The Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden opens to the public

Come and enjoy a spring celebration with special activities, performances and food trucks

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia welcomed more than 200 people to celebrate the completion of the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden Monday morning with a dedication and ribbon-cutting at the new nature-based educational environment.

The ceremony marked the conclusion of a project that transformed a parking lot at the State Botanical Garden, a UGA public service and outreach unit, into an interactive, outdoor classroom, allowing visitors throughout the state to experience natural Georgia environments with their own hands.

“In nearly every speech I give, I always try to remind people that we are a land-grant and sea-grant university, and with that comes a responsibility to make our resources available to individuals and communities throughout the state,” said University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead. “This botanical garden, and especially the children’s garden that we’re dedicating today, is such a great example of that goal.”

Officials, members of the Richards’ family and friends of the State Botanical Garden prepare to cut the ribbon to dedicate the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden Monday.

The new 2.5-acre garden contains a variety of fun, immersive locations, including a chestnut tree house, fossil wall, giant water-misting mushrooms, vegetable garden, a replica of a North Georgia cave, and more — all designed to be learned from, crawled through and touched.

“We are here to welcome you to more than a garden space built to engage children, students and families,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden. “The Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden is a journey of discovery across Georgia’s rich natural resources – and a celebration of the University of Georgia’s service and outreach across our state.”

The children’s garden project began in earnest 12 years ago with a $1 million donation from the family of Alice H. Richards in 2007. The namesake of the new garden, Richards was a charter member of the State Botanical Garden’s Board of Advisors and an ardent supporter of the botanical garden.

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Alice’s son Jim, one of several members of the Richards family in attendance, felt his mother would have been proud to see her dream of a children’s garden become a reality.

“We’re very proud that her vision when she came to the board has come to fruition,” said Jim Richards. “My mother would adore this spectacular, clean, crisp day as we move out of winter, and be so pleased and very proud of this children’s garden, which she dreamed of from the time she became a State Botanical Garden of Georgia board member.”

The children’s garden will officially open to the public with a grand opening on Saturday, March 23. The celebration will feature live music, food trucks and a variety of performances at the Theatre-in-the-Woods stage.


Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden Grand Opening


Aaron Cox Public Relations Specialist • 706-542-3631


Cora Keber State Botanical Garden Director of Education • 706-542-6158

2018-2019 PSO Student Scholar: Stacey Deng

Hometown: Suwanee, GA

Year: Senior

College: College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Major: Dietetics

Internship Unit: State Botanical Garden of Georgia


Have you participated in experiential learning? 

I went to Australia, where I studied global health and sustainability.

Have you had any internships? 

I was an intern for Dietetics Practicum with UGA Sports Nutrition; I made educational flyers, received orders, handled inventory, restocked fueling stations, helped the sports nutrition dietitians with whatever they needed.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Ten years from now I see myself as a registered dietitian providing education, regarding nutrition and sustainability, somewhere outside the U.S.

Why did you apply for PSO Scholars? 

I applied for PSO Scholars because I saw the opportunity to open myself up to new experiences and enhance my leadership skills.

What excites you most about your unit? 

I am very excited about meeting people who are just as passionate about the environment as I am.

What do you hope to get out of this experience? 

I hope to increase my knowledge about plants, connections, public speaking skills, a greater appreciation for nature, and deeper my insight into public service outreach.

Why is service and outreach important to you? 

Nothing makes me happier than seeing the positive impact I am able to make on someone’s life.

Fun fact: 

Unpopular opinion, but I don’t like avocados. I also recently did the supertaster test, and apparently I am a supertaster.

The Public Service & Outreach Student Scholars program provides the opportunity for a select cohort of undergraduate students to explore and engage with the University of Georgia’s public service and outreach (PSO) mission. Supported by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, and administered through the Office of Service-Learning, this year-long program is intended to provide deeper understanding of PSO’s purpose, breadth, and depth through supervised service experiences with PSO and communities, to help students link their public service experiences with their career and educational goals, and to create a community of student scholars who understand the role of public service in Georgia and more broadly.

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Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden reaches full bloom

UGA set to dedicate the children’s outdoor classroom at the State Botanical Garden 

There were many things Alice Huffard Richards was known for—her tenacity, her love of children, her knowledge of Latin plant names, among them.

And her pruning shears, which were an old pair of scissors always within reach.

“She’d go to visit a friend and pause to prune the flowers before she went in. She’d even pull over on the side of the road and prune or deadhead flowers that needed some love—and she would do this anywhere and everywhere,” says Jim Richards, one of Alice Richards’ seven children. “She was renowned for always having her scissors in the car with her.”

The Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia will be dedicated today, memorializing her commitment to plants, children and Georgia. The first $1 million toward the garden was given to UGA by Alice Richards’ family. The balance, about $4 million, was raised through private donations, including money from all 80 members of the State Botanical Garden advisory board, of which Richards was a charter member, and every employee of the garden.

Alice Richards at a State Botanical Garden event with Sanford Eugene ‘Gene’ Younts, the second vice president for public service at UGA.

The centerpiece of the State Botanical Garden, a UGA public service and outreach unit, the children’s garden is a 2.5-acre interactive outdoor classroom where visitors can learn about Georgia history and natural resources, native plants and pollinators, and healthy foods.

The garden features a replica of Ellison’s Cave in Walker County, the 12th deepest cave in the United State, mastodon fossils from 40 million years ago, granite mined from Elbert County and a pitcher plant bog are a few points of interest visitors can expect to see, touch and explore at the new children’s garden.

“The garden is designed to showcase Georgia and the valuable natural resources in our state,” says Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden. “We are so excited to share these themes with communities in Georgia and beyond, as a way of achieving our mission for service and outreach.”

Hailing from Carroll County, Georgia, Alice Richards dreamed of creating a children’s garden in Athens from the time she joined the State Botanical Garden in the early 1980s, when the board of advisors first formed. Her family helped make the new garden a reality after she died in 2007.

But her impact goes beyond the children’s garden, back to 1968, when the State Botanical Garden first opened.

“She asked me why she should join the garden’s board, and I said, ‘you love flora and fauna, but more than that, you love conserving land and leaving things better,’” says Susan Duncan, who recruited Richards to join the original board of advisors. “You have the opportunity to create something wonderful.”

