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Tifton Campus: News & Events

Text Version of Radio Interview

Recorded April 21, 2008 on WTIF

Speakers:

  • Chris Beckham, Radio Announcer
  • Joe West , Assistant Dean of the Tifton Campus

Chris: Good morning to you back on this Monday morning. Straight talk 107.5 WTIF and joining us this morning is the Assistant Dean at The University of Georgia’s Tifton Campus, he’s the big dawg with the UGA Tifton Dawgs and that’s Dr. Joe West. Doctor, Good Morning, how are ya?

West: Morning, Chris, doing well.

Chris: Good to see you. You are a, I wanna say that you’re new in your position, I guess that’s technically true, but you’ve been here in Tifton for a long time at the UGA Tifton campus.

West: I have. I started my job as the Assistant Dean in January of this year, but I’ve been here since 1986 and working at the Experiment Station for a long time.

Chris: An Animal Nutritionist, now tell us exactly what that entails.

West: Well, I was... I am an Animal Nutritionist, trained to work with dairy cattle, who are ruminants, a specialized type of animal. So we try to find ways to feed animals more efficiently, keep them healthier, things of that nature. Try to find ways to make the farmer more productive and more profitable.

Chris: And like a lot of agricultural things that was…the Tifton campus really led in that department as far as UGA is concerned. Is that right?

West: It really is. We emphasized heat stress research and this is a really hot place to live and work. And so that research was important. We emphasized forages and this campus has a real history in forage production. So those two things are very important emphasis for us.

Chris: I think a lot of people know that The University of Georgia Tifton campus...is...has done a lot of research and that kind of thing. But when you really look at it the research that’s here is not just important state wide, it really is a world wide….. The leaders in a lot of research are right here in Tifton and which a lot of times we take for granted and I know that’s human nature but occasionally we need to be reminded…I mean there’s really some world-class things going on up there.

West: There really are, Chris. Especially in my new job I get to work more and more with a broader group of scientists. But many and most of our scientists are known world-wide. They have programs that have international impact. But, even more importantly, they have local and state wide impact and that’s the people we really serve, but if we’re really doing cutting edge science we can take it out world wide and many of our scientists do.

Chris: Now, the UGA Tifton campus, of course is one of the….well, of course you have the big campus in Athens, and then Griffin, and then Tifton. Are those the only two kind of outside campuses?

West: Those are the two main campuses outside of Athens. We also have smaller research farms around the state. But these are the two primary campuses outside of Athens.

Chris: I see. And the one in Griffin now, does it concentrate on something different? I know, obviously ours is agricultural.

West: Yes, we’re more row-crop type production agriculture. They’re more urban horticulture. Although, they do address row-crop issues, as well. But, it’s more urban type research there and extension work.

Chris: And how many folks do we have here working at the Tifton campus? West: At the Tifton campus for the University of Georgia, we have roughly 350 people. If you add in USDA it takes us to near 425-450 people.

Chris: And there is, I know, and we talked about it a lot, people say well, it’s all out there at ABAC, well, it’s out there all kind of together. Obviously, it’s not ABAC. You guys have done a really good job, I think in the last 2 or 3 years distinguishing yourself, and of course you work a lot with ABAC and have a great relationship with those folks.

West: We do, we do. ABAC is next door to us. They’re a sister institution. We are a part of the University of Georgia, ABAC is a separate institution. All of us are under the umbrella of the Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia.

Chris: Right, but you’ll see there as you go out on Rainwater Road and all that, you’ll see the NESPAL, which is…that’s where your office is. [West: Yes] At the NESPAL Building…all that is out there, you do have the USDA, and a lot of other things out there, but I think in the last, like I said 2 or 3 years, you’ve done a good job of distinguishing yourself. And that’s important that people know that they can go to the University of Georgia and get that UGA degree hanging on their wall, right here in Tifton. That’s a very nice thing to have here.

West: We think so. We think it brings a lot to the University of Georgia. It brings a lot to the community. In fact, I don’t think many people know that we have a four year degree on campus here. So students can go to ABAC for 2 years, get their freshmen and sophomore years out of the way, transfer directly into the University of Georgia, get their junior and senior years there and never leave Tifton and get a University of Georgia degree and that’s a very important partnership we think we’ve got with ABAC. Although it’s not exclusively tied to ABAC. People can come to us from anywhere as long as they meet University of Georgia standards.

