Alumni News


         Our Parent Founders Weekend turned out to be a successful weekend. I was concerned with all the protocols concerning Covid that it could be dismal. Our Dinner at Green Meadow Country Club in Maryville was attended by a good mix of Alumni, wives and undergraduates. Around 50 attended. On Sunday, the scholarship awards presentation at the Alumni Memorial Building was attended by around 150. The facility has been completely repurposed and was a very nice theater. I remember it as an old gym and where Carnicus was held. Lots of parents were present and the weather was perfect.                                      

         Following the Awards Ceremony, Doug Craig, Tracey Binkley (Mid-East Region Vice President and AK Alum) and I had the pleasure of having dinner with Carol Johnson, Chief Development Officer from our national office. Carol is 110% AGR. She was a little sister, is married to an AGR and her son is even an AGR! She resides in Arkansas and started with Arkansas Cattleman’s Association. Later, she worked with Farm Credit Services and earned her PHD and then worked in Advancement with University of Arkansas. With her background in higher education, agriculture and fundraising, her expertise is a real asset for all of us. We appreciate Carol attending Parent Founders Weekend and getting to know us.

         Our window project was slowed down several weeks due to Covid production issues. We are in hopes that the windows will be delivered the 2nd week of June with installation to begin the following week. The good news is our plan to pay for them does not include any alumni dues. By the way, your alumni dues notice should be arriving soon and hope to hear from you. We appreciate all your alumni support and depend on it for scholarships, up-keep of the House, maintenance issues at the house, Parents-Founders weekend, etc.

         I am pleased to announce that John and Celia Harrison will be hosting the third annual Chili/Cheese Event on Friday October 15th at the Sweetwater Valley Farm in their Cafe/ Event Barn. This is the night before AG Day (Saturday) at U.T. You may remember we did not have the 2nd event last year due to Covid. Mark your Calendars for October 15, and I hope to see you there! Details to come later. The first Chili/Cheese Event was a big success with alumni, wives, actives and lots of good food, fellowship and tours of the Robotic Milk machines on the Harrison farm



         Kirk Huddleston, AKSN-537

         AK Alumni Association  President




        After a challenging semester dealing with the Covid virus, the chapter had many successes which we can all celebrate:

    •      11 new members were initiated Spring Semester which brings total new members for the year to 41
    •      Our total membership at the end of the spring semester to 118
    •      The chapter had a Spring Semestergrade point average of 3.26 with 39 members making the Dean’s List
    •      Brother Will Rice was elected UT IFC President and is a Herbert College of Agriculture Ambassador

         Despite student conduct issues continuing among UT fraternities and with 2 fraternities being expelled for 4 years each, Alpha Kappa has had -0- student conduct issues and maintains a great reputation across campus

         Alpha Kappa held a successful Parents – Founders Day on April 17th with approximately 150 in attendance including Carol Johnson from our National Office in Kansas City.  $53,500 in scholarships were awarded by Mark Wilson and Tom Looney and a special thanks to Brothers Timothy Ray and Morgan Remke for their work planning and conducting this event.

         On May 17th Chancellor Plowman announced that fully vaccinated people no longer will need to wear masks indoors or outdoors at UTK.  This is good news and is a sign that things are beginning to return to normal on campus.  There will be many more in person classes this fall which will be welcomed by students.

         We have 19 members who will be living in the house this summer and Luke Petitt will be the summer house manager.

         Out of our 1200 alumni only 10% participated in paying dues in 2020.  This money goes to primarily support our chapter but also to pay house maintenance, Parents – Founder Day awards, 2 - $1000 new member scholarships, insurance for house contents and directors liability.  We ask you this simple question: Do you believe that your AGR college experiences helped make you a better man?  If so, consider making a financial commitment this year.  For those of you who were a chapter officer, Smokey Handler, scholarship recipient, etc., will you contribute?  We need more participation no matter the amount.  Can’t you afford a minimum $25 or $50 annual contribution to Alpha Kappa? 

         We need your financial support in order to maintain our strong position at UT and nationally with AGR.  Your gift can be sent to Peter Markovich, Alumni Treasurer, 4132 Obar Dr., Chattanooga, TN 37419.      


