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02.11.2013

UGA Grads Pioneer the South’s Newest Cash Crop

Wine connoisseurs tend to be very particular when it comes to the origin and grape used to make some of the world’s fine wines. The same can be said for olive oil. While the experts will tell you the best comes from the Mediterranean region, a Georgia family has set out to prove that quality olive oil can be produced a little closer to home.

The Shaw family of Lakeland, Georgia, produced Georgia’s first certified extra-virgin olive oil through their Georgia Olive Farms cooperative. The trio of farmers responsible includes Jason Shaw (AB ’96), a Georgia state legislator, his father Jay Shaw, and his cousin Kevin Shaw (BS ’93). The deep Southeast used to be home to many olive groves until they were abandoned during the Civil War. The Shaw’s groves are the state’s first commercially grown in more than a century.

The idea began when Jason studied abroad in Verona, Italy, while attending UGA. He realized that the climate in South Georgia mirrors that of the region that produces the world’s finest olive oils The family began with an initial crop of saplings in the spring of 2009, and as of early 2012 their trees had matured and were ready for production. The Shaw’s initial reserves went to Southern chefs, including Athens’ own Peter Dale of The National.

If the olive oil takes hold, that could mean huge revenues for local farmers and the state. The Shaw’s believe that once consumers begin to see the olive oil on the tables of their favorite restaurants, it will sell itself. We hope it does just that! Congratulations and best of luck to this Bulldog family – we’ll keep our eyes peeled for your products in the future.

For more information, please visit georgiaolivefarms.com.To order olive oil from Georgia Olive Farms, go to http://georgiaolivefarms.com/store.php.

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10.30.2014

Former Bulldog Advocates for Arts Education

A former Bulldog is working hard to provide arts education to students in underserved public schools and communities in the Southern California area.

Amy Shapiro (BSED ’00) is the executive director of advancement and operations for the nonprofit organization, P.S. ARTS, where she leads a team of passionate individuals in their efforts to keep arts in the schools. P.S. ARTS “provides yearlong arts education in dance, the visual arts, music, and theater to every child in a school during the regular school day.”

Through her role, Shapiro leads fundraising initiatives that keep P.S. ARTS running. She plays a large role in running the administrative side of the organization, while staying involved with the activities that are at the heart of the organization’s mission. 

The organization is heavily funded by individuals in Hollywood that share P.S. ARTS' passion for fostering a love of the arts. With a board of trustees made up of educators, television producers, artists, and other committed individuals, P.S. ARTS continues to expand its services, reaching nearly 20,000 students that need art education in their schools.

To learn more about the program, visit www.psarts.org.  

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10.29.2014

Georgia agricultural leadership program graduates inaugural class

After spending two years learning about Georgia’s largest industry and developing leadership skills, the inaugural class of Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry has graduated from the program.

University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences faculty launched Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry, or AGL, in 2012. The program is designed to educate and empower Georgia’s agricultural and natural resource industry leaders to become effective advocates for the largest economic drivers in Georgia—the state’s agricultural and forestry industries.

Thirteen industry leaders, including six UGA graduates and one current student, spent the last two years touring farms and processing plants, traveling throughout the state and across the nation. They also spent two weeks in India learning about Georgia agriculture’s role in the global economy.

“This class has shared in a journey that has covered many counties in Georgia, multiple states and a foreign country,” said Elliot Marsh, a precision agriculture coordinator at Southern States Cooperative and the AGL advisory board chairman. “These graduates are already making an impact in our communities and the state of Georgia. I believe that their experiences will play a tremendous role in Georgia’s agriculture community for many years to come.”

AGL program participants are from all segments of the state’s agriculture and forestry industries.

“My experience with AGL made me a better leader and citizen,” said AGL graduate Mark Risse (BSAE '87, MS '89), the UGA Georgia Power Professor of Water Resources and director of the UGA Marine Extension Service. “I met hundreds of leaders across Georgia, and my interactions with them taught me that leadership comes in many forms. The experiences that I had, the people that I met and what I learned about myself put me in a better position to accomplish my goals as well as to advocate for those things that I think are important.”

The AGL program is coordinated by faculty in the college’s department of agricultural leadership, education and communication.

“Adult non-formal educational opportunities sponsored by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences like AGL are helping Georgia become a top agricultural state in the nation and world,” said Kay Kelsey, head of the department of agricultural leadership, education and communication. “It’s an experience that will be a game changer for participants.”

    

The inaugural class of UGA’s Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry program, are, front row from left to right, Jutt Howard, Sarah M. Cook '15, Amanda Tedrow (BSA '03, MPPPM '10), Derick Wooten, Jenni Harris and Steve Gibson (MPA '97); middle row, AGL assistant director Kristi Farner, Brandon Ashley (BSA '07), Jesse Johnson (BSFR '00) and Rebecca Thomas and, back row, Duane Myers, AGL director Rochelle Strickland, Tate Izlar O’Rouke (ABJ '05, AB '05), Mark Risse (BSAE '87, MS '89) and Brent Allen. (Credit: Paul Efland/UGA)

The second AGL class will begin in early 2015. For more information, see http://www.agl.caes.uga.edu/.

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10.27.2014

Former Diamond Dawg makes a difference for individuals with disabilities

After a collision with a teammate during a 2011 UGA baseball game left him paralyzed from the waist down, three-year letterman Johnathan Taylor (BSFCS ’13) didn’t lose his fighting spirit.

Following extensive rehabilitation, Taylor returned to UGA to finish his degree in consumer economics and passed his exam to become a qualified life insurance agent. Despite his injury, he was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2011 and, most recently, was appointed to the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Services (GVRS) Board by Governor Nathan Deal.

L-R: Chairman of the GVRS Board James DeFoor (BSED '69, MED '73), Johnathan Taylor (BSFCS '13), Governor Nathan Deal

“I hope to be a big support for the disability community and all the citizens of Georgia who look to us for help,” Taylor said of his new role with the board.

The board is part of the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, an entity made up of six rehabilitation programs that collaborate with other state agencies to assist individuals with disabilities achieve employment and independence.

Taylor has also received the Courage Award from the Tempe Sports Foundation and the 2013 UGA Inspiration Award.

Congratulations on your new position, Johnathan! The UGA Alumni Association looks forward to hearing about your positive impact on the state.

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