Recent inductees to the Georgia Agricultural Education Hall of Fame included former Hickory Hill Farms manager, Billy Moss. Mr. Moss received the prestigious designation in January at the Georgia Future Farmers of America Center in Covington, Ga.
Mr. Moss retired last year after 31 years as the North region area livestock teacher at the University of Georgia. He was also the farm manager for Walter Brown at Hickory Hill Farms in Thomson from 1979 until 1985.
While working at Hickory Hill, Mr. Moss said he lived in the Watson-Brown house that is now the museum on Tom Watson Way.
"They had about 200 head of cattle then," he said. "We just had a cattle operation and a timber operation."
Under Mr. Moss' management, the farm won numerous awards for conservation and production practices, including being a national finalist for the prestigious Beef Improvement Federation. He also served as president of the McDuffie County Cattleman's Association.
Tad Brown, the grandson of Walter Brown and president of the Watson-Brown Foundation, said he remembers going to livestock shows with Mr. Moss.
"He won blue ribbons at those shows all over the place," Mr. Brown said.
In those days, Hickory Hill farms was spread out over 220 acres, partly on what is now Tom Watson Way, and partly along the Lincolnton Highway. Mr. Brown said they haven't had cattle since the 1990s.
"The only animals we have now are a couple of peacocks," Watson-Brown Curator Michelle Zupan said with a laugh.
The Hickory Hill farmland is now used for educational purposes through the Watson-Brown Foundation. The foundation provides historic preservation grants through its junior board, provides merit and need scholarships to college students, hosts educational field trips for pupils and workshops for teachers, along with sponsoring other community outreach programs to better education in the American South.
Following along his former employer's mission, Mr. Moss also helped establish the Georgia Junior Beef Futurity and secured funds to award scholarships for 4-H and FFA members. Last year, the Georgia State Fair at Macon established the Billy Moss FFA Scholarship to be given each year to an outstanding high school senior.
Mr. Moss' accomplishments include establishing the Georgia Club Calf Producer's Association and being editor of the quarterly newsletter, The Showbarn. Additionally, he served as co-chairman of the State Junior Heifer Show and State Steer Show, and served two terms as president of the Georgia Simmental Association. Moss received the Georgia Cattleman's Association's Top Hand Award in 2007 for providing distinguished service to the state's cattle industry.
A graduate of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and the University of Georgia, Mr. Moss now lives in Athens. His two sisters, Carol M. Brittain of Gray and LeVerte Hayes of Lincolnton, and his two brothers, Judge Lee Moss of Lincolnton and David Moss of Augusta, attended the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.