New agriculture professor becomes part of the ABAC family

     Farish Mulkey became a part of ABAC’s faculty at the beginning of this semester and already feels at home. Mulkey is from Donaldsonville, GA and attended Seminole County High School. In 1984 he came to ABAC where he took up agricultural education.

     Mulkey said he has taught at a number of public schools before coming to ABAC. He taught for one year at Macon County High School and taught ag. education at Bainbridge for a few years. After Bainbridge, Mulkey decided to take a break from teaching and went to UGA, where he finished his masters in 1992. He chose to attend Texas A&M for his graduate program and worked as a graduate assistant from 1992 to 1994. It was there he realized his passion for teaching.

     “When I did graduate school at Texas A&M in 1994 I really felt like I was going to get into teacher education at a post-secondary level.”  He admits that after finishing at Texas A&M he limited himself. There were not many jobs in the area he resided in and he decided to go into teaching at public schools.

     The following year he moved back to Georgia and went to teach at Worth County Middle School before returning to Bainbridge to teach. Mulkey said this worked out for the best because he got to the chance to work with his five children during these years.

     “That’s one thing I really love about teaching ag: I had the opportunity to work with all of my children that were involved in, ag programs in middle and high school.” He says that this was very important to him and his wife.

     Mulkey decided to retire from teaching at public schools in June of 2018. Mulkey would return to ABAC, but this time as a professor. He began teaching here at ABAC in January of 2019.

     This semester he is teaching Greenhouse and Nursery Management, Agriscience and an Ag. Seminar Class. Even though he’s only been a part of the faculty for a few weeks, Mulkey said the students and staff are tremendous. He described ABAC as being team-oriented and very helpful.

     “Everyone that I have worked with has been willing to go above and beyond to help me to try to be successful and I appreciate that.”

     Mulkey advises that students take advantages of opportunities they have here at ABAC and to stay committed. In his downtime, Mulkey enjoys spending time with his family and learning new things in agriculture.


Director of the Sunbelt Ag Expo speaks to ABAC students

     The Ag. Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) held their first monthly speaker series event Jan. 30, at the ABAC Chapel. The guest speaker this month was Executive Director of the Sunbelt Ag. Expo, Chip Blalock.

     In 1987, Blalock earned a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture from the University of Georgia as an Animal Science major. He served as the extension agent for Colquitt and Dooly County from 1987 through 1990. After working as the sales manager at the Moultrie Farm Center until 1997, Blalock began his career at the Sunbelt Ag. Expo.

     The expo gives a platform to equipment dealers in the farming industry to showcase new technology to large acreage production farmers and weekend lifestyle farmers. The Expo is known as, “North America’s Premier Farm Show,” and hosts approximately 1200 exhibitors at the three-day event in Oct. annually.

     ABAC has a long history with the Sunbelt Ag. Expo: in 1964 the event took place at ABAC campus as “Dealer Days,” put on by the Ag. Engineering Technology AET Club.  The event eventually grew off campus and developed into the massive exposition it is today.

     “The Expo continues with the same purpose that it started with. Connect the equipment dealers with the consumers and provide an environment for students and employers to network,” said Blalock. “Our 1200 plus exhibitors bring together the largest conglomeration of agricultural technology that the industry has to offer. The success of the expo is built upon creating an environment where our attendees ultimately do business with our exhibitors.”

     ABAC students are still a big part in the success of the Sunbelt Ag. Expo. Students from the agriculture communications program like Lauren Lindler have interned for the Expo to work social media and public relations for the event. Other clubs like the Ag. Business Club also participates with the Expo by volunteering as event staff.

     “I’m one of the most blessed people alive,” said Blalock. “Because I don’t have a job, I have a passion. I wake up every morning ready to go to work, prepared to make a difference in agriculture.”

      As an animal science major, Blalock never envisioned himself in the position he is in now. He feels that after working as the chairman of the Great Southland Stampede Rodeo in 1987, it prepared him for his role at the Expo.

     He reminded students how important the interview process is when applying for jobs.

     “You can never be too prepared to answer questions in an interview,” said Blalock. “If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell them that you don’t know right now, but will find out and get back to them.”

     Blalock believes every day is a great day to make a good impression on somebody.

     “It’s good to know people and it’s good to be smart, but it’s not necessarily who or what you know, but who knows you,” he said.


ABAC Bee Keepers Association is buzzing

     After being on campus for three years, the Bee Keepers Association is buzzing with activity. Since he started beekeeping in 2013, Cade Houston’s avid interest in beekeeping grew.

     This led to the creation of the Bee Keeper’s Association. According to Cade, “I founded the club in the fall of 2016 because I felt that we needed a club like this on campus, being a beekeeper myself.”

