Two State Wide Educational Conferences in Early February
By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
As we get into the heart of winter, often times we feel trapped in the house waiting for spring to arrive. Well perhaps not this year! If you’re interested in growing wine grapes or organic produce, there are a couple of opportunities in early February that will get you out of the house.
The annual Georgia Wine Producers Conference will take place February 4th and 5th at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia. The conference begins Monday evening the 4th with a reception (tasting) featuring Georgia wines followed by a full day of educational sessions on Tuesday the 5th. Topics discussed include fermentation, branding, wine structure, and the importance of balanced fruit. Production topics include disease and insect management, bud density, trellis structure, delayed pruning and leaf removal. Attendees can learn about regional viticulture research efforts in addition to winemaking strategies and marketing tips from academic and industry specialists from Virginia, Cornell University in NY and UGA.
The Georgia Organics Conference & Expo, set for Friday and Saturday, February 8th and 9th at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, is an important event for farmers and others interested in organic agriculture. With demand rising for organic produce and the industry growing to meet the need, this conference down in Tifton is a pivotal event for educating organic growers in Georgia and throughout the South. According to Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez, a University of Georgia scientist in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, organic agriculture has increased in the United States by about 10 percent a year over the last 15 years. It is likely that the increase in consumer demand for certified-organic produce has led some of Georgia’s larger growers to dedicate part of their land to growing certified-organic crops, said Julia Gaskin, UGA sustainable agriculture coordinator.
Along with UGA research entomologist Jason Schmidt, Diaz-Perez, who specializes in vegetables and plasticulture, will present at the conference and share some of his research from the two certified-organic acres on the UGA Tifton campus. He will also talk about research on high-tunnel production for vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce and spinach, as well as organic fertilization and utilization of cover crops. Event sessions, workshops and field trips to farms in South Georgia will be offered for attendees during the two-day event. Vanessa Shonkwiler, a public service assistant in UGA’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, will share marketing tips on how farmers can expand their brands and stories.
A key part of both meetings is networking with other producers and both require pre-registration which is available online. For the Georgia Wine Producers Conference, visit http://www.georgiawineproducers.org/2019-conference-registration and for the Georgia Organics Conference & Expo, visit https://conference.georgiaorganics.org/ and for more information about either conference, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.
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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Honors and recognition have gone from the local Board of Education meeting to Statewide recognition for Mountain View Elementary this month as the office of State Superintendent Richard Woods officially released, December 4, the 2018 list of Title I Distinguished Schools, the highest-performing Title I schools in the state.
Mountain View Elementary made that list for an exceptional year. Readers will recall the schools praise during the Board’s review of Milestones scores in “MVE jumps in 2018 Milestones scores.” This praise came from a 14.4 point jump, from 70.1 in 2017 to 84.5 in 2018, in CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index). According to Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, the CCRPI scoring is what the state uses in distinguishing these schools saying, “This recognition is for scoring in the top 5% of Title I elementary schools in the state. CCRPI scores are based largely on milestones data, but takes other data into account as well.”
Mountain View Elementary School Principal Charles Walker credited the school’s entire staff for the achievement. He said, “We are absolutely excited. It is a team effort and it’s the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.” Mountain View holds classes in both elementary and pre-k grades, however, only the elementary classes are graded on Milestones. Walker said Mountain View was a family that has worked extremely hard for their students making it all the more rewarding to see their efforts recognized.
A sentiment echoed by Downs who said, “I am so very proud that Mountain View Elementary has been recognized. I commend the hard work and dedication of everyone in the MVE family in earning this recognition and being named as a top-performing Title I school by the Georgia Department of Education. Everyone in the school did an incredible job and the best part is that our students are the ultimate beneficiaries of the achievement.”
She went on to add that this recognition is only a part of what the Gilmer School system is accomplishing as the system has now scored above the state average for two years in a row, calling it “another indicator that our system is truly moving in a very positive direction.”
According to a release by the Georgia Department of Education, State Superintendent Richard Woods said, “In addition to identifying schools in need of additional support, it’s important for us to recognize and applaud schools when they’re doing well. These public schools are among the very best in the state and are doing extraordinary work on behalf of their students and communities. I extend my thanks and congratulations to every teacher, administrator, staff member, student, parent, and community partner who contributed to their success.”
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Mountain View Elementary (MVE) school hosted the Georgia Speaker of the House, Rep. David Ralston, on Thursday, October 4, as part of the Georgia Pre-k Week program.
Originally launched in 1992, Georgia Pre-K is a lottery-funded program serving four-year-olds in the state regardless of parental income. After almost losing the program to cuts in 2010, the Pre-K Week celebration was created to emphasize the importance of quality early childhood education by providing opportunities for leaders to engage with pre-k classrooms in their local communities.
Ralston’s visit came to MVE in its second year of the return to pre-school classes at their location. Visiting both pre-k classrooms, he read Behind the Little Red Door in Katlin Johnston’s class and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons in Gina Brock’s class.
Having previously visited Ellijay Primary school year’s ago, his return to the new location is made possibly by Gilmer County’s L4GA Grant providing supplemental literacy funds to the education system. A part of the grant, the “Birth-to-5 piece,” is the major part of increasing literacy and putting books into the hands of kids at home. By extensions, educators hope to build the language skills and development for not only those children, but also to other younger children in the household as well.
