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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:

georgiasbdc.org/digital-marketing-bootcamp/

 

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery, smont@uga.edu, 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.

 

 

 

Lefty returns to the wild; UGA Aquarium gets new sea turtle ambassador

After spending his first three years at the UGA Aquarium, Lefty the loggerhead sea turtle was released earlier this month into the Wassaw Sound from the shore of the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge on Skidaway Island, near Savanah.

Lefty hatched on Ossabaw Island in September 2015. The turtle was discovered as a straggler in the nest and given by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to serve as an ambassador sea turtle until he was big and strong enough to return to the wild.

“When we first got him we immediately noticed that it was having trouble using its left front flipper,” says Devin Dumont, head curator at the UGA Aquarium on Sidaway Island. That, and the fact that the hatchling was left behind in the nest, inspired his name.

For three years, the charismatic sea turtle helped educate thousands of visitors to the UGA Aquarium about the importance of the Georgia coast to nesting sea turtles.

“Looking at a photo of a sea turtle or listening to someone talk about them doesn’t have the same impact as watching a live animal swim in the tank,” said Lisa Olenderski, aquarium curator and educator at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “People are always amazed by how graceful they are in the water or how agile they are when going after blue crabs. Seeing them in person helps establish that connection and leaves a lasting impression.”

Lefty also helped advance scientific research by serving as a study subject in a project that focused on improving environmental enrichment for animals in captivity.

“We gained a little bit of insight into sea turtle color preference and food preference through the study,” Dumont said. “We learned information that could help us enhance their stay while they’re here.”

Undergraduate students at Savannah State University assisted with the study, conducting experiments designed to test whether sea turtles showed color preference among blue, green orange and yellow objects.

While preparing him for release, the aquarium staff fed him live food, such as blue crabs and mussels, so he could practice active foraging and hunting. With DNR’s approval, the director of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island attached number coded tags and a passive integrated transmitter to Lefty before the release. Both can be used to identify Lefty in the future.

On Wassaw, Dumont and Olenderski carried Lefty to the surf and gave him some gentle nudges before he swam into the water and disappeared.

Back at the aquarium, Neptune, a new straggler hatchling discovered by DNR in August, will make its public debut on Sept. 22 at Estuary Extravaganza, an event celebrating National Estuaries Week at the UGA Aquarium.

Neptune

Five species of sea turtles nest along the Georgia coast. While loggerheads are the most common, they are listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia DNR. After almost 40 years of conservation efforts at the federal and state level, DNR reports nesting numbers on the Georgia coast have been increasing dramatically over the last several years.


Writer: Emily Woodward, ewoodward@uga.edu, 912-598-2348 ext. 107

State Botanical Garden of Georgia celebrates longtime donors at Giving Tree Tribute

Six longtime supporters of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia were honored recently during the biennial “Giving Tree” celebration that recognizes patrons who have given their time and money to the garden.

“We are fortunate to have a strong group of supporters who are so generous with their time and financial resources,” said Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. “They recognize the importance of the garden and its contribution to education, conservation and research for the university and across the state.”

James B. Miller Jr., a charter member of the State Botanical Garden board of advisors, was the 2018 Distinguished Honoree, the garden’s highest honor bestowed on donors. Miller, who helped establish the board, has shown generosity to the garden personally and through Fidelity Southern Corporation, where he serves as chairman and CEO. Miller lives in Atlanta.

In addition to supporting the International Garden, Heritage Garden, Flower Garden and Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden and the annual balls, Miller was one of the first to contribute to the accessibility initiative at the garden. He co-chaired the 1989 Gardens of the World Ball with former UGA Vice President for Services S. Eugene Younts, who recently passed away.

Three board members received the 2018 Southern Magnolia Award, which honors philanthropic contributions of more than $100,000 and continued service to the garden. The 2018 honorees are Martha Brumley Ellis, Brenda Magill and Sissie Morris.

Ellis has been on the garden’s board of advisors for 17 years, supporting the Gardens of the World Ball each of those years in addition to the Flower Garden and children’s garden campaigns. Ellis lives in in Sea Island, Georgia, and Highlands, North Carolina.

Magill has served on the board for 21 years, championing Orchid Madness, the Gardens of the World Balls, the children’s garden campaign, the Heritage Garden campaign as well as the horticulture and conservation funds. She co-chaired the 2011 ball with Betsy Ellison. Magill lives in Athens, Georgia.

Morris has been active on the board for 29 years. Her support includes the International Garden, Heritage Garden, Flower Garden and children’s garden campaigns, as well as the conservation funds and Gardens of the World Balls. Along with Charlotte Merry, Morris co-chaired the 1990 Gardens of the World Ball. Morris lives in Augusta, Georgia.

Kathy and Neely Young received the Garden of Georgia medal, the highest award for service and support. Kathy Young previously served as chair of the board and spearheaded the development committee of the garden’s most recent campaign, the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden. In addition, Kathy Young co-chaired the 2009 Gardens of the World Ball with Betty Sponcler, celebrating the ball’s 25th anniversary with a book chronicling its history. Kathy Young and her husband Neely Young have also demonstrated support of the garden through the voice of Georgia Trend, a statewide business publication they owned and managed until 2017. The Youngs live in Marietta, Georgia, and Cashiers, North Carolina.

