Two Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists received awards from the Universities Council on Water Resources, UCOWR, for education, outreach and resource management.
Jake Mowrer, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension state soil specialist, Bryan-College Station, received the Mid-Career Award for Extension/Outreach/Engagement, while Michael Kuitu, AgriLife Extension program specialist and coordinator for the Texas Watershed Steward program, received the Education and Public Service Award.
UCOWR was founded in 1964 and is a consortium of academic institutions and affiliates invested in water resources research, education and outreach, according to UCOWR.
“We are proud to have two of our AgriLife Extension faculty receive these prestigious awards,” said David Baltensperger, Ph.D., head of the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Bryan-College Station. “These awards emphasize the work done across Texas and abroad to protect and enrich soils and nutrients through public education and outreach.”
Public outreach and education
Mowrer’s efforts span statewide and nationally, working with clientele across Texas on issues related to soil nutrient and water resource management.
Mowrer works to help agricultural producers adopt best practices in soil, fertilizer and animal waste management to steward nutrient resources appropriately. He works with farmers to improve soil function and to capture rainfall, but Mowrer said he also works with urban clientele to improve the management of fertilizers on lawns and gardens.
“By increasing the adoption of these practices, all Texans can take pride in the restoration of clean water resources across the state,” he said.
Most notably, prior to coming to Texas, Mowrer was also credited with providing information and water testing resources to assist Georgia residents with improving the quality of water in their community that has been linked to cancer.
“It is absolutely impossible to determine how many lives were saved and are still being saved because of Jake’s testing and providing information to the necessary government agencies and the public,” wrote Janet McMahan in her support letter. “My son Ben lived an extra four years that he would not have lived if he had kept drinking our water.”
“It’s an honor to receive this recognition and to help citizens across the country in providing them with education and resources about soil and water management,” Mowrer said.
Water education and outreach
Kuitu is a licensed professional geoscientist in Texas, a certified floodplain manager and holds two degrees and a graduate certificate from Texas A&M University: master of water management and hydrologic science, bachelor of environmental geoscience, and graduate certificate in business.
His career has centered on water resource/water quality management and remediation, including geoscientific review of contaminated soil and groundwater remediation cases overseen by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The Texas Watershed Steward program, a non-point source pollution mitigation education program funded by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
As coordinator of the program, Kuitu is responsible for facilitating and educating stakeholder groups to participate in the development of watershed protection plans and other water resource restoration and protection projections throughout Texas.
“I am honored to have been selected for this award,” Kuitu said. “My colleagues, both past and present, along with AgriLife Extension and Jake as my supervisor, have enabled me the opportunities to exercise the attributes that led to this award. I could not have done it without them. They are also very deserving of equal recognition.”