Richards was as comfortable recruiting new board members to the garden board as she was on her hands and knees, planting, trimming and watering in the flower garden. When the master plans for the State Botanical Garden were being drawn up, she proposed the initial concept for a children’s garden—a place to nurture and enrich the lives of the next generation.

“I have heard from people who knew Alice that she loved children, and that she was a nurturing and caring person,” Cruse-Sanders says. “It is fitting that the new garden that we have created to engage and bring wonder to children and families is filled with that same spirit.”

“She would be amazed and delighted if she could see it now,” Jim Richards says.

The Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden is set to open March 23 with a festival-style spring celebration featuring food trucks, music, dance and aerial performances at the Theater-in-the-Woods stage and free fun throughout the entire day.


Leah Moss Public Relations Coordinator • 706-583-0964


Jenny Cruse Sanders Director of State Botanical Garden of Georgia • 706-542-6131


UGA Leadership Program Helps Boost Women into Top Roles in Rural Georgia Community

One of the first priorities of the Pulaski County Archway Partnership was to identify new and emerging leaders in the community.

Today, just nine years after the Pulaski Tomorrow Leadership Program began, women are holding top leadership positions in the county for the first time.

Jenna Mashburn, elected Pulaski’s sole county commissioner in November, Sara Myers, Hawkinsville City Manager, and Christina Ruiz, manager of the Hawkinsville Hollingsworth & Vose manufacturing plant, are the first females in Pulaski County to hold each of these positions.

“I’ve been interested in running for commissioner for a number of years and my involvement in Pulaski Tomorrow was actually a strategic piece in that plan,” Mashburn said. “It gave me the opportunity to become involved with community leadership and the Archway executive committee and to learn from the challenges that surfaced as needs for Pulaski County’s government.”

Pulaski Tomorrow began in 2010, facilitated by faculty from the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. Both Archway and Fanning are UGA public service units.

“Pulaski Tomorrow has provided a doorway for a diverse group of people to obtain leadership positions within our community,” said Sherry Berryhill, executive committee chair of the Pulaski County Archway Partnership. “We have had an influx of younger people. People of multiple races and genders are now filling up leadership positions that have seemed unobtainable in the past. By having people that may approach problems differently, we are able to be presented with multiple solutions to problems rather than the same old tired solutions.”

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Twenty-one adults participated in Pulaski Tomorrow in 2010. Since then more than 100 Pulaski adults and about 150 youth participants have graduated from the program.

“My current role as plant manager requires that I manage and lead all types of people,” said Ruiz, who worked for Hollingsworth & Vose for almost 13 years before becoming plant manager. “I often recall the experience from Pulaski Tomorrow as I handle various situations.”

Leadership must be grown from the ground up, not from the top, said Jessica Walden, an expert in communications strategy and co-business owner of Rock Candy Tours in Macon.

“Georgia is a better place when leadership programs strive to expand the understanding of our own communities and how our sense of place, and purpose, fits into our state’s overall socioeconomic well-being,” Walden said. “That’s when the gaps of Georgia are bridged, and we discover innovative, progressive solutions to our issues and opportunities.”

Myers worked in administration in healthcare before she became Pulaski County clerk in 2011 and later city manager. In that larger role, it was important for her to understand that individuals don’t all learn the same way.

“In my current position, I have employees who all learn differently,” she said. “It’s up to me as a leader to provide them with the necessary learning tools that will enable them to perform their job tasks to the best of their ability.”


Baker Owens Public Relations Coordinator • 706-542-1667


Rob Gordon Archway Partnership Director • 706-542-3268


2018-2019 PSO Student Scholar: Trisha Dalapati


Hometown: Roswell, GA

Year: Senior

College: Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Major: Biochemistry and molecular biology, anthropology

Internship Unit: The Office of Service-Learning


Have you participated in experiential learning? 

UGA at Oxford Maymester in 2016; I studied biomedical ethics. Bali in 2017; I studied ethnographic writing and the culture of Bali, including ecotourism and Hinduism.

Have you had any internships? 

At the Oxford Fertility Unit during the summer of 2016 I was a clinical research intern and worked with clinicians to evaluate the quality of life of patients undergoing IVF treatment at private versus public clinics. I also shadowed clinicians and observed patient consultations. In addition, I worked at Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit during the summer of 2017 where I analyzed patient samples using mass spectrometry with the goal of identifying potential biomarkers of infectious diseases.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

In ten years, I hope to be finished with medical and graduate school. After that, I’d like to be working as a physician in my community and researching a topic related to infectious diseases and maternal-infant health.

Why did you apply for PSO Scholars? 

I applied for PSO to apply my academic background in my community and to learn from other PSO Scholars.

What excites you most about your unit? 

I am excited to engage with the surrounding Athens community this year through the Office of Service-Learning’s programs including the Campus Kitchen at UGA and Experience UGA.

What do you hope to get out of this experience? 

I hope to learn about ways I can incorporate service-learning into my daily routine, which I will further carry into my career.

Why is service and outreach important to you? 

Participating in service and outreach is mutually rewarding to all parties involved. Students become more conscientious of their community’s needs and improve their academic and social skills. On the flip side, the community in which the students are working in benefit from their time, perspectives, and engagement.

Fun fact: 

I collect fortunes from fortune cookies and keep a few of my favorites ones in my wallet!

Here’s me at the Myers Quad holding a swaddled pup from the Athens Humane Society during a study break during finals week!

The Public Service & Outreach Student Scholars program provides the opportunity for a select cohort of undergraduate students to explore and engage with the University of Georgia’s public service and outreach (PSO) mission. Supported by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, and administered through the Office of Service-Learning, this year-long program is intended to provide deeper understanding of PSO’s purpose, breadth, and depth through supervised service experiences with PSO and communities, to help students link their public service experiences with their career and educational goals, and to create a community of student scholars who understand the role of public service in Georgia and more broadly.

Learn More

SBDC-assisted company helps clean up explosives


Mining, construction, the oil industry and other civil uses account for about 90 percent of the explosives manufactured globally. The defense industry uses about 10 percent. All have a similar need: to eliminate the threat of explosive byproducts and those no longer in use.