The Giving Tree event recognizes individuals committed to outstanding philanthropic contributions and dedicated service supporting the mission of the State Botanical Garden. This year, the Giving Tree Tribute is part of the yearlong 50th anniversary celebration of the State Botanical Garden. The 50th anniversary celebration also includes a signature plant, the native Southern flame azalea, known for its pleasant fragrance and fiery colors.

Writer: Leah Moss, leahmoss@uga.edu, 706-612-0063

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery, smont@uga.edu, 706-542-3638

Contact: Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, crusesanders@uga.edu, 706-542-6131

 

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a unit of the University of Georgia’s Office of Public Service and Outreach, has served the citizens of Georgia for 50 years. The garden attracts more than 230,000 visitors annually. With walking trails, garden displays and educational initiatives, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is dedicated to inspiring, educating and conserving.

UGA’s interpreter programs help improve non-English speaking residents access to healthcare

 

For some Georgia residents, the key to quality healthcare isn’t dependent upon the doctor or facility.

It’s dependent upon the interpreter.

“What’s happening here is often a life and death situation,” said Michele Pirkle, executive director of patient family experience at Grady Health System.  “We must ensure that the interpreter can not only have a conversation with someone in another language, but they convey very technical medical terminology with no room for error.”

About 50,000 native Koreans live in Gwinnett County. In response to this growing population, the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, began offering the Korean/English Medical Interpreter Certificate (KEMI) in 2012. This 40-hour course meets five Saturdays at the UGA Gwinnett Campus.

Participation in the program allows students to work as an interpreter for a year before taking the National Council on Interpretation in Health Care exam. The KEMI was modeled after the highly successful Spanish/English Medical Interpreter Certificate, which has been offered by the Georgia Center for more than a decade.

Medical interpretation is often an overlooked part of healthcare, said Grace Cruz, a Korean-English freelance medical interpreter.

“Often, I interpret between children and parents,” Cruz said. “Parents don’t know English, children don’t know Korean. They can get by in day-to-day conversations, but the actual diagnosis cannot be interpreted by children. When people use a family member, assumptions are made, mistakes are made.”

“The most important thing I teach my students is ethics and culture,” said Cruz. “In sensitive fields like mental health, untrained interpreters don’t know how to convey the questions in a way someone from Korea would understand.”

During the course, Cruz (left) uses role-playing to act out scenarios like a medical examination.

KEMI is unique because it offers one-on-one instruction instead of an online course, like other programs. Students roleplay different scenarios, participate in interactive activities and discuss challenges with Cruz, who’s been practicing as a medical interpreter for 12 years.

While healthcare systems like Grady may rely on video or phone sessions when in-person interpreters aren’t available, the effectiveness of face-to-face interpreters can’t be stressed enough for languages like Korean (languages that rely on visual cues, such as American Sign Language, benefit from having a video option).

“In-person is much different than video, especially if it’s a situation in trauma,” said David Lee, a Spanish and Korean interpreter for Grady Health System. “You need to be really quick and express very clearly what is going on.”

“There are language apps, but we cannot depend on that,” Cruz said. “I’ve seen worst-case scenarios come out of that.”

Cruz and Lee believe the need for this training will increase with the influx of Korean residents.

“The demand is here,” Cruz said. “More and more people are coming over here from Korea, and when they go to the hospital, they will need an interpreter.”

The UGA Gwinnett Campus (By Rick O’Quinn)

So far 450 people have enrolled in the Korean interpreter program, more than half from Gwinnett County. Others have been from counties near Gwinnett, including Athens-Clarke County.

“Medical interpretation is a facet of healthcare that needs more attention,” Pirkle said. “What interpreters do is a vital piece of the healthcare industry.”

The next Korean-English Medical Certificate program will be offered Sept. 29 – Oct. 27, 2018, at the UGA Gwinnett Campus.

 

Learn more about the KEMI

Find out about other interpreter programs:

www.georgiacenter.uga.edu/courses/languages/interpreting-skills

 


Writer: Leah Moss, leahmoss@uga.edu, 706-612-0063

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery, smont@uga.edu, 706-542-3638

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, charlie.bauder@fanning.uga.edu, 706-542-7039

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery, smont@uga.edu, 706-542-3638

Entrepreneurs earn big rewards in a small quilt shop in Marietta

An award-winning quilter, Maetha Elliott shopped for many years at Tiny Stitches, a quilting shop in Marietta.

“The owner kept talking to me about teaching quilting classes and later suggested I could own the shop,” Maetha Elliott said.

When the owner decided to sell the shop, Maetha and her husband Henry Elliott decided to buy it.

After teaching in the Cobb County School System for 20 years, Maetha Elliott was ready for something new. She and Henry Elliott had been looking for a retail business they could buy. They visited children’s book stores, as they both loved children and books. But the earning potential wasn’t high enough.

As they began the process to finance the purchase, they reached out to the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

“Maetha and Henry approached their goal to be entrepreneurs the right way, by getting educated before buying a business,” said Drew Tonsmeire, area director of the UGA SBDC office located at Kennesaw State University in Cobb County.

The Elliotts attended an SBDC program for business start-ups and SBDC financing workshops for new entrepreneurs.

