ABAC to take over Agrirama - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ABAC to take over Agrirama

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By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

TIFTON, GA (WALB) –For more than 30 years, the Georgia Agrirama has been the state's official agriculture and living history museum.

It brings the past to life, but its future was uncertain because of state budget cuts.

Today, the President of ABAC announced the Tifton college will take over management and operations at the Georgia Agrirama.

He says in the next couple weeks a transition team will meet to talk about what's most important and how they can raise the level of the museum.

With a shrinking state budget the future of many agencies remains unclear.

"We've always struggled with budgets and during this economic times our future was very uncertain as to where we would be going," said Executive Director of Agrirama, James Higgins.

From an already very lean budget, the Georgia Agrirama museum has experienced a 36 percent reduction from fiscal year 2009.

But the Governor came up with a recommendation that may not only preserve the museum but enhance it.

"I think he has created maybe the only path to ensure that the state will continue to invest in the museum of agriculture,"said ABAC President David Bridges.

At a press conference Friday, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural college announced it will assume management and operations of the Georgia Agrirama.

"In the next couple years they would have had to move to a completely self sustaining status and that's very difficult for a museum," said Bridges.

President David Bridges sees it as a great opportunity for the college and the museum.

"We will run the finest operation that we can run and we will figure out what it takes to do that," said Bridges.

Fiscal year 2011, the operations budget for the museum will move into ABAC's budget.

"We will be expected to write grants, and use programs that incorporate revenue and incorporate it into our academic program in a way that we can staff it and operate the museum," said Bridges.

Billy Funderburke has worked at the museum for 18 years, and has high hopes for the future.

"I hope it will get bigger and bigger and bigger and I hope it will stay open indefinitely for the education part of it," said employee Billy Funderburke.

"I promise you 12 months from now the Agrirama will be a much more vibrant, visible entity than it is today and it will be a integral part of the college," said Bridges.

The president says changes will be made right away.

He anticipates students working at the museum in the next few weeks and plans to integrate those students with the current staff.

The president of ABAC is also looking forward to using part of the museum to house programs that cannot fit into the college.

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