The Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach will recognize seven faculty and staff members for outstanding service to the state and UGA April 16 at the 27th annual Public Service and Outreach Meeting and Awards Luncheon.
Walter Barnard Hill Fellow
Comparable to a distinguished professorship, the Walter Barnard Hill Fellow Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach is UGA’s highest award in public service and outreach.
Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
The 2018 recipient of the Walter Barnard Hill Fellow Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach is Kim Coder, a professor of tree biology and community forestry in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
Since joining UGA in 1985, Coder has been recognized internationally for taking complex academic research materials and making them understandable to a lay audience. His work has helped arborists, urban foresters, tree health care providers and property owners take better care of their trees.
Making the complex science behind the health and structure of trees accessible has been the crux of Coder’s work. A former world president of the International Society of Arboriculture, Coder helped pull together the organization’s Arborist Certification Program, which has certified over 35,000 arborists. He’s won the highest international awards from ISA and the Arbor Day Foundation, in addition to having an award of excellence named after him by the Georgia Arborist Association. He won the Hill Award, a prerequisite for all Hill Fellows, in 2007.
Coder is a prolific writer and presenter, who has written nearly 300 publications and 50 manuals and workbooks over the last decade. He delivers presentations around the world, gathering research he pulls from journals into practical applications for arborists, tree-care professionals and property owners.
Since the start of his career, Coder has enjoyed helping people understand science. Always searching for the next innovation, he’s now focused on how to better translate the avalanche of scientific studies on trees into comprehensible formats. He has written everything from manuals for arborists to short newspaper articles for homeowners. He also takes presentations he’s given at conferences or to professional groups and turns them into short publications.
“Of all of my professors from UGA, Dr. Coder had one of the greatest impacts in my career and professional life,” said Luana Vargas, program director, Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. “More than 12 years after my graduation, I still remember teachings from Dr. Coder and use them in the outreach materials I create for green industry professionals and the general public.”
College of Education
The 2018 recipient of the Engaged Scholar Award is Ruth Harman, an associate professor of language and literacy education in the College of Education. For nearly a decade, Harman has taught future teachers how to empower children and adolescents to become more active, confident learners in middle school.
Harman’s classes have taken atypical approaches to building middle school students’ confidence, experimenting with poetry, design and photography.
“It’s hard in universities. We focus on knowledge as opposed to relationship building,” Harman said. “When you bring in different modalities—visual, mapping, using your hands—college students get a widened understanding of what teaching and learning is. You have to be with people as opposed to teaching at people.”
Harman reshapes teaching methods when she takes her undergraduate and graduate student teacher candidates into Clarke County schools. They begin working one-on-one with the middle school students in the classroom and progress to afterschool, arts-focused programming so that the students learn through activities rather than just by reading a book.
This spring, some of those afterschool programs will be held in unused areas of the Athens Housing Authority’s community centers, in response to local residents’ requests for activities.
Harman earned the 2009 Emerging Scholar Award from the American Education Research Association and was named a UGA Sarah Moss Fellow in 2012, allowing her to work with colleagues at the University of London.
The Engaged Scholar Award recognizes a tenured associate or full professor who has made significant career-spanning contributions to UGA’s public service and outreach mission through scholarship, service-learning opportunities for students and campus leadership.
Walter Barnard Hill Award
Three faculty members and service professionals are 2018 recipients of the Walter Barnard Hill Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach. The award recognizes their contributions to the improvement of the quality of life in Georgia and beyond.
Julia Gaskin is a sustainable agriculture coordinator for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She is responsible for working with farmers and industry leaders across the South to ensure sustainable food production. A senior public service associate in the crop and soil sciences department, Gaskin has spearheaded efforts to address problems related to soil science. She has secured grants, developed training and educational tools, published research and developed the Sustainable Agriculture at UGA newsletter.
Her applied research helps farmers better calculate and manage nitrogen, a nutrient that flows in and out of soil through a system known as the nitrogen cycle.
Tori Stivers is the seafood and marketing specialist for UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. She provides guidance and training to the seafood industry, helping businesses meet food safety regulations and ensuring that Georgia seafood is safe for consumers. Stivers also educates consumers across the state on the health benefits of eating seafood and works to ensure that markets are available for Georgia seafood products.
Stivers serves on many regional and national committees, including the Seafood HACCP Alliance Steering Committee and the International Association for Food Protection. She is on the board of directors for the Georgia Association for Food Protection.