UGA geology Professor Valentine Nzengung helps bases eliminate these threats using a chemical product that dissolves, neutralizes and destroys explosives without causing an explosion. Nzengung developed the product through his business, MuniRem Environmental, which manufactures and sells it to commercial explosive manufacturing facilities and military bases. His market is expanding to serve nongovernmental organizations.

You contaminate the air, soil and water when you blow up explosives to dispose or destroy them.— Valentine Nzengung

Nzengung started his business in a UGA Small Business Development Center incubator in 2001. UGA granted the license to commercialize his technology in 2007. UGA’s Innovation Gateway incubator hosted MuniRem Environmental from 2015 to 2016, when he relocated the business in Gwinnett County. He continued seeking help from the SBDC throughout the process.

“I’ve built a very close relationship with the SBDC as we’ve continued working over the years in different areas of business growth and development,” he said.

For example, after selling his technology to domestic customers for several years Nzengung was asked to export his product to a Canadian company under contract with the Canadian government. He turned to the UGA SBDC for help.

Rick Martin, director of the SBDC’s International Trade Center, helped him review the agreement and steered him to the Export Georgia workshop, which introduced him to all aspects of the exporting process. Martin connected Nzengung to a free program that provides legal advice on exports and brought in SBDC consultant Darrel Hulsey to offer guidance on potential sources of export financing that would help his organization grow.

“The main thing MuniRem, and all small exporters, must do is their homework and engage international resources to help them with the process,” Martin said. “To their advantage, in Georgia, our trade resources communicate with each other so we can bring in the information and support needed for any company.”

MuniRem successfully expanded into Canada. It also received a 2017 GLOBE (Georgia Launching Opportunities by Exporting) Award from the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s International Trade Division, for MuniRem’s expansion into Australia, Israel, South Africa and South Korea. It is also in Taiwan.

“We recently received a competitive Atlanta Metro Export Challenge grant for more international business development,” Nzengung said. “We intend to use it to go into Southeast Asia to train humanitarian organizations to use our products in supporting their demining work.”

Sales have doubled every year and are now in the seven figures. Employment varies with each project, depending on the number of highly skilled ordinance disposal technicians needed.

“There are still times when I need information or resources related to business development, so I call someone at the SBDC,” said Nzengung. “The SBDC is the place to go.”

UGA assisting Savannah with program that offers flood relief, new greenspace and jobs

Savannah lost a lot of trees in Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant is helping restore the lost greenspace in order to decrease flood risk and beautify barren space, while training Savannah residents in landscape design and infrastructure improvements.

The “Green Infrastructure to Green Jobs,” funded by the Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund, will create urban tree nurseries in low-lying, flood-prone neighborhoods in the city.

“We’ve been looking at how much Savannah’s urban tree nursery had been lost over the decades,” says Nick Deffley, sustainability director for the city of Savannah and lead on the project. “We were losing a lot of trees to development, some were just getting old, and we had two hurricanes in the last three years that took a toll as well.”

The hurricanes—Matthew in October 2016 and Irma in September 2017—caused significant damage to Savannah’s tree canopy, with Hurricane Matthew costing over $13 million in tree debris removal and unknown losses in water storage from mature trees. The City of Savannah owns over 350 flood-prone FEMA lots that are underutilized community assets. As coastal Georgia experiences extremes in weather, municipal governments are looking to green infrastructure, such as tree canopies, to improve their resilience to major storm events.

Deffley is working with a team of experts, including land-use and resiliency specialists at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, to engage the members of the community in the project, helping them understand their risks and recognize the benefits of implementing green infrastructure, such as tree canopies.

Over the course of the project, more than 500 trees will be planted by trainees in the Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program, an innovative workforce development program that trains residents in arbor care, plant identification, installation and maintenance.

Twelve employees are now in the training program, all recruited through two events hosted by the city of Savannah and WorkSource Coastal, a federally funded program designed to assist coastal residents in job training and career placement.

“I’ve always stayed in a box as far as administrative work, and I just wanted to branch out,” says Ni’Aisha Banks, 27, who has three children and is pregnant with a fourth.


Ni’Aisha Banks (left) helps her fellow trainees install an irrigation system at a planting site.

Banks is studying business administration at Savannah Technical College and plans to own her own business one day. She decided to sign up for the landscape management program because she wanted to try something new. After two months in the program, she’s able to help her peers install an irrigation system at a planting site in downtown Savannah.

It’s something I never imagined myself doing. Since I’ve been a part of this program, I’ve learned so much. It makes me want to beautify my community. – Ni’Aisha Banks

In December, the trainees attended a four-day training that was modeled after the Georgia Certified Landscape Professional program, developed by UGA Cooperative Extension’s Center for Urban Agriculture. They heard from guest speakers with expertise in green infrastructure and landscaping, and attended a field trip to the UGA Botanical Garden where they practiced planting trees  and installing irrigation systems.


UGA Cooperative Extension specialists trained participants in fundamental landscaping skills, including plant ID, planting practices and maintenance.

The experience exposed them to green industry careers and helped light the pathway to employment and advancement through skill development and professional certification.

During the year-long program, Deffley will guide the participants through more than 200 hours of hands-on training in landscape maintenance. They’ll also learn how to set up an email account, build a resume and create business cards, all tools that will help them be job ready.

“The whole intent is to not only introduce all of these folks to potential employers in this field, but it’s to really do everything we can to get them placed in jobs that are much more sustaining,” says Deffley.

All of the trainees in the program live in neighborhoods where some of the plantings will take place. Not only are they obtaining new skills that are vital to implementing green infrastructure in Savannah, but they are educating others in the community about the project.


Robert Hartwell is one of 12 participants in the Green Infrastructure to Green Jobs training program.

“We’re out here three days a week, and every day people ask, ‘what are you guys doing?’” says Robert Hartwell, who is also participating in the landscaping program. “People need to know about this stuff, you know? “It starts with the community.”’

Like Banks, 24-year-old Hartwell wants to own his own business. He plans to apply his new landscaping skills in his uncle’s backyard, helping him raise his walkway and put in a flower bed, before tackling his own lawn.