         American Farm Bureau President, Zippy Duvall (pictured above left with John Harrison) a Georgia AGR) visited Sweetwater Valley Farm outside of Philadelphia, TN in Loudon County on April 26 as a part of an East Tennessee ag visit.  Sweetwater Valley Farm is the family farming operation of Celia and John Harrison, ASKN-547 and their family, including son Charles, AKSN-1279. 

         Since 1987, John has operating a working dairy farm, which is home to over 1,500 daily and numerous beef cows as well as a source of crop production and a nationally know farmstead cheese operation and Agri-Tourist destination. 


    It was the summer of 2019.  Matthew Layne, AKSN-1119, a May 2021 UTK Masters of Science in Plant Science graduate and then UT Turf Grass manager, had a perplexing problem.  Being UT’s Turfgrass manager, there were numerous areas of the UT campus which were challenges to manage.  In some instances, places with grass were simply too hard to reach and hazardous to mow or to cut with a weed-eater.

          He wanted to find a solution to not only his turf management problem but also find a solution that was carbon friendly.  “Going electric” was his idea, but the next problem was the lack of power stations to charge electric mower.  Matthew’s solution: solar powered charging stations for solar powered robotic mowers.

         Matthew begin looking for a partner and found one in Knoxville based Solar Alliance.  A meeting was set up and over the course of the next few months Layne and Solar Alliance came up with a design for a solar powered charging station, Powershed. 

         The first version of Powershed was deployed in Spring 2020 with numerous changes over the past year.  Matthew disclosed his role in the project to the UT Research Foundation which subsequently filed a provisional patent and also executed an exclusive, worldwide commercial license with Solar Alliance.

         “I’ll be honest, when I first approached Solar Alliance about the idea, it had nothing to do with patents or selling Powersheds,” Matthew said. “I just wanted to find a solution for the issue to help my maintenance staff.”

          “Powershed provides an incredible opportunity to integrate solar power into various technology with the goal of normalizing clean energy solutions,” Vice President for Commercial Solar is Harvey Abouelata says. “Powershed allows you to further minimize your carbon footprint when using in combination with a robotic mower. By introducing Powershed to the market, we are one step closer to making clean energy easily accessible for the general public. This project has proven the effectiveness of clean energy and shows the positive environmental benefits that can come from it.”

         Brother Layne agrees with Abouelata about the great potential for Powershed, citing the growing concerns about climate change and the increasing interest in products that enhance sustainability. He also notes that residents of many European countries now use robotic mowers for their lawns that are considerably smaller than those in the U.S.

         “Robotics will increase in efficiency by 5X or more in the next couple of years,” Matthew adds, noting that fact will increase the size of a yard, golf course, or athletic field that can be mowed by a robotic device.


  • Mitch Baker, AKSN-1231, joined the staff of US Senator James Lankford, R-OK, as a Legislative Correspondent in February of 2021.  Prior to joining Sen. Lankford’s staff, Mitch served on the staff of USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue from October 2019-January 2021, and before that as a Legislative Correspondent for Congressman John Rose, R-TN, from June 2019-October 2019. 


         This year, UT Athletics help put together a reunion for the past Smokey’s Handlers. It was a great success and an excellent turn out for the first reunion. Alpha Kappa was able to host a get together in the AGR house on the Friday before the Mississippi State game. It was a great time for all the past handlers to get together and share stories of past handling experiences. Alpha Kappa brother and chef, Norman Willis, was also able to cook for the past and present brothers. Brothers at the Reunion at the house, along with Coach Phil Fulmer are pictured above.

    On Saturday UT Athletics hosted a tailgate before the game. After the tailgate handlers and their families were hosted on the field level. During the game all handlers were recognized on the field and had a video clip on the jumbotron. Overall it was a great outcome and will hopefully become a tradition. We would to thank all who were in attendance. 

         AGRs have been Smokey’s Handlers since 1979.

         AGR Smokey Handlers alumni in attendance were Al Williams, JK Graves, Jimmy Burton, Mike Mayfield, Alan Walker, Doug Tabor, Denton Colwell, Dan Meyers, Nelson McCracken, Chris Bryant, Jeremy Voigtman, Willis Jepson, Dipal Chaudhari, Tyler Brannon, Clay Head, Robert Moser, Trey McAdams, Thomas Lockridge, Matthew Harlan, Kyle Mullen, Chase Cardoza, Jess Head, & Houston Cooksey.


