Published on 05/27/15

UGA's Advancing Georgia's Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry program announces 2015-2017 participants

By Merritt Melancon

Representing a broad cross section of corporations, businesses and organizations throughout Georgia, 25 professionals have been chosen to participate in the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry (AGL) 2015-2017 class.

Organized by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the purpose of AGL is to educate and empower Georgia’s agricultural leaders to become effective advocates for the largest economic drivers in Georgia—the state’s agricultural and forestry industries.

“We are delighted with the strong group of participants who were chosen in this class,” said Lauren Griffeth, director of AGL. “These individuals are diverse in their skill sets, career stages and geographic locations, and they display a strong, professional commitment to making a difference in the industries they serve.”

This program is designed to bring together leaders from all segments of the state’s agriculture, forestry, natural resources and allied industries. Over 18 months, they will help one another grow through personalized leadership development geared toward understanding themselves as leaders, analyzing issues facing their industries and strengthening connections to become catalysts for positive change.

AGL’s 2015 inductees include:

  • Danielle Atkins, management forester with the Georgia Forestry Commission, Brunswick
  • Christopher Baumann, region 6 supervisor with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Rockledge
  • Mallory Black, industry relations coordinator with the Georgia Federal-State Inspection Service, Albany
  • Shane Boyer, vice president for corporate lending with AgSouth Farm Credit, Madison
  • Ashley Buford, majority owner with Braxton Farms, Cordele
  • Rebecca Hamilton Creasy, territory sales manager with Monsanto Company, Lyons
  • Michael Cronic, broiler manager with Columbia Farms of Georgia, Lavonia
  • Stan Deal, sales representative with Verdesian Life Sciences, Donalsonville
  • Amelia Hines Dortch, state public affairs specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mableton
  • Kyle Hagen, technical service center manager with Kubota Tractor Corporation, Suwanee
  • Mike Harrell, vice president of Stuckey Timberland, Eastman
  • David Huddleston, purchasing manager with Carroll Electric Membership Corporation, Roopville
  • Jeff Jordan, vice president for forest technology with F&W Forestry Services Incorporated, Albany
  • Samantha Kilgore, communications and marketing director for Association Services Group, LaGrange
  • Jeff Manley, general manager at The Rock Ranch, The Rock
  • Brent Marable, plant licensing manager with the University of Georgia, Athens
  • Anna McIntyre, director of member relations and events at the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Commerce
  • Regina Morgan, project manager at Peeples Industries, Savannah
  • Jay Murdock, director of member services with the Farm Bureau, Macon
  • Lanie Riner, president and head grower at Thunderwood Farms, Woodbury
  • Jenna Saxon, director of constituent services with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Atlanta
  • Jason Sidwell, co-owner of Sidwell Dairy, Madison
  • Brian Stone, appraisal services manager with Forest Resources Consultants, Macon
  • Nathan Tyson, account manager with Chem-Nut Inc. DBI CNI, Lawrenceville
  • Brennan Washington, managing farmer at Phoenix Gardens, Lawrenceville

In 1993, community and state leaders across Georgia participated in the first leadership development program, formerly known as “Agri-Leaders.” Since then, 350 business leaders, farmers, foresters, educators and other stakeholders have worked through the program to become more effective leaders and advocates.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, graduates of AGL have experienced transformational leadership development that has had a positive impact on their professional capital and the agriculture and forestry industries.

Those seeking more information about Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry can visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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