“I’m building my portfolio,” he says. “You’ve got to start somewhere, right?”

Additional project partners include the Savannah Tree Foundation, Victory Gardens, Work Source Georgia and the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission. The Kendeda Fund is also providing support for the initiative.

Writer: Emily Woodward

UGA-GDOT partnership helps Georgia travelers find their way

Even with sophisticated GPS systems, many Georgians still like the look and feel of a crisply folded state road map, veined with red and blue highways.

For two decades, the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) have produced the official state road map, available in many government offices, visitors and welcome centers, and rest stops along Georgia interstates.

The latest map was issued in January, after a year-long review and revisions by Institute of Government cartographers and GDOT graphic designers. Maps are revised and reissued every two years.

“People come in here specifically for maps because they like them so much,” says Alex Perschka, director of the Oconee County Tourism Department.

The new maps are being placed at the Oconee Welcome Center by Marketing and Tourism Coordinator Kristy Curtis.

Travelers stop at the county visitors center in downtown Watkinsville for maps and tourist information, Perschka said. He also includes them in information packets he prepares for real-estate agents and tucks them into recruitment folders for economic developers.

GDOT printed almost one million copies of the 2019-20 map. This edition includes new color coding that depicts coastal water depths rendered by Institute of Government Cartographer Angela Wheeler and artistic representations of state symbols created by GDOT Business Analyst Kiisa Wiegand. Additions, corrections and design changes to the map are submitted by employees in Georgia’s seven GDOT district offices, by other state agencies and by transportation officials in other states.

The 2019-20 map includes new branding by GDOT, municipalities that have formed since the last map— Peachtree Corners, South Fulton and Stonecrest—and a welcome from Ann R. Purcell, GDOT board chair. The new map also shows the location of camping shelters along the Appalachian Trail, with its southern trail head in Springer Mountain, Georgia.

This year there were 200 revisions to the map, said Wheeler, who has worked on GDOT road maps since 2010.

“It’s a real collaborative process,” Wheeler says. “I send drafts to GDOT to review and suggest changes. Once they’re happy with the way everything looks, Kiisa will send it to the printer to do the proofs.”

In January, 990,025 maps arrived at GDOT headquarters for shipment to district offices and the Georgia Department of Economic Development, which delivers maps to welcome centers throughout the state.

Producing the road map is just one of the UGA Institute of Government’s dozens of partnerships throughout Georgia, said Laura Meadows, director of the institute.

“We work with state, local and regional agencies on dozens of initiatives that improve Georgians’ lives and strengthen our communities,” Meadows says, “from rural economic development to helping drivers get to their destination without missing a turn.”

While more and more motorists depend on GPS systems for directions, people still love maps, Wiegand said.

“There is still a demand,” she says. “They’re really interesting. They show changes in geography, how the road system changes over time, and they give users a more accurate sense of direction.”

Writer: Roger Nielsen,, 706-542-2524

2018-2019 PSO Student Scholar: Samuel Shepherd

Hometown: Waynesboro, GA

Year: Senior

College: College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences 

Major: Agricultural and applied economics

Internship Unit: Small Business Development Center


Have you had any internships? 

I interned with the National Agriculture Statistics Service this summer, and will continue to work part-time for them this fall. I assist in statistical analysis for different surveys which NASS conducts. I also set production estimates for various commodities in the states of Georgia, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, and produce weekly crop production and condition reports.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

In 10 years I hope to have completed a masters and maybe PhD in agriculture and applied economics and be working as a commodity trader or market consultant. I would like to be very active in my local church and community, and perhaps starting a family by that time!

Why did you apply for PSO Scholars? 

I applied for PSO Scholars because I love to be involved, and I am an extremely curious person! Growing up on a farm in Burke County GA, many of the activities my friends and I participated in were available in large part due to support from the university system. I want to learn more about the different roles the university fills as it helps develop the state of Georgia, and how I can further the university’s PSO mission to serve communities around the state like my hometown.

What excites you most about your unit? 

I am passionate about small businesses in Georgia, and I am excited to work for a semester supporting them at the SBDC! My father owns his own company and growing up many of my friends’ parents owned their own farms as well, so I have a deep appreciation for the value small businesses add to the Georgia economy.

What do you hope to get out of this experience? 

By the end of this fall I hope to have a complete, basic understanding of all the communities the University System of Georgia directly impacts, and some of the services that it provides. I want to learn how I can support the PSO as a student and as a working member of my community in the future, and would like to learn how I can advocate on behalf of these units which have positively impacted my life.

Why is service and outreach important to you? 

To pay my way through college, for three years I took classes online while working full-time for my local congressman. In that job I spent a lot of time learning about the various ways a community can improve itself, whether by improving the education or healthcare system, through the recruitment of new businesses or by improved local government cohesion. Through that experience I came to understand that no community can improve unless there is a committed group of people willing to volunteer their time, serve, and lead their community without thought of how they might personally gain. It’s important to me that I always be involved in service and volunteer projects, because only by placing others’ needs before our own can we find true purpose, meaning and joy in life!

Fun fact: 

I have four brothers and four sisters! Having grown up in a large family is such an integral part of my identity, it developed me into the person that I am today. To have such a large support group who know me completely and will experience all of life with me is one of the greatest blessings I could’ve ever been given.

The PSO Student Scholars traveled to Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, where they got to learn about horseshoe crabs.

The Public Service & Outreach Student Scholars program provides the opportunity for a select cohort of undergraduate students to explore and engage with the University of Georgia’s public service and outreach (PSO) mission. Supported by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, and administered through the Office of Service-Learning, this year-long program is intended to provide deeper understanding of PSO’s purpose, breadth, and depth through supervised service experiences with PSO and communities, to help students link their public service experiences with their career and educational goals, and to create a community of student scholars who understand the role of public service in Georgia and more broadly.

Learn More

Leadership program off to strong start

Georgia Possible already having positive effects on high schoolers, county

A new high school leadership development program has seen positive results in its first six months.

Georgia Possible is designed to help students have success in the classroom and after graduation. Starting freshman year, students will participate in the program for three years. After nine sessions, administrators from UGA and Clarke County are pleased with the partnership and excited for the future of the program.