  • PHIL BAGGETT, AKSN-285, & UT AGR Alumnus

    UTIA Land, Life, and Science article Spring/Summer 2020 



    The First Annual AGR Chill and Grilled Cheese Dinner was held Friday night October 4, 2019 at Sweetwater Valley Farm outside Loudon, Tn.  AGR alums John (AKSN-547) and Charles (AKSN-1279) Harrison were hosts to over 150 AGR collegiate brothers, alumni, family and friends.  Brothers from the 1950s to the recently initiated brothers were in attendance.

         The evening’s main course was Brotherhood with side orders of chilli & grilled cheese sandwiches.  The crowd was beyond expectations, and everyone had a grand time.

         The Harrisons plan to make the Chilli and Grilled Cheese an annual event and have it the night before UT’s annual Ag Day to give alumni another activity to tie into the weekend of Ag Day and UT Football. Mark October 2, 2020 on your calendar!



          Homecoming at UT is always a big event for alumni as well as for the active chapter.  With Alpha Kappa’s tradition of winning UT Homecoming competition (the past three years and 13 of the past 21 years!) alumni look forward to returning to 1840.

         Alumni activities over the Homecoming weekend begin with the annual Young Pups gathering at the Hampton Inn on Alcoa Highway.  The Old Dogs have passed the ’mantel’ onto a younger group of brothers and the gathering the night before Homecoming is always a well attended event.

         The Alpha Kappa Alumni Association Annual Meeting was held prior to the Homecoming football game.  Attendance was very good and Alumni President Kirk Huddleston presided.  Chapter officers gave reports on the chapter and its activities.  2019 Noble Ruler Chase Williams reported that the chapter was in very good financial shape and membership for Fall Semester totaled 110 brothers.  2019 VNR-Scholarship Leo Spadafino reported the Spring 2019 chapter GPA was 2.92 with 32 brothers making the Dean’s List (3.5 or higher).  Tom  Looney reported that AK will award over $50,000 in scholarships at Parents-Founders Day in April.

         Special thanks were given to Kelan Stepp, AKSN-1345, for the generous donation of sod for the house’s new front yard by his father’s sod company.

              Alumni attending HC activities this year included David Hayes, Ken Alley, Joe Harrison, Mike Nichols, Allan Howard, Larry McCraney, Fred Funte, Wayne Hutton, Whit Shofner, Wesley Keele, Evan Beech, DoUg Craig, Kirk Huddleston, Bobby Beets, Paul Harrison, Geoff Holden, Alan Walker, Greg Hensley, Jack Webster, Jerry Estes, Mike Estes, Steve Harrison, Tom Looney, William Henley, David Bowling, Dustin Click, Phil Baggett, Charles Goan,  Dwane Bell, Bond Jones, Dail Meadows, Keith Barber, Larry Shore, Mark Swanson, and John Harrison.




         Hello everyone! It has been quite a while since you have had an alumni update so this report includes an news about our bond, alumni dues, our first alumni gathering at John Harrison’s farm, and Improvements around the House.

         First is some really good news! I am pleased to report we have gotten our bond in place for our renovation project! The principal amount of $502,000 and the interest rate are favorable. The rate is variable and fluctuates with the low of 2% and the high being 3% on a 20 year bond. It was issued on 11/22/19. At one time we were looking at $600,000 or $700,000 to bond. It took longer than expected to finalize but that gave us more time for campaign pledges to come in. While waiting we were able to reduce the principal and interest rate. We are in a good position moving forward with our rent structure to cover debt service and the fee we have to pay UT.  No fraternity at UT could do what we did with fund-raising and participation. We appreciate everyone and you should be proud! A high percentage of pledges have been paid off and others are being paid regularly. 

         Secondly, the board set a goal of $20,000 to collect from alumni dues. We collected $17,875 in 2019. Whit Shofner, AKSN-1035, provided us with a chart of participation by stud number group, and it clearly showed most of the dues were coming from us older guys (stud #s 200-599). A total of 164 brothers paid dues out of 1200+ alumni. We need more younger alumni to step up and pay dues in order to keep the house maintained and running.