“Drew reviewed all of our financials to make sure they looked good. He gave us an outline of what needed to be in our business plan, and he helped us with the narrative,” said Henry Elliott. “We did a PowerPoint presentation of the plan and took it to the United Community Bank to get the loan to purchase the business.”

The Elliotts spent six months in the purchasing process before they bought the business, Tonsmeire said.

“Then they needed to make changes to the shop’s processes and culture, which also presented challenges,” Tonsmeire said. “Henry and Maetha began quickly bringing all their management skills into play.”

Henry Elliott created an inventory spreadsheet to plan for fabric deliveries, which can take six months or longer to arrive after ordering. The Elliotts also updated customer records and changed to a point-of-sale system that collected more useful sales data.

By 2014, the 3,500-square-foot store in a retail shopping center needed to expand, so the Elliotts moved into a space next door, which had housed a consignment shop and martial arts studio. With twice as much space as they had in the original shop, the Elliotts now display fabrics, patterns and notions on the first floor, and use basement space to display work done by beginners as well as guild-level quilters who take classes and sew at the store.

“Tiny Stitches lives up to its motto: a gathering place for quilters,” Tonsmeire said. “The shop is like a second home for customers who can both buy and sew in the building. Maetha is totally focused on the customer experience. She wants them to enjoy their time there.”

The Elliotts now have 14 employees and have nearly doubled their annual sales revenue.

They attended the SBDC’s GrowSmart® program and are working on social media marketing with Tonsmeire and a digital media expert at the SBDC. They plan to launch an online store this year.

“If we have a problem, the first person we call is Drew,” Maetha Elliott said. “He’s local, he will return the call, and he will come to our shop. You don’t get that service anywhere else.”

 

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides tools, training and resources to help small businesses grow and succeed. Designated as one of Georgia’s top providers of small business assistance, the SBDC has 17 offices in regions throughout the state to help serve the business community. Since 1977, the SBDC network of partners has helped construct a statewide ecosystem to foster the spirit, support, and success of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators. A part of UGA Public Service and Outreach, the SBDC, is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs. Learn more at https://www.georgiasbdc.org.

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

 

Writer:

Kelly Simmons, simmonsk@uga.edu, 706-296-0855

Contact:

Jennifer Frum, jfrum@uga.edu, 706-542-3352

David Lee, dclee@uga.edu, 706-542-5969

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, jmlewis@uga.edu, 706-369-5885

UGA installs first large-scale green infrastructure project in Brunswick

The area next to the soccer field at Brunswick’s Howard Coffin Park received a much-needed facelift in the form of native plants and new soil.

The 3,000-square-foot tract is a large scale stormwater demonstration project that UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant hopes will educate visitors on ways to improve water quality.

Jessica Brown, stormwater specialist at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, oversaw construction of the site, which is called, in technical terms, a bioretention cell.

“This project will serve as a case study and educational demonstration of a bioretention cell, which is a stormwater management practice that captures and treats runoff,” Brown says. “It’s a form of green infrastructure that helps protect and restore habitat by mimicking the natural water cycle.”

The bioretention cell, next to a tidal ditch, will act as a buffer for the park. When it rains, excess water from the soccer field will flow into the bioretention cell, which consists of layers of sandy soils, mulch and stone. Pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals applied to the playing field will be filtered out through these layers instead of running directly into the tidal creek.

With population growth and increased land development in coastal Georgia, the use of green infrastructure has become increasingly important because it protects water quality and coastal habitats from pollution.

Brown worked with the City’s Engineer, Garrow Alberson, to design the bioretention cell. City employees constructed the project.

Alberson hopes the project will raise public awareness of green infrastructure practices.

“It seems that a lot of developers and engineers are hesitant to implement these practices because of factors like cost, long-term maintenance and effectiveness,” he said. “Hopefully, the construction of the demonstration cell will show that these practices can be effective for runoff volume reduction and water quality improvement, and that the practices can be cost-effective to install.”

The final phase of the project involved installing native plants, selected by Keren Giovengo, Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s EcoScapes program manager. The EcoScapes Sustainable Land Use program promotes responsible stewardship of natural resources in Georgia through sustainable land development and landscaping practices.

Keren Giovengo, EcoScapes program manager, demonstrates how to plant one of the native plants in the bioretention cell.

“Because of the size of the bioretention cell, I was able to consider a variety of trees, shrubs, grasses and palms for the site,” Giovengo says. “They were selected to provide a diverse array of local deciduous and evergreen species that are low maintenance and can tolerate drought, flooding and salt.”

Twelve students participating in a landscaping course through the Job Corps Center in Brunswick assisted with the planting.

Job Corps, a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, helps young people ages 16 to 24 improve the quality of their lives through career technical and academic training.

“They’re in our program for roughly eight months and we help them earn their high school diploma or learn a trade and become certified,” says Kevin Brandon, landscaping instructor at the Brunswick Job Corps Center.

“We look for as many hands-on opportunities like this as possible because our goal is to get them a job when they complete the course,” he says.

Thanks to help from the students, all 216 native plants were in the ground in less than four hours.

Brown plans to showcase the demonstration site to environmental professionals and public works staff in surrounding counties.

“My hope is that we can do enough demonstration projects, such as this one, to better understand how they perform in a coastal environment and build capacity within the local workforce,” says Brown. “Fostering ownership of these type of practices at the local level will go a long way to support future implementation.”