“I am delighted that the University of Georgia and the Clarke County School District have partnered to create this innovative program,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I look forward to the many outstanding contributions that these students will continue to have in our community.”

Administrators in the school district have seen major impacts.

Clarke County ninth-graders interact during a professional communication exercise. (Photos by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

“The inaugural year of Georgia Possible has been a great success for our students in the Clarke County School District. The experiences that our students have been able to participate in this year have left an indelible mark on the academic and social trajectory of these students,” said Demond Means, superintendent of the Clarke County School District. “The impact has gone well beyond the selected students in the Georgia Possible program as these students have served as exemplary role models for their peers.”

The program started in September 2018. Students were nominated by their school’s principal based on factors such as personal drive, attitude and demonstration of leadership potential, among other traits. Sessions are taught by experts at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach.

“Leadership development is about self-identity and personal growth, and by developing leadership skills in high school students, we can enhance not only their ability to excel in high school but also their ability to take advantage of the many options they will have as they look beyond high school graduation,” said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute. “We want to develop leadership skills in these students such that they know anything is possible.”

Program activities vary from group work in classrooms to trips to campus. Earlier this year, students visited the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries to explore digital archives and study Georgia’s leaders, including Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Jeannette Rankin.

Another session focused on the importance of setting goals. Students brought their progress reports from fall semester, then set goals to reach before the next progress report.

Fanning faculty have worked with the Clarke County School District to customize the institute’s youth leadership curriculum that is used by individuals, schools and communities across the state.

“We’re using some activities from our leadership curriculum, but we are tailoring this curriculum to the academic and advising calendar as well as to the specific goals and concerns of the students,” said Lauren Healey, public service associate and program manager of Georgia Possible. “It’s been a great partnership with the schools and with so many departments on campus.”

The students have already noticed a change in themselves. For Jennifer Catalan of Cedar Shoals, the program has encouraged her to look toward the future.

“I want to be able to plan what I do in my life,” she said. “I still haven’t found exactly what I want to do, but this is a good opportunity to help set my goals.”

Enock Maganda of Cedar Shoals said the program has helped with decision-making.

“A lot of the things they repeat – like ‘be good in the classroom’ and ‘set an example’— I think those things are important this day and age,” he said. “If we don’t do those things, the younger generation is not going to have anyone to look up to and they’re going to make the wrong decisions. We don’t want that for the future.”

Students noted their favorite part of the program is the interactive nature of the sessions, allowing them to work with their classmates and with students from the other school. Georgia Possible has become a networking event for high schoolers who are typically on opposite sides of football fields and basketball courts.

“This has helped bridge the gap in our community,” said Shamikia Bolton, a counselor at Cedar Shoals High School. “Even though we are two different schools, we are in the same county, and this teaches them ways to communicate and build positive relationships.”

Superintendent Means agrees.

“We are grateful to President Morehead and the leadership team at the University of Georgia for extending their time, resources and genuine interest in developing a new generation of scholars from the Clarke County School District,” he said. “Clarke County School District, UGA and the state of Georgia are all stronger as a result of this innovative program.”

Writer: Kellyn Amodeo

High school classmates and friends endow UGA scholarship for Colquitt County High School graduates

An idea fostered during a 50th high school reunion is now a permanent legacy that will benefit future generations in south Georgia’s Colquitt County.

It was at the reunion of the Moultrie Senior High Class of 1961 that Pete Sayeski, John Tucker and John Carlton began to discuss a way to make a meaningful contribution to the community that provided support and nurtured them during their formative years.

Sayeski, who moved to Moultrie when he was 8, was always amazed that county residents who had difficulty pronouncing his last name would welcome him as one of their own.

“What was engrained in me is that people in Colquitt County take care of each other,” said Sayeski, who graduated from UGA in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and went on to a successful career in Educational Publishing at The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Sayeski and childhood friends founded the Moultrie-Colquitt County Alumni Scholarship Fund, designated for an academically talented student from Colquitt County High School. Using a dollar-for-dollar match from the UGA Foundation, the group has raised $800,000 for Georgia Commitment Scholarships for students to attend the University of Georgia.

The money will allow the UGA Foundation to award $7,000 annually for up to four years ($28,000) to a student from Colquitt County High School every year in perpetuity. The scholarship makes a UGA degree a possibility for a qualified Colquitt County High School graduate who otherwise could not afford to attend the university.

“Colquitt County has had a long history of unparalleled success in supporting its community institutions,” said Jimmy Jeter, a local businessman who contributed to the scholarship fund in honor of his daughters.

Jeter said he recognized the need for a local scholarship when he learned that students who have the federal Pell Grant and the HOPE Scholarship still fell short of the cost of attendance each year. About 23 percent of students at UGA have the Pell Grant, which is awarded to students who face the greatest financial need.

“These students are going to need all of the help they can possibly get,” Jeter said.

Another Colquitt County native who contributed to the scholarships is Patrick Mobley. Two of Mobley’s children are UGA graduates and his father held a UGA degree in agricultural engineering.

“I thought it would be good to do something in his and my mother’s memory,” Mobley said. “And it’s just too good of an offer to pass up to help somebody.”

Colquitt County began building a strong relationship with UGA Public Service and Outreach in 2005, when it was selected to pilot the Archway Partnership program, designed to take the resources of the university into Georgia communities to address self-identified issues critical to their economic development. Over the past 14 years, UGA faculty members and students have helped Colquitt County with zoning, infrastructure improvements, K-12 education and leadership programs that have contributed to the economic wealth of the community.

The Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program was unveiled in 2017 with the goal of increasing the number of need-based scholarships at the University of Georgia. Through the program, the UGA Foundation will match any gift to the university in the amount of $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 to establish an endowed need-based scholarship. More than 360 new need-based scholarships have been established through the Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program, and UGA is on pace to reach its goal of 400 new scholarships by June 30, 2019.

“With these scholarships, the community has launched a new partnership with the University of Georgia that will benefit our students from Colquitt County,” Jeter said.

