Callaway gift will help make the State Botanical Garden more accessible

A $1 million gift from the Callaway Foundation will fund a new visitor entrance to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia, enhancing access to the galleries, classrooms, collections and displays.

The new entrance will be an official gateway to the garden from the parking lots to the Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center and Conservatory and will include an elevator, which will improve access for individuals in wheelchairs, pushing strollers or who have difficulty maneuvering stairs. Alice Hand Callaway was the wife of Fuller E. Callaway Jr., who established the foundation in 1943.

“The Callaway Foundation is pleased to be a part of this effort to improve the experience for visitors to the garden,” said Speer Burdette, president of the Callaway Foundation Inc. “Mrs. Callaway loved flowers and plants, and especially the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. Her wish would be that every Georgian could experience the beauty of the garden and discover the many ways it benefits the state, through education and conservation.”

About 230,000 people visit the State Botanical Garden each year and Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, believes that number will increase by about 50,000 once the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden is completed later this year. From the new entrance, visitors would be able to see the children’s garden as they wait for the elevator.

“This will truly be a game changer for many visitors to the garden, who often come with young children and grandparents,” said Cruse-Sanders. “We are so grateful to the Callaway Foundation for its longtime support and for continuing to help us make the garden a destination for visitors from across the state.”

Construction of the new garden entrance is expected to begin in 2019. The total cost of the project is $2.01 million.

The Callaway Foundation Inc., based in LaGrange, Georgia, is a private foundation that supports the charitable, religious and educational efforts of nonprofit organizations.

Writer: Kelly Simmons,

Contact: Cheri Duggan, 706-542-6654,

Dogged determination results in veterinary practice for UGA graduate

When Jennifer Peterson was young, her father, an architect, would draw designs for the veterinary practice she hoped to own someday.

While enrolled in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, she participated in what was then a new program—an entrepreneurial rotation that teaches teach future vets how to run a business.

Peterson was among the first vet school students to enroll in the program, led by Jeff Sanford, director of entrepreneurial studies at UGA’s Small Business Development Center.

When she graduated, she went to work a practice in Monroe but kept her eye open for one she could own herself. She found one for sale in Hartwell, but after consulting with Sanford, decided it wasn’t the right option.

After working for a while in Royston, she considered buying in to the group practice there. But before making the decision she called Sanford to see if he knew of any practices for sale.

Firehall 4, a veterinary practice in Athens, was on the market and the owner was in a hurry to sell, Sanford told her.

“That turned into a five-year ordeal,” Sanford says. “It was a challenging time to transition the ownership to Jennifer, but she saw the opportunity and refused to give up.”

Peterson left Royston to work on a trial basis for the Athens practice.

“That transition was a struggle,” she says.

Although the owner wanted to sell, she was reluctant to let the business go. Peterson persisted, working there nearly five years while consulting with Sanford on the sale. Eventually, she realized it might not happen, so she moved into another business.

“We find that for owners who start and build their practices, it is a part of their identity. It’s hard for them to let go sometimes,” Sanford says. “The owner gave Jennifer enough hope to stay on, otherwise she would have left a lot earlier. Jennifer didn’t take her eyes off her goal. She birddogged it and wouldn’t give up.”

Three months later, Peterson received a call from Firehall 4’s owner. She was finally ready to sell. Peterson bought the practice in 2015.

Sanford continued to assist, sending Dr. Peterson to resources that would help her complete her loan documentation and get established in QuickBooks.

“Jeff did a lot of business counseling, but the most important thing I learned from him was the value of being a doctor,” she said. “He teaches us to depend on our skilled staff, so we can be doctors and focus on our value—diagnosing and speaking with clients—and not get lost in the business.”

Revenues have grown 10 percent annually since 2015. A former UGA classmate, Kelly Laas, joined Peterson to expand its veterinary dental practice. The business now has a staff of 13, with plans to add another full time veterinarian in the spring.

“Ownership came down to the fact that I wanted to be my own boss, make my own schedule and focus on quality care,” Peterson says. “I also wanted to have a team that felt the same way and have people around me who were encouraging, helpful and thoughtful.”

“Ever since I graduated, I’ve felt Jeff was rooting for me,” Peterson says. “It was awesome having his advice and counsel the whole time.”

UGA focuses on building a healthier Georgia through collaborative leadership

The Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA) is a repository for services geared to help older adults and their families with issues like health and wellness, hunger and transportation. The building on Hoyt Street that houses the council sees a steady stream of partners that have been cultivated from nonprofit organizations, state agencies and the University of Georgia.

It can be difficult to manage groups with such a wide variety of interests and accompanying viewpoints.

As a participant in UGA’s Public Health Leadership Academy, ACCA director of operations Erin Beasley developed tools to help her more skillfully balance the role of each outside group so they can be better partners.

“The range of partnerships you manage in the public health sphere is so broad, to accomplish anything everyone has to come together and work towards common goals,” Beasley says. “That can sometimes pose a challenge.”

“The academy provided concrete tools I can apply each and every day at my job, both in managing our staff and our partnerships.”

The University of Georgia J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development and College of Public Health, with financial support from Georgia Power, created the Public Health Leadership Academy (PHLA) in 2015.

Twenty-two health professionals from across the state graduated from the 2018 program on Oct. 17.

By developing leaders focused on collaboration and transcending boundaries, the leadership academy aims to improve health outcomes in communities across the state.

“Today’s health challenges are influenced by many factors, from our access to educational and economic opportunities to our access of healthy foods and health care,” says Marsha Davis, associate dean for outreach and engagement in the College of Public Health.  “We need to support leaders from all sectors that have an influence on health, to create collaborative solutions that address inequalities and to transform communities where health is not determined by zip code, income or ethnicity.”

During the nine-month program, participants not only heard from public health experts on trends in the field and networked with their peers, they focused on understanding their own individual leadership styles and developing collaborative leadership skills.

“Collaborative leaders understand group dynamics and process, help people reach consensus, successfully manage conflict, build trust and understand the need to be flexible to react as circumstances among the group change or new opportunities emerge,” says Carolina Darbisi, a faculty member at the Fanning Institute, who designed the academy’s curriculum alongside fellow Fanning faculty member Louise Hill.

