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Laura Williford Staff Photo
Subjects Taught
Ag Leadership, Ag Mechanics Technology, Basic Ag Science & Techology, Plant Science & Biotechnology

Education

Master of Science in Agriculture, Plant Pathology

University of Georgia

Thesis - Blueberry red ringspot virus in Southern Highbush Blueberry: Effects on Berry Maturation and Yield, and Interactions with Biotic and Abiotic Soil Factors

 

Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Agricultural Education

University of Georgia

Minor: Turfgraass Management, Cetrificate: Integrated Pest Management



Experience

Central High School, July 2014 - Present

Agriculture Education, Instructor 

  • Courses Taught: Basic Agriculture and Biotechnology, General Horticulture, Plant Science and Biotechnology, Agricultural Mechanics 1, Agricultural Leadership and Management, Forest Science
  • Serve as the Advisor for the Central of Carroll FFA for Community, Service, and Success in Agriculture

Student Accomplishments

  • First Place Job Interview Area 1, State 5th Place Qualifier, 2017
  • Land Judging Career Development Event, Area 1 3rd Place Senior Team, 2017
  • Joe B Crane Classroom Grant ($500), "Teaching and Growing: Agriculture Institute", 2016
  • Carroll EMC Bright Ideas Grant ($1000), "Teaching and Growing: Agriculture Institute", 2016
  • Land Judging Career Development Event, Area 1 1st place Senior Team and State Qualifer, 2016
  • Two Governor's Honors Program, Agriscience Participants, 2016
  • Carroll EMC Bright Ideas Grant ($1000), "Green Thumbs Think Blue" Project, 2015
  • Land Judging Career Development Event, Area 1 2nd Place Junior Team and State Qualifer, 2014
  • Georgia FFA State Agriscience Fair State Winner and National Silver Emblem Team, 2013
  • 20 Georgia FFA State Degrees

 

Governor's Honors Program, June 2012 - Present

Agricultural Science, Department Head

  • Taught courses at the four-week, summer residential program for  intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students
  • Provides a comprehensive contemporary program of research based Agriscience education for the career-bound agriculture student that is significantly different than the regular high school classroom
  • Topics of instruction included, but were not limited to, Soils and Hydrology, Forest Science, Wildlife Management, Natural Resources Conservation Management, Environmental Issues, Sustainability

 

Certified Educational Facilitator, July 2007 - Present

  • Project Learning Tree, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (2007)
  • Project WILD and WILD Aquatic, Council for Environmental Education (2017) 
  • Project WET, Georgia DNR Environmental Protection Division (2017) 

 



Bio

I can trace my love for plants and agriculture back to growing up on,  what my family dubbed a "mini farm". Over the years we had quite an menagerie of pets and crops; always trying something new.  I think our farm stemmed from a large family of mouths to feed. Including myself and my parents, there are six other sisters. I attribute our hard working attitudes and independence to being able to not always fight over the one bathroom, sharing clothes, who did what chore, or who would need to go fix the fence so the steer would not roam into the church parking lot. We turned into a well oiled machine. In addition to working on the farm, we spent a great amount of time at my grandmother's house. Gran is a retired nurse and is one of the most loving and often wittiest women I know. 

While my parents were working, both during school and in the summers, we each had our own desks to read, practice cursive writing, and mathematics. We also did a lot of crafts: knitting, sewing, baking, but the most enjoyable for me was being outside in the garden. Gran was very meticulous about her yard and Living in the city limits, she exposed us to the "other side" of agriculture, not the traditional crops just grown on our 5 acres of land at home in the country. Her corner of the street contained azaleas, camellias, dogwoods, , Leland cypresses planted by my grandfather, seasonal bedding and potted plants, and oh did she love her roses.  If not doing school work or gardening, the highlights of summer were our weekly trips.  These adventures took us all around the state to museums, parks, and historical landmarks of Georgia. Here we were able to see the bigger picture and gain respect and enjoy how unique the state is, just like it's agricultural importance. Georgia, and the southeast, provides prime opportunities for research and varying climate conditions make it applicable to other areas of the nation.

I was a founding member of the Perry Middle School FFA and served in multiple capacies as an officer entering the Perry High FFA Chapter. I was able to hone in and expand my skills. The National FFA Organization promotes premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. In this aspect of my experience, competitions throughout the year, such as the Floriculture Career Development Event, we not only identified common plant species, sometimes just based on a leaf taped to an
index card, but were also evaluated in problem solving for greenhouse square footage, bench space organization, management and identification of common horticultural pests. After advancing to the state level in multiple events, there was a point of needing to train future competitors within the chapter. Being able to say to say the extensive studying and training paid off when receiving a high score in competition is a great feeling, but I know I also found it more rewarding to foster that passion in others. I believe that was one reason I chose to enter into the Agricultural Education degree at the University of Georgia.

My undergraduate educational experiences in the University of Georgia's Agricultural Leadership Education and Communication department was one which allowed me to understand and successfully implement teaching pedagogy both in and outside the classroom. I love being able to take any opportunity to teach others the importance of agriculture, ultimately realizing that I did not want to pick a major dedicated to one specific topic. As an agricultural education major, it is a relatively easy task to enroll courses that range in subject matter as long as the basic requirements are met. I studied everything from forestry to plant pathology, crop sciences to agricultural leadership!  I sought out courses I was interested in, but also those that may have been out of my comfort zone.I often found the toughest classes were those which instill a respect for the subject. 

I truly began to understand my place in agricultural research with internships during the summers of undergraduate eventually leading to a full assistantship in the Plant Pathology Department at the University of Georgia, with a focus on diseases in small fruits - peach, blueberry, blackberry and apple. I enjoyed working with farmers and realized how research can have a  profound impact on the success of an operation. Overall wanted to utilize my graduate program to maintain a respectful tone with research, but at the same time, seize the moment to learn more about myself and agriculture as a whole. 

My degrees allowed me to go in so many directions as to industry, extension, but I believe that I belong in the classroom. My time at the graduate level as a TA for Introductory Plant Pathology, the Governor's Honors Program, outreach events, serving the students through the National FFA Organization, has only strengthened my ability to teach various learning styles across multiple disciplines. Fostering students with a passion for agriculture ensures the safety of the food, fiber and natural resource industries; it needs to be a priority. I love teaching at Central High School and being able to open eyes and opportunities for those who may not know where they belong. At Central High, we encourage "jumping in with both feet" and not looking back at the past - moving foward to become and do amazing things!