Class Notes


Frank McGill (BSA – Agronomy, ’51; MS – Agronomy ’62) was recognized at the 43rd Annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference in January with the 2018 Valor Award from Valent for the many contributions he made to Georgia’s peanut industry during his career as a county agent and later a University of Georgia Extension agronomist. McGill, 92, also was honored at a ceremony in October by the UGA Graduate School as an Alumnus of Distinction for achieving exceptional success in his professional career and in service to his community.

Jesse Moore (BSA – Agriculture,’53) was named to the Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame by Cotton Incorporated in December. Moore was honored for “helping change the landscape of the cotton industry by taking the lead in establishing the high-volume instrument classification system while he was director of the Cotton Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Moore was born into the industry, having grown up on a cotton, peanut and tobacco farm in south Georgia. His tireless efforts in the industry “set a standard for not only U.S. cotton grading, but for the rest of the world.” The Hall of Fame program, now in its fifth year, recognizes U.S. cotton industry leaders who have made significant contributions to the Cotton Research and Promotion Program or to the cotton industry in general.


Tony Tyson (BSAE – Agricultural Engineering, ’70; MS – Agricultural Engineering, ‘80) received the Friend of the County Agent award in November from the Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents (GACAA). The award recognizes the contributions made by nonmembers of GACAA to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service and to Georgia agriculture. Tyson spent nearly 40 years working in UGA Cooperative Extension, including one year at the Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton.

Jimmy Hill (BSAE – Agricultural Engineering, ’71) has retired after a 50-year career with Georgia Power, The Hill Group Inc. and the University of Georgia. Hill received the Alumni Award of Excellence from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Association in 2017 and was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in 2018.

Charles T. Hall (BSA – Horticulture, ’72; MS – Horticulture, ’74), founder and CEO of Association Services Group, is the 2019 recipient of the Glenn W. Bostrom Award for Service, Quality and Excellence from the AMC Institute. A former chair of AMCI’s board of directors, Hall was presented with the award at AMCI’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas. AMCI represents 185 association management companies that manage more than 1,800 associations with more than 2.8 million full-time members and nearly 900 project-based members.


Kim Thompson (BSA – Agronomy, ’81) is president of the Treutlen County Georgia Farm Bureau, which received the Georgia Farm Bureau’s 2018 McKemie Award — the highest honor given to a county Farm Bureau in recognition of its overall member program — in the small membership category. The Treutlen County Farm Bureau also received the 2018 Outstanding Women’s Leadership Committee award.

Walter Cromer (BSA – Ag Engineering, ’82; MS – Ag Engineering, ’84) is the founder of Eden Concepts in Knoxville, Tennessee. Eden Concepts is a technology-development and consulting firm focused primarily on agriculture, health care, information technology and project management.

Jonathan Fischer (BSA – Poultry Science, ’82; MS – Poultry Science, ’84) is vice president for quality systems and regulatory affairs with HP Hood in Lynnfield, Massachusetts.

Russell Randall (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’84) of Romeo, Florida, was inducted into the Marion County Agricultural Hall of Fame in November. Randall, a former high school agriculture teacher and school administrator at Dunnellon High School, is the second agricultural educator to be named to the hall of fame. Randall has served as president of the Florida Association of Agriculture Educators, is a current member and past president of the Marion County Farm Bureau, served as state secretary of the Georgia FFA Association and was a finalist for the Marion County Public Schools Golden Apple Teacher of the Year award. He also is a member and past president of the Southeastern Youth Fair Executive Board. He has been the announcer for the annual fair in Ocala, Florida, for the past 10 years.

Ronnie Barentine (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’85) is the Agriculture and Natural Resources program development coordinator for the University of Georgia Extension Southwest District.

Frank Ginn (BSAE – Agricultural Engineering, ’85), a Georgia state senator from Madison County’s 47th District, was named executive director of the Madison County Industrial Development and Building Authority in August.

Calvin Perry (BSAE – Agricultural Engineering, ’86; MS – Agricultural Engineering, ’88) recently completed the class and exam to earn the Certified Ag Irrigation Specialist designation from the Irrigation Association.