“These skills empower them to bring people from across spectrums together to solve complex problems.”

Groups often overlook the importance of collaborative leadership, Hill said.

“When groups come together around a project or task, they often focus solely on the work set before them,” Hill says. “Collaborative leadership development recognizes that understanding yourself and understanding how to build foundational relationships among the group is a key first step for any group to successfully complete the task at hand.”

For Beasley, learning new skills for managing conflict and fostering difficult conversations was particularly impactful, she said.

“Putting these skills into practice gives me a more complete view of situations, both within my agency and among our partners,” she says. “It builds trust and removes conflict as a barrier, allowing me to focus on building coalitions and moving everyone towards our common goal to ensure our community is living and aging well.”

The College of Public Health is currently accepting applications for the 2019 Public Health Leadership Academy, which starts in February.

UGA helps sustain the coastal economy

Diversifying and adapting to change with UGA experts to help is key for coastal businesses

Orders come in overnight by emails and through messages left on Charlie Phillips’ phone.

By 7:30 a.m., he’s behind the desk in his cramped office-its walls papered with maps of Georgia barrier islands and marshes-entering orders by hand on a paper spread sheet.

A restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, wants about 1,600 clams, while a regular customer on Long Island orders 3,000 to 5,000. By midday Phillips has taken orders for tens of thousands of clams, all farm-raised in the mud flats adjacent to Sapelo Island.

While he logs in the orders, employees on the dock wash the small clams that have just been pulled from the marsh in their mesh grow-out bags. Other employees gently empty baskets of harvested clams into a machine that will sort and route them by size into color-coded bags that will be packaged in boxes lined with bubble wrap. Then the clams will be shipped to businesses from south Florida to Canada.

Pivoting with the market

A second-generation Georgia fisherman, Phillips began shrimping as a teenager alongside his father, and later captained the boat when he took over the business. When the shrimp industry began to take a hit in the 1980s, he explored other opportunities. He replaced Blackbeard, his shrimp boat that caught fire and sank, with snapper boats.

But then a study showed overfishing had severely diminished the red snapper population in the Atlantic Ocean, and government regulations effectively closed red snapper fishing.

Phillips already had been exploring aquaculture, and had taken UGA Marine Extension up on its offer of grow-out clam seed for fishers looking to diversify their investments.

By 2009, he was in full production, harvesting 500,000 clams annually. Last year, his harvest was 2 million.

A long history of struggle

Spend time with the boat captains who have worked the waters off the coast of Georgia for decades, and they’ll regale you with stories about the good old days, back in the 1960s and ’70s, when fuel was cheap and shrimp were plentiful. Back then, shrimp sold for up to $7 a pound.

In those days, there were more than 60 shrimp boats working the Georgia coast, bringing in upwards of 6 million pounds of shrimp a year, said Marty Higgins, a marine resource specialist for UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant and first mate on the R/V (Research/Vessel) Georgia Bulldog.

The industry struggled in the 1980s, as fuel prices increased and foreign countries began exporting farm raised shrimp that sold for much less than the fresh shrimp from the Atlantic. Boats went out of business, commercial docks closed. Businesses supported by the fishing industry left town.

From boat repairs to financial planning

UGA Marine Extension became the go-to stop for a variety of needs. Higgins, marine resources specialist Herbert “Truck” McIver and Lindsey Parker, captain of the R/V Georgia Bulldog, sewed holes in fishing nets, welded parts back onto boats, and fixed mechanical issues when they could, so that the shrimpers could get back on the water as quickly as possible.

Marine resources specialists in Brunswick held a net-mending class for shrimpers during the winter.

Consultants from the UGA Small Business Development Center offered workshops to help fishers make financial projections and plan for the future.

Looking toward the future, Bryan Fluech, associate director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, and McIver are working with McIntosh County Academy and Coastal Pines Technical College to develop a career academy program for high school students who want to pursue a career in commercial fishing. The program will address essential subjects that will better prepare participants to serve as crew members aboard commercial fishing boats in the region or possibly work in other maritime-related industries.

New on the menu: jelly balls

Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant also helps fishers expand into other areas.

For example, Georgia shrimpers, who have boats with sturdy reinforced hulls, can make money by catching and selling cannonball jellyfish, a seafood delicacy in some Asian countries.

In 2002, entrepreneur Terry Chuang decided to take advantage of the abundant cannonball jellies in the south Atlantic, and he opened a jelly ball processing plant in Darien, about 40 miles north of Brunswick.

At 6 cents a pound, the shrimpers have to catch a lot of jellyfish to make money. But it’s fairly easy work. They scoop the jellies up in their nets and drop them off at the dock. An ambitious boat captain can catch 110,000 pounds, earning $6,600, every other day, said April Harper, who manages the plant where they dry and salt the jellies before exporting them to Japan and China.

“A boat that normally would be sitting at the dock for six months is now active 12 months out of the year,” Harper said.

The UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center (Food PIC) also bought some for product development on a project proposal using jelly balls, said Kirk Kealey, FoodPIC director.

Clams ready to be sorted by size at Sapelo Sea Farms.

Another option: oysters

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant offered another opportunity to diversify in 2015 with the launch of an oyster hatchery on Skidaway Island. About 10 people working in the fishing industry were given oyster seed, or spat, created at the hatchery, to grow out to maturity as single shell oysters.

The 5 to 6 million spat, produced as of this year, are expected to have a harvest value of $1 million to $1.2 million.

At Sapelo Sea Farms, Charlie Phillips also is growing oysters. They take more time and effort than clams and so far he doesn’t make much money off it, but he’s open to learning more about.

After all, he found his niche in growing clams when UGA began introducing that option to Georgia fishers in the late 1990s. There was a learning curve then, too. Today, he can buy 1.3 million clam seeds from South Carolina for $15,000. With a 40-50 percent yield, the harvest value is roughly $100,000.

“I diversified, which most people did not,” Phillips said. “If you don’t, you’re toast. I would not be in the clam business if it weren’t for Marine Extension.”

Writer: Kelly Simmons,, 706-296-0855

Contact: Mark Risse,, 706-542-5956

UGA wins national award for helping rural community sustain local health care

The University of Georgia has received a national Award of Excellence from the University Economic Development Association for its work in rural Georgia to save a local hospital from closing and to improve medical service for community residents.

