The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service announced the hiring of new county agents across the state, as well as transfers within the agency.
AgriLife Extension employs county agents, divided by districts, to serve every Texas county. These county agents are the agency’s connection with the people in communities. They are instrumental in providing hands-on education and programming based on scientific research.
A complete list of county agents can be found at https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/counties/.
The following AgriLife Extension county agents have recently moved locations:
- Payton Keifer, agriculture and natural resources, transferred from Pecos County to Crane County.
- Jamie Sugg, agriculture and natural resources, transferred from Rusk County to Walker County.
Following are the individuals hired and the county agent positions they will fill:
District 1, headquartered in Amarillo
— Stephanie Palmer, Better Living for Texans agent, Randall County. Palmer, of Amarillo, earned her bachelor’s in human development and family studies at Texas Tech University. She spent the past two years as the program assistant with the AgriLife Extension office in Randall County. Palmer said she is passionate about providing nutrition education programs, tools and resources to residents of a wide range of ages and backgrounds. “My hope is that through AgriLife Extension, I can help empower individuals, families and the community to incorporate daily practices for a better life,” she said.
— Hannah Sell, family and community health assistant agent, Hemphill County. Sell, of Booker, earned her bachelor’s in agricultural education at West Texas A&M University. She spent the past summer completing an internship with the AgriLife Extension office in Hemphill County. Sell is passionate about helping families in Hemphill County. She said she looks forward to serving the community and helping to improve the lives of Texans. “As a new agent, I hope to help those in the community have the best life they can,” Sell said. “That may be through nutritional education or helping 4-Hers learn new skills. I hope that each person I encounter will know that they matter and are cared for.”
District 2, headquartered in Lubbock
— Kathy Lostroh, family and community health, Lamb County. Lostroh, of Lamesa, earned her bachelor’s in family and consumer sciences education at Texas Tech University. She spent 14 years as the family and consumer sciences, FCS, teacher at Springlake-Earth High School, then four years with Kress High School, followed by the last three-and-a-half years at Lazbuddie. Lostroh also serves as the executive director for Youth SUMMIT, a drug, alcohol and violence prevention student program. She grew up involved in 4-H in Dawson County, primarily with clothing and textiles projects, but also participated in food and nutrition, public speaking, housing and other FCS-focused activities. She was a Gold Star and an I Dare You Award recipient. Lostroh said she is passionate about helping 4-H members develop their leadership skills and actively seeks volunteers to serve on her program committee. “I feel like everything I’ve done in my life has led me to AgriLife Extension,” she said. “I’m excited to get into the communities and schools throughout the county and provide education, resources and youth programs.”
— Xane Reiter, family and community health, Garza County. Reiter, of Post, earned her bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies in early childhood education at Lubbock Christian University. For the past 12 years, she has been an elementary teacher, the majority as a fifth-grade teacher at Post Independent School District. This past fall, she was the Election Administrator for Garza County. Reiter grew up in the 4-H system showing goats and participating in food and nutrition and apparel projects. She is passionate about working with the youth of Garza County to develop leadership skills and is actively seeking volunteers for committees. “I am very excited for Garza County to have a family and community health agent once again, and I look forward to working with the community.”
District 3, headquartered in Vernon
— Kortney Kulhanek, family and community health, Throckmorton County. Kulhanek, of Olney, earned her bachelor’s in interdisciplinary agriculture with a teacher certification at Texas Tech University. She spent the last three years traveling with nationally known livestock show photography companies, as well as doing her own photography work. When she wasn’t traveling, she managed Seed-Tex Grain Elevator and made sure to be home for wheat harvest. Kulhanek grew up in both 4-H and FFA, showing pigs and competing in a variety of events. She has spent time volunteering in ag-related youth programs over the last few years and said she cannot wait to work with the youth of Throckmorton County. “I am very passionate about the ag industry and find it important to help not only the youth, but everyone, find their purpose in this industry,” Kulhanek said. “The agriculture industry has helped shape me into who I am today, and I hope it can do the same for others.”
District 4, headquartered in Dallas
— Elver Pardo, 4-H and youth development, Dallas County. Pardo, of Dallas, earned a master’s in education from Drury University and a bachelor’s in psychology from Universidad Santo Tomas in Bogota, Colombia. He spent the last two years as a business owner with his company Pardo Veloza Investments, where he opened two coffee shops in Orlando, Florida, and then Springfield, Missouri. Prior to that, Pardo worked as an Extension professional in the university systems in Florida and Missouri since 2002. He said he is passionate about working with youth and hopes to use the invaluable knowledge and experience in multicultural environments, with a unique perspective on culture, diversity and inclusion that he gained while in Florida and Missouri. “I joined AgriLife Extension because I have a passion for giving back to our community and working with all citizens of this great country,” Pardo said.
