Georgia Foundation for Agricultures announces new directors
By Jennifer Whittaker, Georgia Farm Bureau
The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture (GFA) announces the election of five new members to its board of directors. Will Bentley, Joel L. McKie, Abit Massey, Christa Steinkamp and Bill Verner are the foundation’s newly elected directors. Each director will serve a three-year term and is eligible for one additional three-year term.
“I am pleased to welcome our five newest members to the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture’s Board of Directors. They each have a strong background rooted in Georgia agriculture while bringing unique perspectives to the table from their diverse experiences in different sectors of Georgia agriculture,” said GFA Executive Director Lily Baucom.
Baucom began leading GFA as executive director in October 2019. The foundation has drafted a five-year strategic plan to develop a broader network of supporters and deepen the impact the foundation has on the lives of Georgia farmers and agricultural students and teachers.
The GFA is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to preparing the next generation of Georgia agricultural leaders for success.
To achieve its mission, the GFA is developing a pipeline for Georgia’s next generation of farmers and agricultural leaders. GFA programs provide a structured path that fosters growth and sparks passion in agriculture during a student’s educational journey through early exposure to agriculture, classroom learning, higher education, farm-based mentorship and professional learning.
Meet the foundation’s new directors
Will Bentley is president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, which works to advance agriculture through economic development, environmental stewardship and education programs that enhance the quality of life for all Georgians. Prior to joining GAC, Bentley served as executive vice president of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association and the Georgia Beef Board. Bentley is from Thomaston, Ga., where he and his family own and operate Bentley Farms, an Angus-based commercial cow-calf farm. He serves on the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Ag & Forestry Board of Directors, UGA College of Veterinary Medicine Advisory Council, Georgia 4-H Foundation Board and is the Upson County Farm Bureau vice president. He and his wife live in Macon with their daughter.
Joel L. McKie is a partner at Hall Booth Smith, P.C. (HBS), where he leads the law firm’s food and agriculture group and is a member of the firm’s management and executive committees. McKie grew up on a diversified farm in Abbeville, Ga. He is a member of Georgia Farm Bureau, the Georgia Agribusiness Council, the National FFA Alumni Association, the American Agricultural Law Association and the Agriculture Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association. He is a past president of the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Alumni Association, a former Georgia FFA state president and National FFA vice president and a Master 4-Her. He and his wife live in Decatur, Ga., with their two children where they are members of Oak Grove United Methodist Church.
Abit Massey is president emeritus of the Georgia Poultry Federation (GPF), for which he served as executive director from 1960 until 2009. His name is synonymous with Georgia’s poultry sector for which he represented in legislative arenas along with overseeing with promotion efforts and securing research for the industry. Prior to joining the GPF, he led the Georgia Department of Commerce, now Economic Development and oversaw the creation of the tourist division and the building of Georgia’s first welcome center. He was inducted into the American Poultry Historical Society’s Hall of Fame in 2019. He and his wife live in Gainesville where he is a deacon and trustee of the Gainesville First Baptist Church. The couple has two adult children and four grandchildren.
Christa Steinkamp is curriculum and technology director for the Georgia Agricultural Education program. She provides curriculum support to ag education teachers statewide, including the pilot elementary ag education program at 26 schools, and technology support to Georgia FFA chapters by managing multiple FFA websites and social media accounts. She began her career managing sow farms and later selling pork for Seaboard Farms from 2002 to 2005 in Kansas and Colorado before returning to Georgia in 2005 to serve as an ag ed teacher/FFA advisor for two years. She then served as the North Region FFA Area livestock teacher from 2007-2013 until moving into her current role. Steinkamp and her husband and two children live in Bogart where they are members of Briarwood Baptist Church.
Bill Verner is executive vice president of Georgia EMC. He joined Georgia EMC in 1984. In his current role, Verner coordinates the representation of EMCs’ interests in the Georgia General Assembly, Congress and state and federal agencies. Verner also oversees publication of the EMCs’ GEORGIA Magazine. He has more than 30 years of expertise in public policy and communications. He also currently serves on the Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative Advisory Committee, Georgia Tech Agricultural Technology Research Program and the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. Verner lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children where they are members of Northside United Methodist Church.
The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture 2020 Board of Directors:
Officers – Chairman Gerald Long, Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) president; Treasurer & Financial Committee Chairman Wayne Daniel; Secretary Matt Greer, Truist Greater Georgia Region market president; Governance Committee Chairman Robert Fountain Jr.; GFB Middle Georgia vice president.
Directors – Jon Huffmaster, GFB chief administrative officer & corporate secretary; David Jolley, GFB chief financial officer & corporate treasurer; Daniel Johnson, GFB 1st vice president & South Georgia vice president; Bernard Sims, GFB North Georgia vice president; Will Bentley, Georgia Agribusiness Council president; Will Hileman, Farm Bureau Bank president & CEO; Joel L. McKie, Hall, Smith & Booth partner; Abit Massey, Georgia Poultry Federation president emeritus; Christa Steinkamp, Ga. Agricultural Education/FFA curriculum & technology director; Bill Verner, Georgia EMC executive vice president.