Faculty and staff of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service received the agency’s Superior Service Award during a virtual ceremony on Jan. 22.
The Superior Service Award is the agency’s highest award, recognizing personnel who provide outstanding performance in education or other services to the organization and Texas residents.
All recipients are with AgriLife Extension unless otherwise indicated. The categories and names of individuals receiving the Superior Service Award are:
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Partnership Award
– AgWorkers Insurance’s sponsorship of AgriLife Extension programs across the state is unmatched. From the iconic Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course in College Station to QuickBooks for Farmers Trainings in Amarillo, the South-Central Texas Cow-Calf Clinic in Brenham to the Texas Extension Specialists Association cruise, county programs in Far West Texas and regional meetings behind the pine curtain, Ag Workers covers nearly as many miles as AgriLife Extension employees.
– Sequor Foundation: 2019 marked 20 years of a truly remarkable relationship between the Sequor Foundation, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension 4-H Youth Development and the Texas A&M Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences. The Sequor Foundation initially provided funds in excess of $450,000 to directly support the Sequor Youth Development Initiative, and the partnership has generated $930,000 additional funds to support youth development research projects.
– Texas Parks and Wildlife Department/Texas Master Naturalist Program is a corps of well-informed volunteers providing education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. The Texas Master Naturalist Program has 50 chapters statewide with over 13,000 volunteers trained on a curriculum that covers natural resource processes, conservation principles, management and interpretation training topics.
Extension in the City Award
Harris County Commissioner’s Court – County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Rodney Ellis, Adrian Garcia, Steve Radack and Jack Cagle. These individuals are directly responsible for the Harris County office of AgriLife Extension, providing over $800,000 in operating funds for the current fiscal year and employing a staff of 20 individuals to serve the residents of Harris County. They continuously show their support of AgriLife Extension’s goals and mission.
– Reggie Lepley, agriculture and natural resources agent, Walker County. Lepley’s career with AgriLife Extension began in 1990 in Orange County as the assistant county agent. During his stellar career he has proven himself as the “go to” person for agriculture in Walker County.
– Calley Runnels, family and community health agent, Swisher County, has a 24-year career with AgriLife Extension. Runnels has been extremely effective in making significant contributions to improving the lives and health of both adults and youth throughout the South Plains.
– Tanya Davis, family and community health agent, Wise County, has served in that position for the past 21 years. During her career, her programming efforts have improved the lives of Texans, targeting the most critical issues, and created opportunities for increased knowledge and behavior change, positively affecting individuals and families.
– Annie Tinsley, family and community health agent, Collin County, has been employed with AgriLife Extension for over 28 years. She has developed programs in the areas of self-esteem, communications, discipline, child obesity, child abuse prevention, anger management and family financial planning.
County Extension Agent
– Janet Laminack, horticulture agent, Denton County, was recognized for her strength in coordinating volunteers, identifying needs and connecting resources.
– Micah Holcombe, family and community health agent, Milam County, was recognized for her passion to always share knowledge and assist youth and adults to build life skills.
– Jamie Osbourn, agriculture and natural resources agent, Llano County, consistently provides programs that have a positive impact not only in his own community but also throughout the West Region.
– Matt Miranda, 4-H youth development agent, Guadalupe County, was recognized for his tenure as a 4-H agent and his school enrichment programs that increased youth participation by over 3,000 youths.
County Extension Agent – Early Career
– Angelica Sifuentes, family and community health agent, Webb County, has introduced numerous programs to new audiences through Healthy South Texas with positive health outcomes and success.
– Sonia Coyle, family and community health agent, Travis County, was honored for her leadership on programs such as Step Up Scale Down, Master Wellness Volunteers, Dinner Tonight! and Better Living for Texans.
Extension Specialist or Program Director
– Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, agricultural law specialist, Amarillo, is a nationally recognized expert who has made 33 national presentations, 56 statewide presentations, 282 regional or county presentations, 10 invited lectures and 18 intra-agency trainings.
– Montza Williams, Ph.D., 4-H program director, College Station, has reached audiences at a global level, teaching and advising in three international, 15 national and 127 regional and state-level venues.
Extension Specialist or Program Director – Early Career
– Molly Keck, integrated pest management program specialist, Bexar County, is known in the entomological community as well as in the San Antonio area for her beekeeping, integrated pest management and youth entomology education.
– Jourdan Bell, Ph.D., agronomist, Amarillo, generates research data-supported recommendations and demonstrates an effective integration of research and Extension with her exceptional communication skills.
