliffe R. Griffin, former CEO of Triangle Chemical Company Inc.
As a leader in the agricultural and educational communities and state director of agricultural education in Georgia, Johnson is recognized as being the foundation for tremendous improvements in agricultural education in Georgia.
After attending Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Johnson graduated from UGA with a bachelor of science in agriculture and a master’s in agricultural education. He began teaching agricultural education at Berrien County High School in 1958. Johnson earned Berrien’s Young Teacher of the Year in 1964 and a place in the Georgia Agricultural Education Teachers Hall of Fame in 2000.
After leaving the classroom, Johnson served as director of the State FFA-FHA Center in Covington from 1979 to 1996, when he was named state director of agricultural education.
Presently, Johnson is supervisor of the Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District, representing Rabun County Senior Center; serves on the advisory board for the Rodeheaver Boy’s Ranch in Palatka, Fla.; and coordinates volunteers at the Rabun County Senior Center.
Griffin found himself on the chemical side of agriculture. After transferring from South Georgia College and graduating from UGA, Griffin joined Triangle Chemical Company, a small independent formulator of agricultural pesticides.
During the devastating drought of the 1970s, many growers struggled without irrigation. Griffin advised Triangle Chemical Company to finance the production of the SuperSeeder. Through this, Triangle Chemical received national and state awards in recognition of its contribution to soil conservation.
The accomplishment most exemplifying Griffin’s determination was his campaign to have the fungicide Folicur labeled for use on the 1994 peanut crop. John Beasley, an agronomist at UGA, estimates having Folicur for peanuts that year increased the value to the growers more than $32 million in Georgia alone.
Griffin’s other accolades include being a member and president of the Southern Crop Production Association, recipient of the Larue Award in 1984, and founder of the Georgia AcChem Association, now known as the Georgia Crop Production Alliance.
(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)