that’s where we kind of wound up. I at leasthad a steady income from the universitywork plus what I was doing with the farming. So, it worked out pretty good,” he said.
He retired from farming in 1996 andbegan renting out his land. He retired fromresearch work in 2006 but soon returned asparttime technician. He’s been married toLinda for 49 years. Their daughter, Stephanie, is married to Allen Peugh. Stephanieand Allen have Bryce, who is 21.
Back in 2000, the same time grandsonBryce was coming into the world, Baldreeushered in something else he says is one ofhis proudest accomplishments. At the time,he and some local ag champions begantalking. Other than the small percentage ofkids who grew up in agriculture, the majority of kids did not understand at all wheretheir food came from, even most of the kidsin South Georgia.
A lot of planning and characters helped,but all who did in the early days and laterwould say Baldree was and remained thedriving force behind the UGA AgriculturalAwareness Day, later to include Environmental in the title.
In April 2001, 60 or so third gradersfrom the local Omega Elementary Schoolcame to the UGA Campus in Tifton where asmall core of ag specialists stood by six or so‘learning stations.’ They returned in the fallas fourth graders to the same stations. Thatset the plan and the pattern for two decades.
“The main thing we were trying to dowas give the kids some idea of where theirfood and fiber came from. This business ofagriculture is so fine-tuned but it’s also delicate. A lot of times, not only the kids butthe adults take it for granted; that we cango run in the grocery store and get anything we want to whenever we want it, butthat’s not necessarily the case,” he said.
The ag awareness day grew to includedozens of schools from more than a halfa dozen counties, all learning about agriculture and environmental lesson directlytied to their in-classroom learning modules. At its peak, the program drew morethan 1,200 third graders one April day. Theyreturned as fourth graders for the fall show,usually in November.
In total over the two decades, morethan 10,000 students came through the agawareness program, and that’s not including the teachers and parents who alsotagged along.
“I guess you do think about it at times.I’ve been able to do things I like to do anddo things that I’m proud of and that I washappy to do really. You could say I’ve beenvery blessed,” he said.
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