         Next, Last fall John Harrison (#547) and his wife Celia hosted the first annual chili and cheese AGR gathering at his Sweetwater Valley Farm Event Barn in Philadelphia, Tennessee. It was a great success with over 150 alumni, wives and actives on hand. Mark your calendars for October 2, the Friday of UT AG Weekend, because Celia and John want this event to become an annual tradition around AG Day every year. We are hoping brothers will plan to come in town for that weekend and local alumni and those from far away will come to the farm for the party.

         Things around the House continue to look better and improve. Kelan Stepp, AKSN-1345, donated Bermuda sod for the front yard. With the hard work of the brothers and professional landscaping assistance (and donation) from Percy McReynold’s (#1173), the yard and plants look really nice! The chapter installed a sprinkler system complete with timers and back flow device from the fire hydrant out front, and the yard looks like it could win an award thanks to all the donations and help from Kelan, Percy and actives who worked on the project.

         Doug Craig, AKSN-280. had the old “Alpha Gamma Rho” letters that were on the front of the House installed on the back of the House for additional signage from the parking lot and from Todd Helton Drive. The side porch that is off the living room now has a new glass door for entering it. Also, we replaced the other glass panels and added a transom. Now this space is usable. This is the space we put a roof over during construction to keep water out of the storage area below. We removed the gross rubber membrane from the floor and had the concrete polished. This space is accessible and attractive now and also makes a nice addition off the living room. We do need some patio furniture for the porch if anybody has some or wants to donate new. Once we get porch furniture this project will be complete. We were able to use alumni dues for the porch knowing we would be reimbursed from our UT construction funds and AGR Alumni donations. Now that the bonds are in place we can no longer use the construction funds because they have been converted to our mortgage/bond.

         We have a few new maintenance issues to address in the future. The windows in the back of the House need replacing (50+ years old). They were not part of the renovation. Also, we are on borrowed time with our boiler/water heater. Doug Craig and I met with a plumber (Scott Robinson- his son is Scott Robinson #893) to inspect them. He was very knowledgeable and we have a game plan and an estimate for replacing the boiler when it becomes necessary. We may also need to replace some kitchen equipment (dishwasher) in the future as well.

         We had a lot of activity during Homecoming with a nice lunch and alumni and board meeting. There was a lot of buzz surrounding the new addition and remodel. We had a full house with lots of positive comments in reference to the project. The active brothers worked very hard for weeks before Homecoming with a lot of sleepless nights and again their efforts paid off with the awards they received!



    Five Alpha Kappa alums were inducted into the Alpha Kappa Hall of Fame April 28, 2019.  Biographies on these five brothers are listed below.

    Pictured L-R: Larry McCraney, AKSN-353; David Hayes, AKSN-256;  Bob Sinclair, AkSN-381, Doug Craig, AKSN-280; and Mike Estes, AKSN-394 were inducted and recognized. 

        H. David Hayes, AKSN-256, of White Pine, TN was initiated into AGR in January 1965.  While at David was an SGA Senator, Noble Ruler in 1967/68, and was named to  "Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities". He went on to have a very successful career in real estate and served on numerous committees and boards in Jefferson County TN.  He was always an avid supporter of Alpha Kappa. He attended many meetings over the years as well  aiding in the construction of the new house both by his advice and by financial contributions, especially the kitchen renovation.

