The “Owning a Piece of Texas: Agricultural Landowner Legal Education Project” conducted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has been announced as a Project of Excellence by the Southern Extension Risk Management Education Center.
Each year the Center’s advisory council evaluates projects based on the importance of outcomes, audiences reached, realized and potential impacts and quality and value of project communications. The Owning a Piece of Texas program was selected as the top-ranking project from the 13 participating states.
“Owning Your Piece of Texas: Key Laws Texas Landowners Need to Know” is a day-long program designed by Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, AgriLife Extension agricultural law specialist in Amarillo, that addresses landowner liability, fence law, water law, special use tax valuation and more.
2019 exceeds expectations
During 2019, Lashmet and her team presented the program in Lubbock, San Antonio, Crockett, Cat Spring and College Station, attracting 830 attendees representing more than 432,000 acres.
“This attendance was unexpected, a bit overwhelming and very exciting,” Lashmet said. “We projected to have 125 people total at the live programs.”
In addition to Lashmet, each event included Blake Bennett, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, Dallas, discussing special-use property tax valuation and at least one additional speaker, usually a local attorney. People enjoyed the chance to hear a different voice and to meet an agricultural attorney in their area, Lashmet said.
“This project provided practical, important information to Texas landowners. From the Owning Your Piece of Texas handbook, to five live presentations, to an online recording of a presentation, this project achieved its goal of educating Texas landowners on legal issues they are facing,” the award announcement stated.
Program draws attendees
Lashmet said program attendees ranged from a Kentucky couple who flew to San Antonio to educate themselves on the legal issues they face with their family land in Texas to a widowed woman overwhelmed by the pressure to manage the family operation without her husband.
“Our focus on the practical aspects of the laws seemed to be something that participants really appreciated,” she said. “Rather than talking theoretically about the laws, we tried to really break topics down into practical steps to take home and put into place.”
Of those completing an evaluation, 98% of attendees reported intent to implement something learned at the program in their operation. Evaluations indicated a 71% knowledge increase over all topics, and multiple attendees dubbed this the best educational program they’ve attended to date.
Future “Owning Your Piece of Texas” availability
While Lashmet said it took a considerable amount of time to write the accompanying handbook, the interest from people about the handbook was far greater than anticipated and proves its worth.
“We had to order additional copies almost immediately due to the number of requests for handbooks and the number of registrants at workshops,” she said.
A hard copy of the handbook can be purchased by emailing Lacrecia Garza without attending a program. Those interested in finding a future in-person or online event to attend can go to Lashmet’s Upcoming Presentations webpage.