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Smith, Winkler Receive Top Awards at ABAC Commencement

December 14, 2017

TIFTON—Jared Smith from Hastings, Fla., and John Winkler from Cumming received the top awards presented by the ABAC Alumni Association during the fall commencement ceremony on Thursday at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Smith, an agriculture major, was named the winner of the ABAC Alumni Association Award which goes to the top bachelor’s degree graduate participating in the ceremony, and Winkler, an animal science major, received the George P. Donaldson Award for the top associate degree graduate participating in the ceremony.

State Representative Sam Watson, an ABAC graduate from the Class of 1999, was the guest speaker at the ceremony. Watson is a Colquitt County farmer who is the managing partner for Chill C Farms and the Moultrie Melon Co. He is the State Representative for House District 172 in the Georgia House of Representatives.

“Never stop learning and don’t be afraid to take risks,” Watson said. “The single most important quality that employers are looking for is work ethic. You must prepare for the future even though you don’t know what the future looks like.”

During his time at ABAC, Smith was a member of the ABAC Ambassadors leadership organization, the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the Agribusiness Club, the AgriLife Council, the student activity fees committee, the student judiciary committee, and the Constitutional Convention committee for the Student Government Association. He was also one of three student leaders chose to represent ABAC at the 10th annual Principled Leadership Symposium at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.

The son of Jeb and Wendy Smith, Smith made the Dean’s List for three consecutive semesters. He received the B.H. and Lanell Claxton scholarship, the James Shepherd scholarship, and the Carlton Smith scholarship. His service-oriented activities as an ABAC student included Adopt-A-Mile, Hands-On Tifton, and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

“Production agriculture is my passion,” Smith said. “My goal is to continue to represent the agriculture community to the best of my ability at the local, state, and national levels. No matter what path I take, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College has prepared me to meet and exceed my goals.”

Winkler served as Chaplain for the ABAC Cattlemen’s Association and was a member of the ABAC Bass Fishing club. A HOPE Scholarship recipient, Winkler also represented ABAC by working at the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition for the past two years.

During the fall semester, Winkler volunteered his time to work at the ABAC Beef Unit, where he was involved in the feeding and care of the cattle used by many of the livestock production laboratories.

“My career goal is to become a veterinarian and work for the United States Department of Agriculture,” Winkler, the son of David and Lori Winkler, said. “One day I would like to start my own practice for large animals.”

A total of 186 graduates received their diplomas in the Gressette Gymnasium ceremony. Spring term classes begin at ABAC on Jan. 8, 2018. The college will be closed for the holidays Dec. 23-Jan. 1.


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