        Doug Craig, AKSN-280, a native of Marshall County, TN was initiated into AGR in January 1966.  Brother Craig served as treasurer of the active chapter during the critical 1967-68 move from the old house to 1840 Fraternity Park Dr.  Brother Craig has served as an advisor to the active chapter since 2012 and was instrumental in the recent renovation of the fraternity house.  While at UT, he was elected AK AGR Man of the Year in 1968 and graduated from the University of Tennessee with his BS in Agriculture.  His career path begin as Vo-Ag Teacher from 1968–1973 in Marshall County, TN.  From 1973-1975  he was  Animal Health Products Sales Representative in Ohio & Michigan for The Upjohn Company. He worked for the Andersons Grain Company from 1975–1994 as Sales Manager in the Retail Division for Farm Supplies Category for 4 years and later as Sales and Marketing Manager Wholesale Fertilizer for 15 years. Doug worked for Diamond V Mills, Cedar Rapids, IA, from 1995-1997 as Regional Sales Manager in OH, MI, KY, and TN .  He concluded his career from 1997-2014 working for Food Recycling Business & worked for Advanced Organics as VP of Feed Sales from plants in OH and MI & 2 years later selected to be the CEO and President retiring as President of Raw Material Procurement, He and Brenda have been married for 50 years and they are the parents of two daughters.  Doug has twice chosen AK Alumnus of the year & was recognized with Honorable Mention status for Chapter Advisors at the 2018 AGR National Convention.

         Larry G. McCraney, AKSN 353, was born in Lakeland, Florida.  He was a Florida State FFA officer and later enrolled in the University of Tennessee.  He became an Alpha Kappa AGR in the spring of 1969, later serving as pledge trainer. He received his BS in 1971 and MS in 1974, both from UTK in Animal Science. Larry had successful careers both in banking and education in the states of Florida and Kentucky. After serving 17 years at Warren County High School in Kentucky, he retired as Principal in 2008.  Larry has continued to be active in his church, community and fraternity.  He was especially active in the capital campaign raising funds for the renovation of our fraternity house and serving as treasurer of the Alumni Board.  Rebecca, Larry’s wife of 44 years who is a registered nurse, has been his partner as they raised three adult children.  Larry and Rebecca live on a small farm in Bowling Green, Kentucky where they raise registered Gelbvieh cattle.

         Bob “Cotton” Sinclair, AKSN-381, has been an AGR for close to 50 years. He was first initiated into Alpha Upsilon at Martin, then later in his college career, transferred to Alpha Kappa Chapter in Knoxville. As a collegiate AGR, Bob was always considered very active, involved and passionate about the Fraternity and his AGR Brothers. In most recent years, Bob has been an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alumni Board.

         Bob’s entire career, except for a year or two as a Vo-Ag teacher, has been in the realm of insurance and finance. This very successful career began as an Aetna life insurance salesman in Knoxville, during the mid-1970’s. Over the next forty plus years of hard work, planning, perseverance, and lifetime learning, Bob evolved into his present position of Partner and Principal in Trustcore, the largest private wealth management firm in Tennessee, with almost $2 Billion dollars under their management.  Bob has been a loyal and devoted husband to his wife Debbie, for 41 years. 

         Mike Estes, AKSN-393, growing up on a dairy farm in McMinn County influenced Mike to pursue a degree in Dairy Science at the University of Tennessee. He pledged Alpha Gamma Rho and was initiated in January 1971.  He was very active in the Fraternity and served in various leadership roles including Chapter Secretary in 1973/74.  He also received academic awards upon graduation.

         Following college, Mike had a very successful and long career with Farm Credit Mid-America, for whom he worked his entire career of 43 years. Mike was serving as the Regional Vice President for Eastern Tennessee upon his retirement in 2017.

        Mike  served on the Board of Directors for many of them, such as the Council for Co-ops and TN Farm and Forest Families.  He has also been very involved with the UT Alumni Association serving as an officer and on the UT National Alumni Association Board. He and wife Beverly of 42 years have three children.



         Ken Alley, AKSN-296, was selected by the active chapter as the 2019 AK Alumnus of the Year.  Ken served as AK Alumni President from 2013-2018 and provided much of the leadership in the House Renovation project completed last summer. 

         Ken, a retired USAF Colonel, previously served as AK Alumni Treasurer and has been an active AGR alumnus.  



    Mark Wilson, AKSN-423, was selected as the Hebert College of Agriculture Alumnus of the Year.  Brother Wilson is pictured 2nd from right with Dr. Tim Cross, wife Cynthia Wilson, & Dean Caula Beyl. Congratulations Bro. Wilson!