The Archway Partnership, a unit of UGA’s Division of Public Service and Outreach, won the top award during the UEDA’s annual summit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Oct. 21-23. Summit participants from across the U.S. cast votes to determine the winners after finalists presented their award entries.

“It is truly an honor to be selected for this national award by a group of our peers,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “This is well-deserved recognition for our public service and outreach faculty and staff, who fulfill this university’s land-grant and sea-grant mission by addressing critical issues across the state.”

Taylor Regional Hospital in Pulaski County, about 50 miles south of Macon, was within days of shutting down in December 2015 because it did not have enough funds to complete a Community Needs Health Assessment of the hospital, as required by the Affordable Care Act. Without the assessment, the hospital would lose its nonprofit status and be forced to close.

The Archway Partnership and the UGA College of Public Health partnered with Taylor Regional Hospital to complete the assessment, with then-CPH doctoral students Ayanna Robinson and Sabrina Tyndal Cherry, helping to define the community and service area, create a community profile, conduct focus groups and administer a survey to residents of the area. The results showed a significant need for the facility and for the addition of a walk-in clinic for non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

Since Taylor Express, a walk-in clinic next to the hospital, opened in June 2016, traffic in the emergency room has declined by 10 percent, saving the hospital money.

“The work of the Archway Partnership in Pulaski County truly stands out as exceptional,” said Dr. E.R. “Skip” McDannald, who retired as Taylor Regional administrator on Oct. 1 and accompanied Archway Partnership faculty and staff to the UEDA summit. “Our hospital benefited and the outlook improved as a direct result of this partnership with the university and our local stakeholders through the Archway Partnership.”

Archway Partnership Director Rob Gordon said that, following the success in Pulaski County, UGA faculty and students are working in other Archway communities to address health care concerns.

“This is a great example of how UGA’s commitment to rural Georgia through the Archway Partnership is directly helping Georgia’s communities,” Gordon said. “We appreciate the long-standing partnership that we have with the leaders of Hawkinsville and Pulaski County and are proud that our work has made a real and positive impact on their ability to keep Taylor Regional open and to continue providing quality health care for their citizens.”

Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Libby V. Morris said the project exemplifies how the university’s public service and outreach programs connect students and faculty with communities across Georgia.

“Participation in the Archway Partnership and service-learning courses challenges students to apply their knowledge to addressing the critical needs of our state,” Morris said. “These are the kinds of lessons that resonate with students long after graduation.”

Writer: Kelly Simmons,, 706-296-0855

Contact: Michelle Elliott,, 478-697-4522

President Morehead visits Griffin-Spalding County Archway Partnership, emphasizes benefits of partnership to students and community

University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead learned firsthand last week about the work being done through the UGA Archway Partnership in Griffin-Spalding County, including student-driven design and engineering projects.

UGA Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum and Vice President for Government Relations Griff Doyle accompanied Morehead to the meeting with Griffin-Spalding Archway Partnership Executive Committee Co-chairs Chuck Copeland and Stephanie Windham and UGA Archway Professional Kristen Miller.

Dr. Thomas Hopkins, a member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents also attended the meeting, which highlighted work done by UGA students in the College of Environment and Design (CED) and the College of Engineering to address priorities identified by the community.

CED students helped design a 12-mile master trail, created new signage for an industrial park and drafted landscaping plans for the City of Griffin. Students in the College of Engineering followed the CED students, completing the site work for the trail, which has been incorporated into the city’s comprehensive plan. Engineering students also evaluated two potential sites for an aquatic center and developed plans for the center.

Archway Partnership communities often are ideal sites for UGA students’ service projects because those communities already have a strong connection with UGA. During the 2018-19 academic year, 10 percent of UGA engineering students’ capstone projects are situated in Archway Partnership communities.

“These students are a tremendous value to Georgia,” Morehead said during the meeting in Griffin. “I keep hearing that over and over. All of these projects that our students work on tend to be community-based, which is great.”

In addition to projects, community leaders say intergovernmental relations in Spalding County have improved since the partnership began.

Archway-facilitated retreats and leadership training have helped improve cooperation between the county government, development authority, school system and the five cities in Spalding County.

“I feel so proud every time we meet, to see the way the elected officials work together,” said Windham, an attorney in Griffin. “That’s been the high point for me, watching that group together.”

“I don’t think any of this would have happened without Archway,” added Copeland, president of First National Bank in Griffin.


The Archway Partnership is a unit of Public Service and Outreach at UGA. It connects Georgia communities to the full range of higher education resources available at the university to address critical community-identified needs. Griffin-Spalding is one of 13 communities selected for the Archway Partnership since the program began in 2005.

Writer: Baker Owens,, 706-510-9622
Rob Gordon,, 706-542-3268

UGA grows education across the southeast with new Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden

Celebrate the breathtaking world of nature with a journey into dark caves brimming with dinosaur fossils, climb through a larger-than-life overturned chestnut tree, and soar above the tree canopy in a magical treehouse in the woods.

The Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden, set to open in early 2019 at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at UGA, will be a groundbreaking destination for children to learn more about the wonders of Georgia’s natural resources while planting, climbing, crawling and skipping through a two-and-a-half-acre accessible environment.

“The children’s garden is an exploration, a journey, not something you just walk through,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden. “Everything is designed with attention to detail and an educational component.”

Director Jennifer Cruse-Sanders talks about the fossils in the new children’s garden.

Named for Alice H. Richards, a charter member of the State Botanical Garden’s Board of Advisors, the children’s garden will officially open on March 23, 2019. The new attraction is expected to draw more than 50,000 visitors a year.

The garden is an interactive outdoor classroom for hands-on education. Unlike any other in the southeast, it is an experience crafted in layers, for children to explore under, around and through.

Teams of designers, local artists, environmental construction firms, and even the Nassal Company—a theme park construction firm responsible for Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the Georgia Aquarium, among others—have ensured that every stone, leaf and flower is placed with intention. From climbing walls, to the fossils of a mastodon—the ancient ancestor of the mammoth—to musical instruments resembling mushrooms and a tree house in the canopy, the children’s garden teleports children into a whimsical world where nature inspires and delights.