Administrative Support, State
– Dana Cross, Texas 4-H Conference Center business coordinator, Brownwood, oversees all contracts, confirmation of events, income and acts as the assistant to the 4-H Center Director.
– Staci Schoenfeldt, District 6 office manager, Fort Stockton, epitomizes the agency’s mission and vision, making her an invaluable assistant to the district administrator and information resource for employees.
Administrative Support, County
– Janet Harrison, program assistant in Dallam and Hartley counties, has helped grow the 4-H programs in each county, building local stakeholder relationships and training other support staff and county agents.
– Shantell Campbell, support staff, Wheeler County, is recognized for her commitment to improve awareness and understanding of the agency and 4-H, as well as a motivator for both youth and adults.
– Cathy Banda, office manager, Hale County, was recognized for her passion to create an efficient and pleasing work environment, as well as her continued support for all AgriLife Extension programming.
– Brandi Keller, Master Gardener Volunteers program coordinator, Harris County, has led the program through consistent growth that reached almost 80,000 county residents with 40,400 volunteer hours.
– Mary Pearl Meuth, Texas Master Naturalist program coordinator, College Station, was recognized for her leadership, flexibility and drive that embodies the heart and culture of the program.
– Jayla Fry, horticulture program specialist, College Station, provides management, training and leadership to the largest Master Gardener program in the U.S., with over 7,500 volunteers.
Shane McLellan, Ph.D., agricultural and natural resources agent, McLennan County, has provided exceptional leadership to the McLennan County Master Gardeners, growing the membership from 20 to 135 under his leadership.
Master Gardener Volunteer Program
Paul Winski, horticulture agent, and Brandi Keller, Master Gardener volunteer program coordinator, both in Harris County, have guided Harris County Master Gardener volunteers to reach almost 100,000 county residents and donate more than 59,000 service hours.
Carolyn Prill-Bennett, family and community health agent, Moore County, teaches healthy eating as well as gardening to diverse populations who may be unfamiliar with “Americanized food.”
– O.D. Butler Forage Field Day Team provides Central Texas hay and forage producers a proactive and valuable educational opportunity. A total of 200 forage producers and allied industry professionals attended the Dr. O.D. Butler Forage Field Day in 2019. Members of the team include county agents Ed Schneider, Robertson County; Dusty Tittle, Brazos County; Floyd Ingram, Milam County; David Groschke, Limestone County; Shane McLellan and Jarod Meurer, both of McLennan County; Richard Parrish, Leon County; Pasquale Swaner, Falls County; Chadd Caperton, Madison County; and John Grange, Burleson County. Also included are Amber Moore and Dana Yow Hillhouse, office support staff in Robertson County, and Janice Anderson, administrative secretary, Brazos County.
– Texas 4-H and FFA Quality Counts Program Team, comprised of AgriLife Extension specialists, Texas FFA Association personnel, major livestock show representatives, veterinarians and industry professionals have worked together to revise and enhance the learning curriculum. Increased emphasis has been placed on the rigor of the verification exam to encourage more learning and engagement. Most notably, this curriculum was set apart as a ready-to-use course during COVID-19 as a means of reaching 4-H youth learners via remote education. Communication is in progress with two other states to potentially utilize this curriculum under a sustainable tiered-fee program. Team members from Bryan-College Station include Billy Zanolini, Ph.D., and Dottie Goebel, both 4-H youth development specialists; Caitlyn Calvert, assistant vice chancellor for digital learning; Joe Mask, Ph.D., retired youth veterinary science specialist; and Tom Hairgrove, DVM, Ph.D., cattle veterinary specialist. The team also included Tammy Glascock, Texas FFA Association, Pilot Point.
– Denton County Lake Dallas ISD 4-H Program Team is responsible for an innovative, interdisciplinary, multi-year partnership between Denton County 4-H and the Lake Dallas Independent School District, LDISD. Started in 2015 as an afterschool 4-H club, the partnership became the model for the Texas 4-H Champion School program. In 2018, the LDISD partnership grew with expansion to a new 6th-8th grade 4-H class. This was followed in 2019 by advanced science 8th grade students experiencing live research with scientists at Texas A&M AgriLife’s Dallas Center. Team members include Courtney Davis, county director, Tarrant County; Janet Laminack, horticulture agent, Denton County; Zach Davis, agriculture and natural resources agent, Denton County; Derrick Bruton, 4-H youth development program specialist, Dallas; Colleen Carpenter, 4-H program coordinator, Denton County; Randall Caldwell, Lake Dallas Middle School; Beth Sharum and Tammie Gurley, Denton County Master Gardener Association.
