ABAC’s roots run deep with the Sunbelt Ag Expo as the expo originated from a mini-trade show put on by the ABAC AET Club. These mini-trade shows showcased local agricultural equipment and inspired what is now known as North America’s Premier Farm Show.
The first Dealer Day was held on ABAC’s main campus in 1964. The expo has grown tremendously since then and although the trade show is no longer held on campus, ABAC continues to maintain an extremely large presence at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. Fifty-four years later, ABAC’s involvement with The Sunbelt Ag Expo is unwavering as students and faculty work diligently to show expo visitors the ABAC way to celebrate agriculture. The 2018 Sunbelt Ag Expo took place at Spence Field in Moultrie, Georgia on Oct. 15-17.
The 2018 Sunbelt Ag Expo invited ABAC to be a part of their opening ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 15 as reigning Ms. ABAC, Shannon Kehoe went along for a royal hot air balloon ride over the expo grounds while reigning Mr. ABAC, Landon Rowe performed The National Anthem.
As busloads of middle and high school students arrived at the expo throughout the week, the ABAC exhibit bustled with fresh faces who were interested in joining the ABAC family. The ABAC Ambassadors were there to greet guests at the information counter, welcome inquiries, share their personal experiences as students and encourage students to apply to ABAC.
The School of Agriculture and Natural Resources made an appearance in order to showcase ABAC’s new track in Agriculture Technology and Systems Management. The School of Agriculture and Natural Resources display featured a runoff-simulator, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and a 3D printer to demonstrate the program’s focus on hands-on learning.
ABAC students could be found around every corner of the 700 acre Sunbelt Ag Expo. Students were allowed the opportunity to work exhibits for businesses in the agriculture industry, network with business and industry representatives and drive tractors to pull visitor trams to the demonstration fields.
Eight ABAC ACT Club members were able to put their communication skills to work as they took on the role of the 2018 Sunbelt Ag Expo social media interns. The eight students had the opportunity to take over the expo’s social media platforms which include Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. The social media interns could be seen covering expo highlights, taking photographs and conducting interviews throughout the expo. The social media interns were also tasked with writing materials for the 2018 Sunbelt Ag Expo program.
ABAC ACT Club member, Loren Lindler explains how valuable the opportunity was as she says, “By working with the Sunbelt Ag Expo’s social media accounts, visitors and exhibitors by using the hashtag sunbeltagexpo, we reached over five million impressions. This is such a great event for us; with over 1,200 exhibitors, there are endless networking opportunities.”
Although ABAC discontinued annual yearbooks in 1986, the tradition of honoring those who have paved the way remains solid as the ABAC Alumni Council provided opportunities for current faculty and staff to rekindle connections with ABAC Alumni. Alumni of all ages poured into the ABAC expo exhibit to look at ABAC yearbooks, update contact information, learn about their role in Homecoming 2019 and show stallion spirit for their alma mater. ABAC alumni and current ABAC students who took the time to stop by the ABAC exhibit received a warm welcome and a special gift for showing their stallion pride. However, anyone who paid a visit to the exhibit was welcome to receive an ABAC logo bag to carry all of their expo souvenirs.
The GMA joined the ABAC family in 2010. Since then, the GMA has added a special touch to the ABAC exhibit at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. The GMA section of the exhibit features educational programming, cooking demonstrations and staff dressed in traditional costumes.
The ABAC exhibit also showcased live musical performances by talented ABAC students, a seating area to allow guests to escape the south Georgia heat and a mini Stallion Shop equipped with the latest ABAC gear.