News & Events

July 9 2019

ABAC’s Destination Ag Impacts Record Number of Students in Third Year

TIFTON—The buzz of children’s excited voices easily matched that of the bees inside the observation hive at the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village. The observation beehive was one of the new additions to the Destination Ag program at the Museum during the 2018-19 year.  It was also one of the favorite stations for the record 10,980 students who participated in the program in its third year of existence.  “Destination Ag had a great year,” Museum Director Garrett Boone said.  “We have the nuts and bolts of the program in place, and now we’re concentrating on minute details that will provide the best possible fun, educational experience.” Destination Ag allows school children an up-close and personal look at where their food, fiber, and shelter originate.  This year, students from school systems in Brooks, Irwin, and Lowndes counties, as well as the Valdosta city school system, participated in the program for the first time.  They joined pre-kindergarten through third grade students from Tift, Colquitt, Cook, and Berrien counties. “It is vitally important to engage students with the importance of agriculture and natural resources at an early age,” Boone said.  “Along with our partners, we are working hard to provide opportunities to increase the awareness on the critical role that agriculture and natural resources play in our everyday lives—from the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, to the house we live in.” Thanks to an initial gift of $250,000 from the Harley Langdale, Jr. Foundation to the ABAC Foundation, Destination Ag began educating students in September 2016.  In 2017, the Harley Langdale, Jr. Foundation committed $1 million over the next four years to continue the program.  The generosity of the Harley Langdale, Jr. Foundation allows the Museum to provide Destination Ag programming at no cost to the visiting students. “Industry partners are the cornerstones of Destination Ag,” Boone said.  “We can’t say thank you enough to the Harley Langdale, Jr. Foundation, and our other partners who make this program possible.” This year, the program’s partner additions included the Georgia Peanut Commission, the Georgia Pecan Growers Association, the Blueberry Growers Association, the Georgia Peach Council, Stripling’s General Store, and Pearson Farm. Sixteen ABAC students taught at the Destination Ag learning stations, adjusting their Museum workload around their own ABAC classes.  “According to our surveys, the attitude toward agriculture is much more positive after the students participate in Destination Ag,” Boone said.  “Besides our students on-site, we had 3,500 pre-k through 12th grade students participate in our off-site outreach programs.” Destination Ag also added a pollinator garden, two Shetliot sheep, two new dairy goats, and Georgia’s state reptile, a gopher tortoise, this year. “Our goal is to build upon what the students learn each year,” Boone said.  “For some of these students, this was their third year attending the program.  We get a little more in-depth as the students get older, and we increase their time at the various learning stations.” Signage for the poultry, beef, and dairy industries was added this year.  It proved to be particularly popular with the 1,500 adults who attended Destination Ag with the children. “One of the things we realized early on was that there was a secondary audience composed of the adults who came with the children,” Boone said.  “The adults really enjoyed seeing all the facts and figures on the industries that they utilize every day but often don’t really think about.” Boone said fourth graders from the participating counties will be added to Destination Ag when the new school year begins.  He said students from Turner County will also immerse themselves in the Destination Ag experience for the first time, elevating the expected number of children impacted by the program to over 21,000 for the 2019-20 year. “We intend to make Destination Ag the premier ag literacy program in the country,” Boone said. ###
July 1 2019

Tifton Native Selected as President of ABAC Ambassadors

TIFTON—Hannah King has been named the 2019-2020 president of the ABAC Ambassadors, one of the most prestigious student leadership organizations at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.  King, daughter of David King and MeLisa King, is a senior biology major at ABAC.  She is a Tifton native who grew up aspiring to be an Ambassador. “I actually remember as a child seeing the Ambassadors in their green blazers and always thought they looked so professional,” King said. “It was a dream that I had as a child that has become a reality. I am so honored to have this experience to serve on this team for a third year.” For that childhood dream to come true, King’s first step was to make ABAC her college of choice. Growing up in Tifton, she was familiar with the ABAC campus. "I knew that ABAC was the perfect school for me, and I knew that I did not want to go anywhere but ABAC,” King said.  “So many different qualities made me fall in love with the school. The campus is so beautiful, and the class sizes are smaller which allowed me to form great relationships with my professors. “ABAC has a family atmosphere, and there is something for everyone to make ABAC feel like home.” While attending ABAC, King has been involved with many activities and clubs on campus.  In the fall, she will serve as the Historian for the TriBeta Honors Biological Society. She has also served as a Stallion Society Leader and as a member of the Inter Club Council Board of Directors.  She is also a mentored research student. King began her mentored research with Dr. Christopher Beals, an Associate Professor in the School of Arts and Sciences. She will start her third year of researching how different chemicals affect different plant species.  Her mentored research earned her the honor of being the first winner of ABAC’s Student Engagement Programs Symposium. “I can remember the moment that I was told I had won first place,” King said.  “I was beyond surprised. That was my first big achievement in college.” In her research, King looked at how different copper concentrations affected different plant species. This research is still being conducted, and the findings will be used to see how different chemicals can be removed from the environment. This summer, King used an internship to shadow employees in every department at Phoebe Putney Health System. “This experience will help in making my decision for my ultimate career goal,” King said.   “My dream job is to become a pediatric physician assistant.” As president of the Ambassadors, King plans to continue the success of the very popular program. She also hopes to get the Ambassadors involved with new organizations in the community.  King will officially begin her term as president of the Ambassadors when fall semester classes begin at ABAC on Aug. 13. ###
July 3 2019

