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06.04.2014

Alumnus and Bulldog 100 Honoree works to lead Georgians out of poverty

Georgia has the third highest poverty rate in the nation, and about 20 percent of Georgians live in hunger-threatened households. On any given night, about 28,000 people are homeless in Georgia, half of whom are children. These startling statistics have motivated John R. Moeller Jr. (BBA '93) to mobilize communities and serve others in poverty-related ministries throughout his career.

Moeller is currently the president and CEO of Action Ministries, Inc., a nonprofit focused on leading people out of poverty in Georgia. Action Ministries was recognized as No. 45 on the 2014 Bulldog 100 list. 

“Once you know the struggles and challenges that families in Georgia face every day, it’s impossible to turn away,” Moeller said. “As a native of this great state, I’m consistently moved by the fighting spirits of the people we serve. They make me want to work harder to ensure their success.”

With a $6 million operating budget and locations in Athens, Augusta, Gainesville, Rome and Atlanta, Action Ministries also operates a women’s residential addiction recovery program, Breakthru House, in Decatur and regional hunger relief and housing initiatives throughout the state.

Action Ministries Athens provides hunger relief, education and housing specifically to those in need in the Athens community. Our Daily Bread community kitchen has served its guests with meals and transformational services since 1989.

Under Moeller’s leadership, Action Ministries launched the regional initiative Smart Lunch, Smart Kid in 2012 to provide summer lunches to children who receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year. The program has grown exponentially each year, and the nonprofit expects to deliver more than 200,000 lunches to children in their own neighborhoods in the summer of 2014.

UGA alumni who reside in North Georgia are invited to get involved individually or as part of a corporate challenge in a sandwich-making day or other Action Ministries hunger-fighting efforts in their own communities.

To learn more about Action Ministries and the work they do in Georgia or to volunteer for a sandwich-making event, please visit www.actionministries.net or email Executive Director Mark Hellman at mhellman@actionministries.net.

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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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