District 7, headquartered in San Angelo
— Jessica Holbrook, family and community health agent, Mason County. Holbrook, of Texas City, earned her bachelor’s in wildlife and fisheries science and her master’s in curriculum and instruction, both at Texas A&M University. She has spent the past 20 years in education, working with Texas public school districts, collegiate campuses and serving as the schools’ coordinator for the San Antonio Zoo. For the past nine years, she has served in various leadership roles with Texas public school districts. Holbrook grew up in the FFA system showing pigs and rabbits and judging livestock in high school. She has four children, all active with Mason County 4-H livestock projects, food and nutrition, and shooting sports. She said she is excited to work with the youth of Mason County to develop their leadership capacity, and she is actively seeking volunteers for her committees. Holbrook said she hopes her unique background will help her develop enriching health and nutrition programs and provide needed science-based educational resources on current health and wellness trends, diabetes, nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
— Zane Bearden, agriculture and natural resources, Schleicher County. Bearden, of Sterling City, earned his bachelor’s in agricultural services and development at Tarleton State University and is currently on track to complete his master’s in agricultural and consumer resources in August. Bearden spent the past two years working as a natural resource conservationist at the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, researching and educating residents on groundwater issues in the state. He grew up involved in 4-H and FFA, showing market lambs and competing on state wool and cotton judging teams. Bearden said he is passionate about West Texas agriculture and strives to provide leadership and education for the youth in Schleicher County. “I joined AgriLife Extension because I was fortunate enough to have gotten involved in 4-H from an early age,” he said. “I want the kids in my community to be provided with the same amazing opportunity and education that I had.”
District 8, headquartered in Stephenville
— Payton Morris, Disaster Assessment and Recovery agent, District 8. Morris, of Godley, earned her bachelor’s in animal science with a pre-vet concentration at Tarleton State University and a master’s in agriculture at Sul Ross State University. While completing her bachelor’s, she gained experience with graphic design and agricultural marketing. While in graduate school, she was a graduate assistant focusing on animal science reproduction. Morris grew up around horses and livestock and is passionate about that area of agriculture. Also, her family is from Missouri, where they own a soybean farm. She said she is excited about the educational aspect of her new role. “While being a graduate assistant, I fell in love with teaching and making an impact in others’ lives,” Morris said. “I hope to use my agricultural background in disaster preparedness and readiness within my district.”
— Sherry Spence-Purcella, Better Living for Texans, Bell County. Spence-Purcella, of Gatesville, earned a bachelor’s in health information systems from Southwest Texas State University and a bachelor’s in agribusiness from Sul Ross State University. She earned both a master’s in business administration and marketing and a master’s in health administration from the University of Arizona. Spence-Purcella has worked in the national finance and health care industries most of her career, with an extensive background in ethics, education and preventive health care. She was involved in 4-H, FFA and county youth activities growing up. Spence-Purcella said she is dedicated to the needs of the people of her community and of Texas. “I joined AgriLife Extension because I have a passion for people, agriculture and their futures. I want to preserve old ideas and incorporate new technology to ensure the prosperity of agriculture and people through any learning, sharing and collaboration of ideas.”
District 9, headquartered in College Station
— Megan Rogers, 4-H and youth development, Burleson County. Rogers, of Lockhart, earned her bachelor’s in agriculture leadership and development with minors in Extension education and youth development from Texas A&M University. She spent the past summer completing an internship with the AgriLife Extension office in DeWitt County. Rogers grew up in the 4-H system showing heifers and steers, as well as participating in shooting sports, livestock judging, beef quiz bowl and public speaking. “I want to help each youth find their sparks in life and take off running with it to help prepare them for a future they want to live,” Rogers said.
— Becca Carpenter, 4-H and youth development, Jefferson County. Carpenter, of Cibolo, earned her bachelor’s in wildlife ecology and management from Texas A&M University and then a master’s in animal science from Sul Ross State University. She has spent the last 15 years as an agriculture and biology teacher. Carpenter worked successfully with students on the FFA side of most fairs and shows, leading them to various awards and recognitions and is looking forward to working with the 4-H groups of Jefferson County. She is passionate about growing the program and helping all of the youth in the county discover that in 4-H, there is truly something for everyone. She said she is actively seeking volunteers for her committees and input on new ideas and interests the county youth may have. “I came to AgriLife Extension because I want to impact the lives of more youth in the community, not just those in one or two school districts,” Carpenter said.
