Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture & Forestry Selects 2019-2020 Leadership Class

Merritt Melancon

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Twenty-five professionals, who represent a wide swath of Georgia’s agriculture and natural resource industries, have been chosen to participate in the 2019-2020 class of Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry (AGL).

Organized by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the purpose of AGL is to educate and empower Georgia’s agricultural leaders to become effective advocates for the largest economic drivers in Georgia — the state’s agriculture and forestry industries.

“This class was chosen from 78 outstanding nominations,” said Lauren Griffeth, director of AGL. “These individuals represent a broad array of facets in agriculture, forestry and allied sectors and display a commitment to leadership in the field for their career.” 

The AGL program is designed to bring together leaders from all segments of the state’s agriculture, forestry, natural resources and allied industries. Over 16 months, participants will help one another grow through personalized leadership development training geared toward understanding themselves as leaders, analyzing issues facing their industries and strengthening connections to become catalysts for positive change.

AGL’s 2019-2020 inductees are:

Daniel Atkins, area marketing manager, Weyerhaeuser

Toby Bowen, account manager, AGCO

Jason Bragg, vice president for government relations, Georgia EMC

Sam Brown, owner/CEO, Fiddleheads Garden Center

Jordan Carter, director of sales and marketing, Leger & Son

TR Clark, regional manager, F&W Forest Services

Hillery Culpepper, assistant director of development, FFA Foundation

Nicole Duvall, program coordinator, Commission for Milk

Dusty Engel, corporate precision ag manager, John Deere

Chan Flanders, forester, West Fraser

Susan Harrell, financial analyst and timberland owner

Aaron Hemmer, regional lending manager, AgGeorgia

Matthew Hested, executive director of communications and strategy, Georgia Forestry Association

Jessica Jarvholhm, event coordinator, Pineywoods Farm

Ben Lancaster, sales manager, International Forest Company

Jason Little, director of valuation services, Forest Resource Consultants

David Martin, president and CEO, Widget Development

Samantha McLeod, executive director, Georgia Pecan Growers Association

Frances Mitchell, field sales representative, Bayer

Arren Moses, farmer, Edward Moses Farms

Sarah Nerswick, agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor, Cambridge High School

Erin Nessmith, Young Farmer and Rancher Program coordinator, Georgia Farm Bureau

Blake Poole, middle Georgia field representative, Office of Governor Brian Kemp

Eric Simpson, farmer and coop organizer, West Georgia Farmer’s Cooperative

Keaton Walker, marketing and sponsorship director, Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter

In 1991, community and state leaders started participating in the original, agriculture-based leadership development program known as “Agri-Leaders,” which was sponsored by the Georgia Agri-Leaders Forum Foundation. Since that time, 399 Georgia business leaders, farmers, foresters, educators and other stakeholders have completed the program and become more effective leaders and advocates.

Through AGL, participants will complete five in-state institutes, an advocacy institute in Washington, D.C., and an optional international experience in Chile. This will be the fourth class of AGL participants to experience transformational leadership development through the UGA program.