Will’s love for the land did not develop over time; it’s in his blood. His family has worked in agriculture in Oglethorpe county for over 200 years. With such deep-seated roots, Will has long felt inspired to make a meaningful impact on his hometown and community, particularly its agricultural industry. He knew a degree from UGA’S College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences would help him do this.
“I wanted to learn skills that would allow me to help my county by creating meaningful jobs and by supporting community involvement programs and pro-agricultural youth education,” said Will.
Will knew that in order to achieve his goal he would not only need a comprehensive knowledge of agricultural sciences, but also practical skills. Since he was 16, he has worked full-time while attending school. In 2013, he started a job with a national power management company; Will has since been promoted to a permanent position. He attends classes during the day and works the night shift.
Will’s ability to juggle so much—school and work—has been fueled by his long-term ambitions. Now that graduation nears, he plans to apply to graduate school at UGA to learn more about rural economic development or try his hand at his own agribusiness ventures. Either way, he feels that the skills he’s learned while at UGA have given him a steady foundation.
“I have many ideas that I think could significantly increase Georgia farmers’ income and possibly help the environment in the process. Almost all of Georgia’s farms are family-owned-and-operated, and many struggle every year to scrape by. If I go to graduate school, my research will focus on a solution that would benefit these family farms. If I end up starting my own business, I will put these ideas to the test.”
In the end, the Athens, Georgia that Will now knows is vastly different than the town he knew growing up. Now, anywhere he walks on campus he’s reminded of how far he’s come and the strong friendships he’s made along the way.
“There really are too many memories to count. I will always remain grateful towards UGA and the people who made it possible for me to come here.”