Tim Smalley (MS – Horticulture, ’86; PhD – Horticulture, ’88) was honored with The Vivian Munday/Buck Jones Lifetime Achievement Award by the Georgia Green Industry Association in January. Smalley, who is currently interim department head for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Department of Horticulture, has conducted research into the effect of soil amendments on growth and water stress tolerance of ornamental plants. He has led courses in nursery management, landscape contracting and horticulture professionalism while serving as the departmental undergraduate scholarship, internship and jobs coordinator. He has taught the popular Woody Landscape Plant Identification and Use course, which leads students across campus as they learn about the thousands of trees and shrubs that comprise the UGA Campus Arboretum. He has also been a long-time advisor for the Horticulture Club.

Jon Hobus (BSA – Horticulture, ’87) has been with Evergreen Nursery in Statham, Georgia, "for 26 years and now serves at their marketing manager. Evergreen Nursery specializes in containerized perennials and groundcovers.

James Woodard (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’87) of Madison, Georgia, is superintendent of the Morgan County Charter School System. Woodard recently led the district through a building project that included transforming the high school into a college and career academy with a strong focus on agriculture programs.

Billy Hughes (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’89) is program manager for agricultural education with the Georgia Department of Education. Hughes served as principal at Effingham County High School (ECHS) from 2016 until his appointment in October. A native of Bryan County, Hughes started his teaching career in 1990 at Effingham County High School, where he taught agriculture until 2001, when he became the Central Region Area forestry instructor. He returned to ECHS as agriculture teacher until 2006 when he became supervisor of the Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Program for Effingham County Schools until 2011. He served as principal of Effingham County Middle School from 2011 to 2016. Hughes, who lives in Rincon, Georgia, holds a master’s degree in agricultural education from Clemson University and a specialist degree in educational administration and supervision from Lincoln Memorial University.


Lisa Kreise-Anderson (PhD – Animal and Dairy Science, ’91) has retired from her positions as associate professor in the animal sciences department at Auburn University’s College of Agriculture and animal scientist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Hal Russel (BSA – Dairy Science – Production, ’91) is a district sales manager for NACHURS in Boston, Georgia.

Christy Barge Warbington (BSA – Biological Sciences, ’91) is the regional auto specialist for Georgia at Gatehouse Auto in Athens, Georgia.

Bryan Tolar (BSA – Agribusiness, ’92) is the founder and principal of government affairs firm Tolar Capitol Partners. A longtime lobbyist supporting Georgia farmers and agribusiness, Tolar has spent 20 years at the Georgia Capitol, among state regulatory agencies and in Washington, D.C., championing Georgia agribusinesses and serving as president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council before leaving the organization in September to establish his own firm.

Bill Tyson (BSA – Agronomy, ’92), Bulloch County University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent and Extension coordinator, was named 2018 Ag Partner of the Year by the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce in November.

Fred Rayfield (MAEX – Agricultural Extension ’93) is the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension school-relations coordinator in Athens.

John Kerry Courchaine (BSA – Animal Science, ’94; MS – Animal Science, ’96) joined Darling Ingredients, headquartered in Irving, Texas, in 2018, where he serves as director of technical services for the North American quality assurance and product safety team. Courchaine consults with operations teams at approximately 70 animal food facilities regarding compliance and regulatory affairs, product innovation and product quality.

Brandie Rucks Park (BSA – Agricultural Communications, ’97), owner and president at Aurora Firm, joined the Women of UGA Alumni Board last July and was voted secretary at their last meeting. She serves as the vice chair of development for the Georgia 4-H Foundation.

Dale Williamson (BSA – Poultry Science, ’97) is an account manager for animal health and nutrition with Chr. Hansen.

Jason King (BSA – Poultry Science, ’98) is a poultry technical sales specialist for Wilbur-Ellis Feed in Nashville, Tennessee.


Margaret Carden (BSA – Animal Science, ’00; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ‘04) has joined the veterinary technology faculty at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, New Mexico.

