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Galloping into new leadership techniques at the Fanning Institute

Brittany Adams-Pope introduced a new tactic to help teenagers build their leadership skills during a summer program at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

Her approach? Hold your horses. Literally.

“Horses are empathetic animals. They pick up on our body language and our energy and react to both,” said Adams-Pope, a public service faculty member at the Fanning Institute. “They mirror our emotions, relying on us to be leaders.”

During the institute’s week-long summer program for high school youth in foster care, Adams-Pope took the teens to the UGA Livestock Arena on South Milledge Avenue.

A girl steps over a jump, leading a horse to it. Another student stands on the other side of the horse.

There, they worked in pairs to guide each horse, while holding onto a lead rope attached to its halter, through an obstacle course of cones and plastic barrels, and over jumps. At the same time, the teenagers balanced a tennis ball on a spoon. It was an exercise requiring grit, determination, and above all else, communication.

One participant said the exercise required that partners talk to each other more.

“It was really hard having to focus on multiple things at once,” another one said.

Adams-Pope, a certified equine-assisted leadership facilitator, helped the students realize that the more nervous they were, the more nervous the horses—Paco, L.T. and Spike— felt. The more rushed the students became, the less the horses listened to instruction. Students quickly picked up on how their emotions were reflected in the horses’ behavior.

“What energy do you bring to the room? How do you become aware of that?” Adams-Pope asked. “How do you pick up on the nonverbal communications of others?”

“Spike is the most timid, like me,” said one student, observing how Spike hung away from the other two horses.

“L.T. seems pretty cheeky. He’s very, very playful,” said another, watching L.T. trot in front of the other two.

A student with long hair strokes the front of Spike's head. Spike is the darkest of the horses.

About 21 teens from across Georgia attended the Embark Summer Precollegiate Program at Fanning, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. For five days they lived on campus, learned about the UGA admissions process and financial aid, and working on leadership skills.

This was the first year that Fanning has used horses to work with the students. Adams-Pope, who is new to Fanning, has been using equine-assisted leadership in other areas, modifying the course’s complexity for student groups, business managers and nonprofit organization leaders, often switching the tennis ball to an egg and adding more tedious obstacles.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned through this type of work is that participants and facilitators can find leadership in all the things around them,” Adams-Pope said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be horses that create learning—it’s more about using a new environment and a new stimulus to create authentic, hands-on learning.”

 

Embark Georgia is a statewide leadership initiative that works to increase college access and retention for youth who have experienced foster care or homelessness. By creating a network of support on campus and across the state, Embark aims to improve the chances for every student to complete a degree or certificate program at one of the over 50 USG or TCSG institutions in Georgia.


MEDIA CONTACT

Leah Moss   Public Relations Coordinator

leahmoss@uga.edu • 706-612-0063

Buford marketing firm gets an edge on the competition with help from UGA

Ten years ago, Alexandra Radford and Lauren Tatum were teenagers at a Gwinnett County high school where they shared common interests like fashion, friends and cheerleading.

Today, the two women still share interests but now those are graphic design, social media marketing and business operations at the small business they own together, the Edge Agency in Buford, Georgia.

There’s often also another party to the conversation: the UGA Small Business Development Center, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. The mission of the SBDC is to strengthen small business through one-on-one consulting as well as with trainings and workshops.

Radford first turned to the SBDC when she launched her first business in 2016. A UGA graduate in consumer journalism, she felt comfortable working with consultants from UGA. SBDC consultants helped her get the Limited Liability Corporation status and a business license for her company, Edge Marketing Company, LLC.

At the time Tatum was running a separate company that handled marketing for small businesses, and the two friends referred clients back and forth to each other for different services.

“One day we said, why are we doing this? This is silly. We could join and do this together,” Tatum said. “So that’s what we did. We took our two small business and put them together.”

They turned back to the SBDC to help form the new business, the Edge Agency. The transition was much easier with SBDC assistance, Radford said.

Alexandra Radford and Lauren Tatum combined their two small businesses to form the Edge Agency.

“I remember talking to the SBDC about an operating agreement, but it wasn’t something I needed when it was just me. When Lauren and I [put our businesses] together, it was something we did need and I wouldn’t have known about it without the SBDC,” Radford said.

Benny StaRomana, an SBDC consultant in the Gwinnett office—one of 17 regional SBDC offices across the state—helped the women through a strategic plan for their consolidated business.

“I helped them develop a strategy to accelerate cash flow by focusing on markets that are most receptive to their unique strengths.” StaRomana said. “Our role at the SBDC is to look at the underlying foundation and fundamentals of the business, including how to improve sales, which is always a major goal especially for emerging businesses.”

Although Radford and Tatum are young, they understand and can help their clients understand communications, relationships and psychology—a unique advantage StaRomana helped them find.

“The Edge Agency will ask clients, ‘Who is your ideal customer?’ If it’s a boutique selling clothes to 22- to 39-year-old women, earning $60,000 and above with small families, they know how to relate that demographic information to a website and design choices,” StaRomana said.

In just over two years, the Edge Agency has grown to four employees with more than 20 clients located not just in Georgia but also internationally. Clients range from companies focusing on real estate, events, fitness and wellness, insurance and nonprofits, to even plumbing.

Tatum speaking on the Digital Marketing Panel at StartSmart™ with other participants.

Now, the women are in a place where they’re regularly invited to tell their story during SBDC training classes, like StartSmart™, for new businesses, and GrowSmart™, to help businesses expand. They also regularly refer clients and industry colleagues to the SBDC.

“I recently sent a friend who was debating buying a book of business (a list of someone else’s clients) to the SBDC,” Radford said. “My uncle is also debating opening a franchise, so I told him he had to go. I tell people, why would you not go? It’s free. I throw it out there every chance I get.”

“We still meet with Benny StaRomana once, or every other month. The best leaders are always learning,” Tatum said. “Our advice to other young entrepreneurs: keep learning.”


MEDIA CONTACT

Leah Moss  Public Relations Coordinator

leahmoss@uga.edu • 706-612-0063

 

UGA students work through Grady County Archway Partnership on capstone project

It may be a coincidence that Grady College and Grady County share the same namesake in Henry W. Grady, but they also share something else: a group of dedicated students making an impact with their skills and talent.

