Reflection Paper

 

Eli Ingram

Georgia Agricultural Tour

Spring Break 2017

The Georgia Agricultural spring break tour of 2017 was an educational trip that ignited raw inspiration to me during my week spent touring around Georgia. The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at University of Georgia sponsored a spring break tour where students of UGA toured many different sites and locations of Georgia agriculture. During my time on the tour I learned so much about farmers and business owners about how to run a farm, agritourism company, and all the problems that both industries are facing. I was very impressed with the hospitality and time that these busy farmers and owners took out of this work day to teach the students of the University of Georgia during this trip.

A major problem from all farmers were finding help they needed to harvest their crops. The conditions of the farming jobs are very tough and many workers don’t last more than one week at a farm. This became such an issue that the United States government  began to bring in immigrants from Mexico to help the farmers because finding American workers were so tough. Another problem that many farmers face is the federal government enforcing regulations making it very difficult for farmers to produce crops and abide by all the laws. The rules and regulation bring strict rules for the farmers to follow and the federal government cast a fear into farmers because they can shut down the farm any time an error occurs. Many of farmers during this College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at University of Georgia trip explained how tough it was to work with the regulations.

Below I will share my experiences of my top three favorite stops along this spring break tour and other valuable information that I learned during this trip around Georgia agriculture.

Lake Oconee Reynolds

One of my favorite stops during the spring break tour was the Reynolds Lake Oconee. Reynolds offers a Turf grass management training program over the summer that really has my interest. The purpose of the turf grass program is to help beginners become exposed to the different job opportunities of a multi course operation.  They explained that each intern will be assigned to one certain area of main focus, then we will rotate around to see each area, with one main focus during the year. All of the different areas of focus include turf grass management, equipment operations, daily coarse set up, water management, reel set-up, reel grinding. And facility care.

After the presentation, at Lake Oconee, I met with the vice president Lane Singleton. Lane and I spoke about possible employment over the summer. I am very interested to see where this opportunity leads me. Immediately after leaving, I connected with Mr. Singleton on Linked Inn. After connection with Singleton on Linked in I sent him a message where I thanked him for the hospitality and expressed my interest in joining his crew this summer.

Rutland Farms

The Rutland Farms was a very inspirational trip to me during the 2017 UGA college spring break tour. The reason I enjoyed Rutland Farms so much is because it was a nice breath of fresh air during the trip. When we first arrived, we received a history of Rutland Farms where I learned that it was founded in 1916. When it began in in 1916, the farm was as little as only 36 acres and now by the year 2017 the farm had grown to 2,100 acres! Another fun fact about Rutland Farms is that it has been a family run farm since the beginning. Our tour guide was a third generation owner, and during the tour we passed a pond he called his granddaddy’s farm and that the biggest bass he ever caught out of his granddaddy’s’ pond was 14 pounds! He told me I could come fish anytime I wanted, and this was just another reason I will be revisiting Rutland Farms.

When we arrived we all boarded a wagon that was then pulled by a tractor where we had a tour guide explain to us all the animals, ponds, and farm lands in their area. At the end of the enjoyable wagon ride, we then went on to their petting zoo to enjoy feeding baby goats, pigs, miniature horses, cows, and Ostridge’s. This was such a fun experience petting the animals and feeding them. As we were feeding the animals the tour guide showed us a giant pig they called Porkchop and showed us how he had trained the pig to shake his head yes when he asked the pig if it wanted bread.

After the petting zoo we jumped back on the wagon and entered the Rutland farm market.  This was a great idea that had been formed to start a market where they sold their fresh fruits from the farm like strawberries. We also could pick fresh strawberries and eat them as we pleased, then Rutland Farms offered us free ice cream. This farm was a great visit that really opened my eyes and inspired me to visit more Agribusiness tourism attractions like Rutland Farms.

 

The Rock Ranch

 The third stop worth mentioning during the agricultural tour was the Rock Ranch. The Rock Ranch was a very inspirational destination because it is a 1,500 acre ranch founded by Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-a. The Rock Ranch is located about ten miles from Thomaston, Georgia, in a place called the Rock. The Rock Ranch has many attractions including a petting zoo, zip-lines over a lake, and a giant full moon. The Full moon is a funny story that the tour guide explained that Mr. Cathy would bet his friends that came to visit the Rock Ranch that no matter the weather, he bet that there would be a full moon shining over the pond at midnight. When the bet was made, Mr. Cathy would turn on this giant trampoline sized fake moon he built with led lights to shine over the pond.

The Rock Ranch offers many festive activities like, pumpkin smashing in the fall, Christmas lights in the Winter, corn mazes, concerts, and many other attractions that bring visitors from all over the world. The Rock ranch is usually a hot spot for churches to host functions, and families or companies to host parties. This ranch has many of attractions that keep people coming back, and this fall the actor The Rock will be recording a movie on the Rock Ranch this fall. With this movie production, The Rock Ranch will be an even bigger destination for agritourism.

In summary was very blessed to be able to attend this spring break agricultural tour. The Rock Ranch was a super attraction that I will be attending again as well as Rutland Farms, and Reynolds. All the destinations taught me so much about the industry that I would have never expected. Even Though these were my top three stops there are so many destinations that are worth mentioning. We stopped at an Alligator farm where I learned how much money is in the alligator field. An alligator that is raised for 2 years can be skinned to use the alligator skin to make purses that can sell for 30,000 dollars each. I learned a lot about Agriculture that I never knew like the fact that airplane builders at Thrush is agricultural because they would sell airplanes to farmers so the farmers could spread chemicals by spraying off the airplanes. We made a trip from the north side of Georgia to the South side of Georgia within one week, and I learned so much. This agricultural tour was an amazing experience that I wish more people could get to do in their lifetime.

Something worth mentioning that most people probably won’t share, is the friendships that were made during this trip. During the many hours spent on the charter bus, I met some interesting UGA students from Tifton campus as well as Athens. Getting to know these guys really made the trip a great time because they are a lot like me and together we bonded and learned new things we would never know about agribusiness if we didn’t take this trip. I consider these students well educated friends, and I will be visiting them in the future to see where we all end up in this life. If it was not for these guys, I don’t think I would have survived destinations like the slaughter house. Life is only what you make it, and the group that surrounds you can really make or break a trip. I would like to thank all of the people who made this trip possible, the professors, students, and all the companies that took time out of their work day to educate the next generation in agribusiness. I was very surprised at the hospitality that all these farmers and business owners gave to me and it made me feel very welcome to be in their presence during this agricultural spring break trip of 2017. If I had the opportunity to do this trip again I would do it and I would also encourage others students to take the opportunity that UGA offers to students.