Published on 03/17/16

Provost's visit to Tifton highlights links between Cooperative Extension, teaching and research

By Clint Thompson

University of Georgia Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten helped shine a light on the role that UGA Cooperative Extension plays in the lives of Georgians and the state’s economy during a visit to Tifton, Georgia, this week.

Whitten met with south Georgia-based UGA Extension professionals on the UGA Tifton Campus on Thursday to learn more about the research, teaching and outreach components that make up the statewide organization.

“This was a huge opportunity for Extension and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,” said Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean for Extension. “Having almost a whole day to showcase the impactful, life-changing work we accomplish on a daily basis is a big deal.”

UGA scientists Phillip Roberts, Michael Toews, George Vellidis, Stanley Culpepper, Jared Whitaker and Wes Porter updated the provost on research being done in different areas of agriculture, Georgia’s No. 1 industry. Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agents Stephanie Hollifield and Scott Carlson briefed Whitten on the importance of the delivery of research-based information from agents to farmers.

Whitten met with members of the UGA Cotton Team, learned about precision agriculture and irrigation techniques, and visited different parts of the UGA Tifton Campus, including the Microgin, Lang Farm and the National Environmentally Sound Production Agriculture Laboratory (NESPAL).

Her tour was capped by a visit with Bill Brim, owner of Lewis Taylor Farms, one of the largest farming operations in Tift County, Georgia.

“We are identifying needs at the local level and utilizing integrated teams to research the most pressing issues to solve problems,” Johnson said. “This work supports agriculture, the largest industry in Georgia, and is hugely important to the economy of Georgia. Visiting with a local producer allows us to demonstrate how the work of our college translates into real-life economic impact.”

While agriculture comprised the bulk of Whitten’s time in Tifton, she also learned about other Extension program areas, like 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences. Melinda Miller, Southwest District 4-H program development coordinator, and Andrea Scarrow, Southwest District Family and Consumer Sciences program development coordinator, provided updates from their respective areas and touted the impact these programs have throughout the state.

“Not only does Extension serve the agricultural needs of Georgia, it serves youth and families, so I wanted to include Extension personnel from all three areas,” Johnson said. “I wanted (the provost) to hear their passion, see their expertise and find out how they are changing lives and livelihoods.”

Whitten also attended a graduate research event hosted by CAES, UGA’s Graduate School and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

“UGA’s annual economic impact on the state we serve is an impressive $4.4 billion, but there are some things you just can’t quantify,” Whitten said. “Seeing firsthand the impact of Extension and our College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has been invaluable to me, and I continue to be inspired by the dedication of our extraordinary students, faculty and staff.”

Clint Thompson is an agriculture writer based in Tifton, Georgia.

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