State News

UGA Extension specialist, agents honored with industry 40 under 40 awards

Four experts at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Cooperative Extension have been recognized as members of the Fruit and Vegetable 40 under 40 Class of 2022.

The list honors 40 early-career agricultural professionals for exemplary accomplishments, representing “the best in the industry.” The class includes growers and farm market operators, Extension agents, industry suppliers and many others who contribute to the success of their agricultural industry. 

The 40 under 40 class of 2022 will be honored during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the Amway Grand in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Honorees from CAES and UGA Extension include the following:

Laurel Dunn, recognized for her research on foodborne illness and food safety education efforts

Laurel Dunn is an assistant professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at CAES. Her program focuses on preharvest and postharvest interventions to reduce the incidence of produce-associated foodborne illness, and she provides food safety education to Georgia’s produce industry.

Laurel received her doctorate from the University of Tennessee and served as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida before joining UGA. Dunn was also part of a team with collaborators from Auburn University and Clemson University that won the 2022 Blue Ribbon Extension Communication Award from the American Society for Horticultural Science for the creation of an online food safety training module.

Justin Shealey, recognized for his work on disease and insect surveillance and management

Justin Shealey is an Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for UGA Extension in Echols County. Through monitoring and on-farm trials, he works closely with growers and Extension specialists on disease and insect surveillance and management to ensure vegetable producers stay productive and profitable.

Shealey also conducts research projects geared towards packing efficacy and postharvest issues to benefit the many commercial vegetable operations in his area.

Chris Tyson, recognized for his research and outreach at the Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center

Area onion agent Chris Tyson’s role at the Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center includes Extension programming for Vidalia onion growers and county agents in his region. He also manages research projects on the 142-acre facility, which includes onion, citrus, pecan, timber and vegetable trials.

Tyson began working with UGA in 2008 as an Extension agent. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CAES and an associate’s degree from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Jacob Williams, recognized for his work with wine grape and vegetable farmers

Jacob Williams serves as the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for UGA Extension in Union and Towns counties, where he works extensively with wine grapes and vegetable farmers.

He has participated in research projects on disease resistance in wine grapes and conducted variety trials for sweet corn. He also helps youth to grow giant pumpkins every year. 

The recognition program is sponsored by AgBiome Innovations, Miller Chemical and Stokes Seeds.

Nominations for next class of honorees open in December. View the full list of 2022 honorees on the Vegetable Growers News website

By: Amanda Budd – Amanda Budd is a writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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