The most recent Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership graduates are set to tackle some of the most challenging agricultural issues affecting Texas and the nation after completing a two-year program aimed at preparing them for local, state and national service.
“Our graduating class represents nearly every segment of the agriculture industry,” said Jim Mazurkiewicz, Ph.D., director of the Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership program, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “It prepares them as future leaders to provide expertise and help guide our state and nation to preserve the most abundant, affordable food supply anywhere across the globe.”
Cross-section of participation
The TALL program recently graduated 24 individuals who have spent the past two years taking part in classroom curriculum instruction, tours to learn more about businesses, industries, marketing, finance and other program activities. Representation was a cross-section of professionals, ranging from legal, finance, marketing and state government.
“Participants come from every sector of agriculture and all parts of Texas,” Mazurkiewicz said. “Candidates apply for admission, indicating their reasons for wanting to participate. Successful candidates have demonstrated leadership potential and willingness to serve in decision-making roles upon completing the program.”
The TALL program enables men and women from all aspects of the agricultural community to increase knowledge and understanding of agriculture and related industries in the context of today’s complex economic, political and social systems. Participants learn processes of organizational decision making and the role of political institutions. They also acquire a greater appreciation of how agriculture interacts with society and develop the skills necessary for leadership at local, state and national levels.
TALL class members are required to be actively involved in agriculture production, or a business closely related to agriculture, which includes the food and fiber industries. Faculty of colleges, universities, AgriLife Extension and secondary school systems working in agricultural fields are not eligible to participate.
The average range in age is 25 to 50 with no age requirement and the class size is about 26. Tuition is $3,000 and it is a two-year commitment covering three calendar years. The total cost per participant is $30,000 of which the administrative cost is funded by the Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. Endowment and the programmatic costs are offset 10% from funding by industry gifts, sponsorships, grants and participate administrative fees.
The program is administrated by the AgriLife Extension. The Texas program started with the first class in 1988 and the program concept began at Michigan State University in 1966. The first state programs were sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation. Currently there are 45 state programs and five international agricultural leadership programs.
2021 TALL graduates
- Stephanie Kay Bradley-Fryer, Stamford, attorney specializing in agricultural law, estate planning, estate administration and real estate. Also co-owner of Fryer Cattle Company, a cow-calf operation in Texas and Southwest Oklahoma.
- Travis Britt, Cedar Creek, chief horticulturalist and nursery business unit manager for Pecan Grove Farms and Nursery.
- Casey Crabtree, Amarillo, business manager for Cargill Nutrition’s Ruminant Enterprise Group and fourth-generation cattle rancher.
- Jessica Escobar, Austin, assistant general counsel for the Texas Department of Agriculture.
- Sarah Franklin, Pleasanton, branch manager for Texas Farm Credit.
- Steven Hayes, Springtown, senior director of marketing and membership with the American Paint Horse Association.
- DeLinda Hicklen, Ropesville, co-owner and agent with Taylor Crop Insurance and partner in Hicklen Farms JV.
- Colt Hoffmann, Reagan, attorney and owner of Hoffman Cattle Company.
- Rob Hughes, Huntington, executive director of the Texas Forestry Association.
- Preston Ingram, Sulphur Springs, director of agriculture operations for the Hageman Group.
- Kristin Lambrecht, The Woodlands, field representative for the Texas Department of Agriculture and ambassador for GO TEXAN program.
- Michael Lawrence, Earth, partner and farm manage for Caprock Dairy and D&M Farms.
- Sara Lemoine Knox, Coleman, owner of Sara Lemoine Knox Law Firm.
- Kassidy Martin, Stamford, senior loan officer with Central Texas Farm Credit.
- Matthew Okeson, Dallas, procurement manager for LALA U.S. Inc.
- Liza Parker, Temple, policy analyst and project manager for Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.
- James Plyler, Austin, wholesaler of grower native and adapted landscape plant material.
- Katy Slough, Gruver, co-owner of Gruver Ag Supply.
- Seth Sowder, Sudan, agent for Lance Insurance Agency.
- Matt Thomas, Abbott, branch manager for AgTexas Farm Credit, Hillsboro.
- James Uhl, Ft. McKavett, assistant manager for J.P. Family Limited Partnership-Powell Ranches.
- John Van de Pol, Amherst, partner with Red Rock Dairy and owner of Cap Rock Farms.
- Robert Ward, Wallis, vice president and relations manager for Capital Farm Credit.
- Leanne Wiley, Wallis, rangeland management specialist for U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service.
- Travis Wilson, Decatur, owner of Wilson Land and Cattle LLC, Wilson Farms, Wilson Sod Farm and Wilson Farms Canada.