Writer: Kelly Simmons,, 706-542-2512

2018-2019 PSO Student Scholar: Arden Farr

Hometown: Memphis, TN

Year: Sophomore

College: School of Public and International Affairs, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Majors: International affairs and statistics

Internship Unit: J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development


Have you participated in a study abroad program? 

Yes, I participated in a Maymester study abroad program at Oxford University last summer, where I studied biomedical ethics.

Have you had any internships?

Currently, I work as an intern for the U.S. State Department in the Global Engagement Center, where I track and conduct research on state-sponsored disinformation communications. Last summer, I worked as a research fellow for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Education and Research Center at KAIST University in South Korea. Through this, I conducted original research and learned more about nuclear nonproliferation in relation to Korean Affairs, which was particularly interesting during a time of Korean peace talks. Additionally, I have worked as a research intern at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the Department of Infectious Diseases. One experience that was particularly impactful towards my interest in working with the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development was my internship at Bridges, USA, a Memphis nonprofit at which I focused on youth leadership development and promoting youth civic engagement.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

I see myself working in the field of foreign policy with goals to promote peaceful relations and cross-cultural understanding. I also have a desire to work abroad at some point in order to gain new perspectives and a better understanding of the world.

Why did you apply for PSO Scholars? 

Because I see myself working in the field of public service, this opportunity seemed relevant and a way to explore my interests. Also, I was interested in learning more about the University of Georgia’s public service and outreach mission and how it utilizes its resources to make a meaningful impact across the state.

What excites you most about your unit? 

I am excited to work on community-based projects that promote leadership development, especially given my past experience and interest in developing youth-based community initiatives.

What do you hope to get out of this experience? 

I hope to gain a better understanding of UGA’s impact on Georgia communities as well as other ways to make a positive impact through leadership development.

Why is service and outreach important to you? 

I feel both grateful and privileged to be able to attend UGA and to have been exposed to so many opportunities, and thus feel obligated to both engage with the community surrounding the university and to give back.

Fun fact: 

This summer, I hiked part of the Atlas mountains.

Farr and the rest of the PSO Scholars visited Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, where they got to meet Neptune, a new baby sea turtle rescue.

The Public Service & Outreach Student Scholars program provides the opportunity for a select cohort of undergraduate students to explore and engage with the University of Georgia’s public service and outreach (PSO) mission. Supported by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, and administered through the Office of Service-Learning, this year-long program is intended to provide deeper understanding of PSO’s purpose, breadth, and depth through supervised service experiences with PSO and communities, to help students link their public service experiences with their career and educational goals, and to create a community of student scholars who understand the role of public service in Georgia and more broadly.

Learn More

Certificate in Native Plants Takes Root in Tifton


South Georgia residents can now earn a Certificate in Native Plants from UGA’s State Botanical Garden of Georgia without making a four-hour drive to Athens.

Beginning this year, classes in the Certificate in Native Plants, established at UGA in 2007, are available in classrooms and gardens in or near Tifton, which is home to the UGA Tifton campus.

The premise of the program is the same: to educate landscapers, gardeners and citizens about the importance of preserving and protecting Georgia’s native plant species. Because Tifton is located in the Coastal Plain region of Georgia, students in that program will focus on native plants commonly found in flatlands, marshes and swamps, such as fire-dependent longleaf pine woodlands and carnivorous pitcher-plant bogs.

Students learned about the various ecological regions of Georgia and spent time at the Gaskin Forest Education Center exploring the area and identifying the native coastal plain plants, like the longleaf pine.

“As a landscape architect, I want to be able to work within all the systems of an area—the climate, geology, topography, soil—and understand how those conditions work together to support the different plant communities you see,” said Katherine Melcher, an associate professor in the UGA College of Environment and Design, who is helping teach the curriculum in Tifton. “If you’re thinking of this native plant growing here, it’s because of all these factors, like how there was an ocean here thousands of years ago.”

About 500 people have taken courses in the Certificate in Native Plants since it was first offered in 2007. Nearly 10 graduate with certificates each year.

To earn the certificate, students must complete four core classes, six electives, a volunteer service project and two field trips. The schedule is flexible—students can complete the work in a year, or stretch it out over a period of years. They can take classes in either location.

Bonnie McCoy, from Merriweather County, began taking classes in Athens and is now finishing the certificate in Tifton.

“Growing up on a farm, I always wanted to know more about plants,” McCoy said. “Now I’m in a place where I can do more of what I want, and I’m so thankful to have two options to take classes.”

As a result of the certificate program Georgians are becoming more informed and want to help with conservation efforts around the state, said Cora Keber, director of education at the State Botanical Garden.

“More and more people are asking local growers for native plants and choosing to plant native species in their yards and public gardens,” Keber said.   

James Lewis began the Certificate in Native Plant program as soon as it launched in Tifton.

For the past 11 years, Lewis was a professor at the Defense Acquisition University, a federal institution that prepares an adaptive and accomplished workforce for the U.S. military. About a year ago, he decided to pursue his passion for plants and open a nursery, Flat Creek Natives LLC in Perry, Georgia.

“We specialize in native plants, and this program is helping me understand which native plants do better in which parts of Georgia,” Lewis said.

“Native plants are Georgia’s legacy, they’re our history. Intuitively, they are better for the environment and animals.”

Learn more about the Certificate in Native Plants

Writer: Leah Moss,, 706-583-0964

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery,, 706-542-3638

Contact: Cora Keber,, 706-542-6158

2018-2019 PSO Student Scholar: Erin Hogan

Hometown: Roswell, GA

Year: Junior

College: School of Public and International AffairsFranklin College of Arts and Sciences

Major: International affairs and women’s studies

Internship Unit: Archway Partnership


Have you participated in experiential learning? 

Yes, I studied Italian in an immersion program in Sienna, Italy for a summer and this past summer I went to Tanzania through an interdisciplinary Maymester program.

Have you had any internships? 

I am currently an intern for the UGA Office of Sustainability interning at Project Safe’s Thrift Store. I am responsible for creating new and innovative projects which connect the UGA and Athens community to Project Safe’s mission of social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

In ten years I see myself working on projects focused on sustainable community development, hopefully with an emphasis on women’s rights. I would love to be working for an NGO abroad teaching sustainable agriculture practices to women in rural communities.

