University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead and other UGA administrators celebrated the opening of the 2016 Sunbelt Agricultural Expo by visiting the trade show Oct. 18 in Moultrie, Georgia.
This is the fourth consecutive year that Morehead has taken part in the Expo festivities since becoming president of UGA in 2013. As he has in previous years, Morehead toured the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences building at Spence Field, where he spoke with student ambassadors and visited with key agricultural leaders in Georgia.
“I always enjoy returning to south Georgia for this exciting event and seeing first-hand the critical role that the University of Georgia plays in supporting the state of Georgia’s agriculture industry,” Morehead said. “Coming to Sunbelt is a highlight of mine every year, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to show support for our wonderful College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.”
Expo visitors to UGA’s exhibit this year will learn about experiential learning at the agricultural and environmental sciences college. As part of a new UGA graduate requirement that went into effect this fall, all undergraduate and transfer students in the college must engage in hands-on, experiential learning within a domestic or global setting. These opportunities could be internship courses, research courses or study abroad courses. CAES Dean Sam Pardue said Sunbelt is a valuable opportunity to showcase the experiential learning aspect to students in the Southeast.
“Our students tell us that one of the most valuable aspects of their education in the college is the hands-on learning experience they gain,” Pardue said. “Our students are in such high demand by the industry because they enter the workforce prepared to go to work. They not only have a world-class education, but they have some real-world work experience under their belts.”
Expo visitors will also learn more about the agricultural and environmental sciences college and its campuses in Athens, Griffin and Tifton. Prospective students are interacting with student ambassadors and learning about the college from academic recruiters.
“Having the opportunity to be part of the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo is an honor that we at UGA do not take lightly,” said Breanna Coursey, a student recruiter at UGA’s Tifton campus. “With as many as 80,000 visitors who care about agriculture coming to the event this week, this is a prime opportunity to inform students and their parents about receiving an education at the state’s land-grant institution.”
Visitors at Sunbelt will also be able to learn about key research being conducted at the 600-acre working research farm on site. UGA scientists scheduled to speak this week include Gary Burtle, John Bernard, Paula Burke, Justin Fowler, Claudia Dunkley, Lawton Stewart, Lee Jones, Dennis Hancock, Stanley Culpepper and Glen Harris.
UGA’s expertise during the three-day event is vital to the show’s success, according to Chip Blalock, executive director of the Sunbelt Expo.
“Having UGA’s scientists here this week to discuss agriculture-related topics like aquaponics, beef cattle management, forages and harvesting of row crops, which are vital to the growth of agriculture in this state, is a great part of the Sunbelt Expo. Anybody who attends this week can learn from the best researchers in agriculture,” Blalock said. “Want to know why agriculture is Georgia’s top industry? It’s because of world-renowned research, like what’s conducted every year here at Sunbelt.”
Also present in the UGA CAES building are UGA Cooperative Extension agents, who will be available to answer questions visitors have about the three focus areas in Extension: agricultural and natural resources, family and consumer sciences and 4-H.
“UGA Extension’s presence at the Sunbelt Expo is an important part of our mission every year. We reach more than two million Georgians through our education programs annually. Many of those educational opportunities come during this week,” said Laura Perry Johnson, director of UGA Extension. “Besides offering ag-related information, our agents are teaching children about 4-H and informing parents about child development and proper nutrition. This week is a great time for our agents to educate their respective audiences.”
For more information about UGA Extension, visit extension.uga.edu.
The Sunbelt Expo will continue Oct. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Oct. 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)