Beverly Johnson is a public service associate with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. She collaborates with agencies that protect Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens and help strengthen the state’s workforce.
Through contracts with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Johnson helped the department meet federal mandates and create transformational change throughout the agency. She received state and national recognition for her help with workforce development in Georgia. At UGA, Johnson headed a Diversity Advisory Council that developed a UGA Diversity Plan, using research that she gathered as part of her doctoral program.
PSO Staff Award for Excellence
James Marty Higgins
Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
The 2018 recipient of the Public Service and Outreach Staff Award for Excellence is Marty Higgins, a marine resource specialist for Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. For 33 years, Higgins has assisted in the research and development of fisheries gear and advised conservation research while serving as the first mate of the R/V Georgia Bulldog. His work has helped conserve coastal resources while keeping fishermen in business.
Born and raised in Brunswick, Higgins has developed a deep, trusting relationship with Georgia’s coastal fishing community. When UGA Marine Extension was at the forefront of assisting in the development and certification of turtle excluder devices, or TEDs, which prevent sea turtles from being caught in shrimp nets, Higgins provided countless hours of technical assistance and consultation to ensure the devices not only met conservation standards but also minimized economic loss to fishermen.
Higgins has spent most of his career on the water, advising hundreds of research projects and making sure field gear meets state and federal standards for safety and performance. He has maintained the 40-year-old R/V Georgia Bulldog, allowing the crew to continue to support fisheries and conservation research on Georgia’s most valuable coastal resources, including loggerhead sea turtles and the North Atlantic right whale.
He also operates the Brunswick station’s smaller research vessels for both water quality and fishery needs and provides maintenance and support for the entire Brunswick facility so that faculty and staff work safely and efficiently as they carry out the service mission of the university.
Higgins provides welding and mechanical services to visiting scientists and local fishermen. His ability to repair, rebuild and maintain fishing and research gear has saved fishermen thousands of dollars on boat repairs and kept them on the water. Higgins’ commitment to public service has established UGA’s Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant program as one that is nationally recognized for being responsive to the public.
“If we had more people like Marty in this world, [the fishing industry] would have a lot less problems,” said Bruce Collins, the packing house manager with City Market Seafood in Brunswick. “He’s kept us educated about new fishing equipment and ways the university is supporting the industry. He’s probably helped every fisherman on the waterfront.”
PSO Entrepreneur of the Year Award
President and CEO
Savannah Bee Company
The 2018 recipient of the Public Service and Outreach Entrepreneur of the Year Award is Ted Dennard, president and founder of Savannah Bee Company, which produces honey and honey-inspired body care products sold in stores throughout the country. Based in Savannah, Savannah Bee opened its flagship store downtown in 2008, with additional stores to follow. Savannah Bee products are also sold in other retail stores and online.
Dennard is dedicated to educating children and adults about the importance of bees as pollinators and their role in the ecosystem. The company also supports a flourishing nonprofit called the Bee Cause Project, which installs observation beehives in schools worldwide to help children better understand, love and protect honeybees. Dennard has been a client of the Small Business Development Center’s domestic and international business assistance programs. In 2016, he shared that experience with the University of Georgia Board of Visitors.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes a successful small business owner, who has realized significant growth in business, benefited from a variety of formal learning opportunities through the UGA Small Business Development Center and served as public advocate of business ownership.
PSO Donor Impact Award
R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation
The recipient of the inaugural Donor Impact Award is the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation, in recognition of its multi-year support of the Legislative Environmental Policy Academy at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, and its extraordinary impact on the state of Georgia. This program provides legislators with unbiased, science-based information about Georgia’s natural resources. Lynn Smith, chair of the Georgia House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment, applauds the academy for arming committee members with knowledge and helping legislators understand facts that are critical to informed decision-making on environmental issues.
The foundation was established in 1959 as the Helen and Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation and was later renamed the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation. For nearly
40 years, the foundation operated as a small philanthropic vehicle for Howard Dobbs’ interests. At the turn of the century, he began to formalize the foundation’s governance and guidelines to prepare the way for a family philanthropy that would extend beyond his lifetime. Today, the mission of the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation is to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities by supporting educational opportunities, improving access to health services and promoting environmental stewardship. The foundation is committed to honoring the life and impact of Howard Dobbs.
David Weitnauer, joined the foundation as president in 2007 after 11 years with the Rockdale Foundation as a founding board member and its first executive director. An ordained Presbyterian minister, he previously served on the pastoral staff of four congregations and as a pastoral counselor/marriage and family therapist.