The giant treehouse overlooks the woods around the garden.

In addition to introducing children to nature, the children’s garden will be used to enhance and expand upon existing programs, including classes, summer camps, field trips and more.

“The Dig and Grow Gallery will be used for summer camps such as Bee Smart Eat Smart,” says Cora Keber, director of education at the garden. “Kids will get the chance to plant different things, as well as harvest fruits and vegetables that they can cook into healthy foods. It’s all about discovering how what we eat is linked to our health.”

Keber and Cruse-Sanders point out where the water will flow over the granite features.

The Georgia Discovery Plaza area showcases the state’s ecology, industries and history. By pressing a button, children can watch water erupt and trickle through a granite map of the state from the piedmont area to the coast. The granite highlights an important habitat and industry in Georgia, and was locally sourced from Elbert County.

Gardens filled with vegetables and sunflowers—the children’s garden signature plant—are atop an underground explorer area. Children can look through windows to study soil science and plant roots. When seasons change, the windows will be replaced with interchangeable panels designed by Lamar Dodd School of Art students.

Sunflowers are the signature plant for the children’s garden.

The journey through the garden takes children through a fallen, giant chestnut tree. Children can run their hands along the bones of the old chestnut tree (the once plentiful, economic-driver that was wiped out by the rapid and devastating chestnut blight infection) before climbing up into a tree house overlooking the State Botanical Garden’s tree canopy.

“Everything is connected. Every feature of the garden intersects and connects, allowing everyone to leave with a unique experience and feeling that much closer to nature,” Cruse-Sanders said.

Colorful flowers by the gazebo, pitcher plants by the Monet Bridge, and a variety of insect sculptures will help educate children to Georgia’s native plants and endangered pollinators.

The family of Alice H. Richards, who died in May 2007, donated the initial $2 million toward the $5 million children’s garden.

“She would be beaming with pride at this,” said Jim Richards, Alice H. Richards’ son. “She would be following the development with tremendous interest.”

Writer: Leah Moss,, 706-583-0962

Contact: Cora Keber,, 706-542-6158

UGA Public Service and Outreach names 2018-2019 Faculty Fellows

New Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellows for 2018-19 include faculty members from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the College of Public Health, and the College of Engineering. Each will conduct research with a unit of Public Service and Outreach units over the course of the year.

The 2018-2019 Faculty Fellows are:

Sung-Hee Sonny Kim, a faculty member in the School of Environmental, Civil, Agriculture and Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering, will work with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government to implement cutting-edge research that predicts future problems in road networks. These methods have the potential to change the way local governments monitor road conditions, by predicting and assessing needs in roadways before they become hazardous to drivers. Kim uses nondestructive testing methods, such as the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), to assess layers, debonding, presence of moisture and other factors that contribute to the distress of roads. Using Athens-Clarke County as his model, Kim will publish his results in a database with help from the Institute of Government’s Geographic Information Systems department. He will also develop a Georgia Department of Transportation Forensic Guide Manual to help other counties implement his methods.

Jennifer L. Gay, a faculty member in Health Promotion and Behavior in the College of Public Health, will work with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to study how human health and physical fitness can be used to promote healthy ecosystems. She will identify ways to link physical fitness to activities such as citizen science, ecotourism and volunteer opportunities on Georgia’s coast. She will study how litter and debris influence physical activities in public areas, as well as quantify the type and amount of physical activity that individuals engage in during Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant programing. In addition, she will help develop educational materials linking physical activity to individual well-being and healthy ecosystems. This relationship between coastal conservation and human health is known as the “blue gym.”

James C. Anderson II, a faculty member in Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, will work with the State Botanical Garden of Georgia to help develop Learning by Leading at UGA (LxL@UGA). Learning by Leading is an inclusive and experiential learning community for students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors. The program gives students the opportunity to intern at the garden, participate in leadership training, become mentors, and rise through leadership ranks within the community. Anderson will design, implement and evaluate leadership curriculum and training for Learning by Leading. This program will provide leadership opportunities and a support network for STEM majors, specifically those studying biological and life sciences.

Launched in 2011, the Faculty Fellows program provides professors with an opportunity to connect their research and course curriculum to the needs of a specific PSO unit. The result of the program is a sustained relationship between the designated unit and the Faculty Fellows’ departments.

Writer: Leah Moss,, 706-583-0964

Contact: Paul Brooks,, 706-542-3946


Campus Kitchen at UGA expands service to seniors with a boost from UGA classes

When her daughter passed away nearly a decade ago, Rebecca Richardson became the primary caretaker for her three young grandchildren.

The additional mouths to feed strained her already-tight budget. Thankfully for her, Campus Kitchen at UGA (CKUGA) was able to help.

“They provide,” Richardson said. “They help out those in need so they can focus on other problems. People have many worries, and Campus Kitchen takes one of those off our minds.”

The program, established in 2012 by the Office of Service-Learning, serves more than 800 individuals. With the help of students across UGA in service-learning courses, CKUGA has doubled deliveries: clients receive a grocery bag of food and a family-size meal once a week, rather than every two weeks.

Haddad and Trisha Dalapati pickup food donations from Trader Joe’s. The food will be transported to the Talmage Terrace kitchen and made into meals for seniors.

“The issue of hunger among seniors is not going away,” said Shannon Wilder, director of the Office of Service-Learning. “Seniors are a silent majority facing great needs. This is how UGA can address those needs and fill in the gaps.”

Out of the clients receiving weekly deliveries, 75 percent are grandparents raising grandchildren.

“Grandparents live on limited incomes and they don’t expect to raise kids at this stage of their life,” said Paige Powell, who directs the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program at the Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA).

More than 2.5 million children in the U.S. are being raised by grandparents, older siblings and extended family, many who aren’t their legal guardians and therefore can’t access social service programs for children in need.

The risk of food insecurity for grandparents supporting grandchildren is 50 percent higher compared to seniors in Athens not raising grandchildren, according to the ACCA.

Students involved in CKUGA collect food from UGA’s student-run UGArden, as well as from area businesses, and repurpose it into meals that they distribute to seniors in need.