Tim Coolong (BSA – Horticulture; ’00, MS – Horticulture; ’03, PhD – Horticulture; ’07) received the 2019 Donnie H. Morris Award of Excellence in Extension at the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah, Georgia. Coolong also received an outstanding Extension publication award at the Southern Region meeting of the American Society of Horticultural Science in February.

Josh Hall (BSA – Agribusiness, ’02) is the director of sales at Mishawaka Amphitheatre in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

Reggie Beasley (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’02) was named the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Region V Outstanding Secondary Program Winner at the NAAE Conference in November. Beasley is a forestry and natural resources instructor and Georgia Young Farmers adviser at Wayne County High School in Jesup, Georgia.

Sam Watson (BSA – Agricultural Education – ’02) was named chairman of the General Government Appropriations Subcommittee for the Georgia House of Representatives. Watson is the state representative for District 172 in Moultrie, Georgia.

Dylan C. Gilbert (BSA – Turfgrass Management, ’03) just completed his first year as the superintendent of grounds maintenance for the city of Charleston, South Carolina. After nearly 15 years working in the grounds-management field in Atlanta, he is now responsible for managing the grounds of some of the most gorgeous and historical park spaces in America. He attributes his preparation to excel in his new role to the education he received on the South Campus of the University of Georgia.

Paul Pugliese (MPPPM – Plant Production and Pest Management, ’03), University of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator in Bartow County, was honored with four awards at the 2018 National Association of County Agricultural Agents’ 103rd Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference in August. Pugliese won a Distinguished Service Award for Excellence in Extension Education Programs; was a state winner for Search for Excellence in Commercial Horticulture; a national finalist for Communications Award: Video Recordings; and a state winner of Communications Award: Feature Story.

Shannon Lawrence (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’03; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’04) was named 2018 Teacher of the Year for Jackson County Comprehensive High School (JCCHS) and 2018 Teacher of the Year for Jackson County Public Schools. Lawrence is a career, technology and agriculture education teacher at JCCHS in Jefferson, Georgia, and advisor for the JCCHS chapter of FFA.

William Sprague (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’03) is director of sales for Classic City Marinas and Eclipse Marine Group in Athens, Georgia.

Amanda Tedrow (BSA – Horticulture, ‘03; MPPPM – Plant Protection and Pest Management, ‘10) is the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources program development coordinator for the Northeast District.

Anthony Puckett (BSA – Poultry Science, ’04) is a consumer safety officer and investigator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Puckett and his wife, Amanda, live in Jefferson, Georgia.

Allen Daley (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’05) is regional vice president for AgSouth Farm Credit in Sylvania, Georgia.

Joel McKie (BSA – Agribusiness, ’05) was honored as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine for his work in energy and resources. It is the seventh time McKie, a partner with the law firm of Hall, Booth, Smith in Atlanta, has been honored with the award by the magazine. McKie is also active in the Georgia Agribusiness Council, a lifetime member of the National FFA Alumni Association and a member of the Agriculture Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association. He is a 2008 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.

Jiang “John” Chen (PhD – Entomology, ’06) is a scientist with Sorrento Therapeutics Inc.

Niki Newberry Coody (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ‘06) is the assistant vice president for development in the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.

Robert Laster (BSA – Food Science, ’06) is a technical sales manager for Ohly, a supplier of yeast products for the global market. He is based in Chicago.

Raj Shah (BSA – Honors Interdisciplinary Studies, ‘06) is senior regulatory attorney and policyholder advisor for MagMutual in Atlanta, where he provides legal advice and consultation to MagMutual policyholders regarding federal and state regulatory matters in the health care arena.

Chris Tyson (BSA – Agriscience and Environmental Systems, ‘06; MPPPM – Plant Protection and Pest Management, ‘17) is the area onion agent for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and coordinator of the Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center.

Matthew Wilson (BSA – Agricultural Communications, ’06) was elected to the Georgia state legislature as a representative for District 80 – Brookhaven in November and was sworn in on January 14. Wilson is a member of the Georgia House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Education and Judiciary committees. He is a 2014 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law and a partner with Akin and Tate law firm in Atlanta.