    The annual AK Alumni was held at Green Meadows Country Clun in Alcoa April 22, 2017.  Alumni attending the dinner included Evan Beech Will Mayfield, David Hayes, Lewis Kinnard, Mike Estes, Larry McCraney, Bond Jones, Larry Redden, Charlie Goan, Ken Alley, Dan Wheeler, Doug Craig, Chuck Wooten, Raymond Hurd, Joe Harrison, Dwane Bell, and Brent Hurd.  Undergraduates attending the dinner included Jared Bruhin, Caleb Gibson, Kyle McMullen, Andrew Swafford, JR Clay, John Calvin Bryant, Eric Carter, Weston Sharp, Jordan Pruitt, and Sam Daniel. 



    Pictured at the Tennessee Legislative Breakfast  February 22, 2017 in Nashville.  L-R: Steve York, AKSN-667, Keith Harrison, AKSN-619, Rep. Barry Doss, AKSN-621, Scott Lewis, AKSN-659.




    Alpha Gamma Rho and 4-H both play a pivotal role in making better men and through them a broader and better agriculture. Tennessee 4-H is the largest youth development organization in the state reaching over 170,000 4-H club members each year. While 4-H has expanded its offerings over the years to reach more youth, it has held strong to it agricultural roots offering project work in a wide variety of agricultural fields.

         Many AGR alumni have recognized the important work of Tennessee 4-H and give of their time and talents to support the organization at so many were a part of in their youth. The Tennessee 4-H Foundation is a nonprofit organization that exist to support Tennessee 4-H. The Foundation is governed by a 21-member board of directors comprised of influential individuals from across Tennessee.

          Seven of those members (pictured above, L-R) are AGRs: Mark Wilson AKSN-423, Joe Huffine AKSN-682, Reuben Buck AKSN-651, Julius Johnson AKSN-960, Larry Arrington, Florida, David Reed, UTM and Stefan Maupin, UTM, are AGR Alumni. Tammy Lee is the wife of James Lee, AKSN-481 & mother of Ben Lee, AKSN-1054, is also a member. The 4-H Foundation is run by Ryan Hensley, AKSN-999, pictured above at far right.

         The Alpha Kappa Alumni Association has used the 4-H program to recruit many new members through the 4-H Scholarship program. Each year the association awards a college scholarship to one or more senior 4-H members. The Scholarship both recognizes the outstanding work of the students and gives AGR excellent recognition among likely recruits.  

  • 2016 ALUMNI DINNER APRIL 2, 2016

         A large group of Alpha Kappa alumni turned out for the Alumni Dinner, Alumni Association Board Meeting, and Parents-Founders Weekend held the first weekend of April 2016.  Alumni attending the annual Alumni Dinner (pictured) were Joe Harrison, Doug Craig, Dan Wheeler, Brent Hurd, Lance Bracy, Larry McCraney, Gene Caldwell, Mark Wilson, Dwane Bell, Evan Beech, Bob Sinclair, Ken Alley, Bill Kemp, Max Gregory, Mike Estes, Don Williams, Jerry Estes, Jim Moore, Bond Jones, Randall Crowder, Charlie Goan, Hale Moss, Lewis Kinnard, along with a number of collegiate AGRs.    

  • 2015 AGR ALUMNI WEEKEND MARCH 30-31, 2015


    Parents-Founders Weekend was March 30-31, 2015.  Kicking off the weekend’s activities was an Alumni Work Day Saturday morning at the chapter house.

         The Annual Alumni/Active Dinner hosted by Joe Harrison at the Green Meadows Country was held Saturday night March 30 in Alcoa.  Fifty alumni, actives and guests attended the gathering and enjoyed good AGR fellowship, refreshments and food.  Brother Chris Maners, a Miss State alum who is in grad school at UT, joined the group.  Pictured are the Brothers at the Alumni/Actives Dinner. 

         Sunday was the annual Parents-Founders Day Banquet.  A very large group of alumni, actives, parents and guests were in attendance. 

         Alumni in attendance at one or both events included Ken Alley, Jim Nunn, Bond Jones, Bill Murphy, Gene Caldwell, Lawrence Shore, Larry McCraney, Bill Coley, Tom Looney, Mark Wilson, Joe Harrison, Eric Newberry, Randall Crowder, Mike Estes, John Schultz, Cory Vineyard, Gavin Henry, Brent Hurd, Raymond Hurt, Tracey Binkley, Dail Meadows, Dan Wheeler, and Waymon Hickman.



