ATLANTA — Under the golden dome of the Georgia State Capitol, a new exhibit in the Georgia Capitol Museum shines a spotlight on agriculture in Georgia. The exhibit is designed to educate visitors on the importance of the state’s No. 1 industry.
The Georgia Capitol Museum is a unit of the University of Georgia’s Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, which rallied a team of UGA historians and archivists to create “From Your Farm to Your Table,” a permanent exhibit to highlight the influence of agribusiness on Georgia’s economy and culture.
Karin Johnston Dalton, museum registrar and collection and exhibitions manager for the Georgia Capitol Museum, said the idea for the agriculture exhibit came from Georgia Sen. Valencia Seay, D- Riverdale, who sponsored a bipartisan bill to create this exhibit. The bill was passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2014 and signed by then-Gov. Nathan Deal.
“Senator Seay feels she has really learned a lot about agriculture (during) her time in the Senate, and she wanted children – especially those from urban settings – to learn not only where our food comes from, but that agriculture could be a viable career path for them,” Dalton said.
The colorful exhibit highlights the seasons in which various Georgia crops are harvested as well as some of the ways farmers use technology, including the use of apps and drones, to monitor crops for diseases and pests and to conserve water. The exhibit includes an interactive kiosk where students can explore games and videos featuring interviews with urban farmers in and around the Atlanta area.
The drone featured in the exhibit was donated by Andrew Paterson, UGA Regents Professor and director of the UGA Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory, and Changying Li, professor and head of the UGA Phenomics and Plant Robotics Center.
The drone was used to monitor the growth of cotton plants in plant genetics research at the Iron Horse Farm, which is part of UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).
UGA Libraries staff involved in creating the exhibit included Sheryl Vogt, director of the Russell Library and the Georgia Capitol Museum; Ashton Ellett, politics and public policy archivist for the Russell Library; and Karin Dalton. UGA Libraries’ science research and instruction librarian and subject liaison to CAES Kelsey Forester, along with Bryce Trotter and Jennifer Somers of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, assisted with fact-checking the text, Dalton said.
The design for the new exhibit is an update to the Capitol Museum exhibits, which were last renovated in the late 1990s, Dalton added.
Seay hosted an unveiling ceremony for the exhibit on June 4 for members of the Georgia Legislature and Capitol staff.
Seay, who grew up in Atlanta, was first introduced to agriculture while serving on the Georgia House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee before being elected to the Senate.
At this time, all guided tours of the Capitol are suspended until further notice, per the museum website, but the Capitol is open for self-guided tours. All Capitol tours are free.
Visit libs.uga.edu/capitolmuseum for more information about visiting the Capitol.