top of page

Service Day 2023

Giving to the next generation and their teachers

On an overcast and drizzly-looking November 15th of 2023, GGIA members and Agricultural Educators from across the state gathered in Covington, Georgia, at the FFA/FCCLA Building at FFA Camp Covington to install a landscape and host the 2023 GGIA Service Day. The FFA/FCCLA Building is an indoor arena used by FFA students from across the state and the citizens of Newton County for agricultural events.

The opportunity to help with this landscape came about earlier in the spring when Charles Berry, a retired Christmas tree farmer and member of the Ag Center Board as the representative from Newton County Farm Bureau, reached out to GGIA Executive Director Lanie Riner to ask about the possibility of getting some plants donated to improve the front of the Center. Riner presented the idea to the GGIA Board of Directors, who quickly decided they would like to do more than donate the plants. They wanted to plan a GGIA Service Day at the Center, which would benefit the many users of the Center and demonstrate the importance and necessity of landscapes and green infrastructure. Since the Center was at the FFA Camp, GGIA Directors wanted to connect the Service Day with something to benefit Agricultural Education and to promote the Green Industry to students and the citizens of Newton County. GGIA Board Member and FFA Central Region Horticulture Teacher Melissa Riley helped connect and facilitate the two ideas that shaped the 2023 GGIA Service Day.

The GGIA Service Day would include a much-needed landscape in front of the FFA/FCCLA Ag Center, designed and donated by GGIA Members, and the opportunity to teach Agricultural Educators about modern landscape and irrigation installation practices. The goal of partnering with the Agricultural Educators was to teach the teachers so they could improve their Nursery and Landscape Educational Programming for their students. The Ag Teachers in attendance would participate in this experiential learning project by installing the plants and turf and have the opportunity to pick the brains of the green industry pros.

Just as it does in industry, the day started with a morning safety and crew meeting that included introductions, best safety practices, and an overview of the day, including assignments and expected outcomes. During introductions, our entire GGIA team was blown away upon learning that ag teachers had come from all over, including the far corners of the state, to participate in this day and to learn from the pros so they could better teach their students. Following our morning meeting, we went outside to get to work. Ruppert Landscape had already completed much of the prep work to ensure we ended the day with a complete project.

Before beginning installation, the teachers learned about the irrigation system as this was an area where many of the teachers hoped to gain understanding and experience. Ruppert and SiteOne crew leaders taught the group about the prep work and steps needed before plant installation, which included design factors requiring consideration, water management, safety of the landscape to users, plant selection, and longevity of the landscape. Next, the teachers learned about the design, which includes some of Georgia's primary agricultural commodities, like blueberry and peach trees mixed in with the ornamental plants. The teachers then broke out into small teams to plant with the guidance and expertise of the teams from Rupert, Columbus in Color, Pike Nurseries, and Buck Jones Nursery. After completing the foundational planting, the teachers mulched and cleaned up from planting. Next up was the turf installation. Many of the ag teachers had never installed turfgrass sod, and were eager to learn the proper techniques to take back to their students. Throughout the day, our entire GGIA team of volunteers worked to ensure the project was installed efficiently and correctly.

In addition to their time and expertise, GGIA members donated materials and plants to make the project a tremendous success. The project was much larger in scale than meets the eye, as irrigation had to be installed to not interfere with the existing horse arenas and show barns and, ultimately, had to be routed around that infrastructure. The project also had to address drainage issues created by the massive roof of the Center, so it included installing a dry riverbed to move water away from the building without flooding the arenas.

The GGIA Service Day was a success because of the generous donations of our members. Ruppert Landscape Company carried a significant portion of the project, as they created the design, installed the irrigation, and did all the prep work to make the Service Day easy and educational for the ag teachers. SiteOne generously gave to the project by donating all of the irrigation and many of the hard goods, as well as having a team onsite to help teach the ag teachers. Georgia Soil Company and Masters Landscape Supply helped by donating soil amendments and topsoil. BFG Supply donated the mulch. Buck Jones Nursery and Evergreen Nursery provided live plants, and last but not least, NG Turf donated ten pallets of turfgrass sod to complete the project. Representatives from Columbus in Color, Pike Nurseries, and Buck Jones Nursery also attended to assist with the installation and educational portion of the day.

bottom of page