Published on 10/22/09

UGA spotlights education at 32nd Sunbelt Expo

Visitors to the 32nd annual Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition learned about the latest agricultural equipment, technology and information firsthand Oct. 20-22. They also got to watch college deans go udder-to-udder in a milking contest and witness the unexpected birth of baby roaches.

The Sunbelt Expo, billed as “North American’s Premier Farm Show,” draws more than 200,000 visitors to Moultrie, Ga., each year to see more than 1,100 exhibitors.

The Sunbelt Expo is not just one of the largest farm shows in the world, it’s become a leading educational venue for agriculture, said Scott Angle, UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences dean and director.

“From row crops to aquaculture to livestock to home gardening, our faculty’s on-site research trials and seminars are well attended and received throughout the three-day event,” he said. “And each year, we are able tell our story directly to the thousands of visitors who stop by our building here. It’s also a great opportunity to recruit those students who will one day be Georgia’s leaders.”

Midday on the first day, visitors to the UGA building got to see a roach in CAES entomologist Paul Guillebeau’s insect display give birth. The dozen or more cloudy-white babies scurried around the display, designed to look like a family kitchen. Though not for everyone, the scene was a rare sight to see live, Guillebeau said.

CAES also spotlighted agrosecurity, renewable energy sources, farming conservation, UGA Cooperative Extension, student recruitment and plant breeding, along with live musical entertainment and 4-H Clovers and Company dancers.

Angle competed in an old-fashioned milking contest against college of agriculture deans from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Auburn University and the University of Florida. Auburn University College of Agriculture Dean Richard Guthrie squeezed out the victory.

Florida cattleman Cary Lightsey won the 20th annual Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award, announced each year during a first-day luncheon. Each year, 10 southeastern states each send a farmer to compete for the title. Georgia’s state winner was Tifton vegetable farmer Bill Brim.

“Though Bill didn’t win the regional award, he is recognized as an innovator and a well-established leader in Georgia agriculture,” Angle said. “His on-farm collaborations with our college’s research and Extension faculty, particularly with those on our Tifton campus, continue to solve problems for what is a major part of Georgia’s economy.”

Brad Haire is the former news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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