         A large number of Alpha Kappa Alumni were in Knoxville the weekend of April 5-6 for the annual Alumni Dinner held at Green Meadows Country Club and Parents-Founders Day held at the Plant and Soil Science Auditorium. 

         Over 40 alumni and actives enjoyed an evening of dinning and fellowship April 5.

         In attendance at one or both of the weekend activities included Bill Murphy, Lewis Kinnard, Mike Estes, Bill Kemp, Ken Alley, John Springer, David Bacon, Randle Richardson, Jim Nunn, Doug Craig, Larry Redden, Lawrence Shore, Larry McCraney, Joe Harrison, Glen Ed Newton, Max Gregory, Tom K. Looney, Cory Vineyard, Clay Head, Hale Moss, Charlie Goan, Steve Harrison, Kirk Huddleston, Cap Nunn, Greg Hensley, Jerry Estes  Randall Crowder, Chris Hamblen, Larry Arrington, Tom E. Looney, Mark Wilson, and Gene Caldwell.




    Donnie Smith, AKSN-554, CEO of Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, Inc., and his wife, Terry, have personally pledged a $3.2 million gift that establishes the Donald and Terry Smith Endowed Chair for International Sustainable Agriculture through the University of Tennessee Foundation, Inc. Terry Wooten Smith was an AGR Little Sister while at UT.
         “The new faculty position will help bring science-based agricultural solutions to areas of the world with struggling agricultural practices and economies, as well as provide unique opportunities for the State of Tennessee,” said Larry Arrington, chancellor of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, when announcing the gift.
         “Because of the outstanding reputation of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and our shared mission to seek global solutions to world hunger, we felt it was a perfect fit,” said Brother Smith. “Terry and I are both alumni of the University of Tennessee and feel we would not be where we are today without the education and support we received during our years there and the relationships developed there that continue to encourage us and enrich our lives to this day.” 


    Waymon Hickman, AKSN-116, has been honored as the UT Institute of Agriculture’s first UTIA Meritorious Service Award, presented at last fall’s Ag Day celebration.  In addition to this honor, Bro. Hickman, in 2013, was honored with the National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association’s 2013 Outstanding Philanthropist Award and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education’s District III 2013-14 Volunteer of the Year Award.  His endowment has funded 650 scholarships for students at the Institute of Agriculture. Waymon is a former UT trustee and is an Agricultural Education graduate of the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.



    Parents-Founders Day 2013 kicked off with the Annual Alumni Dinner hosted by Joe Harrison at Green Meadows Country Club in Alcoa.  A nice group of alumni and actives were in attendance. 

    Alumni at Annual Alumni Dinner (pictured L-R)

    Front: Jim Nunn, Ken Alley

    Seated: Bill Murphy, Dwane Bell, Max Gregory, Lewis Kinnard, Joe Harrison

    Back: Back: Glyn Ed Newton, Doug Craig, Edward Shore, Randle Richardson, Gene Caldwell, Jerry Estes, Bret Hurt, Larry Shore, Coleman Wright, Bill Kemp, Larry Redden, Charlie Henry

    Not pictured: Dipal Chaudhari (he has the highest stud number and had to take the picture.)

         There was a nice contingent of collegiate AGRs at the dinner as well. 

    Pictured (L-R); Josh Goode, Joseph Rackley, Cory Vineyard, Evan Smith, Elliott Reynolds, Reed Wolfe, Forrest Duncan, and Robbie Gipson. 




    “You are going to get to choose two things when you leave here. You are going to get to choose your standards for living and you are going to get to choose your standard of living…But I have seen a lot of people along life’s way who prioritize their standard of living above their standards for living…In every case, I have every seen, they blow themselves up. So I am going to encourage you to put your standards for living above your standard of living.” – Donnie Smith AKSN-554, president and CEO of Tyson Foods and a 1980 animal science graduate, speaking at the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources commencement ceremony.



    60 YEARS AT UT APRIL 9-10, 2011!

         The weekend of April 9-10, 2011, Alpha Kappa Chapter at UT celebrated its Diamond Anniversary with a number of events.    

