By Brad Haire
University of Georgia
The UGA Tifton ambassadors received the National Award of Excellence in Service at the 11th annual National Agriculture Ambassador Conference. The students received a plaque and $500.
The money will be used to further the ambassador program in Tifton, said Donna Webb, UGA Tifton academic program coordinator and ambassador advisor.
"I'm very proud of our ambassadors," Webb said. "It proves that no matter how small an organization may be, great things can happen if everyone works together for the common goal."
The ambassadors are Victoria Wells-Barrett, Chris Tyson, Stephanie Summerlin, Gerome Morgan, Derrick Davis, Blake Branch and Stuart McKinney.
They are the official hosts of the UGA Tifton campus, about 180 miles south of Atlanta. They were singled out for their overall service to charitable works in and around Tifton.
The group helps with recruitment and coordinates special charitable events. Among these were a Relay for Life team and a United Way Toys for Tots collection.
They also created the "Comforts from Home Campaign." In this program, they collected items for soldiers serving in Iraq. These included letters and pictures from elementary school kids.
At the conference, the students conducted a workshop, "Have you paid your rent?" It's based on the quote, "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth," attributed to boxer Muhammad Ali.
More than 400 participants from 45 universities nationwide attended the conference.
"The students were able to learn more about the future of agriculture, strengthen their leadership skills and network with college students from across the country," Webb said.
"Being an ambassador has allowed me the opportunity to be involved in all facets of the Tifton campus and strengthen my leadership skills," said Morgan, a junior and president of the Tifton ambassador program.
David Bridges, UGA assistant dean for the UGA Tifton campus, commended the group.
"These students and their advisors quickly adopted the whatever-it-takes philosophy that has made the UGA Tifton program such a success," he said. "Commitment and hard work have paid off for these students."
Students in Tifton can get a four-year UGA degree without going to the university's Athens campus. The Tifton program began in the fall 2003. With 57 students now, it has majors in agriscience and environmental systems and agricultural education.
(Brad Haire is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)