Students from the New Media Institute in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication spent the spring semester helping Grady County officials develop a plan to increase the visibility and tourism potential in the small, rural south Georgia community.

The students worked through the Grady County Archway Partnership, a UGA public service and outreach unit that helps communities tap into UGA resources to address challenges.

For their capstone project, the seven New Media Institute students created a new logo and slogan for the county, took high-quality photographs to be used in promotional materials, produced a 90-second video to be shown in visitor’s centers in neighboring states, designed print advertising and a one-page tourism guide, and enhanced Grady County’s Facebook and Instagram presence. They also created a website for the community.

“Our goal was to change this county for the better,” said Kelly Buckman, a Grady College student majoring in Entertainment and Media Studies.

Since January, the students made the 500-mile round trip between Athens and Grady County three times, getting to know the community, meeting and talking with residents and discovering hidden gems that make the community special.

Their guide was Sharon Liggett, an operations coordinator with the Archway Partnership. Liggett’s role is to match designated Archway Partnership communities, like Grady County, with UGA resources. When the Grady County Archway Partnership executive council determined it needed more contemporary, current messaging focused on tourism, Liggett turned to the New Media Institute, which offers an interdisciplinary certificate program focused on using technological applications to address problems. The certificate is open to all majors and is housed in Grady College.

“This was a pretty exceptional project for Grady County and we couldn’t have done it without the New Media Institute students,” Liggett said. “There is a real source of pride that we are bringing UGA home to Grady County. It’s exciting to have students share their experiences with community members, and to have the residents share their community with the students.”

Projects like this are a win-win, Liggett said. Communities get fresh ideas from the students and materials the county would not have been able to afford, while students get to use their academic education in a practical, real world setting. The students learn how to work with clients, meet deadlines and manage expectations.

“This is a real project, not just a class project,” said Megan Flory, who is majoring in graphic design in the Lamar Dodd School of Art. “It has the potential to change people’s lives. That is more pressure, but it feels really good.”

Word of the project spread quickly in the small community, said Tony Phan, an Entertainment and Media Studies major, who served as the group’s photographer.

“Most of the residents were super welcoming and were really interested in everything we had to offer,” Phan said.

Grady County residents opened their homes to the students, inviting them to dinner, showing them their personal car collections, introducing them to sites known only to locals, and hosting bonfires where the local residents and students shared stories about their work and studies.

Community leaders are pleased with the outcome.

Trey Gainous, director of the Cairo-Grady Chamber of Commerce, said work with the UGA students had helped the county find a clear direction on which to focus its tourism efforts.

“It’s programs like this that help small communities like ours that have the will power, motivation and even some assets to grow, but lack the direction or clear picture to move forward with growth,” Gainous said. “These students and programs are vital to small communities like Grady County for ideas, direction, and fresh eyes on a project or campaign.”

Student pets a llama on the neck.

Megan Flory, student, pets llamas during one of the group’s trips to Grady County.


MEDIA CONTACT

Baker Owens Public Relations Coordinator

baker.owens@uga.edu • 706-542-1667

MORE INFORMATION

Rob Gordon Archway Partnership Director

gordon@uga.edu • 706-542-3268

Retiring in style: former corporate executive realizes entrepreneurial dream in franchise ownership

Mark Day was sure he would be an entrepreneur. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a business degree, he planned to do two years of corporate work and then set off on his own. His success in the corporate world, though, prevented him from executing his dream right away.

“I started as a sales rep, then decided to get my MBA, which enabled me to move into multiple roles in marketing, product management and sales management,” he said. Day was promoted to global vice president and then to divisional vice president for Asia, Africa and the Middle East region, where he served 10 years.

Upon retiring, Day began looking at opportunities to buy a small business.  “After 35 years in the corporate world I decided I really wanted to do something entrepreneurial. I was not ready to do nothing, not yet.”

He was frustrated, though, in trying to acquire the right business. “They were over- or under-valued or had skeletons in the closet. I could not find a good stand-alone entity to acquire at my price level.”

Day came close to buying a seasonal equipment rental business in Seaside, Florida, but the seller ended up dragging his feet on the sale, so he walked away. In late 2016, he approached the DeKalb office of the UGA Small Business Development Center for help in analyzing his options. He had known business consultant Steve Newton since their undergrad days together at the University of Georgia.

“We talked about his Seaside experience, and I invited him to several SBDC training sessions,” said Newton, “but he was unable to attend. I took notes at broker Leslie Kuban’s class on owning a franchise and invited him to meet her.”

Kuban introduced Day to several new franchise businesses, and he found others through his contacts. He worked with Newton to analyze each for its potential.

“We’d look at industry trends, references and cash flow analyses for these businesses, anything we could do to help Mark see how each business would develop over time,” said Newton. “Finding the perfect fit is the challenge. Each business has its own unique characteristics, so you must dig through the financials and other data to see what makes it profitable. The numbers may look good, but that may depend on its owner’s charisma, which may not transfer to a new owner. Leadership is important.

“We also look at whether it’s scalable. Can it grow? Is it in a growing industry? We help our clients recognize that. We do not do business valuations, but we can help a buyer understand what a typical business in that industry may be valued at, based on certain guidelines like owners’ discretionary earnings, inventory levels, average sales and profits. In Mark’s case, he ended up purchasing the franchise that was the least difficult to analyze and the most difficult to operate.”

After doing what he called “a lot of brainstorming with Steve,” Day, during a six-week period beginning in October 2017, acquired nine Smart Style full service hair salon franchises located in Walmart Supercenters in outlying metro Atlanta counties.

“I was very close to signing on with another franchise but changed my mind when I realized the salons belong to Regis, the world’s largest haircare company, and are located in the world’s largest merchandiser, where foot traffic averages 5,000 people per day,” said Day. “And hair is recession-proof. Amazon can’t do it.”

Day now manages nearly 50 employees in the nine shops while keeping his profits steady. He has learned turnover and customer loyalty are big issues. He also admits he has developed a new understanding of business management.

“I learned quickly that operating your own business is a whole different animal. You are HR, finance and the fixit person. Everything falls on you,” he said. “Steve has owned a business, so I’ve always respected his logic. Quite frankly, just having the resources of the SBDC, and being able to use Steve as a sounding board, is the best resource. I tell everybody about the SBDC now.”

