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Skaggs: County agents convene next week in Gainesville
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Next week, county extension agents from across Georgia will come together in Gainesville for the first time in approximately 20 years. The Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents’ Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference is set for Monday through Wednesday at the Georgia Mountains Center.

According to the group’s president, Keith Lassiter, "the Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents is a professional improvement organization comprised of extension agents and specialists working in agriculture. As educators, we strive to provide useful up-to-date information on subjects related to agriculture using the latest in technology and research developed at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences."

The Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents was organized Jan. 24, 1930. It is dedicated to the professional improvement of its members. Each year it provides numerous professional improvement opportunities and gives recognition to extension professionals for outstanding programs.

The association works with and has gained the respect of state extension and university administrators. Since its inception, it has been an integral part of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.

All professionals with any extension agricultural duties are eligible for membership. Membership is offered in both the state and national associations. The Georgia association is among the nation’s largest, with approximately 300 members.

According to President-elect Eddie Ayers, 2008 annual meeting coordinator, "Many educational opportunities are being offered at this year’s (gathering). We have a great lineup of education tours and activities for our members. The highlight of the meeting is the annual banquet, featuring Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle."

Also at the annual meeting, county agents from across the state will be recognized for their educational efforts and achievements at the awards program. Awards include the Georgia Poultry Federation Poultry Service Award, the Georgia Flower Growers Association Award of Excellence, the Metro Atlanta Landscape & Turf Association Education Award, the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association Beef Education Award, and awards presented by the commodity commissions for peanuts, cotton, tobacco and milk.

As the host county agent and secretary of the association, it has been a busy few months of preparation and planning. The annual meeting is attended by approximately 150-170 extension agents and professionals. My goal has been to showcase what makes Hall County and the entire Northeast Georgia region great.

Hall County and Northeast Georgia have a rich agricultural heritage and bright future in agriculture and agribusiness. Hall County agriculture is extremely diverse, including poultry, beef, dairy, equine, fruits, vegetables, nursery and greenhouse operations, making it an ideal location for such an event. And on a personal note, it also is the ideal place to work as a county agent.

For more on the Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents, visit our Web site at www.gacaa.com. For more information on the work of UGA Cooperative Extension, visit www.uga
extension.com.

Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988. His column appears biweekly and at gainesvilletimes.com.

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