ABAC Presents Awards at Agricultural Education Bachelor’s Degree Pinning Ceremony

Staff Report

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Norman Gay from Perry was named an Honorary 2020 Cohort Member at the virtual pinning ceremony for the 33 graduates of the bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education held recently at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. 

Gay, a 1968 ABAC graduate and the president of the Georgia FFA Alumni Association, is a longtime supporter of Agricultural Education and the FFA. 

“He has 60 years as a student, a leader, and as an unwavering supporter of Agricultural Education and ABAC,” Dr. Frank Flanders, ABAC’s Agricultural Education Program Coordinator, said.

Dr. Glen C. Shin, Emeritus Professor at Texas A&M University, congratulated ABAC on the virtual ceremony.

“Congratulations to the ABAC team in the conduct of the Cohort 2020 Agricultural Education Pinning Ceremony,” Shinn wrote.   “I have sat through more than my share of graduations, but ABAC takes the Gold Medal and center platform.  I stumbled upon the Facebook Live presentation and was impressed and inspired from beginning to end.” 

For the second year in a row, ABAC led all colleges and universities in the Southeast in the number of Agricultural Education graduates. 

Other award recipients included Beth Galloway from Toombs County Middle School and Shayla Johnson from Irwin County High School, who were named Outstanding Cooperating Teachers.

Sydney Conley from Ellijay received the Owl-Standing Advisor award, and Audrey Hawk from Sharpsburg received the Blue-And-Gold Leadership Award. Janelle Balceiro from Miami, Fla., received the Outstanding Teacher Award in the high school category, and Faith Farmer from Mobile, Ala., received the Outstanding Teacher Award at the middle school level. 

Taylor Lund from Moultrie and Drew Willingham from Rochelle finished in a tie for the award for the Highest Grade Point Average.  Both graduated Magna Cum Laude from ABAC at the virtual commencement ceremony on May 7. 

Gay was a member of the Worth County FFA Chapter. He served as State FFA President in 1962-63 and was the National FFA Vice President in 1965-66.  He has worked with the FFA Alumni Association on the state and national levels for over 40 years. Gay served as President of the FFA Alumni twice during that time and served on the National FFA Alumni Council for eight years.  He is currently employed at Camp John Hope where he is Director of Special Projects.

Galloway hosted Dahlia Sutliff, an ABAC student from Bradenton, Fla., as a student teacher this year.  Johnson, an ABAC graduate, hosted Audrey Hawk as a student teacher. Nominations for these awards are made by the students. 

Conley earned her award by being the most involved student in FFA leadership training during her time as a student teacher.  Her supervisor was Dr. Lynne Cook at Tift County High School (TCHS).  Conley will teach at Crawford County High School this fall. 

Cohort members voted on Hawk’s award, which is given to the student who has exhibited formal and informal leadership throughout the Teacher Education program.  Hawk was an active member of the ABAC FFA and the Student Government Association senator for the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  She has received a full graduate assistantship to the University of Kentucky to complete a master’s degree. 

Balceiro completed student teaching at TCHS under Brittany Schwing.  She graduated Cum Laude from ABAC where she was active in FFA and the Campus Housing Association. 

Farmer completed student teaching at Willie J. Williams Middle School in Moultrie under Brittany Gibbs.  Originally from Brevard, N.C., Farmer will teach Agricultural Education at Baker Middle School in Columbus in the fall. 

Willingham will teach Agricultural Education at Dodge County Middle School in the fall.  She completed her student teaching at Lanier County High School under Shannon Danforth and Ben Culpepper.  She was active in Sigma Alpha, the Forestry Club, and ABAC FFA. 

Lund finished her student teaching under Pam Ross at Lowndes County Middle School.  She will teach Agricultural Education at Carson Middle School in the Greene County School System in the fall. 

ABAC fall semester classes begin Aug. 12 when the college plans to return to in-person instruction.  All members of the University System of Georgia taught online classes during the final weeks of the spring semester and the entire summer term because of the pandemic.