- Writer: Kathleen Phillips, 979-845-2872, email@example.com
- Contact: Ronnie McDonald, 979-845-7808, firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN ANTONIO — A minister and two Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service employees were honored for their efforts to improve lives in their communities during the annual Texas Rural Leadership Program conference.
Rev. Victoria B. Griffin of Jacksonville was named Community Catalyst for her work in Cherokee County. Julie York, AgriLife Extension agent in Upshur County, was named Outstanding Emerging Leader, and Tanner Williams, AgriLife Extension agent in Grimes County, was given the Dr. Frank W. Sheppard Leadership Award.
Community leaders from across Texas attended the conference, which focused on asset-based leadership for strengthening communities and organizations based on the capacities, skills and assets of its residents, according to Ronnie McDonald, director of the nonprofit program that partners with AgriLife Extension.
“More than 40 agencies and organizations collaborate to create and deliver a leadership program for rural and other underserved communities and nearly 800 participants have completed programs in counties across the state,” he noted.
Griffin, a native of Houston, has been the minister at First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville since 2008. She is a member of the Ministerial Alliance and serves on the board for H.O.P.E., which stands for Helping Others Pursue Enrichment. According to the organization, H.O.P.E. is a nonprofit which seeks to minister to people and provide a hand up, allowing them to experience the joy of what God has created for them.
“Work with Texas Rural Leadership grows from the conviction that it is God’s intention for God’s children to flourish,” Griffin said. “It is no accident that all the world’s great religions and philosophies include something similar in doing unto others as we would want to be done to. In Jacksonville, we are working together to build a healthy and sustainable community.”
York, Upshur County’s family and consumer sciences agent, is responsible for programs such as family life/relationships, family economics, food and nutrition, clothing, safety, emergency management, housing, health and community and youth development. She said all of these areas are touched by the Texas Rural Leadership Program, which has just begun in her county.
“I’ve been working with my county leadership on an emergency management educational program for a couple of years and through this process, I have come to realize that we have top-quality and good-hearted leaders in our community,” York said. “I found several people were doing very similar jobs, but they weren’t talking to each other because they never have time. I felt that many community leaders could benefit from trainings to learn how to be more effective. I believe as we implement asset mapping and focus on and promote the strengths in our community, the impact will be far-reaching.”
York’s county is beginning the training this month.
Williams, Grimes County family and consumer sciences agent, has been involved with educational programming in the areas of diabetes, food and nutrition, safety, emergency management, housing, health and community and youth development.
“We sought people in our area who wanted to become leaders and did a training of the trainers class,” Williams said. “Then they got 12 citizens to attend six workshops relating to rural leadership, the program and expanding their horizons. This class is now doing a project which will help better our back-to-school health and safety day for Grimes County youth.”
He said youth will attend and receive school supplies and lunch at a workshop on Aug. 16.