Chris: And that’s a great message to get out. And obviously the research and the extension part have been there for a long time and really been at the forefront for a long time. The extension part here, and I know our good friend, Brian Tankersley out at the extension office. All that is under the University of Georgia as well. And when you have this many farmers in so many areas here in South Georgia, research is, I know, something that you’re very proud of and that your folks do a great job at.

West: I am very proud of the people I work with. We had an opportunity to convey some information to one of our Congressmen recently, about the grants that had funded some of this research and it’s just amazing to watch the quality of the research and how it impacts the people of Georgia. And not just the farmers, not producers, I think it is important for people to recognize that what we do affects the community. If we’re doing variable rate irrigation, some of the technology that has been developed by our scientists, can actually save millions of gallons of water every year per pivot and, but also grow the crops more effectively. That’s just one example of the things that we do. We’re finding ways to combat a vegetable disease that when the vegetables are harvested, they look fine, but in a very short period of time, within days, the vegetables can be completely destroyed, which has an economic impact on the producer and drives up food prices for the consumer. There’s just multitude of examples of things. We’re working on breeding peanuts that have a lower allergen content. Peanut…people with peanut allergies, it can be very serious and so we’re working on breeding that allergen out. Just a lot of examples that affect not only the producer but the consumer as well.

Chris: And am I right, as usual I have a little bit of information, I don’t want to mess it up, but the UGA Tifton campus, as far as it deals with patons, and that kind of thing, leads the University of Georgia. Is that right?

West: Yes, as far as the royalty dollars that are brought in from patons and breeding programs, the Tifton campus leads not just the College of Agriculture, but The University of Georgia in royalties generated.

Chris: Wow. That’s a great thing. Like I said, a lot of good research is going here, and the thing that I find, and I know that the education part of it has really been fortified here in the last several years as you grow more and more students and really develop that arm of the University of Georgia. The students here in Tifton, they’re very proud group. They want you to know that they are UGA-Tifton campus graduates and that’s a good thing. They’re very visible in the community and you can tell it’s really been emphasized with them and they have done a good job with carrying that out.

West: Yes, they are very proud of being University of Georgia students and at the Tifton campus. We have a group of dedicated scientists who teach those students and our students, I’ll have to say, are very popular once they graduate. They are being hired and the industry is saying where can we get more, so we’re trying to grow that program because the ultimate test of the success of the program is how well your students are employed and how they contribute once they’re out in the working world.

Chris: Exactly. So Moms and Dads, I hope you’re hearing that out there and kids, if you’re on Spring Break this week and listening to us, there’s some great things you can do by getting that University of Georgia Tifton campus….UGA degree on your wall by going through the Tifton campus if you’re interested in Agriculture there’s a lot of great things you can do so I urge you to go by. You can go to the website as well, which I believe is dogsgonesouth.com and you can check it all out and see what’s available, but that number of students has grown throughout the last several years and I expect that will continue.

West: We hope to. We’re evaluating now other majors that we might bring to the campus to expand our opportunities for even more students.

Chris: And that’s becoming more popular, as well because in Athens they’re just about full. I mean, they’re really busting at the seams up there.

West: The campus is essentially limited on any expansion. The University, and the College of Ag, is certainly looking at expanding in Griffin and in Tifton, but the University is also on a broader scale, looking at expanding outside the boarders of Athens, as well.

Chris: That’s a good thing. Bring them on down to Tifton, we have room for them. So, or we will make room for them. [West: Absolutely] We’re talking with Dr. Joe West, he is the Assistant Dean at The University of Georgia Tifton campus, and we’re going to take a break and come right back, if you have a question for Dr. West, we welcome you this morning 382-1075 and we will be back with more right after this on 107.5 WTIF.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Chris: Back on straight talk on this Monday morning, Georgia’s network news coming up at the top of the hour, or the bottom of the hour, excuse me. This morning we’re talking with Dr. Joe West, the Assistant Dean for the University of Georgia’s Tifton campus, where things are changing and that’s…. a lot of growth in the last several years. Dr. West, as far as the future of UGA Tifton campus, tell us about what we can expect to see more changes of out there.