Vinson Institute training helped prepare Harris County leaders for March tornado

There was no storm on the horizon the day that Harris County Commissioner Harry Lange took a disaster preparedness class with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

But five months later, when a tornado churned through his west Georgia community, Lange and Harris County first responders had an up-to-date disaster response plan in place to guide their recovery efforts.

“My feeling was, ‘We know how to respond to this,’” Lange said. “We had reviewed the preparedness plan, updated it and we knew what bases we needed to touch.”

Lange had attended a Disaster and Emergency Preparedness class during a training conference presented by the Vinson Institute in partnership with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG).

The class inspired him to return home, dust off the existing Harris County disaster response plan, and spearhead an effort to update it, prioritizing response and recovery needs.

On March 3, a tornado ripped through Harris County, damaging homes and leveling thousands of trees. The county was prepared, Harris County Manager Randall Dowling said.

“I think that the response was smoother since the county had a recent update to its operation plan,” Dowling said.

Since the tornado flattened most of the trees in a newly completed park, county leaders quickly decided that area temporarily would serve as a storm debris drop-off site for cleanup crews and the public, Lange said.

A tornado damaged homes and uprooted trees in Harris County.

On May 29, Lange met with department heads and other commissioners to review their response to the emergency, to discuss what worked and what they can do better. They used that information to further update the county’s disaster response plan.

The daylong Disaster and Emergency Preparedness class is part of the Lifelong Learning Academy continuing education program that the Vinson Institute and ACCG provide for commissioners and other county government officials. The class is designed to help county leaders learn more about out how planning can improve disaster response, explore their roles and responsibilities, and offer practical guidance on post-disaster action steps, said Mara Shaw, leadership development program manager at the Vinson Institute.

“At the end of the day, (Lange) commented about how much he had learned about his role in an emergency situation and the homework he needed to do when he got back to Harris County,” Shaw said. “Then, he put his learning into action. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”


MEDIA CONTACT

Roger Nielsen Public Relations Coordinator

nielsen@uga.edu • 706-542-2524

UGA teams up with Georgia Chamber for High Potentials Leadership program

 

UGA led 19 business and organization members of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce through a leadership program in May designed for employees with the potential to help address challenges in their communities.

It was the second annual High Potentials Leadership program, led by faculty from the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

Along with leadership training, participants also delved into public policy with faculty from the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government, learning about state demographics and local government. Meanwhile, leaders within the Georgia Chamber membership helped participants by providing practical advice and real-world professional experiences.

“I have learned so much, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of this program,” says McKenzie Lewis, director of Digital Media and Communications for the Georgia Association of Broadcasters. “Learning from other professionals and being able to talk with them about best leadership practices and how we can better engage with those in our community has been very beneficial to me.”

The High Potentials Leadership program is an example of how the Fanning Institute can tailor its leadership curriculum to meet the specific needs of an organization, said Fanning Director Matt Bishop.

“Unique leadership programs such as the High Potentials Leadership program can help communities and organizations engage their members and create a network of people with advanced leadership skills who are ready to contribute to a stronger state,” Bishop says. “We commend the Georgia Chamber for its commitment to developing leaders at all levels, and we are proud to support their efforts.”

By completing the program, graduates are equipped to address emerging opportunities and challenges facing their companies and their communities, said Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

“The most critical component to the long-term economic prosperity of Georgia is how we develop the next generation of servant leaders in the corporate community,” Clark says. “The High Potentials Leadership program was designed to position these leaders to find personal and service-oriented success.”

During the program, Fanning Institute faculty covered servant leadership through many lenses such as personal leadership styles, board governance, dialogue and examining one’s values and behaviors.

“The curriculum prepares graduates to better understand themselves as a leader and how to apply that knowledge both within their company and when representing their company in the community to help affect positive change,” says Brittany Adams-Pope, a public service assistant at the Fanning Institute.

The 2019 Georgia Chamber High Potentials Leadership program graduates are:

  • Abby Bradley, Pinewood Atlanta Studios
  • Camron Carden, Georgia Transmission Corporation
  • David Correa, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Shaun Dodson, Georgia EMC
  • Chandler Faccento, Atlanta Braves
  • Kristen Fraser, Aflac
  • Toni Hannah, Georgia Power Company
  • Stephanie Hardy, AT&T
  • Joey Heath, Oglethorpe Power Company
  • Chris Hughes, JE Dunn Construction
  • Sydney Langdon, Turner
  • McKenzie Lewis, Georgia Association of Broadcasters
  • William Mann, Grant Thornton LLP
  • Ashley Mock, CBC Bank- Langdale Company
  • James Nixon, Meadows Regional Medical Center
  • Shannon O’Keefe, Abshire Public Relations
  • Kevin Parrish, Wells Fargo
  • Rachel Rhodes, Comcast
  • Sabrina Taylor, Delta Air Lines

 

Creating learners and leaders at the State Botanical Garden

Students volunteering at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia are doing far more than just checking off their UGA-mandated experiential learning opportunity, they are using what they learn to teach other students who follow in their footsteps.

As a Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellow, James C. Anderson II created the leadership program, called Learning by Leading, to empower students and help them become career-ready. The program starts with freshmen, bringing them into the garden to complete a series of leadership development activities and completing service projects over two semesters.

The next year, they coordinate the activities for the new incoming students. During the third semester they develop a signature project at the garden and connect with a mentor. Finally, they spend their last year as an apprentice or intern at the garden.

The PSO Faculty Fellowship has been a welcome change for Anderson, a faculty member in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“A lot of what I do is very theoretical-based and academic,” he says. “Being able to tap into the experiential learning and service mission of the university is so important.”

Upon completion of Learning by Leading, students will have a vast experiential learning transcript—and feel more prepared to pursue science careers.

Projects vary. Students in the education department designed activities for different stations in the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden. Volunteers lead children through the activities at each station as they tour the garden. At one station they dress up like birds and create bird nests.

The ultimate goal of Learning by Leading is to retain students in the areas in which they work in the garden so that they will consider pursuing careers in that field.

“By getting these experiences while they’re still learning, they will connect to mentors and want to pursue these careers,” Anderson says.

In his position at CAES, Anderson researches effective mentorship. At the State Botanical Garden he led staff through six leadership modules, to help them become capable and confident mentors. He plans to adapt these modules and present them as a faculty learning series across campus.

