Published on 08/17/16

UGA Extension building its leadership bench with Extension Academy of Professional Excellence

By Merritt Melancon

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension will launch the 2016-2017 season of UGA’s Extension Academy for Professional Excellence — an internal program meant to develop the next generation of leadership — this September in Athens, Georgia.

Extension Academy gives early- and mid-career county Extension agents, state specialists and UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and College of Family and Consumer Sciences personnel the opportunity to develop new leadership skills and improve their ability to fulfill UGA Extension’s mission of helping Georgians become healthier, more productive, financially independent and environmentally responsible.

“One of our most important goals as an organization is to empower emerging leaders so that they are ready to take the reins as a generation of veteran agents, specialists and administrators retire,” said Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean for Extension in CAES and director for UGA Extension. “We have a young workforce, and we’re investing in them because they represent the future of UGA Extension."

According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, 10,000 baby boomers retire each day in the United States, thinning the experienced leadership benches at many companies and institutions. In an effort to prevent the loss of skilled leadership inside UGA Extension, administrators have developed Extension Academy, among other programs, to prepare leaders to enter roles as long-serving Extension agents and program managers retire.

In September, the 2016-2017 cohort of Extension Academy will gather in Athens for their first of three leadership institutes. Each three-day institute will offer intensive personal and professional development training facilitated by the CAES Office of Learning and Organizational Development.

This year’s Extension Academy participants serve in a variety of roles. They include:

  • Lindsey Barner, CAES business office senior budget analyst
  • Greg Bowman, Gordon County Extension coordinator
  • Stephanie Butcher, Coweta County Extension coordinator
  • Tim Daly, Gwinnett County Extension coordinator
  • Terri Fullerton, Newton County 4-H Youth Development agent
  • Kevin Livingston, Douglas County Agriculture and Natural Resources agent
  • Stephanie Myers, Evans County Extension coordinator
  • Abby Smith, Effingham County Extension coordinator
  • Rachel Stewart, Tattnall County Extension coordinator
  • Chris Tyson, Tattnall County Agriculture and Natural Resources agent
  • Tim Coolong, state Extension vegetable specialist
  • Mandy Marable, state 4-H Youth Development specialist
  • Scott Carlson, Tift County Extension Coordinator
  • Ashley Davis, Tift County 4-H Youth Development agent
  • Mitzi Parker, Sumter County Family and Consumer Sciences agent
  • Julia Steed, Lanier County 4-H Youth Development agent

For more information on UGA Extension’s impact in Georgia, visit

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