“I like that Campus Kitchen works specifically with senior citizens,” said Trisha Dalapati, a UGA senior studying anthropology and biochemistry. “You always hear about kids with food insecurity, but seniors are an overlooked part of the food insecure population.”

CKUGA is also an example of experiential learning. As a program that started as a service-learning course, CKUGA is now involved in 12 service-learning courses in the 2017-2018 school year.

“It’s a great vehicle to connect faculty with service-learning,” said Wilder. “This is one of the few programs that reaches seniors as a population, and the demand for jobs relating to seniors is growing.”

Eunice Lee, part of the UGA VISTA network, and Grant Beecher and Wes York, Trader Joe’s employees, help prepare meals for CKUGA deliveries at the Talmage Terrace kitchen.

A Terry College of Business systems analysis and design class created a cloud-based data bank to make tracking food donations and deliveries more efficient. The system served as a capstone project and provided real-world experience on how to develop a technology solution to solve a client’s problem.

“This was an opportunity to work with a real client who had specific needs,” said Elena Karahanna, the Terry College of Business L. Edmund Rast Professor of Business and UGA Distinguished Research Professor. “We wanted to be sure this was not just a class project, but something that was sustainable and could actually be used by Campus Kitchen and the community.”

A new class of students continues to work with CKUGA, now designing a system to keep track of food donations, types of food being donated, and how food is distributed.

While CKUGA is addressing the problem, there are still families in the Athens area that need food, said Brad Turner, who directs CKUGA in the Office of Service-Learning.

“There’s still a great need in terms of senior hunger,” Turner said. “The amount of resources out there is not proportionate to the need.”


About Campus Kitchen at UGA



Writer: Leah Moss,, 706-612-0063

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery,, 706-542-3638

Contact: Brad Turner,

A UGA-assisted doggy day care and dog treat bakery in Savannah is thriving

When Tonya and Nick Rintye decided to open a day care and boarding facility for dogs, they went to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for assistance.

They learned right away that they needed more than an idea to start a business.

“I didn’t have any money to put down on a business and didn’t know what I’d need to get it,” Tonya Rintye says. “They told me no bank would just hand us the money, that we’d have to prove we have experience and are worthy of getting the loan. We’d also need a business plan and financial projections.”

To generate funding, Rintye pursued another option: Making homemade dog treats.

“We called all the local farmers markets and found out no one sold locally made dog treats and grooming products,” Rintye says. “That’s how we got started.”

During the next year, Rintye read a lot of recipes for dog treats, and researched what people wanted for their pets. She began making dog treats, baking and bagging them in her kitchen. The couple launched their line of Hipster Hound treats at local farmers markets, and later sold them through Savannah-area stores.

Customers asked if they provided pet-sitting services, so they became licensed and insured and opened Hipster Hound @ Home Pet Sitting services.

In August 2015, Rintye returned to the SBDC and met with consultant Becky Brownlee, who is now the area director.

“I told Becky, ‘Here’s the money I put into this business. Here’s the profit we’ve made. I did all this in my spare time while working a full-time job,” Rintye says. “ ‘Imagine what I could do if a bank gave me a loan to build a much-needed doggie day care facility.’ ”

Brownlee helped Rintye apply for a loan from the federal Small Business Administration (SBA).

“We spent a considerable amount of time working on Tonya’s market research, business plan, financial projections, project costs and construction estimates for her loan request,” Brownlee says. “Zoning was also an important consideration.”

Within two weeks of finding the ideal location, the Rintyes signed a lease. On opening day in March 2016, there were two employees caring for 15 dogs.

Today, Hipster Hound Doggy Day Care houses up to 75 dogs a day and has 20 employees. A national grocer and retail outlets around the country are selling their natural dog treats. The business’ six-figure sales revenues have doubled each of the last two years.

A catalog company recently ordered 150 boxes of treats a month, prompting Rintye to look for a bigger kitchen. She is working with Brownlee to find a site and to establish a business plan.

“What’s the most important thing I learned?” Rintye says. “Just about everything. Like having a budget for building repairs and payroll taxes, and all the insurance products you need, like workmen’s compensation. Becky and the SBDC force you to do an extremely realistic projection.”

“I don’t know how people start a small business without the SBDC.”

UGA digital marketing boot camp helps rural businesses compete in global economy


A digital marketing workshop to help South Georgia entrepreneurs and small business owners expand their client base is scheduled Tuesday, Sept. 25, in Douglas, Georgia.

The UGA Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC’s) Digital Marketing Boot Camp is an interactive workshop where small business owners learn how to build their digital brands, expand their market and acquire new customers through social channels.

“The great thing for small firms with the advent of social media is their footprint can be much larger than just their local marketplace,” said Allan Adams, SBDC director. “Customers don’t have to be right there in town, or even in driving distance. The region, the state, the country and beyond can become their customer base.”

At the digital marketing training, participants learn the basics of SEO.

Participants learn how to leverage social media channels into sales, use search engine optimization (SEO) to gain a larger audience on the web and learn what tools are available to help them grow engagement on Facebook and Instagram.

Most importantly, business owners will understand how to create and implement a digital strategy, a must-have for small businesses to succeed in today’s digital world.

“(Digital) is part of marketing today,” said Debbie Finney, director of the UGA SBDC office in Albany. “You can’t ignore it. You have to have a digital strategy.”

For Bruce Roberts, the owner of ShotKing, a company based in Adel, Ga. that manufactures machines needed in heavy industry, he knew there was no way he could just sell his product locally.

Bruce Roberts, owner of machine manufacture Shot King in Adel, Ga. The SBDC helped him take his small town business to 22 countries around the world.

“It’s absolutely necessary for us to cover the planet,” said Roberts “I literally had no clue about selling internationally.”

With the SBDC’s help, Roberts was able to revitalize ShotKing, which builds machines pioneered after World War II to clean metal parts. The machines use shot blasting, a technique similar to sand blasting, where small steel pellets are fired at high speeds to clean metal surfaces. Today, nearly half of ShotKing’s sales come from exports to 22 countries.

“Having these folks at the SBDC to call on is great,” Roberts said. “We would’ve just muddled through without them. We’d be a lot smaller operation.”

This social media marketing program is sponsored by the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce.

“For most chambers, especially in rural communities, the majority of their membership is small businesses,” Adams said. “We both had an interest in helping small businesses thrive. It’s a natural connection.”