“It’s so critical we have student-faculty mentorships that are strong and effective,” said Leslie Edgar, department head of the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication Department in CAES, where Anderson works. “Everything he’s doing at the garden fits beautifully into his research agenda. I think he’s able to use his focus and leadership abilities in was he hadn’t thought of before—it leverages him to be an even better faculty member.”

The Public Service and Outreach (PSO) Fellowship Program provides departmental support for tenure-track and tenured professors to immerse themselves in the work of a PSO unit for one semester. The experience offers opportunities for fellows to enhance their academic courses, conduct research and apply their academic expertise to outreach initiatives. An anticipated outcome of the fellowship experience is the sustained involvement with Public Service and Outreach after the semester ends.


MEDIA CONTACT

Leah Moss Public Relations Coordinator

leahmoss@uga.edu • 706-583-0964

Tackling trash—and public health—on the Georgia coast

We know picking up trash helps keep our environment clean, but could it also improve human health?

Jennifer Gay, an associate professor in the UGA College of Public Health, is studying the impact of volunteer litter cleanups on the environment and human health in coastal communities.

A UGA Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellow, Gay is partnering with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to learn more about the amount or type of physical activity that occurs in coastal environments, or how the environment contributes to healthy lifestyles.

“Through this study, we want to engage people who are participating in litter debris cleanups to assess the amount of physical activity they’re getting and how much energy they’re expending during these events,” said Gay, who researches physical activity and public health.

As part of the study, Gay worked with Katy Smith, water quality program coordinator for UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, to figure out how to apply the study in the Golden Isles community. Smith, who leads education and outreach initiatives focused on marine debris topics, has strong connections to the volunteer community through partnerships with conservation organizations like Keep Golden Isles Beautiful and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which host volunteer cleanups throughout the year.

“I’m excited to see what type of data we capture,” Smith said. “We’ve got people out there cleaning the environment, but what else are they gaining? Hopefully we can use the data to get more people involved in conservation efforts.”

Smith is helping Gay survey people in Brunswick, St. Simons and Jekyll Island to understand how they perceive the coastal environment. They are recruiting volunteers to wear monitoring equipment that collects data on physical activity during cleanups. Those that agree to participate wear heart rate monitors and accelerometers that track frequency, intensity and duration of an activity, as well as step counts over a one- to two-week period.

Sharon Hindery, who worked in a medical laboratory for several years before retiring, jumped at the chance to participate in the study.

Eventually I’d like to see what the data shows, said Hindery, who is particularly interested in the heart rate data following a cleanup event.

“I imagine that would be some kind of an indicator of satisfaction. After the event is over, you sit back and realize what you’ve done. Maybe that is kind of calming. Who knows?” she said.

Hindery and her husband Rick have lived in Brunswick for six years. During that time, they have helped with several debris removal volunteer efforts, even adopting a section of Highway 17 that they are responsible for cleaning throughout the year.

“I always joke that it’s exercise with a purpose,” Hindery said. “I go out and I pull a bag or two of trash off the marsh or the side of the road, and I look back at it and I feel better.”

Next steps in the study involve recruiting more volunteers so the team has a larger set of data to assess. Smith hopes to bring in several volunteers ahead of the World Oceans Day Beach Sweep on June 8, hosted by Keep Golden Isles Beautiful and Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant and sponsored by Yamaha. More information is available here http://bit.ly/2JflIPI

Those interested in volunteering for the study are encouraged to reach out to Katy Smith at klaustin@uga.edu.

After analyzing the data, the research team plans to develop educational outreach materials designed to engage people who are aren’t as active or involved in litter debris cleanups as a way to get them involved in physical activity and environmental stewardship.

The Public Service and Outreach (PSO) Fellowship Program provides departmental support for tenure-track and tenured professors to immerse themselves in the work of a PSO unit for one semester. The experience offers opportunities for fellows to enhance their academic courses, conduct research and apply their academic expertise to outreach initiatives. An anticipated outcome of the fellowship experience is the sustained involvement with Public Service and Outreach after the semester ends.


MEDIA CONTACT

Emily Woodward Kenworthy Public Relations Coordinator

ewwodward@uga.edu • 912-598-2348 ext. 107

High-tech helps plan ahead for road improvements

The ability to predict problems with roads and bridges could help local and state governments make needed improvements before accidents occur, using technology being developed by a UGA engineering professor working in partnership with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

As a Public Service and Outreach (PSO) Faculty Fellow, Sung-Hee “Sonny” Kim, in the the School of Environmental, Civil, Agriculture and Mechanical Engineering at UGA’s College of Engineering, is using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to look beneath the surface of roadways in a non-invasive manner and assess their condition beyond what the naked eye can see. Once the GPR has scanned the road, Kim uses that information to predict how the roadways will deteriorate in the future, and when government agencies should plan on repairing them.

“This is a really great tool for local and state governments,” said Kim. “[They can use] that information to predict how much budget should be spent this year or next year or upcoming years depending on the [road conditions]. They can manage the funds to maintain the roadway systems.”

“Other technologies just look at the pavement surface condition only, but our technology uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict future conditions based on continuously monitored GPR test data.”

Using funding provided by PSO to the Faculty Fellow’s academic department, Kim was able to upgrade his GPR and install it on a truck, effectively increasing the speed at which he can measure roadways from 3 MPH to 65 MPH. He and his team then spent the past year monitoring 10 different one-mile sections of highway in Athens-Clarke County.

Through his collaboration with the Vinson Institute, Kim was able to input his roadway data into the institute’s Geographic Information System (GIS), creating an interactive map that allows users to select a section of road and see its current and predicted future state.

“What Sonny’s technology and expertise allows is for brilliant imaging of those assets and to be able to use that information in a way that they can then determine where they need to invest their money,” said Stephan Durham, associate professor and assistant dean for Student Success & Outreach at the College of Engineering.

Kim has already been in contact with the Georgia Department of Transportation, which wants him to use his research to begin scanning major highway systems in the state this year. If successful, Kim hopes to eventually develop a map for the entire state.

“We’re very lucky to have [Kim] as a faculty member,” said Durham. “He’s great for us, but also great for the university as a whole, especially with the work he’s doing now with PSO.”