Writer: Emily Woodward, ewoodward@uga.edu, 912-598-2348

Summer service project benefits rural Georgia communities and UGA students

UGA students are getting hands-on experience and helping preserve history in rural Georgia through a service-learning program in the College of Environment and Design.

Called Findit, the program sends graduate students studying historic preservation, environment, planning and design, and landscape architecture into a rural county each summer to look for historic properties and sites. Their findings become an inventory for the county and are added to an online database that is available to the public. CED’s partners in the program are the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Division and the Georgia Transmission Corporation.

The findings often result in historic preservation status for properties, which guides county officials, builders and utility companies when they are planning projects.

“Every time we have an application for a modification in the historic district, we refer to it,” said Tom Brown, chair of Social Circle’s Historic Preservation Commission. Students surveyed Walton County, which includes Social Circle, in 2012.

This summer, students are assigned to Dooly County in middle Georgia, south of Macon.

Anders Yount and Mills Dorn, College of Environment and Design students, map out properties to document.

Mills Dorn, who is getting a master’s degree in historic preservation, is part of the team looking for old houses, cemeteries, water towers, barns and other properties to catalog.

On a hot June day, he stopped to study a house that had been altered at some point.

“Originally it was a bungalow; they added this side part later,” Dorn said. “I just finished learning about architectural styles in class so it’s pretty helpful being out here and getting to see them.”

Since its inception in 2002, CED students have collected data on thousands of properties in more than 60 Georgia counties. Findit coordinator Laura Kviklys and students also take on smaller projects for local governments and regional commissions during the school year.

The group completed an inventory of all UGA historic properties across the state, which led to the creation of a historic preservation plan that will help the university maintain its historic properties over time. UGA has the most historic properties of the 26 University System of Georgia schools, with more than 730 historic buildings and 55 cultural landscapes across 11 Georgia counties.

For Georgia communities, the student surveys are an important first step in understanding what remnants of the past still exist and may be of value historically, culturally or economically.  More importantly, they provide communities a framework and quality data for land use planning activities. This knowledge can guide local discussions about what is worthy of protection in the face of growth or demolition, and surveys are often required for certain federal historic preservation planning grants.

In addition, the students get hands-on experience that can be valuable when looking for a full-time job.

“We see a lot of really cool stuff,” Kviklys said. “This program takes students to places their classes can’t and teaches them to be professionals. The students are desperate for this sort of field experience.”

In Dooly County, the students were looking at properties that are at least 40 years old. As they were documenting a house that dates back to the 1800s, homeowner Connie Burton Mercer showed them a family cemetery on the site, with several graves dating from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

“So much of the (historic properties) here have been destroyed,” Burton Mercer said.

She pointed to an orchard across the road.

“The first operating dairy in the area was over there but it’s not much to see now,” she said. “It’s important to document this. There’s so much in this area that will hopefully be saved.”

Between June and August, students surveyed a total of 1,086 properties. Students found 878 properties in unincorporated Dooly County, the bulk of the properties discovered. Within cities in Dooly County, students identified 126 properties in Byromville, 58 in Lily and 24 in Dooling.

Contact: Laura Kviklys, lkviklys@uga.edu, 706-369-5882

Hands-on course prepares UGA Extension agents to share health benefits of Georgia seafood

Barbara Worley grew up on the coast of North Carolina and considers herself an oyster connoisseur. La Keshia Levi, on the other hand, shudders at the thought of eating an oyster. But after attending a two-day Ocean to Table workshop, both University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) agents are prepared to encourage residents in their counties to eat more Georgia seafood.

The brainchild of Chatham County Extension FACS Agent Jackie Ogden, the workshop series is designed to increase consumers’ and UGA Extension agents’ knowledge and awareness of Georgia seafood.

“Living here on the coast, I eat Georgia seafood, but I see that not everyone in Georgia does,” Ogden said. “With the current growth of Georgia’s oyster and clam industry, I saw the need to encourage Georgians to see the health benefits of eating seafood.”

The seafood most commonly harvested from the Georgia coast are shrimp, clams, oysters, blue crabs and fish. Georgia fishers catch favorites like sea bass, snapper and mahimahi as well as lesser-known species like triggerfish and sheepshead.

Funded by a UGA Extension Innovation Grant, the workshops are presented through a partnership between UGA Extension and Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.

“With these grants, I wanted to foster innovation, partnership and collaboration in Extension programming. This particular project brings the expertise of UGA Extension and Marine Extension together to create a better program,” said Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean for Extension. “That exemplifies the true spirit of the land-grant mission.”

Three workshops were presented to educate the public, then two train-the-trainer workshops prepared county agents to teach seafood programs.

The most recent workshop was held May 23 and 24 at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island, Georgia. This Ocean to Table workshop included an overview of the nation’s seafood industry and taught the county agents who are piloting the program how to handle and cook seafood, read product labels, and know proper portion sizes.

The county agents also cracked and ate Georgia blue crab, dined on deviled crab, roasted oysters and had a low country boil, took a boat trip on the waterways near Skidaway Island, tried crab fishing, and toured Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s oyster hatchery at the Shellfish Research Lab on Skidaway Island, the only such hatchery in the state. To better understand the deep history of Georgia’s seafood industry, the group also toured the Pin Point Heritage Museum, the former home of A.S. Varn & Son Oyster & Crab Factory located in the heart of a Gullah/Geechee community.

