Here We GROW Again! – 6th Annual Founding Farmers Gala a Great Success!

The Emmanuel Agriculture graduating class of 2022 was celebrated and local farm families were honored on Tuesday evening, April 19, 2022 in the John W. Swails Center as more than 250 members of the local community attended Emmanuel’s 6th Annual Founding Farmer’s Gala.

The event served as a thank you to the members of the Northeast Georgia community who have been instrumental in the early success of the Agriculture program at Emmanuel College.

Event sponsors included longtime supporters Pinnacle Bank and Bar-H BBQ. A fantastic meal was prepared by Bar-H and served by Franklin County 4-H. 

Bastiaan Schimmel of Centurion Poultry, INC accepting the Excellence in Agriculture Award

Emmanuel President, Dr. Ron White presented Centurion Poultry INC. with the Excellence in Agriculture award. Representing Centurion at the event was VP of Sales and Marketing, Bastiaan Schimmel. The family owned and operated company was established in 1991 by Gijs and Louise Schimmel in Lexington, Ga. Centurion has been recognized as a leader in the poultry industry and is truly a family operation. Their support of young people entering agriculture is well known across the southeast as they create opportunities of 4-H, FFA and agriculture majors across the state. 

Agriculture Program Chair, Owen Thomason then recognized the 2022 graduates of the program. Graduates include – Nichole Alewine, Katie Couch, Isaiah Crawford, Wyatt Hargrove, Colt Jordan, Truman Ray, and Nathanael Wright. 

Wyatt Hargrove named Outstanding Agriculture Student

Wyatt Hargrove of Eastman, Georgia was presented with the Outstanding Agriculture Student award. This annual award is presented to an Agriculture student selected by the Department professors. Wyatt has shown leadership within the program while achieving Magna Cum Laude status in his academics. A four-year member of the Clay Target Shooting team, Wyatt has won numerous awards while traveling across the country for this team. He plans to enter the livestock pharmaceuticals industry after graduation. 

“This annual event allows the Agriculture Department recognize all of our students while spotlighting our senior class and one special farm family each year. The outstanding support our community shares with this program gives our students hope for the future. We thank each person who attended, those who donated items for the auction and everyone that worked to make the event a success!” Owen Thomason, Agriculture Program Chair. 

At the event, a silent and live auction took place to raise money for the program. Blake Haley, a long-time supporter of the Emmanuel Agriculture Program, was the auctioneer for the event. 

Vice President for Development, Brian James shared about the newest addition to the Agriculture program, the Dr. Fred Westfall Outdoor Classroom, which will open many new educational opportunities for Emmanuel students, and community learners. The classroom will include a fully functional classroom for demonstrations and a food preparation area which will support learning more about “Farm to Table” while providing food science research opportunities. 

Agriculture alumna, Grayson Richardson ’21 closed the program sharing what Emmanuel and the Agriculture program meant to her.

EC Alumna, Grayson Richardson ’21 sharing encouragement for graduates.

“The people are what makes this college and department so special,” she said. “Our professors have a special way of bringing the classroom to life. They find a way to bring agriculture to the classroom so we can see it. Our professors have a way of pushing you past what you think you’re capable of. If it wasn’t for OT (Owen Thomason), I wouldn’t have taken an internship away from home. Without that experience, I wouldn’t have gotten the job I have with the Department of Agriculture.”

Grayson went onto share one piece of advice to graduating seniors, encouraging them to lean into Jesus during this next chapter of life. 

“This school has got it right,” she said. “They know what is important and they know what is of value. Not only do they understand that agriculture is such an important thing, but they also know that Jesus is the only thing that is going to get you through this next season.”

For more information on the Agriculture program or on how you can partner with us by making a contribution to this worthy program, visit or contact Owen Thomason at