– Howdy Health Team’s Howdy Health is the centralized website and database for Family and Community Health, FCH, programs. This platform, launched in September 2018, allows participants to select from a menu of program offerings. Each unique program design uses a theoretical approach to target key health-related behaviors and has reached over 100,000 participants. This online centralized platform allows for program registration, individualized participant monitoring and data collection, and evaluations with an on-demand report system. The Howdy Health platform also has a full-service Help Desk ticket system. The Howdy Health team is comprised of FCH unit faculty and staff who provide leadership for the design and management of the website, programs and database. Team members include Stephen Green, Ph.D., FCH unit head; Mark Faries, Ph.D., FCH program specialist; Brian Faries, web applications developer; and Michael Lopez, FCH program specialist, all of Bryan-College Station.
Emerging Needs Team
– Junior Master Gardener Team is a core group who have addressed a critical need for ongoing youth education and teacher/leader/parental support. This team was successful in delivering an online, eight-week Plant Growth and Development Facebook Live teaching series. The lessons focused on family and youth gardening, health and nutrition, science education and impact on family and youth engagement within the home. Program instruction was delivered to over 1,345 students representing 897 total families and group leaders and all 50 states. Team members include Randy Seagraves and Caren Walton, both horticultural program specialists, and Lisa Whittlesey, senior program specialist and International Junior Master Gardener Program coordinator, all of Bryan-College Station; Janet Laminack, horticulture agent, Denton County; and Christina Reid, horticulture agent, Lubbock.
– COVID-19 Workgroup was formed in early March to lead the agency’s educational response and resource development for COVID-19. They provided accurate and timely information, communication, education and resources through weekly COVID-19 webinars, educational resources and materials for the public and AgriLife Extension agents and supported statewide efforts to distribute personal protective equipment, PPE, and testing supplies throughout the state of Texas. Disaster assessment and recovery, DAR, agents also assisted in the statewide distribution of PPE, COVID-19 testing supplies and transportation of test samples to testing labs. This included 5,421 PPE deliveries; 3,514 deliveries of new test kits and collected specimens; 3,089 long-term care/nursing home deliveries of PPE and test kits. It supported the testing of 509,715 individuals at 1,081 testing sites in 231 Texas counties by mobile testing teams. Team members include Miquela Smith, DAR program specialist, Lubbock; and Monty Dozier, Ph.D., DAR unit head; Joyce Cavanagh, Ph.D., DAR specialist; Mark Faries, Ph.D., family and community health specialist; Rachel Bauer, program specialist; and Rebecca Dittmar, nutrition program specialist, all of Bryan-College Station.
– Joe Paschal, Ph.D, livestock specialist, Corpus Christi, provided 33 years of distinguished service to AgriLife Extension. One county agent said Paschal places the utmost importance on agents’ and producers’ needs, always responding immediately with accurate and helpful information. He has been a critical driver in developing agency programming, focusing on fever ticks, Beef Quality Assurance, Texas Ranch to Rail, Beef Partnership in Extension Program, genetic issues, toxic plants and other toxins affecting livestock production. On top of his agency duties, Paschal serves on the graduate faculty at Texas A&M University and as an external professor at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
– Kathy Smith, family and community health agent in Parker County, has served the agency for over 36 years with a passion to help people better their lives. She also has been a county agent in Hill, Burleson and Navarro counties. She has a record of providing exceptional educational program delivery and service through long-range planning and Texas Community Futures Forum issues related to nutrition and health related to obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. She also has been passionate about conducting programs related to food safety, parenting, childcare education and pre-marriage education.
– Sue Ferguson, assistant to the 4-H youth development program director, Bryan-College Station, has made a measurable impact to the State 4-H Office for over 38 years. She provides leadership as the Texas 4-H unit budget contact and is the club charter expert among the other million things that are 4-H. Ferguson is described as the lifeblood of the Texas 4-H unit and program. Her work ethic, commitment to 4-H, and passion for the youth of Texas shines through in everything she does.
Jana Osbourn, regional program leader – family and community health for the South Region, Districts 10 and 12, provides leadership to 41 rural counties, two urban counties and approximately 120 county agents and 50 program assistants. She is an innovative, effective and dedicated 30-year professional who began as an assistant county agent in Lamar County. Her supporters say she effectively communicates, which creates stronger buy-in, and collaborates by including agents in decision-making.