“I’ve lived in Georgia since 2000, and I didn’t know that we produced so much seafood,” said Levi, who is based in middle Georgia’s Houston County. “I knew I was going to learn a lot in this program, but I had no idea that I was going to get to try all the different types of seafood and get so much hands-on experience, and I went on my first boat ride.”

Levi even ate roasted oysters.

She plans to incorporate the health benefits of eating seafood into the trainings she offers, especially those for pregnant women. She will also encourage Houston County restaurants to serve more Georgia seafood.

Worley was amazed by how much she learned in the workshop.

“I’m a scuba diver. I’ve picked up lots of oysters, but I never knew they were transgender until we toured the hatchery,” she said.

Her goal was to return to Forsyth County with information about the type of Georgia seafood available to her clients and how they can access it. She now plans to brainstorm with other metro area FACS agents to develop a seafood education program that can be used in multiple counties.

Ogden says she knew the key to reaching Georgians was to train her fellow FACS agents, who share health and wellness information year-round and are constantly on a mission to improve the health of Georgians.

Americans consume 4.8 million pounds of seafood each year, but the average American eats less than 15 pounds of seafood a year, according to Bryan Fluech, associate Marine Extension director at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.

“Living in Brunswick, my family probably ate 15 pounds of seafood last night,” said Fleuch, who helped to organize and teach many of the Ocean to Table sessions. “But when I was a child, I thought of shrimp as a special-occasion food, something that was served on holidays.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating two to three servings of seafood per week, but only 1 in 5 Americans meets that dietary recommendation. Fatty fish are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Fluech believes Georgians would increase their consumption of seafood if they knew seafood contains essential vitamins and minerals like zinc, iodine, iron, calcium and selenium.

“People may think they don’t like fish, but there are hundreds of species, and they don’t all taste the same,” Fluech said. “Fish is very affordable, too, if you just learn to diversify your palate.”

It’s rare, but eating too much seafood can increase a person’s mercury levels. Fleuch said the key to keeping mercury levels low is to eat a variety of seafood, such as shrimp, salmon, pollock, cod, catfish, crab, scallops, clams and oysters, which are low in mercury.

Workshop participants also took advantage of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s mercury hair-testing program and submitted a few strands of hair to be tested. This test is available to the public for $20. Call 912-262-3338 for details.

“The agents are now prepared to answer questions about seafood consumption, like knowing the mercury levels in fish, and are ready with suggestions and specific seafood recipes to help clients prepare seafood for their families,” Ogden said.

To learn more about incorporating seafood into your diet, go to GeorgiaSeafood.org.

By Sharon Dowdy, sharono@uga.edu

UGA professor studies college access in two Archway Partnership communities 

The Archway Partnership opened doors for UGA Assistant Professor Darris Means when he began to study the tools and skills high school students used to prepare for college.

He had reached out to 20 Georgia school superintendents hoping for access to students, but none were accommodating. Pulaski and Candler counties, both Archway Partnership communities, welcomed him into their schools.

Since the start of the 2017 school year, Means has been talking to African American high school students in both school systems, studying how they, along with students of low-income and first-generation college families, navigate their pathways to and through higher education. He hopes to complete the study over the summer and return to the schools to present his findings next fall.

“I could not be doing this study without Archway,” said Means, an assistant professor of counseling and human development services in the College of Education. “The Archway Partnership already has that rapport. They already have those relationships. It’s been fantastic partnering with them.”

The Archway Partnership, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, connects Georgia communities with UGA resources to address locally-identified needs. Since the program was created in 2005, a growing number of faculty members have used the communities for their research, often bringing students along. The result is a benefit to both UGA and the community.

That reputation is what helped Means get into the Pulaski and Candler County schools.

“All of the projects we do are locally driven, so we presented the opportunity to the school system, and they wanted to do it,” said Sam Perren, the Pulaski County Archway Professional.

Catherine Muse, the Archway Professional in Candler County, said, “Once Dr. Means connected with the high school counselors, they hit the ground running. It’s been a really smooth process.”

Means’ research focus is on social justice and college access. Before he began studying how students prepare for college, he completed a study on the college and career aspirations of rural black teenagers.

“Being able to interview and work with students and school staff just really inspired me to think about how important it is to make sure that that narrative of rural black students and their families is heard,” he said.

Although Means work in the schools has been primarily for his study, it has given him an opportunity to give back.

“Along the way, I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to not only speak with students, but I’ve also given presentations at different high schools about pathways to college,” he said. “It’s been great to do a combination of that outreach and research while I’ve been doing this study.”

By Alexandra Shimalla and Rosanna Cruz-Bibb

UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government helps elected officials succeed

More than 600,000 cyclists and walkers pass through Paulding County each year on the Silver Comet Trail, a 61.5-mile paved, non-motorist path that runs from Smyrna into Alabama.

In Dallas, the Paulding County seat, visitors cross the Pumpkinvine Trestle, a 117-year-old railroad trestle, 126-feet above Pumpkinvine Creek, which was converted into part of the trail in 2000.

Farther west, the trail passes through a massive turn-of-the-­century railroad tunnel under Brushy Mountain Road. A little farther is Coot’s Lake Beach Trailhead, with a public swimming hole.