ABAC Celebrates National Ice Cream Day with Exhibit at Country Store on July 20

TIFTON—A unique collection of late 1800s drug store artifacts from the drug store in Boston, Ga., will be on display at the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village on July 20 in celebration of National Ice Cream Day, which is on July 21. Museum Curator Polly Huff discovered a special collection of photographs that has never been displayed featuring drug stores from all over the state of Georgia and dating from 1890 to 1911.  Along with the Boston store’s artifacts, this photo collection will also be included in the exhibit and available for public viewing for the first time. The Museum Country Store will house the one-day exhibit, and visitors that day will have a chance to view it in its entirety at no charge.  Country Store Manager Tonia Carpenter said visitors arriving at the Country Store between 10 a.m. and noon on July 20 will be treated to a free sample of the Museum’s hand-dipped ice cream. Jason Gentry, an ABAC student from Tifton majoring in history and government, is one of the summer interns at the Museum Gallery.  He is working with Huff and Carpenter on this one day, pop-up exhibit. “These drug stores were a center point of small towns providing everything from medicines to ice cream and sodas and many things in between,” Gentry said.  “I have really enjoyed doing research on the artifacts we have.”  Museum operating hours on Saturdays in July are from 10 a.m.–3 p.m.  Saturday admission is $10 for adults, $8 for senior adults, $5 for children five to 16 years old, and free to children four and under. ABAC students receive free admission with a student ID. The Museum will be open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in July. Admission will be $7 for adults, $6 for senior adults, $4 for children five to 16 years old, and free to children four and under. ###
June 12 2019

Hunt for Bugs at ABAC’s Georgia Museum of Agriculture on July 12

TIFTON— Search for buzzers, crawlers, and creepers at the History After Dark Series Bug Hunt program from 8:30 to 10 p.m. on July 12 at the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village. Museum Historic Village Supervisor Gina Beckman said enthusiasts of nature, the outdoors, and all things involving insects will enjoy this adventure at the Museum. “Guests of the Bug Hunt program will take part in an outside excursion discovering the wonders of nature on a Friday night,” Beckman said.  “We’ll explore a variety of insects that come out at night, offering the chance for children and parents alike to connect with a section of nature that we often forget.”  The event will take place in and around the Museum’s Langdale Nature Center. It will feature a glow hike, mothing activity, and bug themed snacks including edible insects. On the glow hike, guests will be provided glow sticks and UV flashlights to search along the Museum’s nature trail for glowing, nocturnal insects. Mothing offers guests an opportunity to discover the evening cousin of the butterfly, the moth. Museum staff will utilize lighting and different attractants to entice the moths closer, allowing guests a prime viewing opportunity. Nature photographers will especially enjoy this direct contact. Guests also have the chance to try edible insects such as crickets, ants and other insects. For the less adventurous, snacks without legs will be provided.   The Bug Hunt is part of the 2019 “History After Dark” program series which provides guests of all ages the opportunity to experience the Museum after hours. The series features evening programs throughout the year on a variety of topics and immersive activities. Tickets for the event are $10 per person and are now available for purchase online at www.purplepass.com/bughunt and at the Museum’s Country Store.  Tickets may be purchased in person or over the phone at the Country Store. Tickets are limited, and all tickets must be purchased in advance.  No tickets will be sold at the event. For more information, interested persons can contact the Country Store at (229) 391-5205 or visit www.abac.edu/museum. ###
June 6 2019

Crosby Receives First ‘Pinky’ Durham Scholarship at ABAC

TIFTON--Charles Crosby from Tifton is the first recipient of the Harold Bascom “Pinky” Durham Jr. Endowed Scholarship at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. Created by the family and friends of Durham, the scholarship provides support for veteran students at ABAC.  Durham was an ABAC alumnus who was killed in Vietnam while serving in the United States Army.  For his heroism on the battlefield, he was named a posthumous Medal of Honor recipient. Dr. Deidre Martin, ABAC’s Chief Development Officer, said that ABAC students who receive this scholarship must possess the qualities Durham embodied such as courage, sacrifice, devotion, and duty.  Stephen M. Orlofsky, one of Durham’s classmates in Officer Candidate School, said, “Pinky Durham would be proud to know that Charles Crosby is receiving a scholarship in his name.  Charles is a worthy recipient of this scholarship, having served in the military with distinction.” Crosby is an Army National Guard retiree who served in Iraq.  He received his associate degree in nursing from ABAC in May and is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing at ABAC.  His goal is to become a nurse practitioner and practice in rural South Georgia. In his scholarship essay, Crosby wrote, “I’ve always wanted to do work that I felt had meaning.  ABAC has been great at helping veterans transition to college life.  I am very impressed by the value that ABAC places on programs for veterans.” Durham’s life is captured in detail in the Freedom Gallery exhibit located in Tift Hall on ABAC’s campus.  His Medal of Honor is the centerpiece of the display.  The Freedom Gallery is free of charge and open to the public Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. ###
May 22 2019