The Public Service and Outreach (PSO) Fellowship Program provides departmental support for tenure-track and tenured professors to immerse themselves in the work of a PSO unit for one semester. The experience offers opportunities for fellows to enhance their academic courses, conduct research and apply their academic expertise to outreach initiatives. An anticipated outcome of the fellowship experience is the sustained involvement with Public Service and Outreach after the semester ends.


MEDIA CONTACT

Aaron Cox Public Relations Specialist

aaron.cox@uga.edu • 706-542-3631

From gardens to pantries: UGA is addressing food insecurity in Clarke County

Two Clarke County middle schools have created food pantries to address food insecurity in the Athens community, with assistance from AmeriCorps VISTAs at UGA.

At Hilsman Middle School, where VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Katie Stanhope is assigned to work with the campus garden program, the idea for the pantry was suggested by Principal Utevia Tolbert. During the 2018-19 academic year, Hilsman operated out of a temporary facility while its new building was under construction. As a result, the school was limited to just a pair of raised garden beds, not enough to create a full garden of produce to send home with students.

“We wanted to increase access to fresh produce, but also make sure that kids are getting fed, that parents have food in their pantry,” Stanhope said. “Whether that’s lettuce or crackers or a can of soup, we’re able to support our students and our parents so that kids can focus and be fed and learn and be their best selves.”

As in all Clarke County schools, Hilsman students receive free breakfast and lunch at school each day, thanks to a provision from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But the fight against food insecurity often stretches beyond school-time meals, following the students to their homes.

Forty-nine children at Hilsman were identified as homeless this year, while 21 other students have been receiving weekly food bags through the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia’s Food2Kids Program — the maximum number allowed. Additionally, many other Hilsman families do not have the reliable transportation necessary to access the food bank, which is approximately 10 miles from their homes.

Using grants from grocery stores, donations, and cash raised by selling fresh produce provided by UGArden, the student-run garden on South Milledge Avenue, Stanhope spent the beginning of the year slowly stocking the pantry, now housed in a trailer. The pantry is available to students and families in the Hilsman community and is open after school and on some weekends.

At Coile Middle School, VISTA Mackenzie Stewart spent the fall and winter clearing a space and gathering supplies for a similar project.

Coile’s food pantry is specifically created for students who are on the waiting list for the Food2Kids Program, which can only serve 15 at that school. The pantry helps students who would otherwise go hungry, a need that Steward doesn’t see going away.

“I would really like for it to be a permanent part of the school,” said Stewart. “With the amount of hungry kids that come to school every day, it’s necessary.”

Mackenzie Stewart helps tend Coile Middle School’s garden.

It’s the same at Hilsman.

“They’ve seen it in their day-to-day lives,” Stanhope said. “We want to be as open and accessible to people in the Hillsman community as possible. Those are our values with the food pantry.”

Hilsman staff and students will move into a new, permanent home in August. The food pantry will go with them, housed in a building with a proposed school health clinic, creating what Tolbert hopes is a space where the entire community feels welcome.

“We can eat together, we can be together, and then maybe we can rise together,” Tolbert said.

Americorps VISTAS are hired through the UGA Office of Service-Learning to address issues surrounding poverty in Athens-Clarke County. VISTAS are assigned to each of the four Clarke County School middle schools to engage students in Grow It Know It (GIKI), a student and teacher driven program to address food insecurity and environmental sustainability through experiential education activities, cafeteria food waste reduction programs and school gardens. GIKI was established by the UGA Office of Service-Learning, UGA Cooperative Extension, UGArden and the Clarke County School District. Other VISTAS are assigned to the UGArden, Campus Kitchen, the Athens-Clarke County Library and the Athens Community Council on Aging.


MEDIA CONTACT

Aaron Cox Public Relations Specialist

aaron.cox@uga.edu • 706-542-3631

Faculty in the  College of Education and in Cooperative Extension named PSO Fellows

 

Faculty members from the College of Education and Cooperative Extension, in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, have been named Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellows for 2019-20.

Darris R. Means, in Counseling and Human Development Services at the College of Education, will work with the Archway Partnership to study the tools, skills and resources that rural high school students need to prepare for college. The research is designed to help underserved populations—such as African American, low-income and first-generation college students from rural Georgia—succeed in higher education. Means’ studies, which include data collected from Pulaski and Candler counties, will be replicated and expanded to include more Archway Partnership communities so that the Archway professionals there can make data-informed decisions to improve educational attainment across the state.

Svoboda “Bodie” Vladimirova Pennisi, a full professor and UGA Cooperative Extension Specialist at the UGA Griffin campus, will work with the Small Business Development Center to implement online learning opportunities. Pennisi’s online business training module will be designed to help entrepreneurs and managers run a successful landscape management business by covering critical topics such as financials, marketing, cost estimating, employee retention and customer service, all catered to the landscape management field. In the future, the module will be used across UGA Extension and adopted for a new online class for undergraduate students. An experienced online educator, Pennisi will apply her horticulture and landscape expertise to help small businesses across Georgia.

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

UGA brings coastal constituents together to discuss sustainable tourism

 

Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant has launched an initiative designed to promote the state’s 100 miles of shoreline to tourists, while protecting and sustaining the natural coastal environment.

A Coastal Georgia Tourism Conference in April at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens drew almost 100 people, including representatives from the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), Tybee Island, the Golden Isles (Jekyll Island, St. Simons and Sea Island), the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Troy University, nonprofit environmental groups like 100 Miles, and communities along the coast (Savannah, Darien, Brunswick and St. Marys) that depend on tourism for their local economy.

Attendees discussed a branding campaign for the entire coast, which would be in addition to, not in place of current branding for individual beaches and communities.

Jonathan Tourtellot, founder of the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, was the key note speaker for the daylong conference. Tourtellot warned that marketing the coastline to more tourists should be done carefully in order to sustain the beaches, saltmarshes, wildlife and native cultures.

“You cannot put an infinite number of tourists in confined spaces,” Tourtellot said. “Managing tourism and managing places are the same job.”

It would be hard to make up the revenue lost if there was no coastal tourism, because the tourism industry is the fifth largest employer in the state, said Cheryl Hargrove, director of industry and partner relations in the tourism division of GDEcD.

On average every household in Georgia would have to pay an additional $885 a year to replace the tourism taxes received by state and local governments in 2017, Hargrove said.

