Apr 18, 2024
Southeast Regional Show recognizes leaders

Extension researchers’ efforts to improve crops and the fruit and vegetable industry’s political prominence were highlighted at this year’s Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference.

At an awards breakfast during the Jan. 4-7 event in Savannah, Georgia, the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) and other groups recognized industry members. 

Charles Hall, GFVGA executive director emeritus, noted the organization’s increased legislative influence in the Georgia General Assembly. State Sen. Russ Goodman, co-owner of Cogdell Berry Farm, a Cogdell, Georgia, blueberry farm, is chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. 

In the Georgia House, Rep. Robert Dickey III, co-owner of Dickey Farms, a Musella, Georgia, peach grower and packer, is chairman of the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. Sen. Sam Watson is managing partner of Chill C Farms in Moultrie, Georgia.

Stanley Culpepper, a UGA weed scientist, received the Southern Region award for Extension excellence. Photos by Doug Ohlemeier.
Courtney Hamilton Griffin of Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable is the second recipient of the Dan Bremer Service Award, which honors advocates on behalf of employers and ag worker supporters. Bremer presented the award.








Each year, GFVGA works with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) to recognize work conducted by people at land grant universities, Extension personnel, county agents and others.

APLU awarded Stanley Culpepper, professor, Extension agronomist and weed scientist for the University of Georgia (UGA) in Tifton, its Southern Region Award for individual excellence in Extension for research improving farm weed management and pesticide stewardship practices. 

“As many of our growers can testify, Dr. Culpepper, as an invaluable resource, made many contributions from the industry and we’re thankful for his service,” said Chris Butts, executive vice president for GFVGA. Bhabesh Dutta, a UGA vegetable pathologist and associate professor, received the Donnie Morris Extension award.

Award of Excellence

In his nomination letter, Timothy Coolong, a UGA professor and Extension specialist, said Dutta spends countless hours developing fungicide programs for vegetable crops. “The growers and county agents rely on his programming for managing diseases and vegetables,” Coolong wrote. 

“He also works well with agents and is a phenomenal resource for diagnosing disease throughout Georgia. His research and programming and vegetables is among the best in the southeastern United States.” 

Labor award 

Courtney Hamilton Griffin, director of operational support for Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable in Norman Park, Georgia, is the second recipient of the Dan Bremer Service Award, which honors those who advocate on behalf of both employers and those who support opportunities for ag workers. 

“Common sense and H-2A really don’t go together,” said award presenter Dan Bremer, president of AgWorks H2 in Valdosta, Georgia. “She’s been trying to put some sort of semblance to it. She gives generously of her time to work with elected officials and regulators to help them understand the real world conditions on the farm.”

Hamilton Griffin is a UGA graduate and represents the third generation at Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable. She is a member of the 2023 Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class. GFVGA also recognized the career of Laura Perry Johnson, who is retiring as UGA’s associate dean for Extension.



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