TIFTON—Former Georgia governor Roy Barnes visited the campus of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College earlier this spring and as a result, and a 1,500-pound donation was delivered last week.
Barnes donated Whitlock, a registered Polled Hereford bull, to the college as part of its beef unit. While the former governor is still an attorney by trade, he also owns a couple hundred cows on his Mableton farm. ABAC President Tracy Brundage said the donation was greatly appreciated.
“We’re certainly proud of our beef unit, an outdoor learning laboratory that our students use every day as part of their hands-on learning,” she said. “I know Governor Barnes enjoyed his tour of our beautiful campus and wanted to help support our program and our students by making this generous gesture. It’s not the kind of donation someone would typically think of, but it was perfect for our college.”
Doug Hicks, ABAC’s Beef Herd manager, echoed Brundage’s sentiments and said Barnes was especially impressed by the students’ involvement with the animals.
“We talked about how the students are involved with the day-to-day upkeep of the animals,” Hicks said. “For example, in Dr. (Katheryn) Cerny’s reproduction class, the students watch the cows after they calve and keep a journal to monitor the progress. Being involved in that way with the animals is a big part of our students’ education and I think that really impressed him.”
Barnes served in the state Senate for 16 years before serving in the House of Representatives for six more. He was Georgia’s 80th governor, serving from 1999-2003. He then returned to his private law practice which he started in 1975.
But his roots in agriculture go back longer than that. His family had a small dairy farm growing up and following his career in politics, Barnes returned to those roots.
“Talking to him, you can tell he is well-versed in that part of it,” Hicks said. “It’s obvious he has a real love for it.”
The school’s beef unit receives donations each year, though Barnes’s gift is a bit different. Usually, breeders will send catalogs of bulls and students will select the ones that fit the school’s production needs. The college has those bulls for a year before they are marketed to buyers. Hicks said Whitlock will be at ABAC for the entirety of his productive life.