Mark Risse, director of the UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, said he had wanted to bring stakeholders along the coast together to discuss these issue for several years.

“All the things I thought a conference like this might be able to accomplish, I heard today,” Risse said.

Sponsors of the conference included Georgia Power, Georgia Grown and UGA Cooperative Extension. Attendees indicated in a survey that they would like to hold the conference on an annual basis.

Worth County home health and medical transport company owner gets financing and realizes growth with SBDC assistance

 

Sylvester entrepreneur Gwendolyn McDaniel would often call Karen Rackley for information or contacts to support her new businesses in home health care and non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) services.

Rackley, the top executive for the Sylvester-Worth County Chamber of Commerce and the Worth County Economic Development Authority, would, in turn, suggest McDaniel call Rob Martin, a consultant in the Albany office of the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. Every time.

McDaniel refused to make the call.

“I had worked in procurement for the Army and for Proctor & Gamble, and I knew a lot about how to run a business,” she said. “I refused, seriously, to sit down and take the time for the SBDC to help me be successful.”

Until, that is, she sat down with Martin.

“Gwen had been referred to us several times and did not want to do it. She kept putting it off,” Martin agrees. “Then the city made available a revolving loan fund (RLF) she could use to expand her businesses and buy a building. At that pivotal point, her landlord was going to sell her building. She wanted the building and needed three new vehicles. She came to us with five days left to apply for the loan.”

McDaniel had been looking for creative ways to finance her companies, PremiereCare @ Home and PremiereCare Transportation LLC, when she learned about two revolving loan funds – the one offered by the city of Sylvester, the other by Worth County.

“They were both about to lose the funds. No one had applied for them yet,” she said. She chose to pursue the Worth County funding.

The applications were lengthy.

“There were 18 items I had to submit along with my information,” McDaniel said. “They were looking for a business plan, profit and loss statement, cash flow pro forma and a personal guarantee, among others. I had to put it all together, and I had no clue. When I saw that, I knew I needed help.

“So I called Karen and said, ‘Tell me that name again?’”

McDaniel called Martin, and the next day they met for three hours to go over the application.

“Once we had that meeting, I wanted to jump over the table and hug him,” she said. “Rob set the foundation, making sure I understood everything I needed to do for the loan application.”

“We went over what her business plan looked like, and she needed to do her financial projections. Then we put together a rough draft,” said Martin. “We don’t write the plans, but we do show our clients what they need to focus on. I helped her leave with the structure of the plan, and she spent the night writing it. She had it to me the next morning to review and update.”

Within two days McDaniel completed the application, Martin said.

McDaniel had opened her companies in March and April of 2016 with one vehicle and about $1,800 in monthly sales revenues. Upon receiving the revolving loan fund, she purchased five more NEMT vehicles and her building. By June 2018, she was up to 11 vehicles and 12 employees servicing three major contracts. She plans to purchase three more NEMT vehicles, and her sales earnings will double from 2017 to six figures this year. She continues to apply for major contracts and plans to expand her NEMT services to provide rides 24 hours, seven days a week.

Martin encourages small business owners to seek SBDC support earlier than five days from a hard deadline, and he says McDaniel agrees, telling him, “‘If I’d come to you the first time I was referred to you, I’d be six months further down the road today.’”

“I don’t think Rob ever met anyone who fought against him like I did, and now I love him to death,” McDaniel said. “I have sent a few people to Rob, and now they’re doing well, too. You have to go to the SBDC to get that foundation.”

71st Georgia Science and Engineering Fair draws 800 students

 

Students from Georgia middle and high schools competed for 200 awards presented during Georgia Science & Engineering Fair, hosted by the Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel in March.

New this year was an award by the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, honoring one middle and one high school student whose projects showed exceptional insight and creativity in research relating to conservation, environmental protection, or sustainability. Each winning student was awarded a job-shadowing experience, a behind-the-scenes tour, and tickets to the aquarium.

Another new award this year was the Junior Pinnacle Award. Fashioned after the highly coveted Pinnacle Award, which goes to the best overall senior-division project in the fair, the Junior Pinnacle Award trophy was awarded to the student with the best middle-school project.

The Georgia Patent Assistance for STEM Students (PASS) program was piloted during this year’s fair. Developed in conjunction with GSEF, PASS seeks to support young researchers in their pursuit of innovation by raising awareness of intellectual property protection and patenting resources. The highlight of this year’s implementation of PASS was a collaboration with an Atlanta law firm specializing in intellectual property, Meunier Carlin & Curfman. The firm sponsored an award granting 10 hours of legal assistance to a deserving GSEF exhibitor. A team of two girls from General Ray Davis Middle School won the award for their creation of a CPAP mask-mount sensor prototype for individuals with sleep apnea.

Thirty-four outstanding high school students will go on to represent the state of Georgia by competing in the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona, May 12-17, 2019.

 

 

College of Engineering Students Showcase Archway Partnership Projects

 

UGA College of Engineering students completed capstone design projects in five Archway Partnership counties, putting their academic education into action and providing a valuable service to rural Georgia communities.

The students worked alongside industry and community partners in Grady, Hart, Pulaski, Spalding and Washington counties. Projects ranged from assisting the implementation of a wastewater sludge management program in Spalding County to the structural assessment of a historic building in Grady County.

“Since 2014, the Archway Partnership and the College of Engineering has partnered on over 40 design projects,” said Stephan Durham, associate professor and dean for student success and outreach in the College of Engineering. “The college’s partnership with Archway is a mutually beneficial collaboration that works to provide soon to be engineering graduates with real-world design projects and client interactions while providing engineered designs and cost estimates for community improvement projects.”

Students work on the projects throughout the year and showcase them in April, competing for awards in six different categories. Ninety projects were featured in the showcase.

A remediation analysis of a brownfield site in Pulaski County won an award for Community Impact.  That student team had to analyze hazard conditions, including contaminated soil and groundwater, at the NeSmith Gas Station. The county is considering donating the site to the city of Hawkinsville.

The students recommended measures to improve the site and developed a plan for a welcome sign, benches, a garden and other elements. A delegation of city council members, the city manager and the county commissioner in Pulaski attended the showcase and were as impressed as the judges with the students’ work.

