For each of the past three years, state Sen. Jack Hill has published his “Ten Reasons to be Optimistic about the New Year.”
This year is a particularly difficult one to be optimistic about, but Sen. Hill found 10 good reasons again: State leadership; job growth; Kia; Georgia Ports; Georgia’s growing population; a new congressional seat (thanks to that growing population); Georgia agriculture; Georgia’s tax collections (17 consecutive months of improvement); a healthy and growing TV and movie industry in Georgia; and the economic collapse that did not happen as predicted.
While there are counterpoints to each one of these, Sen. Hill is taking a decidedly glass-half-full look at our current circumstances.
So in homage to Sen. Hill’s example of a “no whining zone,” here are 10 reasons I am looking forward to 2012.
First, I live in a blessed corner of the world. The beauty of Coastal Georgia is a never ending source of spiritual buoyancy. While other parts of the country and the world have been hit with major disasters and suffering, we have been largely spared and I pray the good fortune continues. I look forward to spending more time out of doors enjoying Georgia’s natural beauty and less time working in front of a computer.
Second, I am looking forward to doubling the number of sand bar locations I know. But this year, I want to find them on purpose.
Third, while the effects of last year’s drought are still with us, I am looking forward to some rain in 2012, and any time now would be just fine with me. This year has to be better, it cannot possibly be worse than last year. I am looking forward to seeing which plants are so happy to see the return of rain that they are completely thrown off their normal bloom times.
Fourth, if we get the rain we need, Georgia farmers will be looking at good prices for corn, peanuts and cotton this year, which could give them a chance for some financial recovery. I am looking forward to seeing the farmers who grow the food I eat and the fiber I wear bring in a good harvest.
Fifth, I am thankful for the unbridled optimism of the American farmer and particularly with three of them who reside in Bryan County: Bob Floyd, Shaun Page and Russ Shuman. They are each great examples of faith and will and how a man takes charge of his destiny. I am looking forward to watching their new and existing enterprises take flight to the benefit of all.
Sixth, I am looking forward to my son, Carlos, coming home for a long visit this spring now that he has completed his first tour in Afghanistan. Strangely, I am more worried about his safety now that he is stateside again than I was when he was at Bagram. I knew he was in the company of serious and careful people there. Now, when he is off base, it is the idiot under-the-influence in the oncoming car that scares me.
Seventh, I am looking forward to finding more volunteer coaches for the 4-H SAFE shooting sports program. My youngest son participated in the 4-H Shotgun Team last year and is looking forward to this year. I am thankful for the volunteer coaches who happily give their time to support the children of this community in their 4-H projects and the SAFE shooting sports program. Without these adults willingly allocating their time to 4-H, we could not offer these opportunities our children deserve. We could have a lot more children in the program, but we need one certified coach for every seven 4-Hers. So I’ll cast out this line: if you have the time and desire to share your enjoyment of the shooting sports with children, whether it is archery, BB, shotgun, .22 rifle or air rifle or air pistol, call your county extension office and see what you can do to grow the sport. In Bryan, the phone number is 653-2231.
Eighth, I am looking forward to seeing Dec. 21, 2012, be as big a nonevent as the Y2K scare.
Ninth, I am looking forward to seeing how the UGA College of Ag reorganizes itself with its strategic planning initiative. Perhaps the reality of our national financial situation is sinking in and we really come up with a better — and cheaper — way to meet the needs of our state.
And finally, 10th, I am looking forward to this year’s 4-H Christmas parade in Pembroke to see if in 2012 I will indeed get to lead the cow that Bob Floyd said he wanted to ride as the 2011 Parade grand marshal. No, Bob, I’m not letting that go. I have our county administrator as a witness.
Gardner lives in Keller and is the UGA extension agent for Glynn County, also serving South Bryan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.