Why did you apply for PSO Scholars? 

I applied for PSO Scholars because I wanted to further my involvement in public service in both Athens and the broader Georgia community. I also viewed PSO Scholars as an opportunity to engage with like-minded students from diverse areas of campus.

What excites you most about your unit? 

I am excited to work with Archway because its mission focuses on community-identified needs and therefore offers a wide variety of project possibilities. I think Archway’s model exemplifies a sustainable approach to service and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their goals.

What do you hope to get out of this experience? 

I am excited to learn more about the process of working with communities to help them identify their needs and then develop a project around them. As a PSO scholar, I hope to be able to learn from communities while also facilitating growth within them.

Why is service and outreach important to you? 

I see service as a sort of civic responsibility. Especially as a university student, I know I have access to resources and tools that can affect positive change in my community. Service is the best way to support the community that I live in and love.

Fun fact: 

I absolutely love choral music. In a dream world, I would make a living performing with choirs on film scores.

The Public Service & Outreach Student Scholars program provides the opportunity for a select cohort of undergraduate students to explore and engage with the University of Georgia’s public service and outreach (PSO) mission. Supported by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, and administered through the Office of Service-Learning, this year-long program is intended to provide deeper understanding of PSO’s purpose, breadth, and depth through supervised service experiences with PSO and communities, to help students link their public service experiences with their career and educational goals, and to create a community of student scholars who understand the role of public service in Georgia and more broadly.

Learn More

2018-2019 PSO Student Scholar: Nina Reddy

Hometown: Suwanee, GA

Year: Junior

College: Franklin College of Arts and SciencesTerry College of Business

Major: Sociology, women’s studies and economics

Internship Unit: Carl Vinson Institute of Government


Have you participated in experiential learning? 

I spent the summer after my freshman year studying biomedical ethics at Oxford University.

Have you had any internships? 

Last summer I interned with an intellectual property law firm called Litvin Legales in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I learned tons about intellectual property law and also got experience performing IP research, creating trademark search reports and improving my Spanish.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

In an ideal world, I see myself as a practicing civil rights attorney. I hope to also be actively involved in policy efforts that attempt to make the U.S. civil justice system more equitable.

Why did you apply for PSO Scholars? 

I’ve had more than one friend tell me about how impactful this experience was for them, and I genuinely wanted to be a part of a program that engages with public service in a way that relates to my future career interests.

What excites you most about your unit? 

I am especially interested in working at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, because I am excited to see how policy is crafted at the local level.

What do you hope to get out of this experience? 

In addition to learning how policy is crafted at the local level, I also hope to learn how it is adapted to fit a certain community, and how the implementation of said policy can effect tangible change in that community.

Why is service and outreach important to you? 

Service and outreach, especially in regards to the University of Georgia, is important to me because the university has the ability to use its resources to improve the rest of the state, and I want to be a small part of that change.

Fun fact: 

I broke my arm by falling off of a couch!

“Taken in Calafate, Argentina, this picture highlights my love of travel and is a testament to how wonderful UGA makes it for students to travel and study or work abroad!”

The Public Service & Outreach Student Scholars program provides the opportunity for a select cohort of undergraduate students to explore and engage with the University of Georgia’s public service and outreach (PSO) mission. Supported by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, and administered through the Office of Service-Learning, this year-long program is intended to provide deeper understanding of PSO’s purpose, breadth, and depth through supervised service experiences with PSO and communities, to help students link their public service experiences with their career and educational goals, and to create a community of student scholars who understand the role of public service in Georgia and more broadly.

Learn More

Restaurant Owner Expands After Review of Franchising and Financials


Seafood chef Lee Clack grew up fishing, shrimping and catching blue crabs in Mobile, Alabama. When his parents were in the kitchen, he and his siblings worked alongside them. He took his first job as a fry cook in college and then began experimenting with various methods of frying and breading.

Clack remained in the industry, moving from server to management and perfected the delicious signature dishes his friends and family would request for their parties: fried shrimp, fried grouper and fried crab claws. When he turned 40, he decided to make his passion his business and opened Kudzu Catering in Macon, Georgia.

He ran the business with his wife Kelley Wrigley for a decade. By the fall of 2013, he decided to open a restaurant and contacted the Macon office of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center.

“NewTown Macon, a downtown business development group, had presented Lee with a couple of potential locations,” said SBDC consultant Peter Williams. “They referred him to us, and we all sat down and talked about his plans.”

Williams assisted Clack in preparing his initial financial projections, business plan and loan proposals for the new restaurant. He chose an historic downtown storefront of just under 1,400 square feet with 45 seats that would employ 14 people.

“Peter helped me with focus in my thoughts on how to create a legitimate business plan. We worked diligently on revenue projections as a part it,” said Clack. “That gave me good information I could present to the banks.”

Kudzu Seafood opened weekdays for lunch in February 2015. By 2016, its revenues were well into six figures, and by 2017 it had opened for dinner three nights a week. Revenues had grown another 50 percent.

“His profitability, even in this small location, was way beyond anything we had projected,” said Williams.

Wrigley came to work in the restaurant, and they sold Kudzu Catering to their executive chef. The sale freed them to expand, so Clack called Williams to help him explore some options he was considering:  owning several locations, franchising and receiving royalties, or simply expanding.

Williams introduced Clack to UGA SBDC consultant and former franchise business owner Michael Myers. “Franchising was attractive to Lee, but he learned enough about franchising operations and standards to realize it was not the way for him to go now.”

During this analysis, Clack approached his landlord about developing a larger location just 200 feet from his restaurant. He also attended SBDCs GrowSmart™.

“GrowSmart™ made me more conscious of being a businessman rather than just a guy who owns a restaurant,” he said. “The scope of training was almost overwhelming, but I got a lot of information out of it, from human resources to marketing to how to analyze profit and loss, what causes businesses to be successful, or not. It was very valuable, especially with me moving into a bigger space.”

Clack worked with Williams to develop a new business plan and create financial projections for a loan proposal, which was approved. Opening in January 2019, the restaurant will now fill 5,600 square feet with 130 seats, including a private dining room and full bar. It will also sport downtown Macon’s first rooftop bar, a point of pride with Clack. Revenues are projected to grow 2.5 times larger its first year, with employment expanding to 45 people.