With assistance from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Paulding County officials have turned the trail into the centerpiece of a marketing campaign designed to draw tourists to the west Georgia county.

Tourism emerged as the direction the county needed to turn after county commissioners held strategic planning sessions facilitated by Vinson Institute faculty last fall.

Commission Chairman Dave Carmichael first got to know about the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the wealth of training programs and services it offers during newly-elected officials training with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia in 2012, when he was first elected as a county commissioner. He was elected commission chair four years later.

Cyclists race on the Silver Comet Trail, an area identified for upcoming economic development opportunities.

Like so many other government officials in Georgia, Carmichael has returned to the  Institute of Government time and again for programs that help him be a more effective leader. He has completed  over 100 hours of training through more than a dozen courses in such areas as county government law, economic development, ethics, human resources, property appraisal and taxation, and public health and safety.

At any given time, institute faculty are heading in all directions, helping facilitate strategic plans, studying city-county consolidations, helping communities restore their downtown business districts and training elected officials throughout the state in economic development, city and county management, finance, human resources, education and workforce development and much more.

During fiscal year 2017, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government offered 64 six-hour courses to county officials in partnership with ACCG and its Lifelong Learning Academy, with more than 1,800 participants from across the state.

“Communities across the state look to the Institute of Government and UGA as a whole to help them develop the knowledge and skills needed to grow and thrive,” said Jennifer Frum, UGA vice president for Public Service and Outreach. “As the land-grant and sea-grant institution, it’s our responsibility to help all Georgians prosper.”

During the Paulding County strategic planning sessions, Institute of Government public service associates Phil Boyle and Mara Shaw brought together county commissioners, educators, business people and municipal leaders to hone in on the assets the county could use to diversify and bolster  the local economy. Marketing the county as a tourist destination emerged as a top priority.

With UGA’s help, Paulding County is now looking at ways to capitalize on the Silver Comet Trail, as well as other historical, recreational and cultural sites in the county, including a watershed featuring 43 species of fish, well-preserved civil war battlefields and a wildlife management area perfect for hunting, fishing and hiking.

“I think it’s invaluable to get everyone together and have them be honest about where they see us going,” Carmichael said. “Phil and Mara are pros and know how to bring out honest responses from people. Our tax base isn’t diverse enough, and they were able to show us some practical things we could do.”

“Helping local governments explore ways to engage in creative approaches to their critical challenges is at the heart of all we do,” said Laura Meadows, director of the Institute of Government. “The local level is where we can really see meaningful change and growth happen. Much of the progress we see as a state stems from progress made first in Georgia’s local governments, whether large or small.”

Carmichael and Baker with a pine cone from the rare mountain longleaf pine, native to this region of Georgia.

Commissioner Ron Davis, who was first elected to office in March 2016, said the strategic planning sessions helped everyone get a chance to be heard and realize where they had common ground. Like most local governments, discussion at commission meetings can be emotional, he said, but the conversation at these planning sessions was about charting a future course for the entire county. Creating new economic opportunities through tourism was something they all could get on board with.

“We all agreed on the direction we needed to go, which is a pretty significant feat,” Davis said. “I really enjoyed having the Carl Vinson Institute come in and work through that and the expertise that they brought to the table. It was almost like a counseling session. I thought, ‘This is good. We can go somewhere with this.’ ”

And they are. County administrator Frank Baker is spearheading the next steps as head of a task force created as a result of the facilitated planning sessions. His group is discussing improved signage, enhancing existing trailheads and adding new trailheads along the Silver Comet.

“We have so many natural draws here,” he said. “Part of the outcome of those sessions was really thinking about what we have to offer and how to move that forward. The Carl Vinson Institute was instrumental in getting us laser-focused on tourism. Some really, really good stuff is coming out of that.”

 

Writer: Christopher James

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery

Financing Solution and Strategic Planning Support Rapid Growth of Covington Business

Ryan Loew worked in equipment and machinery maintenance for a Fortune 500 food manufacturer for 10 years, tasked with ensuring that all equipment ran productively and efficiently.

After working swing shifts to earn a bachelor’s degree in business, Loew decided to step out on his own in 2012 and launch an original equipment manufacturing business. Process Equipment and Control, in Covington, Georgia, began with two employees, including himself.

By 2016, Process Equipment and Control employed 15 employees and Loew was looking for tools to help manage the company’s cash flow.

He found the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center and business consultant Mike Myers.

“Mike came out, we had a discovery session, and he said he could help,” Loew said. “He brought in solutions.”

Before long, companies began outsourcing their equipment and maintenance needs to Loew. While the additional business was good, the companies often stretched their payments to 90 days or more, which made it difficult to maintain a balanced budget.

“Managing cash flow is the number one issue for any business,” Myers said. “The technicians at Process Equipment and Control earn well above what a minimum wage job pays. (Loew) was having to pay his highly compensated employees for their work while waiting months to get his invoices paid.”

Myers introduced Loew and his accountant to cash flow management tools that would keep his business running. He then led Loew and his senior management through a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis and strategic planning exercises.

“The strategic planning helped us plan out where we’d be at years one, three and five,” Loew said. “As long as we hire the right people and make sure they match our goals and vision, we will continue to see success. It’s been key to our vetting, hiring and onboarding process.”

Myers also showed Loew how use material that emerged during the planning sessions on the company’s web site.

