Four University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty members were awarded the college’s highest honor Oct. 4 in Athens, Ga., at the annual D.W. Brooks Lecture and Faculty Awards for Excellence.
The program honors Gold Kist Inc. founder the late D.W. Brooks. A CAES alumnus, Brooks advised seven U.S. presidents on agriculture and trade issues. At 19, he was the youngest professor at UGA. He then became one of its oldest, still lecturing into his late 90s.
CAES food scientist Yen-Con Hung received the award for excellence in research. A world-renowned expert on food freezing, Hung began studying the use of electrolyzed water in 1997 for disinfecting without the use of harmful chemicals. The technology he invented allows the production of EO water at near neutral pH, eliminating many of the challenges to the safe storage and commercial use of the product.
William Vencill, a CAES professor of crop and soil sciences, received the award for excellence in teaching. Vencill teaches an introductory weed science course and a graduate course in herbicide physiology and is the crop and soil sciences department’s undergraduate coordinator. His weed science course is a required course for crop science, turfgrass management and plant protection majors.
UGA Cooperative Extension poultry specialist Casey Ritz received the Extension award. Ritz’s programs focus on broiler production, environmental and waste management. He assists Georgia’s vast poultry industry with nutrient management issues, improving production and environmental air quality.
Ronnie Barentine, UGA Extension coordinator in Pulaski County, received the public service Extension award. Since 1994, he has coordinated the Pulaski Extension program. He plans agriculture and natural resource programs for the county’s $65 million agriculture industry and supports family and consumer science and 4-H in the county.
Paul Thomas received the faculty diversity award and Marianne Shockley Robinette was awarded the staff diversity award. A special posthumous diversity award was presented to the family of Marco Fonseca.
A CAES floriculture professor, Thomas was selected based on his service to the college’s Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences chapter, Young Scholars program and CAES Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Advisory Committee. Thomas has also hosted students through the Hispanic Student Intern Exchange Host and Mentor program through the UGA Office of International Public Service and Outreach.
Marianne Shockley Robinette
Robinette, a program coordinator in the CAES entomology department, developed an insect natural history course taught in Costa Rica. She developed a second study abroad course in medical entomology, which was offered this summer in Ecuador.
Fonseca was a UGA Extension agent before becoming the State Master Gardener Program coordinator. He was honored for training individuals in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Cuba to use UGA’s Distance Digital Diagnostics Digital Imaging system. His work with the UGA Hispanic Working Group led to OSHA funding for safety training at UGA, Spanish training in urban agriculture and a Spanish safety-training manual. Fonseca helped students study abroad at Zamorano Agricultural University in Honduras. This summer he arranged for three undergraduates from Universidad Nacional de Agricultura, Catacamas, Honduras to study at the UGA campus in Griffin.
The college also presented the CAES Outstanding Faculty Advisor award to Dean Pringle and the CAES Early Career Teaching Award to Maria Navarro.
A professor in the animal and dairy science department, Pringle serves as the coordinator of undergraduate advising. He also teaches introduction to animal science, live animal and carcass evaluation, experimental techniques in meat science and muscle biology and advanced meat processing. He also coordinates the departmental internship program and advises both undergraduate and graduate students.
An associate professor in the CAES Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication, Navarro has developed and taught courses in international agriculture, poverty and hunger issues, development, leadership, and agricultural education, both on the UGA campus and abroad. She also teaches for the Honors Program, the Certificate of International Agriculture, the Latin American and the Caribbean Studies Institute and the African Studies Institute.
Staff awards were presented to Mike Kelley (technical support), Robin Harvey (administrative/professional support) and Michael Mathis (skilled trades support), all of the CAES animal and dairy science department.
A computer services specialist, Kelley was originally tasked to write programs for the genetic analysis of beef cattle traits. In addition to keeping the computer inventory up to date, Kelley manages nine Linux servers for the breeding and genetics group, two Windows servers for the file and print sharing in the department, approximately 180 devices on the network and classroom instructional technology.
A program specialist, Harvey maintains academic records and schedules advising appointments for more than 250 undergraduate and 30 to 40 graduate students. She helps faculty with course and classroom scheduling, course management and advising and assists with graduate students. She earned a certificate for academic advising from the UGA Office of the Vice President of Instruction and is now part of the university-wide team that conducts the training.
Mathis manages the Wilkins Beef Cattle Research Unit, a 700-acre farm with 500 acres of pasture and hay fields. He manages the farm’s feedlot facility and individual feeding stalls for 40 head of cattle, as well as multiple feeding pens for backgrounding calves and feeding bulls. He conducts beef-production laboratories for undergraduate and graduate classes. He is responsible for breeding, feeding out and performance testing UGA bulls that are sold at the annual UGA Focus on EPD bull sale.