Published on 06/08/22

UGA selects new cohort of Georgia agriculture and forestry leaders

By Jordan Powers
The AGL cohort of 2019-2021 gather during their federal policy institute on the front steps of a columned building in Washington, D.C.
AGL Class 2019-2021 outside of the Georgia State Capitol Building during their third institute titled Effective Communication: State Government, Economic Development and Innovation.

From fruit producers to financial professionals, the newest cohort of the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry (AGL) program was chosen from a broad field of applicants to the innovative, 18-month leadership development program.

The 2022-24 cohort of 25 participants was selected from more than 90 nominations, 60 applications and 40 interviews for the AGL program, which is offered by the Office of Learning and Organizational Development (OLOD) in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia.

AGL has had more than 90 graduates since 2014, when it transitioned from the independent AgriLeaders program, which ran from 1989 through 2009 and has more than 325 alumni, according to Lauren Griffeth, program director for AGL and UGA Cooperative Extension leadership specialist.

“Each time a class is selected, I am amazed at the amount of scientific knowledge, professionalism and work ethic that each person brings into the program,” Griffeth said. “It is our challenge at the University of Georgia to keep these professionals stretching to set new goals and to provide them specialized tools for their success.”

Participants, who are professionals working in agriculture, forestry and allied sectors in Georgia, complete five Georgia-based institutes, a Washington, D.C., federal policy institute, and an optional capstone experiential learning trip.

The 2022-24 cohort also will learn more about carbon sequestration and sustainability in all aspects of farming and forestry.

A statewide program with community impact

“The 2022-24 cohort will join a community of graduates from the AGL program who have carried out personal leadership projects that have reached communities far and wide across Georgia ranging from agricultural succession planning in Carroll County, to providing teachers with resources to teach forestry in Bibb County, to mentoring fatherless youth in Colquitt County,” Griffeth said.

The first institute will kick off in late August, focusing on personal leadership development through team building, peer coaching, leadership assessments and professional trainings.

The cohort will move through additional institutes and learning experiences that cover understanding Georgia’s emerging and existing markets, effective communication, state government, economic development, innovation and more before graduating in late March 2024. 

Dusty Engel, AGL ’21, on Mt. Shasta at the FWS Forestry logging operation site in Northern California
Dusty Engel, AGL ’21, on Mt. Shasta at the FWS Forestry logging operation site in northern California.

The 2022-24 AGL cohort

The incoming AGL cohort, listed alphabetically by last name, includes:

  • Jazmond Carter, USDA-NRCS, LaGrange, Georgia
  • Brett Davis, Miller County Gin Company, Albany, Georgia
  • Jed DeZelle, The Westervelt Company, Statesboro, Georgia
  • Megan Green, Evergreen Resource Solutions, LLC, Bishop, Georgia
  • Gordon Grizzle, Green Diamond Management, Perry, Georgia
  • Rawley Hicks, AGCO Corporation Marietta, Georgia
  • Will Hinson, Leger & Son, Inc., Cordele, Georgia
  • Vontice Jackson, USDA-NRCS, Hephzibah, Georgia
  • Kyli Lamar, 1 DOG Ventures, Thomasville, Georgia
  • Liz Maddux, Triangle Chemical Company, Macon, Georgia
  • Robert McLeod, Tidewater Ag & Construction, Tifton, Georgia
  • Taylor Moses, Moses Pecan, Uvalda, Georgia
  • Whitney Murphy, Corteva Agriscience, Statesboro, Georgia
  • Tyler Nessmith, Westway Feed Products, Madison, Georgia
  • Andy Paul, Georgia Agricultural Education, Winterville, Georgia
  • Ryan Phillips, Georgia Forestry Commission, Silver Creek, Georgia
  • Daniel Reddick, AgSouth Farm Credit, Greensboro, Georgia
  • Ryan Reddish, Forest Investment Associates, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Harry Sanders, Sanders Logging Incorporation, Cochran, Georgia
  • Mitchel Sheffield, Staplcotn, Ty Ty, Georgia
  • Dwight Sheppard, F&W Forestry Services, Inc., Albany, Georgia
  • Jake Tench, Georgia Agribusiness Council, Cornelia, Georgia
  • Adam Thornton, Columbia Farms, Canon, Georgia
  • Mallory Tyndal, Carden & Associates, Cordele, Georgia
  • Whitney Zeagler, Planters EMC, Sylvania, Georgia

To learn more about the AGL program, visit

Jordan Powers is the public relations coordinator and writer for UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.