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Georgia Museum of Agriculture Icon Still Working at Age of 100

February 2, 2017

Not many people can honestly say they are an icon.  But that is exactly what Ferol Cosper is at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.  She celebrated her 100th birthday on Oct. 21 and her 40th anniversary of working at the Museum this past July.

“The highlight of my life is working,” said Cosper.  “I plan on working until I can either no longer drive or see.”

Cosper’s family and Museum staff members threw her a party to commemorate her 100 years. And Garrett Boone, Director of the Museum, had a special gift for her.

“Garrett always jokes with me that he is going to hang an airplane in the atrium and put me in it so I can wave at the guests,” Cosper revealed.  “So for my birthday he gave me a mini-remote control airplane.”

Boone added, “We haven’t been able to get her a full size airplane yet, and she won’t be able to fit in this one but I wanted her to have an airplane for her birthday.”

In her 40 years of service to the Museum, Cosper has interacted with close to a million visitors, many of those children. She has also made a huge impact on generations of children, who later bring their children or grandchildren in to see her.

Cosper has worked at the Museum since its first year in 1976 when it was called the Agrirama. She began work at the Agrirama two weeks before the doors opened on July 4, 1976. She needed a job and saw an ad specifically promoting positions for seniors.

“My nephew, Ford Spinks, started the Agrirama,” Cosper said.  “When I put my application in I didn’t tell them that we were related or use him as a reference.  He didn’t even know I was working here until months later.”

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter gave the keynote address the day the Agrirama opened and since then, Cosper has had the pleasure of meeting both Mrs. Carter and President Jimmy Carter on a number of occasions at the Museum. In fact, President Carter was in the audience when Cosper played the piano at the funeral service for Spinks earlier this year.

Cosper says that her favorite part of the job is working with the children that come to the Museum on school trips or with their families.

“I love the children,” said Cosper.  “When I would teach them about housework in the 1800s, they always found beating the dust out of the feathered mattress the strangest and most interesting thing.”

And those children include the students of ABAC.

“I like to try and brighten their day,” said Cosper.

And help them when she can.

“There was a student who came in with an empty milk bucket,” Cosper said.  “He told me he couldn’t get any milk from the cow he was working with.  I asked him to show me how he was milking the cow and then showed him the best way to do it – there’s always a trick to doing something right.  A few minutes later he came in with a full bucket.”

Born in the nearby Excelsior Community, Cosper remembers plowing fields with her father as a little girl because all her brothers were out of the house.

“There was no one else to help,” said Cosper. “I would drive the mule behind my father and plant the crops.”

Coincidentally, her great-grandson took on the same task as a volunteer at the Museum as a teenager.  And her great-granddaughter worked in the Museum’s print shop for a few years, also volunteering her time.

Cosper’s prowess for agriculture snagged her a marriage proposal.

“My husband, Glen, saw me working in the cotton fields and said that I was the type of girl he wanted to marry because I could make him money,” said Cosper with a smile.

The Cospers were married for 51 years, another significant milestone in her rich, full life.  Glen passed away in 1985.

Prior to working at the Museum, she and Glen were sharecroppers and owners of a general store. Cosper also spent 50 years teaching piano and still plays on occasion.

“I have been very blessed that I don’t have arthritis in my hands and can still play,” said Cosper.

And every so often she will come across a former piano pupil at the Museum.

“I had a gentleman come in the other day who told me I had taught him piano,” said Cosper.  “I am always pleasantly surprised when that happens.”

Although she never graduated from high school, Cosper is the consummate learner, much like her father who she described as a “self-educator.”

When not reading, she enjoys playing the piano at Salem Baptist Church and spending time with her family, including her two children, seven grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.

Visitors to the Museum are always amazed at the stories Cosper shares with them but to her she is just telling it like it was. After all, she has experienced 100 years of history and loves to talk about it.
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