In the last five years, SBDC-assisted clients have:

  • Opened 1,700 new businesses.
  • Created 12,000 jobs.
  • Generated over 9 billion in sales.

For more information or to register for the Digital Marketing Boot Camp in Douglas:


Photographer: Shannah Montgomery,, 706-542-3638

Institute of Government helping rural Georgia address healthcare needs

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government has launched two regional partnerships in south Georgia to address the growing need for healthcare workers in rural communities.

WorkSource Southern Georgia, which includes 18 counties, and WorkSource Southwest Georgia, with 14 counties, bring employers, educators, government agencies and potential employees together in a targeted approach to meeting the human capital needs of the communities.

Eleven of the 15 fastest-growing jobs in south Georgia this decade are in the healthcare sector, according to the Department of Labor.

The two regional sector partnerships are funded by the Governors High Demand Career Initiative grants through the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Workforce Division.

Counties in WorkSource Southern Georgia include Atkinson, Bacon, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brantley, Brooks, Charlton, Clinch, Coffee, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Pierce, Tift, Turner and Ware.

Counties in WorkSource Southwest Georgia include Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell, Thomas and Worth.




UGA helping women in southeast Georgia grow as leaders

As a counselor in the Upper School at Bulloch Academy in Statesboro, Kinsley Baker has a great job and a good quality of life.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, when Baker began the 2017-2018 Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation Women’s Leadership Academy she also had a “great job,” she said. “But it was a challenge to manage work-life balance.”

The leadership program, developed by UGA’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development for the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation in Statesboro, helped Baker realize she needed a change.

“Each session really hit home for me and was so relevant to where I was in my life and in my career,” Baker said. “I learned so much about myself, how I work with others and how I manage conflict. What I learned had a lot to do with me taking that step forward.”

Lynda Williamson, a civic leader in the Statesboro community, established the foundation before her death in November 2014 to help guide and mentor young women in southeast Georgia. The leadership academy focuses on servant leadership, mentoring and developing a personal leadership style.

“Women in leadership roles face unique challenges and situations,” said Lisa Lee, president of the Lynda B. Williamson Foundation. “We wanted to create a program that would address those specific issues and provide a safe space for women to discuss leadership, learn from each other and grow together.”

Lisa Lee, president of Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation

Fanning Institute faculty, led by Maritza Soto Keen and Carolina Darbisi, cover topics like personal leadership, communication and conflict, strategies for effective leadership, career and professional skill development and multigenerational leadership. The class also meets with local and state leaders.

“We created a curriculum to examine leadership through a woman’s lens,” Keen said. “By raising these unique issues and allowing women to talk about them and share with each other, they develop their personal leadership abilities and build a network of women leaders that can work together to strengthen their communities.”

Program participants also work together on a community service project, which also helps them bond.

“The support I felt from my classmates gave me the courage to grow, to take a leap of faith,” Baker said.

So far, 48 women have graduated from the program, held each year since 2015-16. The first two groups organized activities in the Statesboro area, including a career day for women that offered interview training, resume development and professional makeovers.

The 2017-18 class plans to create a mentoring program for high school girls, which will cover social media etiquette, resume building and conflict management.

“We want to take what we have learned and pass it on to the next generation,” Baker said.

An alumnae group formed by program graduates will also provide support for the program and its community service efforts moving forward.

“We want to continue supporting and connecting with each other and giving back to the community in the spirit and legacy of Lynda B. Williamson,” said Erica Sellers, a graduate of the 2016-17 program.

“Seeing women complete the program and stay involved as alumnae shows us that the foundation’s work and mission to mentor and guide young women in southeast Georgia will continue into the next generation,” Lee said. “While Lynda left us a vision and we knew we wanted a women’s leadership academy, the Fanning Institute took the heart of what we wanted to do and made it beat.”

The program is a strong community partnership, said Matt Bishop, director of the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

“At the Fanning Institute, we believe that communities become stronger when they empower as many people as possible with the tools and knowledge to lead and contribute,” Bishop said. “We are proud to partner with the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation on the Women’s Leadership Academy, and we look forward to seeing the impact that these women will have on future generations in southeast Georgia.”

The fourth class of the Lynda Brannen Williamson Women’s Leadership Academy begins this month.

Writer: Charlie Bauder,, 706-542-7039

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery,, 706-542-3638

New faculty at UGA explore research and collaboration opportunities during state tour

Justin Bahl, a new faculty member in the College of Public Health, studies the spread of infectious disease.

Sabriya Rice, a new faculty member in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, teaches budding journalists how to write about health and medical issues.

When they met on the 2018 New Faculty Tour, Bahl and Rice discovered a mutual interest. Bahl’s students need to learn how to talk about their work in ways that non-scientists can easily understand. Rice’s students need to know how to translate the scientific language into layman’s terms.

“Justin and his students study the spread of influenza, for example, and that could be an opportunity for students to write about,” said Rice, the new Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism.

Sabriya Rice at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.

Rice and Bahl, an associate professor of infectious diseases and bioinformatics, were among the 40 UGA faculty members on the 2018 New Faculty Tour, which began in Gainesville and traveled through 15 cities and 48 counties, with stops in Dahlonega, Atlanta, Griffin, Senoia, Tifton, Waycross, Savannah and Sandersville, among others. Tour participants learned about the culture, history, geography and economic engines that drive the state: agritourism at Jaemor Farms near Gainesville, the film industry at Raleigh (AMC) Studios in Senoia, manufacturing at the Kia plant in West Point, the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah and the kaolin industry in Sandersville.

With hours together on the bus and at stops, the faculty members found shared interests, made friends, discussed collaborations and explored opportunities for themselves and their students throughout the state.

For Gabrielle Darville, an evaluation coordinator for health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health, the tour provided an opportunity to see firsthand the differences between urban and rural Georgia.

“Since I teach intro to public health, I teach students across departments and disciplines at UGA,” Darville said. “Now I have more resources at my fingertips to connect students with internships, jobs, fellowships. I can help them navigate life better now that I know what both rural and urban Georgia have to offer.”

Many on the trip gained a better understanding of how UGA serves the state through its land-grant and sea-grant designation.

