Georgia Landowner Academy

Educational Program

Participants of a program empowering landowners to steward their land more effectively graduated from the six class series on May 9. The free classes were offered over a three-month period in Albany for area landowners wanting to learn how to manage the business, agricultural, and natural resource responsibilities of land ownership.  Presenters included representatives of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA), extension program agents, agricultural consultants, and attorneys.  Topics ranged from recordkeeping, managing farming and forestry operations, taxes, and estate planning.  Participants also received information on heirs property and how owning heirs property can be a barrier to qualifying for programs to improve one’s land.  Participants received information on how to clear title to their property and were offered free wills prepared by a licensed attorney.


Each participant was equipped with a large notebook of resources on safeguarding and managing the resources of their land and received a certificate of completion at the end of the program. While the program was oriented toward new or inexperienced landowners with 10 or more acres of land, it included information helpful to participants who had owned land for many years. Seventeen (17) landowners completed the Academy with tracts of land ranging from 10 to 300 acres representing seven (7) counties.


Expressing gratitude for the program, participant Benny Porter of Dougherty County stated, “The knowledge I have gained through the academy has enabled me to know what I need to research and what questions I need to ask in order to be a successful landowner.” Participant Wanda Mosley valued the class enough to travel three hours from Tattnall County (near Savannah) to attend all six sessions. Noting the many errors that occurred in the management of her family’s farm following her father’s sudden death seven years ago, she emphasized that “The information presented will definitely help us make more wise decisions in the future!”


The Georgia Landowner Academy was a collaborative project between the Georgia Heirs Property Law Center, NRCS, Golden Triangle Resource Conservation and Development Council in Blakely, Southern Regional Extension Forestry, FSA, Georgia Forestry Commission, and Fort Valley State University.  NRCS provided a grant that allowed for the program to be offered to the community at no charge.


The next opportunity to attend this course will be September 5th & 19th, October 3rd , 17th, & 30th, and November 14th. The course will be held at the Main Street Theatre in Dawson, Georgia.

SESSION 1 Topics - Program Overview, Requirements and Materials


• Landowning 101

• Basic terminology

• Prerequisites for participating in programs

• NRCS Programs

• USDA Programs

• Forestry Programs

• Extension Programs

(Left to Right)

Dr. David R. Coyle - Forest Health and Invasive Species Specialist, Southern Regional Extension Forestry

Rhonda Gordon - Executive Director Golden Triangle RC&D

Rodney Brooks - Beginning Farmer Regional Coordinator, USDA Farm Services Administration

Skipper G. StipeMaas - JD, Executive Director, Georgia Heirs Property Law Center

Veronica McClendon - Staff Attorney, Georgia Heirs Property Law Center

Marc Thomas - Director- Field Operations, Ft. Valley State University

(Left to Right)

Chuck Norvell - Regional Forester, Georgia Forestry Commission

James Morgan - Dougherty County Coordinator, UGA Extension

Tansel Hudson - Assistant State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service

SESSION 2 Topics - Introduction to Recordkeeping &  QuickBooks for Beginning Farmers and Foresters


• Types of Recordkeeping Systems

• Importance of Recordkeeping

• How to Use Records to Make Decisions

Fort Valley State Mobile Information Technology Lab

Fort Valley State Mobile Information Technology Lab

Fatima Jones, Farm Loan Service Manager, US Department of Agriculture

Terrence Wolfork, Ft. Valley State University College of Agriculture Mobile Information Technology Lab

SESSION 3 Topics


• Farm and Land Transition Planning

• Whether or Not There’s a Will, There’s a Way – Probate and Estate Administration

Allen Olson, Attorney at Law, Allen Olson, PC

Veronica McClendon, Staff Attorney, Georgia Heirs Property Law Center

SESSION 4 Topics


What kind of forestland do I have?

• Planting and growing trees

• Selling trees

• Non-timber opportunities


Where to go for help

• Understanding property and income taxes

• Ways to lower your tax bill

• Creating a business entity

• Where to go for help


(Left to Right)

Dr. Yanshu Li - Forest Economics and Taxation Outreach Specialist, UGA – Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources

Dr. David R. Coyle - Forest Health and Invasive Species Specialist, Southern Regional Extension Forestry

SESSION 5 Topics


Agricultural Cost-Share Assistance/Resources & Agricultural Enterprise Development

• Selecting the appropriate enterprise(s)

• Determining the scale of your operation

• Managing costs and profits

• Marketing and entering contracts


Agricultural Enterprise Development

• Capital and equipment needs

• Labor requirements

• Financing options


Food Safety/Wholesale Marketing

(Left to Right:)

Kavita Koppa - Wholesale Readiness Manager, Global Growers

Kent Wolfe - PhD., Center Director, UGA Center of Agribusiness & Economic Development

Rodney Brooks - Beginning Farmer Regional Coordinator, USDA Farm Services Administration

James Ford, Square O Consulting, LLC.

SESSION 6 Topics


Water Management for Beginning Landowners


Graduation of Participants

Molly Dawson, Assistant State Conservation Engineer for Georgia, USDA-NRCS

First Georgia Landowner Graduating Class

State Senator Freddie Powell Sims- Addresses the graduation class

Terrance Rudolph, State Conservationist for Georgia, USDA-NRCS- Keynote Speaker

Georgia Landowner Academy Course Materials

Graduation Cake

Blakely, Georgia Office

Dawson, Georgia Office