Dr. Carroll shares his passion of wildlife and science

     Since joining ABAC in 2017, Dr. Matt Carroll has shared his love of the outdoors and science with his students. Carroll is a native of Clifton, VA and attended James W. Robinson High School. He said since he was young he had an appreciation of nature, animals and science. This would later motivate him to pursue a career in wildlife and sciences.

     Carroll did his undergraduate at the Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. He recalled that the school was very small and in the mountains.  “After that, I did my master’s at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.” Carroll would go on to Columbus State for his Ph.D. It was there that he worked as a teaching assistant for the wildlife techniques course for two semesters.

     In August of 2017, Carroll came to ABAC after doing some research on the school. The transition to ABAC would be easy as he had experience with a small school atmosphere. Carroll spoke with the wildlife community and heard good things about the wildlife and forestry programs here at ABAC. “Everybody had good things to say about it.” During his first semester at ABAC, he taught techniques in wildlife management, wildlife ecology and management I, and forest measurements and mapping.

     Since then, he’s taught several more courses. One of his favorite classes to teach is the wildlife damage management course. “I have a background in that as well as trapping, so that is one of my favorites,” Carroll says he taught the course in the spring of 2018, and it was the first time in a few years that the class had been offered at ABAC.

     When asked what makes ABAC different from other colleges, Carroll said, “It’s definitely different in that there’s more of a teaching focus centered on students. Which I really like, and it was one of the draws for me to come to ABAC.” This semester he is teaching dendrology, forestry management and mapping as well as quantitative methods in forest resources.

     Carroll also offered some advice for students, “It’s important to follow things that you’re really passionate about, but also inform yourself about what it’s going to take.” He also advised students to study.

     When he’s not teaching, Carroll can be found hunting, fishing and playing with his nine-month-old puppy. Carroll also spent a summer volunteering with the US Fishing Wildlife Service in Barrow, Alaska. He wants his students to know that they can have opportunities like this as well.


ABAC student Ashley Jensen earns the Donaldson Award

     Ashley Jensen was one of two graduates from the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources to receive the prestigious Alumni Awards at graduation this past semester. Jensen won the George P. Donaldson Award when she graduated with her Associates of Science back in Dec.

     The Donaldson Award is given to students who have distinguished themselves through leadership and citizenship as well as being active in campus activities.

      “I was ecstatic to receive it because I knew that the other two candidates were just as deserving of this award. I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face whenever I realized that the Alumni Association had chosen me.”

      She was recognized at the graduation and received a $500 cash award. “I honestly feel super blessed that they saw something in me through my scholarship, leadership and citizenship, [and] I really appreciate the recognition.” Jensen was involved in a number of clubs and activities including Baptist Christian Ministries, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Future Farmers of America, and assisted with the Ag in the Classroom program.

     She also taught a pre-k through 3rd-grade on Wed. nights at the Ty Ty First Baptist Church as well as worked at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture.

     She extended her help outside of her local community and also worked on the Louisiana Relief Effort which she described as “probably my favorite thing I’ve done with ABAC.”

     When asked what motivates her to do so much and be so involved Jensen stated, “being involved in the community, whether it’s my own or one in another state, is one of my passions and I love to do it every chance that I get. The memories and relationships I made are like none other I’ve experienced.” 

      Jensen is continuing her education here at ABAC pursuing a Bachelor’s in Agricultural Education. “I’ll leave with a certification to teach secondary agricultural education, but one day I would like to become certified to teach in an elementary school setting so that I could begin an introduction agricultural program for younger students.”

      Jensen hopes to reach older students as well by incorporating them through a mentorship program. “My end goal is to educate students in agriculture and life skills so that I and other teachers can help to prepare them for their future by having an education, being leaders and staying involved.” To her, ABAC is a school that offers many opportunities to people from all walks of life. She believes this is why the school continues to grow.

      Jensen said her overall experience at ABAC has been incredible and when she graduates again what she’ll miss the most is the people here. “I’m really thankful for the way that ABAC has prepared me to enter the world and the workforce.”


Residence Hall Association at ABAC

     Residence Hall Association (RHA) is one of ABAC’s biggest organizations on campus. With 1,500 members, the organization is very involved with ABAC’s day-to-day activities.

     The organization’s number becomes even larger when taken into account that every student living on campus is automatically a member of RHA.

     It is also one of the most important components of campus life. This is because RHA is responsible for the relationship between students that live on campus at Lakeside, Place and the housing department.

     RHA allows students to voice any concerns or issues with housing that they may have. They are also given the opportunity to suggest changes and develop their leadership skills. It also gives students a chance to make new friends and build relationships.

     RHA is the only organization that can make amendments to the policies and procedures in the Guide to Residential Living, the governing document for students who live on campus.

     Executive board members are also given the opportunity to travel around the country and attend state, regional and national conferences. For those that are interested, applications for the 2019-2020 executive board will be coming up in the next couple of months.