“They took a lot of components from the sessions to better explain who they are and what they stand for,” Myers said. “A website needs to catch someone’s attention, so they will engage you. Their site is now very engaging.”

Process Equipment and Controls now has 75 employees and serves customers in both in the U.S. and abroad.

“Working with Mike, we tackled the cash flow challenges we faced and increased our sales 900 percent over the past two years, exceeding our wildest dreams for this business,” Loew said. “We’ve grown significantly. Without the assistance of the UGA SBDC, we would not have been able to manage our explosive growth. We would have grown to death.”

Economic developers learn about UGA’s investment in coastal communities

Economic development professionals from Georgia’s inland counties got a firsthand look at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant operations in Brunswick, and learned how work done there affects the rest of the state.

Sean McMillan, director of UGA’s Atlanta-based office of economic development, accompanied 23 members of the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) to Brunswick. McMillan organizes the tour each year to connect businesses and communities across Georgia to UGA’s economic development efforts on the coast.

“This tour impresses upon the economic development community in Georgia all of the wonderful work that Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant does for our coastal communities,” said McMillan. “Faculty and staff here provide the underpinnings for successful businesses and vibrant communities.”

The visit included a trawl on the Georgia Bulldog, UGA’s 72-foot research vessel. During the trip on St. Simons sound, Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Director Mark Risse told the group that his faculty and staff support sustainable commercial fisheries and explore options, such oyster aquaculture, to diversify the coastal economy.

UGA’s 72-foot research vessel

“We are working with shellfish growers to study methods to make farming oysters easier and hopefully attract new farmers,” Risse said. “We’re also training commercial fishermen on how to collect data on black gill, a condition impacting Georgia shrimp.”

In 2015, Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant launched an oyster hatchery at the UGA Shellfish Research Center Lab on Skidaway Island. Extension agents at the hatchery create oyster spat (baby oysters), which they give to local shellfish farmers to grow out. The hatchery has distributed 1.4 million spat to farmers since 2015. With a change in state regulations that would allow the use of proper equipment to farm the oysters, marine extension agents predict they could produce 15 million spat at full capacity, with an estimated harvest value of $3.75 million to $5.2 million.

The total value of Georgia’s commercial seafood landings in 2017 was $16.8 million, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

In addition to fishing and aquaculture, the seafood industry creates jobs in the service sector, such as hotels and restaurants that draw tourists, who spend money, boosting the local economy.

“The work with the seafood industry directly relates to economic development in so many ways,” said Pat Merritt, GEDA vice chair and president of community and economic development for the Georgia Electric Membership Corp. “There’s a job-creation aspect to it and that’s what we’re all about; creating jobs and investment.”

Sean McMillan (left) talks with Jessica Brown (right), stormwater specialist with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant during the GEDA visit.

In addition, GEDA members learned that specialists with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant partner with local governments to improve stormwater management and plan for coastal hazards. They also promote healthy coastal ecosystems through education and outreach focused on reducing marine debris and improving water quality.

“It’s interesting to hear about all the different areas (UGA) works in,” says Megan Baker, business retention and expansion project manager at the Fayette County Development Authority. “We’re fortunate to have this program here because it supports economic development as well as the people and the coast.”

The Georgia Economic Developers Association is a non-profit association of professionals and volunteers who are involved with the economic development of the cities and counties of Georgia. GEDA was organized to increase the effectiveness of individuals involved in the practice of economic development in Georgia by encouraging cooperation, exchange of information, and upgrading of professional skills.

Commitment to historic land preservation and education earns national award for UGA donors

Longtime UGA supporters and alumni Craig and Diana Barrow were awarded the prestigious Margaret Douglas Medal by The Garden Club of America (GCA) for their commitment and service to conservation education at their Wormsloe estate near Savannah, Georgia.

The national award was given to the Barrows in recognition of their “thoughtful stewardship and generous donation of both land and resources,” said Dede Petri, president of The Garden Club of America.

The Barrows are the ninth generation to live at Wormsloe, located on the Isle of Hope outside of Savannah, since the property was claimed and developed by Craig Barrow’s ancestor Noble Jones in the mid-1730s. Wormsloe is the oldest property in Georgia to be held continuously by the same family.

Wormsloe was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. That same year, the Barrow family donated 822 acres of the property to The Nature Conservancy, which transferred the land to the state of Georgia to be managed by the Department of Natural Resources as a historic site. The Barrows retained Wormsloe House and the surrounding 50 acres of the property.

In 2007, the Barrows founded the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History to conserve the undeveloped land on the estate and to promote research and education programs there.

More than a dozen units across the university have engaged in research and education at Wormsloe. Among them are the College of Environment and Design, the Odum School of Ecology, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

In 2013, the Barrows, through their Wormsloe Foundation, donated 15 acres of the property to the University of Georgia to establish the Center for Research and Education at Wormsloe (CREW). The center provides opportunities for UGA faculty and students to study cultural history and historical land use practices, among other topics, under the direction of Sarah Ross, a member of the faculty of the College of Environment and Design and executive director of CREW. In 2016, UGA dedicated two new cabins built on the property to house visiting students and faculty. The cabins were partially funded by the Wormsloe Foundation as well.

Cabins at Wormsloe provide lodging for students and faculty immersed in experiential learning programs on site.