Brittany Adams-Pope (BSA – Animal Science, ’07; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’10) joined the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development in January where she is a public service faculty member in the youth development practice group.

Elton Baldy (BSA – Agricultural Education, ‘07) was honored as the 2018 Outstanding Georgia Young Peanut Farmer at the Georgia Peanut Farm Show in January. The award is presented to one Georgia peanut farmer each year based upon the applicant’s overall farm operation; environmental and stewardship practices; and leadership and community service activities.

Jonathan Coody (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ’07) is now territory manager for Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina with Terramera.

Lauren Dees (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ‘07) was named to the 2018 40 Under 40 by Produce Business magazine. Dees, a sales and marketing manager for Generation Farms in Lake Park, Georgia, was involved with the initial marketing efforts and branding of Generation Farms when it took over family-owned Stanley Farms in 2014, and now oversees all marketing efforts, from innovative packaging to content development and coordinating all print, electronic and digital advertising.

Chris Chammoun (BSA – Agricultural Economics, ‘08) is the division director of rural Georgia initiatives for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Will Cabe (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’09) and his wife, Heather Cabe, of Franklin County, Georgia, received the Georgia Farm Bureau 2018 Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award. The couple advanced to the top 10 in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2018 Achievement Award competition.

Shu Zhang (PhD – Entomology, ’09), is a project manager with Illumina Inc.


Christy Brannon (BSA – Agribusiness, ‘10) is employed by Bryan Farms and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. She and her husband, Daniel Brannon, live in Rock Spring, Georgia.

Michael Pisciotta (BSA – Agriscience and Environmental Systems, ‘10; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ‘13) received the 2018 J.W. Fanning Distinguished Young Professional Award from the Agricultural Economics Association of Georgia. Pisciotta is a technical sales representative with Timac Agro USA in Athens, Georgia.

Caroline Black Lewallen (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’11) won the 2018 Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award from the Georgia Farm Bureau in June. Lewallen placed third in the the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2018 Excellence in Agriculture contest. She is agritourism and marketing director for Jaemor Farms in Lula, Georgia. Lewallen is a graduate of the 2018 class of Leadership Georgia.

Libby Carter Shepherd (BSA – Agriculture and Applied Economics, ’11; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’13) serves as the development coordinator for the Georgia 4-H Foundation. In this role, she works to secure private funding that supports Georgia 4-H programming.

Brian Blanchett (BSA – Agriscience and Environmental Systems, ’12; MS – Crop and Soil Sciences, ’14) is the co-owner of Irrigation Supply, USA in Valdosta, Georgia.

Katie Gazda Duvall (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ‘12) is a public policy specialist in the Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) public policy department, where she is responsible for coordinating and managing GFB’s policy development process and will provide support for the GFB commodity advisory committees.

Shawn D. Lyons (BSA – Horticulture, ’12) is employed with The Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California.

Anna McIntire Strickland (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’12; MAL – Agricultural Leadership, ’17) was named the 2018 Young Professional of the Year by the Hart County Chamber of Commerce.

Sara Yang (BSA – Food Science, ’12) started working as a strategy consultant at the Wonderful Company in January 2018 after completing a PhD in Food Science at the University of California, Davis.

Brandi Baade (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’13) was named the National Association of Agricultural Educators Region V Ideas Unlimited Winner. Baade, agricultural educator at Pike County High School in Zebulon, Georgia, won for her ideas to create a cross-curriculum lesson using knowledge about the American judicial system into a classroom court case over whether a tomato is a vegetable or a fruit. Baade received the Teachers Turn the Key professional development scholarship from the National Association of Agricultural Educators in 2017.

Breanna Coursey Berry (BSA – Agricultural Education, ’13) is the agriculture teacher at Locust Grove High School in Henry County, Georgia.

David Gianino (BSA – Horticulture, ’13; MS – Horticulture ’16) was recently promoted to program manager for the Office of Plant Industry Services in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Heidi Gilkenson (BSES – Water and Soil Resources, ’13) is the data analytics manager at Pinnacle Design/Build Group in Cumming, Georgia.