“Lee came back to us a second time for help with his financial modeling, budgeting and projections for his expansion,” said Williams. “He sees the value in the SBDC and continues to look to us for help.”

“I never could have done the business plan on my own,” said Clack. “Writing it was one of the most scary and daunting things to me. I can talk about it all day, but I had to back it up on paper. The SBDC didn’t tell me exactly where to go, but they told me what I needed to do. That’s huge!”

Clack is now looking into commercializing and bottling his proprietary remoulade sauce. Williams introduced him to Kirk Kealey, director of the Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center at UGA’s Griffin campus, to learn more about labeling, bottling, distribution, etc.

“He will definitely come back to that,” said Williams.

UGA and Georgia Power partner on guide to enhance workforce development efforts


A new guide from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government will help schools and businesses throughout Georgia connect to provide on-the-job learning experiences for students.

The free booklet, “Creating and Replicating High-Quality Experiential Learning Opportunities,” helps business leaders and educators identify opportunities for apprenticeships, internships, clinical experiences and job shadows, among others, that are most effective in developing a trained workforce equipped with critical technical, academic and employability skills. The guide, prepared by the Institute of Government’s workforce development faculty with support from the Georgia Power Co., contains case studies and methods for replicating existing training programs in high schools.

“Georgia Power works closely with the state to support education programs that strengthen the talent pipeline,” said Anne Kaiser, Georgia Power’s vice president of community and economic development. “We partnered with UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to identify best practices and opportunities to scale work-based learning in Georgia. Experiential learning programs not only benefit our high school students who are developing new skills and evaluating career paths, but offer Georgia employers an opportunity to address the critical need of recruiting, develop the next generation of workforce talent, and invest in their communities.”

Economic development professionals, business leaders, educators, elected officials and others interested in strengthening their local workforce development efforts can find practical information in the booklet.

“This new guide for businesses and schools highlights best practices and uses an easy-to-follow decision tree to help employers and educators select the experiential learning programs that would work best in their community,” said Laura Meadows, Institute of Government director.

The guide is available online at the Institute of Government’s new Georgia Workforce Toolkit website, The Georgia Workforce Toolkit includes additional resources for schools and businesses that are establishing or expanding high-quality work-study, internship and apprenticeship programs, said Greg Wilson, an Institute of Government faculty member.
This “can help develop qualified, knowledgeable, dedicated employees from the ground up by connecting students to work and showing them where their education can lead,” Wilson said.

The decision tree featured in the guide serves as a simple tool that lets educators and businesses easily assess their goals and determine what program best addresses local needs and capacities. Clear, concise case studies of 19 experiential learning programs illustrate successful partnerships and programs and explain why they were appropriate for a certain community.

Institute faculty surveyed school- and work-based learning programs in Georgia and throughout the United States to select the most effective and successful programs for case studies. The guide summarizes the key to success for each program and organizes them on an experiential learning continuum from experiences to work-based learning and pre-apprenticeships.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government is a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit that conducts training, technical assistance and applied research to help state and local governments operate efficiently and provide improved service to the public.

Writer: Roger Nielsen, 706-542-2524,

Contact: David Tanner, 706-583-0151,

Greg Wilson, 706-542-6271,

UGA class helps design alumni housing for recovery program graduates


When the first alumni housing for the Athens Acceptance Recovery Center (ARC) is open, it will have a student touch.

Sixteen College of Family and Consumer Science (FACS) students are helping renovate an apartment, which will house men who have graduated from the ARC’s recovery program.

For Lilia Gomez-Lanier, an assistant professor in textiles, merchandising and interiors, the service project allows students to put into practice their academic lessons, and benefits the Athens community.

“I am constantly looking for those projects [that give back to the community],” said Gomez-Lanier. “I think it’s so important that the students have a real client. They have talent, why not share it? Make someone’s life better.”

More than 200 unique service-learning classes, with 430 course sections, were taught during the 2017-18 academic year, reaching 6,369 individual undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Students in those classes provided more than 275,000 hours of community service to Athens and other communities, with an estimated value of $6.9 million.

“Service-learning provides an opportunity for students to experience learning outside the classroom in a way that can make a tangible impact in the community,” said Shannon Wilder, director of the Office of Service-Learning. “At the same time they are developing professional skills they take with them after graduation.”

During a recent visit to the apartment, the FACS students took detailed measurements, made initial drawings, and spoke with ARC staff about what the space needed to include. The class will continue to refine its designs through the summer, with finished drawings going to the ARC.

“I think it’s great that we’re doing [the project] in Athens and it’s for a good cause,” said Emily Flournoy, a sophomore majoring in furnishing and interiors. “We’re just now learning about construction and building codes and all this stuff that you need to think about, so I think this project is actually going to use those.”

The students bring fresh eyes to the project and can picture different layouts for the room, said Holly Barker, an ARC board member.

“Logistically, we’re going to end up with really great [digital] drawings and elevation drawings for this property that I don’t think are even in existence,” said Holly Barker, an ARC board member. “We can make this space really work for these guys and feel like a home—a safe, comfortable home environment.”

Barker is also hopeful that the project will serve as a window into a different world for the students.

“I think the bigger umbrella connection is just having a connection with the school,” she said. “There’s definitely still a stigma around people who have addictions and what exactly that means, and not everybody understands. I’m excited to kind of open people’s eyes and hearts a little bit to sort of better understand what this actually looks like and not be so fearful of it. But also celebrate these kids and give them a real-world scenario, a real-life helping somebody scenario.”

ARC needs alumni housing to not only give program graduates a safe place to stay, but also to open up existing beds for new people in recovery from drugs or alcohol.

Justin, a September ARC graduate, whose last name was withheld at the ARC’s request, will be one resident of the alumni house. He hopes it will serve as a bridge for him to take the next step in his recovery.

“Sometimes as addicts we don’t like change,” he said. “But I find it as a needed challenge to move forward and to branch out and to be able to spread my wings.”

Writer: Aaron Cox,, 706-542-3631

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery,, 706-542-3638

Contact: Lilia Gomez-Lanier,, 706-542-8777