KNOXVILLE – Chalk another event change up to COVID-19.
The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has canceled its in-person celebration of everything “agricultural,” let alone family and consumer science; forestry, wildlife and fishing; veterinary medicine and more. Ag Day is typically held in the fall just before a home football game at UT Knoxville and can draw crowds of 500 to 1,000 people. This year, organizers announced that the celebration will take place online.
“It is with great regret that we make this decision,” said Linda C. Martin, Acting Senior Vice President and Senior Vice Chancellor of UTIA. “Ag Day is a fun, festive and educational event where faculty, staff, students and community members come together to enjoy the camaraderie and share our support for the Institute of Agriculture and the University. of Tennessee. However, as this is an indoor event and due to growing concern about the delta variant of COVID-19, the decision has been made to forgo this year’s in-person celebration. “
A virtual celebration will take place on October 14 at 2 p.m. EDT to honor the spirit of Ag Day and to celebrate the winners of the UTIA Meritorious and Horizon Awards and the Tennessee Farmer of the Year.
In 2021, the UTIA presents the Meritorious Service Award to three people: John and Ann Tickle and Dan Wheeler.
John and Ann Tickle have supported their alma mater UT for over 50 years. This includes generous donations for the Tickle Athletic Development Suite, the Tickle College of Engineering, and the renovation and expansion of the John and Ann Tickle Small Animal Hospital at UT College of Veterinary Medicine. John Tickle is Chairman of Strongwell Corporation in Bristol and a former member of the UT Board of Directors.
“I have fond memories of the University of Tennessee,” says John Tickle. Regarding the Meritorious Service Award, he adds: “We are both surprised, happy and honored. “
Wheeler, a former Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner, is also honored with the UTIA Meritorious Service Award. He grew up on a farm in Cumberland County and graduated from UT in 1964. He then began a 30-year career with the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, was appointed Commissioner of Agriculture under the leadership of the Governor Don Sundquist then ended his career as Head of Center for Profitable Agriculture at UTIA. He also volunteered his time on the UTIA Development Council.
“I was surprised and happy to be honored in this way, especially when I think of the people who have received this recognition in the past,” said Wheeler. “To be in the same company is quite an honor and I am very honored to have been chosen to receive this year’s Meritorious Service Award. “
Elizabeth Johnson Million is the recipient of the Institute’s Horizon Award. She grew up in Cocke County where she was an active 4-H’er. Million graduated from Herbert College of Agriculture with a degree in Animal Science in 2012, then, in her own words, “crossed the street” at UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she graduated in 2016.
Today, she works with animals and people in a veterinary hospice and is also the deputy director of outreach and engagement for the nonprofit International Council for Veterinary Assessment in Atlanta. This organization creates and administers the national licensing exams for veterinarians in the United States and Canada and works to provide veterinary evaluations that help protect human and animal health and welfare.
“It’s a high stakes exam,” says Million. “There’s a lot going on there, so there’s a lot of editing and revisions. This is where I use my degree. I am definitely a ‘Flight for Life.’ I am very passionate about being a volunteer. I live according to the philosophy that Vol is a verb.
Virtual Farming Day will also include recognition for Tennessee Farmer of the Year, Jay Yeargin of Weakley County. Combined with his father’s farm, the Yeargins have a 4,000 acre farm just outside of Greenfield. They produce corn, soybeans, wheat and beef cattle. Yeargin graduated from UT Martin in 2004 and is heavily involved in UT Extension and AgResearch. He even welcomes students from the Governor’s School and allows lessons to be given on his farm.
“I like to see something from start to finish: start from a seed and see it grow throughout the year. You have to believe in God that you will have rain and that everything will work out, ”Yeargin says. “We are grateful for this honor and proud to work with the University of Tennessee.”
For more information on the virtual celebration of Ag Day, contact Robin Haefs at [email protected] or 865-974-1928.
Discussions are underway about the return of Ag Day in fall 2022. Planners are working to reinvent the event, which has been a tradition on campus since 1982.