Bethany Harris (BSES – Environmental Resource Science, ’13; MS – Entomology, ’15; PhD – Horticulture, ’18) is the director of education at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

Lauren Shamon (BSA – Animal Science, ’14) is a veterinarian with Central Georgia Equine Services in Fort Valley, Georgia.

Chandler Bugg (BSA – Animal Science, ’15) was recognized as an International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) 30 Under 30 recipient at the 2019 IPPE. The IPPE 30 Under 30 recognizes professional leadership qualities in young professionals in the meat and poultry products processing and feed and pet food product manufacturing industries.

Ashton Ergle (BSA – Food Science, ’15) is the lead developer for bakery applications at Parker Products in Fort Worth, Texas.

Emily Kimminau (MS – Poultry Science, ’15) is a technical service scientist for Huvepharma in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Will Brown (BSA – Agriculture and Applied Economics, ’16; BSA – Agribusiness, ’16) is the production manager at Select Trees, a wholesaler of sustainable trees to landscape architects, developers, contractors, government institutions and other organizations in Crawford, Georgia.

Amelia Nowicki (BSA – Animal Science, ’16) is the head coach of the Converse College Equestrian Program in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She is owner and operator of Hidden Valley Farm in Inman, South Carolina, a hunter and jumper boarding and training facility that is home to the Converse program.

Mary Kate Bagwell (BSA – Agribusiness, ’17) is the finance and grants accountant in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Alexis Barnes (BSA – Food Industry Marketing and Administration, ’17) is a training development specialist at Deere and Company in Cary, North Carolina, where she develops sales training programs and sales performance support materials to increase dealer, employee and customer capabilities.

Tess Hammock (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’17) joined the Georgia secretary of state’s office in January as director of communications. Hammock is the main contact for news and media outlets and manages all communications for the office. She was previously with Peachtree Government Relations (PGR), an Atlanta-based public affairs firm. Prior to joining PGR, Hammock worked with the office of Gov. Nathan Deal, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and on numerous state campaigns. She also has served as an Agriculture Fellow for Congressman Austin Scott in Washington, D.C.

Jesse Lafian (BSA – Horticulture, ’17) is the founder of wireless irrigation company Reservoir in Athens, Georgia. The company develops wireless irrigation for landscapers and horticulturists. Lafian developed and markets Reservoir Spoke, a product that simplifies irrigation systems by replacing expensive wires, controllers, output modules, surge arresters and decoders typically used in traditional irrigation systems, and the Spoke app. He also has developed Aqua-Pin, which allows users to view aerial maps of stationary equipment including zone valves, isolation valves, controllers and other equipment on job sites.

Wyatt West (BSES – Entomology, ’17) is the director of training at Active Pest Control in Athens, Georgia.

Sharon Kane (PhD – Agriculture and Applied Economics, ’18) received the 2018 J.W. Fanning Distinguished Professional Award from the Agricultural Economics Association of Georgia. Kane is a food business development specialist at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.

Gracie Rowe (BSA – Agricultural Communication, ’18) is a recruiter for the University of Georgia.

Caroline Krauss (BSA – Horticulture, ’18) has accepted a full-time position with Hall’s Flower Shop and Greenhouse in Stone Mountain, Georgia, run by Ken Hall and his family for more than 40 years. Krauss manages the company’s greenhouse and some retail operations.

Katrina Sheila E. Laurel (MS – Plant Pathology, ’18) is employed as the Cook County 4–H agent with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. She and her husband, Jonathon Van Keith Searcy, live in Tifton, Georgia.

Zane Tackett (BSA – Food Science, ’18) is a warehouse group manager in logistics and supply-chain with Anheuser-Busch in Cartersville, Georgia.

Sarah Houtsma (BSA – Horticulture, ’19) has accepted the position of aeroponics program greenhouse manager with Copiana Aeroponics, an Atlanta aeroponics food producer. Houtsma will be responsible for developing the program market.