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UGA CAES Alumni Association honors outstanding graduates and their careers By Merritt Melancon

Farmers, advocates, entrepreneurs and educators topped this year’s list of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association’s best and brightest alumni.

“We are excited about the 2017 honorees,” said Joel McKie, 2017 president of the CAES Alumni Association. “We are proud of their exceptional contributions and representation of our association.”

The association presented the 2017 awards at a banquet held on Sept. 22 at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia.

In addition to the alumni awards, the association also inducted former Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Wayne Shackelford and pioneering poultry businessman Bill Baisley into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame.

To find out more about these new inductees, visit tinyurl.com/GAaghalloffame2017.

This year’s Alumni Awards of Excellence went to three CAES alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen fields or in their communities. This year’s winners include:

Keith Kelly, owner of Farmview Market in Madison, Georgia

Kelly, who graduated in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics, recently launched Farmview Market on U.S. Highway 441, south of Madison, Georgia. He built his career around supplying farmers with the tools they need.

His company, Kelly Products, provides farmers with specialty plant protection chemicals and developed chemical registration software for state agricultural and environmental oversight agencies nationwide.

In 1998, Kelly purchased the right to manufacture and distribute all Sevin insecticide products nationwide for home and garden uses. 

In 2005, Kelly purchased the 4,000-acre Rock House Farm in Leesburg, Georgia. The farm produces cattle, hogs, sweet corn and row crops. In 2016, Kelly expanded Rock House Farm to Morgan County, Georgia, where he established a dairy and creamery. Kelly’s latest venture, Farmview Market, is a combination butcher shop, farmers market and local gourmet shop. 

D.J. Sheppard, recruitment and retention coordinator for Georgia FFA and Georgia Agricultural Education programs

D.J. Sheppard, who graduated in 1975 with bachelor’s degrees in animal science and agricultural education, worked in agricultural education classrooms in Georgia for 42 years and has impacted the lives of thousands of young people.

During his years in the classroom, he sought to leave each student with a well-developed sense of responsibility and a better understanding of how farmers work in concert with nature to feed the world.

Sheppard now serves as the recruitment and retention coordinator for Georgia FFA and Georgia Agricultural Education programs and helps new agriculture teachers settle into their positions.

Jimmy Hill, retired Georgia Power engineer

Jimmy Hill, who received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from CAES in 1971, worked for Georgia Power for 30 years. He focused on promoting the energy efficiency of heat pump systems to Georgians. He also worked with Vidalia onion farmers to develop controlled-atmosphere storage systems and served as the first chairman of the Georgia Food Processing Advisory Council.

Hill is known by his friends and colleagues as an innovative problem solver and a passionate advocate for Georgia agriculture and farmers.

Today, Hill works with faculty in CAES and the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences on the AgrAbility program, which enables farmers with disabilities to continue to farm. 

The alumni association also honored three young alumni with its CAES Young Alumni Achievement Awards. These awards recognize CAES alumni under 35 who have achieved excellence in their chosen fields or in their communities. The 2017 award winners include:

Matt Coley, co-owner and manager of Coley Farms

Coley, who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics in 2003 and his master’s degree in agricultural economics in 2005, works with his father to run Coley Farms, the family’s Vienna, Georgia-based agribusiness.

In addition to farming 3,400 acres of cotton and 300 acres of peanuts, the family operates Coley Gin and Fertilizer. Georgia Trend magazine recognized Matt Coley as one of 25 “movers and shakers” in Georgia agribusiness.

Trey Cutts III, assistant professor and Cooperative Extension System specialist at Auburn University

Trey Cutts, who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in turfgrass management in 2007 and his master’s degree in crop and soil sciences in 2010, provides agronomic solutions to regional Extension agents through research and programming.

After receiving his doctoral degree in plant breeding from Texas A&M University, Cutts worked with several international plant breeding institutions before returning to the Southeast U.S. to work for Auburn University.

Farrah Hegwood Newberry, executive director for Georgia Milk Producers

Farrah Newberry, who graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication, is the executive director for Georgia Milk Producers, an organization that educates dairy farmers and governing officials on issues affecting Georgia’s dairy industry.

In her 17 years with Georgia Milk Producers, Newberry has guided the organization through monumental industry shifts and provided direct help to the state’s dairy farmers. She considers these to be her greatest professional accomplishments to date.

Tracey Troutman, outreach and recruitment branch chief for the Office of Outreach, Diversity and Equal Opportunity within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service

Tracey D. Troutman, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in avian biology in 2007 and her master’s degree in agricultural leadership in 2008, serves as outreach and recruitment branch chief for the Office of Outreach, Diversity and Equal Opportunity within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Troutman leads ARS’s outreach and recruitment initiatives, which include student employment and partnerships to recruit and retain the most talented students. She makes a point to be mindfully inclusive of traditionally underserved and underrepresented populations. Troutman made strides toward meeting USDA’s recruitment goals by establishing the department’s student intern workshop, tripling the size of student programs 0014 under her direction. 3A23

For more information about how CAES alumni shape the world, visit alumni.caes.uga.edu

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

AlumniAwards2017
AlumniAwards2017

UGA CAES Alumni Association 2017 award winners D.J. Shepherd, Jimmy Hill, Trey Cutts, Tracy Troutman, Farrah Hegwood Newberry, Matt Coley and Keith Kelly celebrated at the CAES Alumni Association banquet.

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UGA CAES Alumni Association 2017 award winners D.J. Shepherd, Jimmy Hill, Trey Cutts, Tracy Troutman, Farrah Hegwood Newberry, Matt Coley and Keith Kelly celebrated at the CAES Alumni Association banquet. Download Image
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