     The goal of the Bee Keeper’s Association is to inform and teach students and faculty at ABAC about the importance of honey bees to Georgia’s agriculture. The club also works to teach and bring awareness to the community in Tifton.

     They teach skills on the management of beekeeping and basic principle in beekeeping. Currently, the club also has a hive that they’ve been taking care of for about a year and a half.

     President of the club, Cade Houston, is also the main supervisor of the hive and the most involved with the club’s workshops.

     Members get to participate in these workshops in which they wear bee suits to see what the inside of a hive looks like and how to take care of a hive.

     A single hive is on campus and under the care of the club, but the club has helped the Georgia Museum of Agriculture (GMA) take care of their observation hives.

     As well as helping the GMA, the Bee Keeper’s Association participates in other club activities on campus: taking part in Homecoming, Ms. ABAC and AG Awareness Day. The club has grown since it was founded and now has about 20 active members.

     The officers for the club are Cade Houston as president, Louis Canevari vice president, Chasity Denmark secretary, Savannah Eastall as the Inter-Club Council  Representative, and Jackson Tilton treasurer.

     Alongside members who love beekeeping, the Beekeeping Association hopes to keep growing as it becomes more established as an agricultural club in ABAC.


ABAC Alumni speaks about postgraduate experience

     Colby Royal is an ABAC School of Agriculture and Natural Resource Alumni from Telfair County. From a young age Royal grew up on a farm, he knew that he did not want to be confined to an ordinary office job. Royal said that “From watermelons to planting peanuts, farming is a very diverse and rewarding job in my opinion. My first initiative was to attend ABAC, get a degree and come home to the family greenhouse business.”

     Royal started ABAC in the fall of 2011 where he chose to major in Diversified Agriculture. While at ABAC, Royal wasn’t involved in clubs or extracurriculars, since he would go back home and work. Although Royal was not involved in clubs, he did complete two internships. One was at Knight Farms Inc. in Milan, GA and the other was at Knight Greenhouses near the same location.

     Then in Dec. of 2015, Royal graduated from ABAC and began a career as the Telfair County Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent. As a County Agent, Royal has many different duties: such as covering things like livestock, row crops, fish ponds and flower beds. Royal said that as a County Agent he also receives questions regarding forestry and home gardens.

     Aside from answering questions about agriculture, Royal also collaborates with specialists from the University of Georgia as well as other agents to conduct different trials. One of the trials Royal is currently working on is a Pine Tip Moth trapping project which will run throughout the next year.

     As a County Agent, Royal is also involved in working with the Telfair County 4-H Club. He helps the club with different projects and judging events such as District Project Achievement and the Pumpkin Decorating Contest. Royal also attends and serves as an Adult Leader at a summer camp for a week.

     Royal works with an elementary school for Local Farm Day. At this event, he usually gives a presentation to kids about the importance of agriculture or forestry. Last year, Royal was able to team up with ABAC to present The Life of a Pine Tree. Royal also conducts peanut maturity check clinics with the ag students at Telfair County High School. During the clinic, he helps students learn how to determine the maturity of a peanut and when they are ready to be harvested.

     To finish off Royal said his favorite thing about the job is “the diversity. Not doing the same thing every day and being outdoors keeps it interesting. Also, serving the community brings pride to this position.”


ABAC’s Turf Club is more than just grass

     ABAC is home to many interesting clubs that other colleges do not have. ABAC’s Turf club is one of them. Members of the turf club have the opportunity to build networking skills while forming connections within the turf industry and exploring it. The Turf Club promotes turfgrass and golf course management programs by holding events such as conferences, volunteering for community service and fundraising.

     The Turf Club has a short history at ABAC. It was first established in the early ’90s and it continues to grow. The club has put on a plethora of events in the past. Some of these events are Floating Chipping Green at Lake Baldwin and Yeti cooler raffles that help the club fundraising.

     They have also assisted with parking at the fall and spring truck pulls, volunteered at the ABAC School of Agriculture and Natural Resources’s annual golf tournament and participated in many Stallion Days. The club has several future events planned such as a Golf Industry Show in San Diego, assisting with the spring truck pull, continuing Floating Chip Green and more Yeti cooler raffles.

     The Turf Club places an emphasis on giving students the opportunity to see the turf industry first hand while helping them build connections both in and out of school that will stay with them throughout their careers.

     There are currently 25 members in the club, but they are always accepting new members. Members of the club do not have to be planning on a career in the turf industry or be in the turf program. Anyone is welcome to join if they are interested in learning more about the turf industry. Dues are $10 each semester. The officers are President Cooper Thornton, Secretary Jhanavi Williams and Treasurer Kyle Brock. They also have two advisors, Justin Exum and John Layton.

     Those who are interested in becoming part of the turf club or that want to find out more should attend one of the club’s meetings. The meetings are held every other Monday at 5 p.m. in the Horticulture building, room 106.