— Andrea Ryan, family and community health, Grimes County. Ryan, of Houston, earned her bachelor’s in fashion and retail management at The Art Institute of Houston. She spent the past three years as a home health care provider. She spent part of last year volunteering with the AgriLife Extension office in Waller County. She also spent 13 years working in fashion and retail management in various customer service and leadership roles. She has produced fashion shows, styling events, charity events and more. She finds joy in fashion, research and having knowledge on what can help each person grow. Ryan said she is excited about coming together with Grimes County to help make a good impact in the youth, Master Gardeners and senior citizens communities and more. “I joined AgriLife Extension because I see myself in the program and the positive effect it has on communities,” she said. “I told myself the next part of my life I will make an even greater positive impact in myself and to help others grow. I am passionate about good health and mental state of minds.”
District 10, headquartered in Uvalde
— Alex Orozco, agriculture and natural resources, Kimble County. Lopez, of Galt, California, earned his bachelor’s in animal science from California State University-Chico and his master’s in agronomy, specializing in range and forage science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He spent the last year as a county agent in northeast Wyoming. Prior to being an agent in Wyoming, while obtaining his master’s, Orozco worked for University of Nebraska Extension as a rangeland research technician. Growing up and through college he also worked on cattle ranches, feedlots, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service and California Extension. He grew up on a cow-calf operation in northern California, where they raised Boer-crossed goats for brush control. Orozco said he is excited to work in Kimble County. “I joined AgriLife Extension to be able to work hands-on with the youth and the producers to promote agriculture as a whole,” he said. “I am really looking forward to building connections and relationships in the community.”
— Mike Morris, agriculture and natural resources, Kerr County. Morris, of Palestine, earned his bachelor’s in biology with a minor in agriculture economics from the University of Central Missouri. He spent the last 16 years working as an agriculture specialist for a major international restaurant company responsible for establishing programs and policy to govern supplier practices for multiple food animal species. Morris has advised and consulted with producers in South America, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Prior experience includes stints in feed manufacturing and beef cattle programming with Purina Mills, and feed manufacturing and broiler production management with Con Agra Frozen Foods. Morris said he is passionate about education, whether working with young people in the 4-H system or adult programming. “After many years in private industry, I am excited to be working on behalf of the public and my community. The opportunity to associate with, learn from and share knowledge with the people of Kerr County is the reason I joined AgriLife Extension. I fully expect these years to be the most rewarding of my career.”
District 11, headquartered in Corpus Christi
— Pat Cruz, coastal marine resources agent, Aransas County. Cruz, of Corpus Christi, earned his bachelor’s in Biology at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. He has spent the past 30 years as an environmental specialist for the Texas Department of State Health Services, classifying bays for the harvesting of molluscan shellfish and inspected shellfish processing plants from Port Lavaca to South Padre Island. Cruz said he is passionate about working with and educating the community.
— Matthew Tilley, Disaster Assessment and Recovery agent, District 11. Tilley, of Du Quoin, Illinois, graduated from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement – Police Academy located in Harlingen. While working as a peace officer, he earned his associate’s degree in criminal justice and a bachelor’s in homeland security, both at Columbia Southern University. Tilley spent the last eight years as a law enforcement officer working with the Bay City Police Department and the Matagorda County Sheriff’s Office, holding positions such as patrol officer, patrol sergeant, narcotics detective, undercover narcotics supervisor and a K9 handler. Prior to his time as a peace officer, he worked as a nuclear security officer for approximately 10 years while living in northern Illinois. Tilley said he is not only passionate about educating the citizens of Matagorda County but the youth as well on how to prepare for different types of disasters. He has a passion to serve the people in his community and in his role, he will be able to help people when they are in their greatest need. His favorite quote, which comes from Gandhi, states “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” He believes that while performing his job, he will be able to inspire people to help others in need as well.
District 12, headquartered in Weslaco
— Sara Nicholson, family and community health, Frio County. Nicholson, of Tipton, Michigan, earned her bachelor’s from Eastern Michigan University. She spent the past 10 years as a teacher in the Phoenix and San Antonio area, where she taught middle school math and science, and up to 15 different subjects at the secondary level to students who were unable to attend school. Nicholson is passionate about food and the role it plays in our lives, along with returning to a simpler lifestyle through homesteading. “I hope to create a positive impact in my community, whether that’s through providing engaging programs of nutrition and physical health, or helping with 4-H,” she said.