University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead and other university administrators celebrated the opening of the 2016 Sunbelt Agricultural Expo by visiting the opening day of the three-day trade show Oct. 18 in Moultrie. 

This is the fourth consecutive year Morehead has taken part in the Expo festivities since becoming president of UGA in 2013. As he has in previous years, Morehead toured the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences building at Spence Field where he spoke with student ambassadors and visited with key agricultural leaders in Georgia.

“I always enjoy returning to South Georgia for this exciting event and seeing firsthand the critical role that the University of Georgia plays in supporting the state of Georgia’s agriculture industry,” Morehead said. “Coming to Sunbelt is a highlight of mine every year, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to show support for our wonderful College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.”

Expo visitors to UGA’s exhibit this year learned about experiential learning at the agricultural and environmental sciences college. As part of a new UGA graduate requirement that went into effect this fall, all undergraduate and transfer students in the college must engage in hands-on, experiential learning within a domestic or global setting. These opportunities could be internship courses, research courses or study abroad courses. CAES Dean Sam Pardue said Sunbelt is a valuable opportunity to showcase the experiential learning aspect to students in the Southeast.

“Our students tell us that one of the most valuable aspects of their education in the college is the hands-on learning experience they gain,” Pardue said. “Our students are in such high demand by the industry because they enter the workforce prepared to go to work. They not only have a world-class education, but they have some real-world work experience under their belts.”

Expo visitors also learned more about the agricultural and environmental sciences college and its campuses in Athens, Griffin and Tifton. Prospective students interacted with student ambassadors and learned about the college from academic recruiters.

“Having the opportunity to be part of the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo is an honor that we at UGA do not take lightly,” said Breanna Coursey, a student recruiter at UGA’s Tifton campus. “With as many as 80,000 visitors who care about agriculture at this event, this was a prime opportunity to inform students and their parents about receiving an education at the state’s land-grant institution.”

Visitors at Sunbelt also learned about key research being conducted at the 600-acre working research farm on site. UGA scientists Gary Burtle, John Bernard, Paula Burke, Justin Fowler, Claudia Dunkley, Lawton Stewart, Lee Jones, Dennis Hancock, Stanley Culpepper and Glen Harris spoke.

Also present in the UGA CAES building were UGA Cooperative Extension agents, who were available to answer questions visitors had about the three focus areas in Extension: agricultural and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, and 4-H.

UGA’s expertise during the three-day event was vital to the show’s success, according to Chip Blalock, executive director of the Sunbelt Expo.

“Having UGA’s scientists discuss agriculture-related topics like aquaponics, beef cattle management, forages and harvesting of row crops, which are vital to the growth of agriculture in this state, was a great part of the Sunbelt Expo. Anybody who attended learned from the best researchers in agriculture,” Blalock said. “Want to know why agriculture is Georgia’s top industry? It’s because of world-renowned research like what’s conducted every year here at Sunbelt.”

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