“As someone who studies and teaches about higher education, I’ve never had a clear picture of what a land-grant university looked like,” said Georgianna Martin, an assistant professor of counseling and human development services in the College of Education. “Seeing one in action was inspiring. I have a much clearer picture of what a land-grant university looks like in action, and I learned about the sea-grant designation, which I had never heard of.”

Faculty members visited Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to learn about UGA’s sea-grant mission.

Even lifetime residents of Georgia learned a few new things on the tour.

“Being a native of Georgia myself, I was uncertain about the benefits of the tour,” said Jason Estep, a Cooperative Extension 4-H Specialist for Leadership and Citizenship Programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “It’s only been a few days and I’ve been to all new places and seen firsthand how connected UGA is throughout the entire state.”

No matter where professors travelled across Georgia, UGA’s impact was present and tangible.

“There’s such a vibrancy in the UGA community, and that feeling is shared across Georgia,” said Nathaniel Hunsu, an assistant professor of engineering education in the College of Engineering. “I did not know the vastness of UGA and the great things happening off campus before this tour.”


View more photos from the New Faculty Tour


Writer: Leah Moss,, 912-687-2090

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery,, 706-542-3638

Contact: Kelly Simmons,, 706-296-0855

UGA has three finalists for national economic development award

For the second year, three University of Georgia programs have been selected as finalists for national awards recognizing innovation in economic development.

Archway Partnership, Carl Vinson Institute of Government and Innovation Gateway are among the 24 finalists for the University Economic Development Association 2018 Awards of Excellence. UGA’s finalists are in different categories and will not compete with one another.

UEDA represents higher education, private sector and community economic development stakeholders across North America. Entries were judged by a panel of university and economic development professionals based on the alignment of their institution’s core mission activities with regional economic development goals. Categories include innovation, talent and place, as well as the intersections of these three categories. Criteria for judging included originality, scalability, sustainability, impact and the feasibility of other organizations replicating the initiatives in their communities.

Two of the finalists are from units of the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach:

  • UGA Archway Partnership Addresses Healthcare Needs in Rural Georgia is a project in which UGA faculty and students worked side-by-side with local stakeholders in Pulaski County to evaluate health data, conduct surveys and host focus groups to prepare the local hospital’s mandated Community Health Needs Assessment. The CHNA assisted the rural hospital in remaining viable in a challenging environment by bringing to light new services that community members would like to see. This collaboration led to the establishment of an urgent care clinic at Taylor Regional Hospital. The clinic is seeing an average of 18 patients a day and has reduced hospital emergency room traffic by 10 percent. The Archway Partnership project is a finalist in the “Place” category.
  • The Georgia Certified Economic Developer Program was developed by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government in an effort to be responsive to Georgia’s economic development needs. The state-specific training provides the essential high-quality curriculum needed by economic development professionals to effectively compete in today’s global economy. The program offers economic developers the opportunity to achieve their certification more cost-effectively, as courses are taught in central locations around Georgia, and timely, within a two- to three-year period. The courses offer practical, skills-based training with immediate application. The program design is grounded in a competency cluster framework that reflects internationally recognized skills and abilities. Since the launch in 2016, participants from over half of Georgia’s 159 counties have enrolled in GCED classes. In September 2017, UGA awarded the first GCED designation followed by four additional recipients in May 2018. The GCED program is a finalist in the “Talent + Place” category.

“We are honored to be finalists again in this national competition,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach. “This recognizes UGA’s commitment to improving the quality of life for all Georgians.”

The third finalist is from the Office of Research:

  • The Cultivar Development Research Program is an internal grant program, managed by Innovation Gateway in cooperation with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Georgia Seed Development Commission, that is funded entirely by the licensing royalty revenue derived from UGA-developed plant cultivars (varieties). Since 1997, the CDRP has provided almost $20 million in grant funding that has helped generate more than 300 new plant cultivars. Cultivars generated through CDRP funding have had a tremendous impact on Georgia’s $73 billion agriculture industry, helping Georgia become the No. 1 state for peanut, blueberry and pecan production. Furthermore, the CDRP simultaneously serves as an effective tool in attracting and retaining top-tier plant breeding scientists to UGA. The CDRP is a finalist in the “Innovation” category.

“The beauty of UGA’s Cultivar Development Research Program is that we use licensing revenue from existing cultivars to invest in research that yields the next generation of cultivars, and so it propagates the university’s very positive impact on commercial agriculture,” said Vice President for Research David Lee. “It’s a win-win for everyone and has allowed us to maintain a robust, diverse plant breeding portfolio.”

Winners will be announced during the UEDA Annual Summit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Oct. 21-24, 2018.

Two other UGA programs were selected as “Lightning Round” entries, new in 2018. Each entry will be allowed a five-minute pitch to the audience at the UEDA Annual Summit in October, followed by a question and answer period.

UGA’s Lightning Round entries are:

  • The Animal Health Hackathon, hosted by UGA and Boehringer-Ingelheim, the world’s second largest animal health company, brought together students, faculty, entrepreneurs and business leaders to explore multidisciplinary approaches for improving animal health. Thirteen diverse teams competed for $5,000 and a one-year membership to a community business incubator. The momentum from this Hackathon continues to build the innovation pipeline – several teams are pursuing patents on their solutions and participating in UGA’s idea accelerator.
  • The New Materials Institute (NMI) is an interdisciplinary effort with 20 faculty working with public and private partners to pioneer systems and materials that promote a circular economy. Programs range from innovative waste management systems to novel, truly biodegradable materials that meet the high expectations of industry and their consumers. Most importantly, NMI trains the next generation of engineers and scientists to use this holistic approach



Kelly Simmons,, 706-296-0855


Jennifer Frum,, 706-542-3352

David Lee,, 706-542-5969

Annual tour introduces new UGA faculty to the state’s diverse economy


About 40 new University of Georgia faculty members on Monday kicked off a five-day tour of the state that will showcase agriculture and agritourism, industry, innovation, the Georgia coast and its rural communities.

From Aug. 6-10, the tour will visit 15 cities and pass through 48 counties, introducing faculty who have been at UGA for two or fewer years to the geography, culture, history and economic engines of the state. Along the way faculty see how entrenched UGA, Georgia’s land- and sea-grant institution, is throughout the state.