         The morning of April 9, 11 alums from the 50s gathered at the chapter house to tell stories from the early years.  The Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation kindly sponsored the video taping of these alums from the 1950s to record for ever their AGR stories.  Brothers participating in this even coordinated by Joe Gaines AKSN-311 were Donald March AKSN-3, Bill Murphy AKSN-8, Gene Caldwell AKSN-9, Lindy Gill AKSN-10, Bill Kemp AKSN-34, Lewis Kinnard AKSN-37, Brent Hurd AKSN-78, Lance Bracy AKSN-110, Joe Harrison AKSN-111 Charlie Darnell AKSN-131, and Johnny Bruff AKSN-183. Later that afternoon, a golf tournament consisting of alumni and actives played the course at the Green Meadows Country Club.  Winners of the scramble were the team of Charlie Goan and .  John Schultz won the closest the pin competition.  That evening, a reception at Green Meadows Country Club began with a reception followed by dinner and the evening’s program.  Over 100 alumni, activities, wives and girl friends were in attendance.  Alpha Kappa Alumni Association Vice President Bro. Greg Hensley AKSN-536 presided in the absence of new father and Alumni Association President Jon Frady.  Rev. Mike Hensley AKSN-406 offered the blessing.  AGR Grand President Sandy Belden was the keynote speaker. Dr. Gene Caldwell spoke briefly on the founding of Alpha Kappa Chapter and its history.  Tennessee State representative Vance Dennis AKSN-824 presented the chapter with a proclamation from the Tennessee State Legislature citing and commemorating AGR’s 60 years at UT.  Bro. Hale Moss AKSN-298 recognized Mrs. Dee Lidvall, Prof’s widow, their two sons and their wives and two granddaughters.  Brother Moss gave an Eulogy in remembrance of Prof.  Bro. Mark Wilson AKSN-423 gave the group an update on the Campaign for AGR and announced to the group that the scholarship program had been renamed as the Prof Ed R. Lidvall AGR Memorial Scholarship Endowment.  Bro. Jim Nunn AKSN-462 recognized the 92 deceased brothers.  At the end of the program pictures were taken of the brothers attending the banquet as well as pictures of the brothers from each decade.

         Bros. Joe Gaines AKSN-311 and Ken Alley AKSN-296 were Co-Chairmen of the 60th Anniversary Celebration. 

         Sunday April 10 marked the annual Parents-Founders Day luncheon held in Hollingsworth Auditorium.  A huge crowd of AGRs (actives and alumni), parents, wives, girlfriends and supporters were in attendance.  Special guests include Dr. Cayla Beyl, Dean of the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Susan Marks and John Long, mother and uncle of the late John Long Marks, Mr. & Mrs. Jim Bletner, son and daughter-in-law of the late Dr. J. K. Bletner, and Mrs. Dee Lidvall and family.   

         Alumni attending one or more of the weekend events were: Larry Redden, Tracy A. Binkley, Bill Murphy, Linden L. Gill, Mark Wilson, Bill Kemp, Mike Estes, Dwane Bell, Bill Craig, Doug Craig, Joe Harrison, Joe Gaines, Jim Nunn, Ken Alley,  Don March, Thomas White, Louis Buck, Glen Newton, Brent Hurd, Jim Moore, Max Gregory, Johnny Bruff, Dan Wheeler, Mike Hensley, Keith Harrison, Dail Meadows, Charles Goan, Clay Head, Tom Looney, Charlie Elder, Lewis Kinnard, Chuck Yoest, Lawrence Shore, Lance Bracy, Brick Veirs, Daniel Hale, Will Nichols, David Lee, Raymond Hurd, John Tarpley, Bill Coley, Gene Caldwell, Vance Dennis, George Childress, Ben Sanders, David Hayes, Phil Baggett, David Owen, Bill Newman, Stuart Morris, Charles Harrison, Steve Harrison, Paul Harrison, Kirby Reed, Robert Elliott, Ryan Hensley, Don Smith, Jody Wallace, William Elliott, Jerry Estes, and Aaron Fisher. 

         Over 125 brothers, both alumni and active, participated in the weekend’s 60th Anniversary and Parents-Founders Day activities.