     RHA has existed since housing began on campus. However, it was not until 2016 that it was reestablished by McKenzie Lewis and Karmen Tovar.

     Not only does RHA support ABAC’s residents, but they are also the ones to thank for many of the events that are put on around campus.

     In the past, they have put on events like the Holiday Meal, Destress Fest and their rather popular event Grocery Bingo. This semester, RHA will be putting on a Valentine’s Day Carnival and a Slumberbowl Party.

     Meetings are every two weeks and alternate between the locations of the Lakeside multipurpose room and Town Hall. All residents are encouraged to attend. At their meetings, RHA holds professional development programs that allow members to build their professional portfolios such as their resumes and interviewing skills.

     RHA’s officers are President Karmen Tovar; Executive Vice President McKenzie Lewis; Vice President of Programming Maria Martinez; Vice President of Promotions Jennifer Granjeno; National Communications Coordinator Matthew Liqua, and advisor  Sarah Herring.


President Bridges announces big plans for ABAC

ABAC President David Bridges spoke at the Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) Tuesday Speaker Series. The ACT hosts different guest speakers throughout the semester to discuss with students different topics pertaining to agriculture.

Bridges has been the president of ABAC since July 1, 2006. He has been remembered as the tenth president, the longest-serving president, and the first ABAC Alumnus to serve as president. Bridges was the main advocate for bringing four-year degrees to a school that only offered associates degrees for 70 plus years.

The topic of discussion was the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation and how it is necessary for the future of rural communities in Georgia. A key point Bridges made was the biggest threat that faces rural communities, which is in some rural counties, the death rate exceeds the birth rate.

Bridges used to speak at high school graduations, and he would explain the saddest night of the year in rural communities was high school graduation. How could high school graduation be a sad night for these communities?

Bridges meant graduation from high school means the town will lose their smartest and brightest young people. Some people will stay, but most will pack their bags and never return.

Another problem Georgia is facing is the number of counties our state has. Georgia has the second highest number of counties compared to other states, with Texas having the most counties. Georgia has 159 counties due to a historic rule set in place. When the counties were drawn up, they were designed so that citizens in every county could reach their town center in one day traveling by horse and carriage. Now that transportation has progressed, this rule has become dated

Bridges thinks the state has too many counties and with this many counties, it’s difficult to take care of them all. It would be tough to get enough counties to agree with consolidation, and most counties would want to absorb the surrounding counties rather than being absorbed themselves. This is just one of the ways Georgia is at a disadvantage when it comes to serving rural communities.

ABAC Dining Hall has recently ended a long contract with Sodexo. Bridges discussed how instead of using Sodexo, ABAC Dining hall would start using food that is grown locally in Georgia. The operation will begin is in January 2019. The initial goal for the dining hall is to serve 25 percent of their food from Georgia farmers.

Bridges encouraged the audience to tell farmers in the area that ABAC is looking for farmers to purchase fresh farm products from. The end goal is to be able to sustain a 100 percent farm imported dining facility at ABAC so students can find out exactly where their meals are coming from.

“It’s going to be hard for the urban to survive without the rural and it would be hard for the rural to survive without the urban,” said Bridges.

Rural communities depend on the urban communities to continue a high demand for farm products. The urban communities depend on these rural communities for necessary products in everyday life.


Exploring opportunities at Career Connections

Career Connections is an event that hosts companies within the agriculture industry to come and speak to agriculture students who are interested in finding a career or internship in the industry. Career Connections took place on Nov. 13 in the Ag Science building.

Students dressed head to toe in business casual and flocked to the event to explore professional opportunities in the agriculture industry. Exhibitors set up booths and welcomed students to learn about career and internship opportunities within each company.

Students of the school of Agriculture and Natural Resources were encouraged to stop in and network with industry representatives.

Agriculture majors were advised to bring an updated resume, a firm handshake and their game face for this event. With booths lining the lobby and hallways of the Ag Science building, there were many options within each sector of agriculture represented. Large name corporations such as Smithfield, Synsenta, Zoetis and many others alike welcomed students to explore opportunities within their companies.

Agribusiness major Tyler Robinson had no trouble finding a potential employer to talk to. Robinson says “I handed my resume out to anybody that would take it because any connection can lead to something that could benefit my future.”

Career Connections was a great opportunity for students to practice their professional networking skills while also getting their name out to potential employers.

Although Career Connections caters directly to agriculture majors, all students who attended Career Connections were able to benefit in some way. Biology major Abigail Holley says “I had no idea there was such a wide variety of careers in the agriculture field. I met someone who worked in Horticulture that earned a degree in Biology and he spoke to me about an internship that I would be eligible for.”

Although Holley is not an agriculture major, she asserts that she “learned a lot and had the opportunity to network with people who were outside of her zone of interests.”

Career Connections will be held again in the spring with a focus on careers in Forestry and Natural Resources.