#AgDawgsTakeGA- Chick-fil-A Corporate and Post Trip

It is hard to believe that just one week ago we were all on a bus galavanting across our great state, eating WAY too much food, and learning about the opportunities that ag holds for us. I wish I was on Bodie’s bus whipping around Atlanta this morning instead of behind a desk in Hoke Smith. However, the memories will just have to suffice.

One of my favorite stops on the tour was Chick-fil-A Corporate Headquarters, and it seems fitting that I am writing this exactly a week from when we visited. I have to be clear that CFA has been my absolute favorite restaurant since childhood. I lived 45 minutes from the nearest store in Augusta , so it was the BEST day when we got to eat there. Then, I moved to college in Athens where CFA obsession is rampant amongst college students, and I was only 5 miles or less from the nearest CFA no matter where I was. I love nugs and Chick-fil-A sauce and Cool Wraps and cole slaw (boo!) and diet lemonade and iced coffee and waffle fries! Needless to say, I was super excited to visit the place where all of these things were created. On a serious note, I  admire and respect them for demonstrating the Christian values that I also cherish. As soon as we walked into the building, we were not treated merely as stereotypical college students taking some tour. I believe that the genuine  kindness and respect that we were shown is probably the exact same demeanor that they have when the C-suite visits. They are in the business of serving, not simply making money. If that is the only thing I learned from this stop, that would be enough. Serving others is something that everyone has to learn, no matter what career path he/she chooses. It especially applies to me in the realm of ag comm and public relations. When we walked into the kitchen, the staff provided us with Cran-Lime Lemonade. (Y’all, it was TOO good!) They knew we had been on a long trip, and honestly, we probably looked exhausted. However, instead of simply answering some questions and showing us their workspace, they took the time to fix us drinks. That is service. It was fascinating to learn about the packaging and the process that the food takes to get into the local stores. Then, I was blown away when they allowed us to get snacks from the break room for free, and yet again when they gave us the gift bags before we left. This stop engrained service on my brain, and I will remember this throughout the rest of college and into my career.

Over the past week, many people have asked me about the trip and my experience. I simply said, “It was incredible, the trip of a lifetime.” Because, frankly, I did not have the words to explain everything I experienced and they did not have the time to listen to it. Now that I have had a week to ruminate (ag humor), I understand the endless value that this tour has for me. As a farmer’s daughter who grew up on a row crop and Angus beef farm, agriculture meant spending time with Daddy on John Deere tractors, smelling the peanuts being picked in the fall, and riding through cow pastures on the Gator. When I came to college, I missed home terribly, and I began to cling to my roots. I wanted to know more about agriculture than just my surface level, emotional connection. Since then, it has become one of my passions. This trip gave me the opportunity to broaden my understanding of what Georgia agriculture looks like. From onions to turf, I saw commodities that I never would have seen otherwise. On the other hand, I got to experience a beef processing plant which is directly connected to the Angus beef that my family raises. The insight that I gained from this trip will forever impact my view of agriculture and the way I advocate for Georgia’s top industry. I also realized that it is truly a blessing to be a part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The people on this tour (faculty and students)  are the fairest of the South(Campus)land. On Sunday, I boarded a bus with two of my best friends and some acquaintances. On Friday, I walked off the bus with two of my best friends and new friends that I had spent the last week laughing and making memories with.  The connections made and resources given to us on the Ag Tour will be vital for us in the future. I am thankful for this experience, and it will always be one of my favorite memories in CAES and at UGA!

~Whitney L. Dixon