The tour began with a welcome from UGA President Jere W. Morehead at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel. From there, the bus heads to Jaemor Farms near Gainesville, a working family farm that now draws hundreds of visitors a year for events and activities, in addition to fresh produce like tomatoes, peaches and strawberries, boiled peanuts and fried pies.

“Many of our faculty come from other parts of the country and the world and this trip really opens their eyes to the diversity we enjoy here in the state of Georgia,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “In addition they get to meet one another and discover common interests, which often leads to great interdisciplinary partnerships when they get back to campus.”

During the trip, participants will visit:

  • Amicalola Falls State Park, the southern gateway to the Appalachian Trail;
  • the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta;
  • the Georgia State Capitol, where faculty will hear from Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley;
  • the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center at UGA-Griffin;
  • the City of Senoia, home to Riverwood Studios and The Walking Dead;
  • Kia Motors Manufacturing in West Point;
  • the Carnegie Library in Americus;
  • the UGA-Tifton campus;
  • the Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross;
  • UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant on Skidaway Island in Savannah;
  • the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History in Savannah; and
  • the Georgia Ports Authority in Garden City.

The last stop will be in Washington County, a UGA Archway Partnership community, where faculty will enjoy ice cream from the The Dairy Lane restaurant and learn about the kaolin industry, Archway and the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

The New Faculty Tour is coordinated by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach and is made possible by major support from the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach. Additional sponsors include the UGA Alumni Association, UGA Foundation, and a multitude of other units and supporters of the University of Georgia.


Writer: Leah Moss,, 706-583-0964

Contact: Kelly Simmons,, 706-296-0855

UGA studies potential partnerships with industry to engage more students in STEM fields


Some of Avalon Kandrac’s most enlightening moments as an undergraduate in the College of Engineering are outside the classroom.

Meeting professional engineers and working as an intern helps her better understand the academic lessons, which can be a challenge, and keep her on track. This summer she’s working at Lockheed Martin in Marietta, helping develop safety policies and environmental goals. She expects to graduate next year with a degree in biological engineering with an emphasis on the environment.

“Business engagement early on is really helpful,” Kandrac said. “These experiences are super helpful in reinforcing why you should stick it out.”

David Tanner, an associate director at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, is working alongside two other UGA units to find ways to engage businesses with higher education to help keep students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and to provide them the experience that the companies are looking for in graduates.

“Businesses want to be more engaged, but it’s not easy,” Tanner said. “What works for student persistence and keeps them energized? What can companies do to incentivize that?”

Using an interdisciplinary seed grant from the office of UGA President Jere Morehead, Tanner and colleagues Timothy Burg, director of the Office of STEM Education, and Karen Webber, an associate professor at the Institute of Higher Education, are developing a tool to help businesses make smart investment choices in higher education. They have convened focus groups over the last year to gather input from educators, administrators and business leaders. Those conversations across and between organizations are critical to figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution in the universe of STEM careers, but each company has unique experiences in recruiting talent to add to the conversation, said Amy Hutchins, education and workforce development manager at Georgia Power. Tanner and his team are helping bring those people together, she said.

“You can throw some logs across a river or you can work together to build a bridge to move massive amounts of people,” she said. “UGA brings experience and objectivity to something like this. We’re always interested in partnering for the greater good.”

Tanner has met a lot of business people through Crystal Leach, director of industry collaborations in the UGA Office of Research, and Jill Walton, executive director of UGA Corporate and Foundation Relations. Their connections have helped him gain valuable insight into the needs and observations of industry. His research could help them convince more companies to invest in UGA students.

“We want to give companies a road map for how they can get involved, how their dollars can be used and how that might impact their recruitment efforts,” Walton said. “It’s hard to reach every company. A lot of times we have to focus our time and energy on the bigger companies. It would be great to have a standard toolkit to help with these decisions.”

The aim is to get kids interested in STEM fields in grade school and keep them engaged through college and into their career. That would be attractive for universities, students and businesses.

“If we can identify those good investments, we could increase the volume and quality of business engagement in STEM education,” Tanner said. “That could have a big impact on the STEM workforce in Georgia.”


Contact: David Tanner,, 706-583-0151

UGA students design proposals for landscape revitalization at church in Athens

The 109-year-old campus of Young Harris Memorial United Methodist Church in Athens will be getting a facelift with assistance from UGA students.

Students from the UGA College of Environment and Design assessed the six-acre campus on Prince Avenue and drafted plans to update the grounds and facilities. Specifically, the church wants to expand its playground and enhance the presence of a community garden, installed seven years ago.

“My desire is to will us toward connecting with our community,”  said David Wofford, pastor of Young Harris Memorial United Methodist Church. “These designs will help us focus our vision on being part of the community and reaching out with purpose.”

The students presented a range of possibilities, such as adding native plants and maintenance-free artificial turf in the community garden and incorporating symbols important to the Methodist heritage, including octagons that symbolize the Heptonstall Church in Heptonstall, England, one of the oldest Methodist churches in the world.  

John Adeyemi, a student in CED Associate Professor Shelley Cannady’s Landscape Architecture Design Studio, said the group tried to keep in mind historical touches in designing a new playground and making the church courtyard less imposing.

“It feels good to know you can have an impact on positive change in the community,” Adeyemi said. “UGA is incorporating the community into the university and it’s something I love to do.”

CED professors take on about 15 community projects each semester, providing an opportunity for students to put their academic knowledge into practice.

“Service-learning is just the way we like to teach,” said Jennifer Lewis, outreach coordinator for CED. “Students develop a very valuable skillset that helps them hit the ground running once they graduate.”

The church is using the student designs in its visioning process to help plan for the next quarter century, Wofford said.

“These sorts of ideas and energies and passion don’t happen in a non-college town,” Wofford said. “This idea factory is a tremendous opportunity for us.”

It is a great opportunity for the university, as well, Cannady said.

“This is our way of giving value back to the state of Georgia,” Cannady said. “The students get so energized by real-world projects. I know from personal experience it’s frustrating to just produce paper (designs) in class when you want to make the world better.”


Contact: Jennifer Lewis,, 706-369-5885