ABAC Produces More Ag Ed Graduates Than Any College in Southeast in 2019

Pictured above: Four ABAC graduates (l-r): Julia Roy, Hannah Roberts, James Renshaw, and Ashlyn Reaves prepare to receive their Bachelor of Science degrees in ag education at ABAC. TIFTON—When 26 agricultural education graduates walked across the commencement stage at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on May 9, they represented the largest group of agricultural education graduates in the entire southeastern United States. ABAC President David Bridges could not be prouder of the accomplishment. “This spring marked the first time in ABAC’s 111-year history that we awarded the bachelor’s degree in agricultural education,” Bridges said.  “The agricultural education program is one of our largest bachelor’s degree programs, and this first ABAC cohort is the largest ag ed cohort in Georgia and I would say the largest in the southeast.” Dr. Frank Flanders, an associate professor of agricultural education in the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at ABAC, lays out the data. “No other college or university in Georgia had those kinds of numbers this year in ag ed,” Flanders said.  “Neither does anyone else in the South.  The best thing is most of these graduates have jobs.  Fourteen or 15 of them have already signed teaching contracts.” Flanders said a few of the ABAC ag ed graduates are not going directly into teaching. “Two of the graduates are going to graduate school, and another one is going to New Mexico to be a horse wrangler,” Flanders said.  “One wants to do animal shelter management in Florida.  I had a friend from Alaska that wanted one of our graduates to come there and teach.” Julia Roy from Miami rings her school bell after receiving her ag ed degree from ABAC.  Each of the 26 ag ed graduates received a school bell. Ellen Thompson, Director of the National Teach Ag Campaign, said, “The demand for agriculture teachers nationwide is strong due to new and expanding programs, and current teachers leaving to explore other opportunities.  The opportunities for new graduates and those who want to make a difference by being an agriculture teacher are endless.” There’s no question.  Whether it’s in the heart of Georgia, the frozen tundra of Alaska or the tropical rain forest climate of south Florida, jobs as agricultural education teachers are available.  And those positions have been available for a while. “ABAC is happy to try to end the 30-year drought of ag ed teachers in Georgia,” Bridges said in May 2018 when the agricultural education teacher preparation program at ABAC became fully approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.  “For 30 consecutive years, Georgia has produced fewer ag teachers than spots available.  We are going to do something about that.” Flanders said ABAC is well on its way to making Bridges’ prophetic statement a reality. “The cohort which will graduate from ABAC in the spring of 2020 is our biggest one,” Flanders said.  “We could have as many as 35 ag ed graduates. “When I was an ag ed teacher, I taught in three different school systems.  I was probably the only person who applied for those jobs.  Florida has more jobs available than Georgia.  A representative from Orange County spoke to the Collegiate FFA last year.  He was looking to hire 15 or more teachers just for his county.” Money is not the problem.  Flanders said that starting salaries for ag ed teachers are above average, ranging to the mid $40s per year on a 12-month contract. “That is a 12-month contract, and there is a lot of night and weekend work involved,” Flanders said.  “I never tell them it is an easy job, but most ag teachers just love it.  They get a chance to push these students to greater horizons.” The best recruits for the ag ed major at ABAC seem to be those students who excelled in their FFA chapters in high school, competing in leadership and career development events.  However, Flanders sees new faces in the program from all walks of life with a wide variety of experiences. “I tell them come to ABAC, get your degree, get your teaching certificate, and you can enjoy it for the next 30 years and get paid for it,” Flanders said. ABAC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jerry Baker said the ABAC curriculum specifically prepares the graduates for the task at hand. “The curriculum approved by the Professional Standards Commission was designed with careful attention to producing graduates who are prepared for the diverse middle and high school agriculture programs,” Baker said.  “We designed the curriculum to include sufficient technical content as well as the required pedagogy.”  The Professional Standards Commission also approved a certification-only option for ABAC that allows students who complete bachelor’s degrees in other areas to return to ABAC for two semesters to obtain certification in ag education.  “These students usually spend one semester on campus and then one semester practice teaching,” Flanders said.  “They need to have a bachelor of science degree in agriculture but a lot of them out there have that.” Since ABAC enrolls 4,291 students from 155 of Georgia’s 159 counties, 18 other states and 30 countries, it stands to reason that there are students from all over the nation interested in the ABAC ag ed program. “That’s one thing I try to emphasize,” Flanders said.  “We had ag ed students doing practice teaching all over the state this spring.  ABAC is not just a regional institution that covers South Georgia.  I have been trying to get these students from Florida and other surrounding states to stay in Georgia to teach.  We need them.” Let’s see.  Jobs available at a good starting salary.  Graduates who take those jobs get a chance to mold and shape students into better citizens.  Sounds like a winning situation.  Classes for the ABAC fall semester begin Aug. 13. ###