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Our Georgia Commitment: Joe and Penny Hodgson

Joe (BLA ’75) and Penny (BSEd ’74, MEd ’76) Hodgson grow apples. Lots of them. 

Their Middle Tennessee orchard yields 25,000 to 35,000 apples annually, and most are donated to food ministries such as the Nashville Food Project. But you’ll be hard-pressed to hear the couple boast about their philanthropic endeavors because giving back is truly at their core. 

“We’re at a time in our lives where we can give back, so the idea of having an apple orchard and giving the apples away was something we found interesting,” Joe says. “We knew it would be good to do, but also was a project where I could learn something.” 

Joe shows off some of the season’s bounty at a drop-off for the Nashville Food Project.

They believe in using what’s been given to them to make a difference in others’ lives—particularly when it comes to their alma mater. 

“We’re conscious of the fact that with the HOPE Scholarship, a lot of kids can go to Georgia, but not all of them can truly afford to go to Georgia,” Joe says, pointing out that HOPE doesn’t cover gas money, food and other costs related to the social aspects of the college experience. 

The Hodgsons credit some of their successes to the strength of their UGA educations, as well as the support they received from the UGA community. In turn, they are returning that support by fostering growth in others. Penny, a graduate of the Mary Frances Early College of Education, hopes to assist a new generation of teachers, as her own network did in her first teaching role at Barnett Shoals Elementary School in Athens. 

“I have a heart for teachers, and I want there to be creative and effective educators in every classroom,” Penny says. “The university does an incredible job preparing young teachers to be well trained to enter the classroom.” 

Penny stands among the apple blossoms in the Hodgson’s orchard.

 Joe is a College of Environment and Design graduate and enjoyed a successful 40-year career in landscape architecture with HDLA in Nashville. Since retiring from the field, he’s recognized how much UGA prepared him for his professional journey, as well as his latest pursuits in agriculture. Today, the couple contributes to provide scholarships, equipment, and technology to advance student learning in the college. 

The Hodgsons are generously planting seeds today that will grow for generations to come. Endowed funds, like the ones they have established and enhanced, will have a ripple effect across countless young people for years to come. 

Join the Hodgsons in making a difference at UGA by making a gift today.