West: Well, of course, we’re still going to always emphasize our research and our extension work. We’re just…we evolve with the needs of agriculture, so we’re always looking for that new challenge, trying to be out in front so that we can address the needs for our producers and so that we can meet the needs of the consumers of the state. We’re going to continue to try and grow our teaching program, we’re going to grow in the College of Ag by letting more people know about the majors that we have, we’re investigating the possibility of offering new majors, so our students are very, very important to us. The University of Georgia is, outside the College of Ag, the broader University, is going to conduct a feasibility study to see if there are opportunities to offer coursework outside the College of Ag, that is in its infancy at this point, so we’re waiting to see what happens there. Our Conference Center continues to grow, we think it’s been a great opportunity and a great offering for the community and it’s been a partnership between the community and between the University of Georgia, so that been a, I think a real asset. I have two buildings on the front door of our campus, on the loop or the half circle there on Moore Highway that are vacant right now. Those are the two original buildings that were built on this campus, historically, they are very important to us. From a space stand point, we need that space, so that’s something we’re going to be working on very, very hard to try and get those building renovated so we can re-occupy those and that’s a big issue for us.

Chris: Sounds like the future is bright and again, you mention the Conference Center, we were talking during the break. The Conference Center has been there now, in its…of course the RDC has been there for a long time, but the Conference Center part, relatively less than 5 years, I guess. [West: Yes] And it’s one of those things, you can’t imagine what we had before that because so many different events are held out there now, which is great. And that’s what you want to see is more community involvement with the Conference Center because that’s, in essence, more community involvement with The University of Georgia, which is what you want.

West: Well, absolutely. We are here to serve the people of this state and this is just one other way that we can serve, but that facility is just outstanding. It’s great space, we have a great staff out there, and we think it brings a lot to the community. So, we want to generate as much traffic there and serve as many events as we possibly can.

Chris: Absolutely. And talking about being involved in the community, of course, you and your wife, Joy, your daughter, Rachel playing soccer at ABAC, and your son, Jordan, a great soccer player and a kicker for the football team for the Blue Devils, so I didn’t know, I really had not thought about being in the presence of a foremost soccer expert, like yourself. I know you coached a long time in youth soccer, and now probably glad to hand those reins over to someone else for a while.

West: Well, I coached a long time. When my son was four years old is when I started, and I coached all the way up through travel ball and I coached the traveling girls’ team, which included a number of girls that have played at ABAC, which has been a source of pride for me. I coached my son’s club team for a couple of years and many of those boys are playing Varsity soccer right now. How I got into soccer, I don’t know, but it’s something that we learned and grew with as we went along and it’s been a great, great chapter in my life.

Chris: Well, as a parent of a brand new 6 year old Tassa, player now, I know the dedication that goes into it, and I admire you for that. [West: Thanks.] Again, here with Dr. Joe West, he’s the Assistant Dean with the University of Georgia Tifton campus. New to the position, not new to Tifton. Real quickly, has there been as big of a change as you thought there might going from your old position to the new one?

West: No real surprises, I had served as an Interim Department Head in Athens for a couple of years, so I had a pretty good feel for what an Administration was going to be like. It’s a very busy job, a lot of multiple responsibilities, but you have a great group of people out there to work with and so I have had a lot of support and from that stand point, no real surprises. Challenges everyday, that’s what they pay you to do the job for, but it’s just an exciting place to work.

Chris: Well, know that the community, again, is very much supportive of what you and your guys do. The fifth largest employer in Tift County. A huge presence here in Tift County, and one that I think we will continue to see grow. Dr. West, thanks for coming down here on this morning. Good to see you.

West: Good to be here, Chris. Thanks.

Chris: And, again if you want more information about the University of Georgia, you can go to their website, UGA Tifton Campus, that’s www.dogsgonesouth.com and you can find all the information. Again, if you’re a student or parent of a student, check that out and I think you will be surprised to see some of the things offered now and we should be seeing more of in the future. Georgia network news coming up next, more straight talk after this. John Franklin will be in with us to tell us about the FCA and their big event tomorrow, so hang around. More straight talk right here on WTIF.

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