A wastewater discharge feasibility study in Hart County won for Sustainable Design.  Hart County officials had feared that projected industry and population growth could increase demand for wastewater disposal beyond existing capacity. Students were commissioned to find feasible alternatives for future discharge. They identified an adjacent site where total discharge capacity could be increased to accommodate future industry.

“These civil and environmental capstone engineering projects are critical to the work being done in Archway Partnership communities,” said Angel Jackson, operations coordinator for the Archway Partnership. “The students’ work, ranging from trail design to wastewater management to site analysis, is phenomenal and we look forward to continuing this partnership in the years ahead.”

Leigh Anne Lloveras, an environmental engineering student, worked on a design for the Flint River Water Trail in Spalding County. Her team created designs for a place where boats could come in and out of the water along the Flint River. The project required close collaboration with the Flint River Water Trail Council and the City of Griffin and Spalding County Parks and Recreation Departments.

“Learning how to work with the community and see something tangible was the biggest takeaway for me,” Lloveras said. “We knew we could do the calculations but taking in public input and working with stakeholders was a big lesson.”


MEDIA CONTACT

Baker Owens Public Relations Coordinator

baker.owens@uga.edu • 706-542-1667

MORE INFORMATION

Rob Gordon Archway Partnership Director

gordon@uga.edu • 706-542-3268

High-school partnership helps students lead, succeed

 

A Walton County high school is seeing increased student involvement and higher graduation rates since adopting a University of Georgia youth leadership program into its curriculum.

Walnut Grove High School in Loganville in 2015 implemented the Youth Leadership in Action program, designed by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at UGA, a division of Public Service and Outreach. So far, 300 students have completed the curriculum, and many have gone on to serve on committees and boards that make decisions for the school.

Since the leadership curriculum was adopted by the school, graduation rates have risen from 78.3% (2013-14) to 86.2% (2016-17), which is well above the state average of 81.6%.

“The program empowers students to facilitate their own goals and develops them as leaders among their classmates,” says Walnut Grove High School Principal Sean Callahan. “We have seen school climate improve, students stay in school, become more involved and take ownership of their school, which all lead to achievement.”

Callahan said that when he became principal in 2014, he “saw that students didn’t feel as if they had a voice in their school.”

“I wanted to change that,” Callahan said.

At that time, chambers of commerce throughout the state, including in Walton County, utilized the Youth Leadership in Action curriculum, created by the Fanning Institute, targeting high school-age youth. The Walton County program serves students throughout the county, which meant only a “handful” of Walnut Grove High School students could participate at a time, Callahan said.

“I wanted to create something that would impact a larger group of students at the school,” he said.

Kris Cofie bowls a strike in a game created by him and his peers.

In 2015-16, 64 teacher-nominated students made up the first Student Steering Committee, receiving leadership training and working with the school administration to develop ideas for school improvement.

“Topics included understanding leadership, goal setting and conflict management,” said Fanning Public Service Associate Lauren Healey, who helped customize the Fanning curriculum to focus on issues most relevant to the high school students. “We also teach the students about servant leadership and strategic planning to help them strengthen the school environment.”

Working with the administration, members of the steering committee have introduced new events that help motivate and reward Walnut Grove High School students:

  • Warrior Day is an end-of-the-year festival to celebrate a successful school year;
  • “Everyday Warriors” project includes students, sometimes 80 to 100 a week, that are nominated by teachers and recognized for being role models;
  • “Warriors Leading Warriors” is a peer mentor program.

This year, the Student Steering Committee is working on two projects: creating a team that will compete with other schools in eSports — an online competition that encourages teamwork, communication, strategic thinking and leadership — and developing a school mascot to attend Warriors’ sporting events.

The success of the initial Student Steering Committee and the students’ desire to continue serving led the school to adopt a second leadership opportunity — a Student Steering Board.

Comprised of students that have served on the steering committee, the board works with the school to implement the committee’s ideas and receives additional leadership training to help them further develop in areas like project planning, goal setting and communication.

“Through the committee and board, these students learn skills that they put to use in real time in leading their peers within the school,” says Lori Tiller, a public service associate at the Fanning Institute. “The immediate and tangible application of learned leadership skills makes this program unique.”

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Serving on the steering committee and steering board is a way for students to set an example and leave a legacy, said Reese Baker, a Walnut Grove High School senior.

“We are role models for other students,” Baker said. “They ask us about the committee, and it gives them something to strive for. My sister will come here next year, so I can’t wait to come back and see the results of what we’ve worked on.”

Lessons learned as a committee member also help outside of the classroom, said Walnut Grove High School senior Kris Cofie.

“Learning about my personality type and how I handle situations as a leader has helped me at work, where I am a night leader,” Cofie says. “It helps me lead others at work to get things done more effectively.”

The program at Walnut Grove is a model for other schools and communities, said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute. So far, 17 schools in Georgia have incorporated the Youth Leadership in Action curriculum into their instructional time.

“This shows how we can partner with schools to embed leadership development into the classroom and develop young people who lead in their schools and their communities,” Bishop said.

Callahan said, “Education should be about teaching students to be productive, work with others and impact their environment. We couldn’t do this without the Fanning Institute. Together, we have created something that fits our school and our goals.”


MEDIA CONTACT

Charlie Bauder Public Relations Coordinator

Charlie.Bauder@fanning.uga.edu • 706-542-7039

State Botanical Garden research director named to CAES professorship

UGA horticulturist James Affolter, who oversees research at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, was named to the newly endowed Larry R. Beuchat Professorship for Annual and Perennial Ornamental Plant Research.

The professorship in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences was created through a generous gift from Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus Larry Beuchat. The research-focused position will be located in the Department of Horticulture and housed at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia. The goal of the position is to promote ornamental plant research and a partnership between the Department of Horticulture and the State Botanical Garden, a 313-acre “living laboratory.”

Some of UGA’s top revenue-generating new plant varieties, including more than 20 commercial and home garden blueberries and half of the hydrangea grown in the United States, are the result of research from UGA’s horticulture department.

“I wanted to express my gratitude to the university for having been afforded the opportunity to be a faculty member and contribute to the advancement of food and agricultural sciences,” said Beuchat, who joined the Department of Food Science and Technology on the UGA Griffin campus in 1972. He has since published about 530 refereed scientific journal articles and five books, with most of his research at the UGA Center for Food Safety focusing on how food safety issues relate to foods of plant origin. “I wanted to support and fund programs that would advance ornamental plant science while simultaneously assisting students in the program.”

