Fellow Ag Dawgs,

As graduation photos have filled my news feeds on social media the past two weeks, Kenney Chesney’s 2007 hit song “Don’t Blink” began to play in my head as memories as a student in the red and black surfaced. Ten years have passed since I first earned the right to walk under the sacred arch on Broad Street. When I’ve been warned in the past that ‘time flies’, I’m not sure that I always believed the statement. However, when I reflect on the past decade, much less the past 18 months, ‘don’t blink’ rings true. 

Speaking of time flying, we have blinked and our 2020-2021 Alumni Board year is preparing to finish a resilient chapter. Last July when my year as alumni president began, we (I) was hopeful that the first month or two of fall would just be an epilogue to the spring’s pandemic. Unfortunately, we know otherwise, and most of our alumni activities for the year were ultimately punted down the road. I don’t like to use the word ‘canceled’ because I know our alumni activities will eventually take place. Our college and 20,000+ alumni base are resilient. We bounce back and recover quickly from difficulties. Ag Dawgs are tough. Despite all of the challenges this year has presented, your alumni association has rallied and continued thinking of creative ways to connect, engage and celebrate our college, alumni and friends. Activities including Ag Dawg Kickoff ‘to-go’, CAES Chats and Giving Weeks have allowed us to further our mission. Fellow Ag Dawgs, give yourself a pat on the back. I am Ag Dawg proud of our alumni team and it has been an honor to work and dream with the CAES Office of Development and Alumni Relations as your ‘20-’21 alumni president.

The phrase ‘don’t blink’ has also encouraged me during the past year. It provided a sense of hope that time would pass and we could all be together again. We’ve blinked and just like that we are beginning to see signs of ‘normalcy’ and rumors of a full stadium this fall (Can I get a Go Dawgs!?). Hopefully this will give us a chance to welcome students to campus this fall in person at an alumni hosted Ag Dawg Kickoff in addition to celebrating our alumni award winners at a fall banquet. I should note: details forth coming on these opportunities.

Our university’s alma mater brings a smile to my face every time I hear even just the first few notes. Yes, I’ve blinked quite a few times since I first learned these lyrics. But the further I get from my May 2011 commencement, the more the words mean to me.

From the hills of Georgia’s northland, Beams thy noble brow

Ag Dawgs – We have such a bright future beaming on our beloved Ag Hill and in Griffin and Tifton. We have the finest, first class, noble leaders and scientists teaching and researching to better agriculture and the environment. Celebrate that!

And the sons of Georgia rising, Pledge with sacred vow.

Ag Dawgs – Our students are something special. And as an alumni I’m not trying to build myself or you up, although I bet you’re quite brilliant! At the end of the school year I was able to attend an in-person meeting (who knew we would ever celebrate in-person meetings?) with the CAES Student Philanthropy Council, and I was absolutely blown away with their collegiate resumes, internship opportunities and plans for the future. The sons and daughters of our Georgia are certainly rising.

Ag Dawgs – The chorus is one you may have heard me say at CAES commencement or when celebrating (or commiserating) the silver britches. Alumni and friends – for so much we can be grateful. Remember it is an honor to be a graduate of the finest institution in the land. The dreams and goals set during 2, 4, 5 or 6+ years on campus are always worth remembering. I challenge you to let these young(er) aspirations drive us all to recommitting and/or developing new dreams to better ourselves, our families, our state, our country and our leading industry. Don’t blink when you read these lines below.

Alma Mater, thee we’ll honor, True and loyal be, 
Ever crowned with praise and glory, Georgia, hail to thee.

Ag Dawgs, thank you for being strong this year and for the opportunity to serve you.

Don’t blink – we’ll be national football champions again, too.

Caroline with her dad, Gary Black (BSA ’80) at her graduation.
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