The Texas Extension Specialist Association, TESA, met at their annual meeting and professional development conference to recognize agents and associates for their exceptional work throughout the year.
TESA represents the interests of specialists, associates and assistants within the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Program.
Recently, the association welcomed AgriLife Extension agents, associates, specialists and assistants to meet in League City for the annual meeting and conference.
AgriLife Extension agents honored for their outstanding contributions
TESA recognizes county agents for their work in developing outstanding educational programs using the support of AgriLife Extension specialist faculty in a joint effort to deliver these programs to their county clientele. Individual agents or teams are recognized in one of five categories: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family and Consumer Sciences, 4-H and Youth, Community Development, and a Specialty Area. Additionally, recognition is provided to outstanding staff.
The Specialty Agent of the Year Award was presented to Bryan Davis, the AgriLife Extension agent for Disaster Assessment and Recovery, DAR, headquartered in District 10, in Seguin. During his time working as a DAR agent, Davis has worked with a team of fellow DAR and county agents during deployments across Texas and the nation when they are needed. He has been deployed on projects such as the state COVID mission as part of the Texas Pony Express and led other deployments to assist with wildfires across Texas and California. During deployment with the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team in Fort Myers, Florida, he joined the DAR staff to support the urban search and rescue canine teams.
The 4-H and Youth Development Agent of the Year Award went to Kayla Kaspar in Fayette County. During her 17-year career, Kaspar has worked with a group of neighboring agents to create educational programs to reach the youth through the “Train Like a Champion” Livestock Educational Series and the “Prestige Leadership Camp” for 4-H Club officers. She has also used financial literacy, farm safety and healthy lifestyle programs to connect and target the youth in her county.
The Family and Community Health Agent of the Year Award was presented to Micah Holcombe, the AgriLife Extension family and community health agent for Milam County. Throughout her career with AgriLife Extension, Holcombe has worked with her fellow family and community health specialists to set up educational programs for the community that have been highly impactful. Her nomination letter stated she coordinated the Rockdale and Cameron school districts to host an annual “Battle of the Bell” Walk Across Texas! competition between students and faculty. At this event, Micah had 164 adults and 1,224 youth from Milam County completing the 2022 Walk Across Texas! “Battle of the Bell.”
The Community Development Agent of the Year was awarded to R.J. Shelly, a coastal marine resources agent from Calhoun County. Shelly has provided numerous education opportunities for fishermen, natural resources personnel and youth about issues affecting the Coastal areas in Calhoun County. His nomination letter stated that Shelly has “worked with the AgriLife Extension agriculture economics department about proposing rule changes by the Texas Parks and Wildlife that would significantly impact commercial oyster fisherman.”
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent of the Year Award honored Shane McLellan, Ph.D., in McLennan County. During his 24-year career, McLellan has worked alongside numerous AgriLife Extension specialists during educational programs in beef cattle, sheep/goat, forage, row crops, wildlife and fisheries and horticulture. He has been essential to the Blackland Income Growth, BIG, Conference and the Stiles Farm Field Day. According to his nomination letter, “he is the consummate professional agriculture agent, and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is lucky to have a person of his integrity and knowledge.”
Recognizing outstanding service inside, outside the agency
The Outstanding Administrative Support Person of the Year Award was presented to Lindsey Sheppard, administrative assistant for Dan Hale, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension associate director for agriculture and natural resources. Sheppard assists in scheduling appointments, processing travel and communicating with employees and clientele. Her nomination letter stated, “Lindsey is an outstanding employee and a true example of what type of people our agency represents. Her work ethic, attention to detail and outstanding attitude are inspiring.”
The TESA Friend of Extension Award is presented each year to an individual or organization that has contributed significantly to the success of AgriLife Extension’s educational programs. This year’s recipient was United Ag in El Campo. Since 1928, United Ag has revolved around grain and cotton commodities while serving the 1,100 farmers, ranchers and landowners involved in agriculture along the Texas Gulf Coast Region. United Ag has played a crucial role in planning, funding and implementing AgriLife Extension education programs.
TESA also presented youth scholarship awards at the annual meeting to Brandon Jones of Amarillo and Samyuktha Venkatesh of Sugar Land. Jones is a sophomore at Tarleton State University, majoring in manufacturing engineering technology. Venkatesh is a junior at the University of Texas, majoring in computer science.
Sharing and celebrating the AgriLife Extension family
AgriLife Extension boasts an expansive statewide network of employees serving all 254 counties in Texas. They strive to address not only the diverse array of emerging issues that affect their local communities, but they also try to meet the everyday needs of Texans through innovative partnerships and programming.
The Texas Extension Specialist Association encourages people within AgriLife Extension to network with fellow employees, improve professionally and celebrate the excellence seen every day across the state.
For more information about the association, visit http://tesa.tamu.edu/.