Beuchat’s interest in plants developed at an early age when he helped his parents tend their gardens on the family’s dairy farm and sell the flowers, fruits and vegetables at a local farmers market. He earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Pennsylvania State University.

Affolter’s class planting pitcher plants in the new Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden.

Affolter joined the CAES faculty in 1993 and was promoted to full professor in 2005. As director of research at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, he manages three full-time employees who have a combined total of more than 50 years of experience in the garden’s research and conservation program. The garden’s plant conservation program is recognized as one of the best in the country and has received awards from the American Public Gardens Association and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, among others.

“One of the goals of this endowment is to strengthen ties between the State Botanical Garden and the UGA Department of Horticulture,” Affolter said. “This mission is near to my heart since I have served as the director of science and conservation at the botanical garden for more than 25 years, and the most satisfying part of my job has been fostering an interest in plants in undergraduate and graduate students.”

Affolter leads the applied research program at the garden which focuses on native plant production, habitat restoration and protecting endangered species. The Beuchat endowment will fund UGA student participation in the research and outreach programs at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia’s Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies. This includes the introduction of new and underused species to home landscapes and commercial nurseries, he said. The gift also will fund research comparing the ecological value of various native plant selections used to promote biodiversity and for habitat restoration projects.

“The center is key to the growth of our plant introduction programs at the botanical garden,” Affolter said. “The renovated complex consists of a greenhouse, headhouse, high tunnel, raised beds and classroom, all essential for the success of our research program.”

UGA CAES graduate, and undergraduate, students receive hands-on training and conduct research in the center. Funding from the Beuchat professorship will be used in part to help support their research which often focuses on the potential value of native ornamental species in home gardens, pollinator gardens and habitat restorations.

Your source for UGA’s impact across the state and beyond.

 

“The funding the professorship provides will accelerate our research efforts and create new academic opportunities for UGA students who have a passion for horticulture and botanical gardens,” Affolter said. “I look forward to strengthening the research program even further with the resources and recognition that accompany this professorship.”

Affolter has worked in university botanical gardens since receiving his doctoral degree in botany from the University of Michigan in 1983. He served as curator of the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley from 1983 until 1990, then as director of Cornell Plantations — the botanical garden, arboretum and natural areas of Cornell University — from 1990 until 1992. He is the founding chair of the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, headquartered at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, which is a network of more than 40 botanical gardens, government agencies, and environmental organizations in Georgia that study and preserve the state’s endangered flora. He is a board member and past-president of Botanic Gardens Conservation International-U.S., part of a worldwide network of more than 700 institutional members – mostly botanic gardens – from 118 countries. The U.S. branch works with more than 100 member gardens and conservation organizations to raise awareness and scientific understanding of native and threatened plants in North America.

A common thread throughout Affolter’s career has been his interest in using university botanical gardens as platforms to create interest and knowledge of species that are new to the Green Industry. The recognition and resources associated with the Larry R. Beuchat Professorship will enhance these efforts and meet the goals of the endowment, he said.

For more information about the UGA horticulture department, go to http://hort.caes.uga.edu/.
To learn more about the State Botanical Garden, go to http://botgarden.uga.edu/. For more information about planned gifts to the CAES, go to http://www.caes.uga.edu/departments/development-alumni-relations.html.


Contacts: James Affolter, jaffolter@uga.edu, (706) 542-6144
Larry Beuchat, lbeuchat@uga.edu, (770) 412-4740

UGA works with Envision Athens on planning

Wesley Chenoweth felt alone when he was starting his business.

“As a startup, minority-owned business in Athens, I felt lost,” he said. “I didn’t know where to start or if I’d ever be able to grow my business like the successful ones I saw downtown.”

His company, Grizzly Delivery LLC, specializes in courier delivery, passenger transportation, non-emergency medical transportation and more. Chenoweth’s goal is for Grizzly to be the leading transportation company in Northeast Georgia in the next five years, but to get there, he needed support.

That’s how he found himself at Emergent: Launch and Learn, a training course offered by the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, hosted by Envision Athens.

Envision Athens is a partnership between community and government leaders with the goal of creating a 20-year strategy for community and economic development in Athens-Clarke County. The organization is based on the idea of government and community working together, making comprehensive community planning more insightful, intuitive and inclusive.

“This is essentially the best of institutional capacity and grassroots activism combined,” said Erin Barger, project manager of Envision.

In February, the SBDC, a division of UGA’s Public Service and Outreach, worked with Envision to host a training program for business owners looking to grow their companies and potential owners looking for a starting point. Michael Myers and Bart Njoku-Obi, consultants at the SBDC, instructed upward of 50 participants on subjects from startup mechanics to writing a business plan to cashflow management.

The event was held at the Goodwill Career Center and supported by Athens-Clarke County Housing and Community Development and Economic Development offices, Enlightened Media, Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Northeast Georgia Business Alliance.

Myers helped plan the training curriculum.

“Envision had business owners telling them what they’d like to see,” Myers said. “SBDC does training like this all the time across the state. We took the tools and presentations that we have and used them for this specific audience.”

Your source for UGA’s impact across the state and beyond.

Business owners like Chenoweth benefit from the economic development focus of Envision. Other focuses include — but aren’t limited to — housing, education, social services and the environment.

The organization partners with larger entities like the University of Georgia, with partnership serving as the cornerstone for Envision Athens’ approach.

“The University of Georgia and Athens-Clarke County are linked. What is good for Athens-Clarke County is also good for UGA,” Barger said. “Any movement would be remiss to not include such a key stakeholder that is the lead employer in the county and also an institution that we look to for expertise in best practices. UGA leadership is key as we pursue our vision of reaching our full potential in Athens-Clarke County in unity, equity, prosperity and compassion.”

The goals of Envision are aspirational; the committee hopes to improve every aspect of Athens-Clarke County over the next two decades. In the meantime, events like the SBDC training are directly helping citizens like Chenoweth.

“It was like a breath of fresh air to see the networking taking place at the training. Entrepreneurs from all walks of life and industries were together, engaging, encouraging and uplifting each other,” he said. “I left with a feeling of inclusion within my community and a clear path to success for my business.”


By Kellyn Amodeo