In its recognition of the Barrows, The Garden Club of America highlighted CREW’s research with 400 varieties of vegetables in the UGA Heirloom Demonstration Garden at Wormsloe. Some of these plants, such as peanuts, blueberries and cotton, are leaders in Georgia’s robust agriculture industry. Heirloom vegetable trials on site contribute to profitability for coastal Georgia’s family farms by measuring plant productivity, pest and disease resistance, and flood and drought tolerance as well as documenting the preferred flavor profiles.

GCA also recognized the Barrows’ significant backing of landscape stewardship, habitat restoration and sustainable agriculture research on their historic property—all supported largely by UGA programs on site. In addition, GCA cited the significance of the transdisciplinary approach to education provided by CREW.

“Craig and Diana are certainly deserving of this national recognition,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The University of Georgia is grateful for its enduring partnership with the Barrow family and the many ways they are helping us to expand our reach and impact across the state of Georgia and beyond.”

Craig Barrow credits Ross and College of Environment and Design Dean Dan Nadenicek for the work that led to the award.

“Diana and I were overwhelmed with humility and appreciation to be the recipients of such a prestigious award,” Barrow said. “However, we well know that the vision, leadership and hard work of Sarah Ross were largely responsible, as was the work of Dr. Dan Nadenicek and many others at the University of Georgia. The Margaret Douglas Medal not only endorses the university’s work at Wormsloe but also conveys a huge message of support for our many programs.”

Craig Barrow’s ties to UGA are deep. His great-great-great-grandfather, Alonzo Church, was president of the University of Georgia from 1829 to 1859, the longest-serving UGA president in history. Ten generations of the family have attended UGA. In 2010, the Barrows were named Family of the Year by the UGA Alumni Association.

Craig and Diana Barrow were recognized in 2013 as members of UGA’s 1785 Society, which acknowledges donors who have given more than $1 million in cumulative gifts to the university. In addition to the initiatives and research associated with CREW, the Barrows’ support has benefitted the UGA Libraries, the University of Georgia Press, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School, and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

Craig Barrow is the current chair of the University of Georgia Press Advisory Council. Diana Barrow is a member of the Board of Advisors for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

The Wormsloe State Historic Site is open to visitors and includes a museum and theater, picnic area, gift shop and walking trails. Visitors enter the site through an allée of live oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Events there include exhibitions of the tools and skills of colonial Georgians, led by demonstrators in period dress. Guided tours are offered daily. For more information, go to http://gastateparks.org/Wormsloe.

Writer: Kelly Simmons, simmonsk@uga.edu, 706-542-2512

Contact: Sarah Ross, svross@uga.edu, 912-414-2940

 

UGA Public Service and Outreach graduates 16 from leadership academy

Sixteen faculty and staff from UGA Public Service and Outreach, Cooperative Extension and the university’s schools and colleges graduated May 11 from the Vivian H. Fisher Leadership Academy facilitated by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

Sponsored by UGA Public Service and Outreach (PSO), the leadership program emphasizes personal leadership development and communication skills. It also helps participants recognize the role of outreach at UGA, see the scope of the work the PSO units perform across Georgia and learn how that work ties into the university’s mission.

During Friday’s graduation, Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum encouraged the class to continue the great work they do across Georgia.

“You are the guardians of what we do across the state,” Frum said. “It’s so important that PSO continues to maintain a pipeline of people who love what they do and are enthusiastic about serving the university and the state. This academy is one of the best investments PSO makes.”

Over the course of nine months, the class also visited each PSO unit, Cooperative Extension and the State Capitol, where they learned about UGA’s relationships with state government officials.

“Taking part in this program gives participants the ability to better understand and develop their own leadership skills that, combined with a greater understanding of the university’s public service and outreach mission, helps prepare graduates to assume leadership roles within PSO and UGA,” Fanning Institute Director Matt Bishop said.

Tracy Arner, a faculty member at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, said she is grateful for the experience.

“This academy has been one of the highlights of my career,” Arner said. “This program has given me a greater appreciation for the state and a greater love for the mission of public service at UGA. I also learned about the importance of the willingness to step up and take advantage of opportunities when called upon.”

The academy is named for Vivian H. Fisher, who started the academy in 2007 while serving as an associate vice president for PSO. Fisher died in 2008, and the academy was named in her honor in 2012.

The 2017-2018 Vivian H. Fisher PSO Leadership Academy graduates are:

  • Tracy Arner, Carl Vinson Institute of Government;
  • Stephan Durham, UGA College of Engineering;
  • Bryan Fluech, Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant;
  • Brian Freese, Carl Vinson Institute of Government;
  • Chris James, Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach;
  • Shana Jones, Carl Vinson Institute of Government;
  • Dan Lasseter, Carl Vinson Institute of Government;
  • Jennifer Lewis, UGA College of Environment and Design;
  • Sharon Liggett, Archway Partnership;
  • Mandy Marable, UGA Cooperative Extension;
  • Jeff Miller, UGA Cooperative Extension;
  • Bart Njoku-Obi, Small Business Development Center;
  • Kiel Norris, UGA Center for Continuing Education and Hotel;
  • Josh Podvin, Office of Service Learning;
  • Shelly Prescott, State Botanical Garden of Georgia; and
  • Sarah Sorvas, UGA Center for Continuing Education and Hotel