Gilmer’s Pre-K Director Katrina Kingsley told FYN this is usually an annual event to host lawmaker’s in our schools and allow them firsthand knowledge of what’s going on in these classrooms. Kingsley asserted the importance of programs like this as it not only educates lawmakers on our schools, but the grant and program allow pre-k teachers to affect even more students. Just as the body needs food and nourishment, Kingsley said these kids need “nourishment for the brain.
Check out more photos of the event at FYN’s Facebook Page.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer High School (GHS) saw a new celebration this year as they held a signing day for students committing to a college in order to become teachers themselves.
The inaugural event, held April 27 this year, showcased 11 students dedicating to three different colleges. Eight will be attending the University of North Georgia. Two will attend Dalton State College. One will attend Chattahoochee Technical College.
William Barnes, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Brittani Ballew, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Mckayla Chambers, a junior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Callie Kerr, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Jenny McCurdy, a senior, committed to Dalton State College.
Andrea Pantoja, a senior, committed to Dalton State College.
Erica Sharp, a junior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Kameron Stone, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Allison Strickler, a senior, committed to Chattahoochee Technical College.
Sarina Tran, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
Rachel Waddell, a senior, committed to the University of North Georgia.
These students have all been a part of the high school’s “Teaching as a Profession” pathway in the school as well as Work Based Learning so that each student will be heading into college with experience in his or her field. As a part of the day, students met with representatives from their colleges and receive a certificate recognizing their dedication and hard work.
A state event “signing day” will be held May 8. However, due to testing at that time, GHS held their signing day early.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Mountain View Elementary teachers and staff donated 93 toys to Family Connection. Pictured is Tina Watkins, our school counselor who organized this event. Also pictured is Mr. Larry Naylor, who assisted in getting these toys delivered to Family Connection where they will go out to families in our community.
ELLIJAY, GA – Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston visited Ellijay on Wednesday, September 13, to speak with the Retired Teachers Association.
Before holding a regular meeting, the Association received Ralston with a lunch reception and a meet and greet with the members. As he began his remarks, Ralston noted he was returning to the capital the same day to continue working through Georgia’s recovery of Hurricane Irma.
Taking a moment to recognize those involved, Ralston praised workers and volunteers who continue to clean up and restore Georgia in the aftermath. “I have never been prouder of the response that our state has had to what has been a tremendous storm. Hurricane Irma has really brought a lot of destruction to our state,” said Ralston.
Ralston continued his remarks speaking on the state’s budget. He said, “I tell people, there is only one thing we have to do every legislative session, and that’s pass a budget. We have passed a balanced budget in Georgia with no tax increases for the seven years that I have been honored to hold this position.”
Saying they had managed this in a conservative and responsible way, Ralston continued telling those in attendance the number one spending item in the budget every year is Education. According to the Speaker, last years $24.9 billion budget held 62% of new revenue budgeted for K-12 Education. This included $162 million for a 2% adjustment to state teachers salary.
The Teachers Retirement System (TRS), holding 218,000 active members and 118,000 retired members, was a focus of Ralston as he spoke about strengthening the system, protecting pensions against ideas of certain candidates for governor, and maintaining his “covenant” with teachers for their future and the future of their careers. Continuing in the financial aspect of education, Ralston commented, “I insist on a very strict actuarial study of what works and what don’t, between what is sound and what is not.”
The Speaker also talked of Georgia as a whole saying the state has added almost 600,00 new jobs in the private sector over the last 6 years. We are one of the fastest growing economies in the nation. Businesses are leaving other states in order to move here to Goergia. He continued, “We are now the number two state in the nation for the entertainment industry.”
Taking a moment to recognize complaints on the film tax credit, Ralston noted the $60 million a year credit generates over $9 billion a year saying, “Sometimes we have to invest a little to gain a lot, and I think strategic investment is a good thing.”
In an effort to spread the growth that Georgia is experiencing, he began speaking of the the challenges of rural Georgia. The Speaker spoke of a new two-year initiative called the ‘Rural Development Council.” The council’s plan is to examine every component of rural Georgia’s economy through education, healthcare, transportation, infrastructure, and more.
Ralston closed his comments thanking the teachers present for what the mean to the community and for the honor of representing the area in Atlanta.
However, before leaving, the Speaker took time to answer a few questions including one about the concept of Casino gambling in Atlanta saying, “I think the casino companies are a whole lot more interested in it than the members of the General Assembly.”
He went on to say there were several issues at play such as the general question of “Do you favor the expansion of gambling?” But if yes, more questions arise of “How many do you allow in the state?” “Do you allow one big one and one small one?” Ralston went further to say the next issues then would be about the tax rate and the distribution of proceeds.
Constitutional conservative GA Senator and Candidate for GA Governor Hunter Hill came on the show this morning to discuss why he is running for Governor. Hill has been a member of the GA Senate since 2012 after returning home from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. During this interview Hunter Hill talks about the importance of the core competencies that he would focus on in the state if elected as Governor. These being public safety, education, and transportation. Hill made the statement that the current restrictions on the education system is “stifling leadership” not just within the classroom but even into the administration within the schools. Hear all these details and more in this interview.