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 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 county agent list can be found at https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/counties/.
Following are the individuals hired in the AgriLife Extension districts and the county agent positions they will fill:
District 1, headquartered in Amarillo
— Shanda Neelley, family and community health, Oldham County. Neelley, of Cleveland, Texas, earned a bachelor’s in elementary education at Texas A&M University. She spent the past 13 years as a teacher with the Vega Independent School District. Neelley grew up in the 4-H system, showing steers, sheep and judging livestock, as well as participating in foods and nutrition. She said she is passionate about education and agriculture and looks forward to working with the citizens of Oldham County to help improve lives and develop young leaders.
— Racheal Oeleis, family and community support, Hutchinson County. Oeleis, of Borger, earned her bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies at West Texas A&M University. She has spent the past 27 years as a Borger Independent School District teacher. Oeleis said she is passionate about working with youth and creating future leaders in Hutchinson County. She also looks forward to working with the county’s adults in programs and partnerships and is currently seeking volunteers for her committees. “I am amazed at the invaluable resources offered through AgriLife Extension. I am excited to be a part of something that has the power to positively impact our community on various levels,” she said.
District 2, headquartered in Lubbock
— Garret Wilson, agriculture and natural resources, Bailey County. Wilson, of Tatum, New Mexico, earned his bachelor’s in integrated pest management from New Mexico State University. He spent the past four and a half years as the Mobile Dairy Classroom instructor for Southwest Dairy Farmers, covering the state of New Mexico and the West Texas region. Wilson said he enjoys teaching others about agriculture and is eager to help his community with projects they already have going and introduce new ones for those who might not know there is a place for them.
District 3, headquartered in Vernon
— Paige McSpadden, agriculture and natural resources, Archer County. McSpadden, of Palestine, earned her bachelor’s in agricultural media and communication from West Texas A&M University. She has been an agricultural science teacher in Quanah since 2020. She previously worked at the American Quarter Horse Association as a production assistant and as the 4-H and youth development intern in Anderson County and in Swisher County. A long-time member of 4-H, she showed hogs, breeding heifers and was an active part of the country youth leadership board. She said she is very excited to start her new career in Archer County and is actively seeking new volunteers to jump-start livestock judging teams and a team leader for a Meat Science team.
District 4, headquartered in Dallas
— Matthew Orwat, agriculture and natural resources, Dallas County. Orwat, of Fort Worth, earned his bachelor’s at the University of Texas at Arlington and his master’s in horticulture at Texas A&M. He worked with the rose breeding and genetics program and was a teaching assistant. He completed an internship with AgriLife Extension in Tarrant and Denton counties before starting his career as an Extension agent with the University of Florida IFAS Extension in Washington County. Growing fruit trees and vegetables with his father and helping his grandfather in his orchard and pecan grove helped him develop a love for growing vegetables, fruits and roses. Orwat said there are many untapped niche markets for small farms in urban areas, and he aims to help enterprising agricultural entrepreneurs find those and develop sustainable urban crop production through the outreach of AgriLife Extension.
— Lisa Sprague, family and community health, Hopkins County. Sprague, of Sulphur Springs, earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Stephen F. Austin University. She worked for several years as a secondary English teacher and a Family Consumer Science teacher. Sprague was born and raised in Hopkins County on her family’s dairy farm. She said becoming a county agent in Hopkins County is a dream job, and she looks forward to partnering with community leaders, adult citizens and youth in the years to come. “One of the greatest gifts you can give another person is empowerment,” Sprague said. “Empowerment is achieved when knowledge and skills are shared, and individuals understand they can add tools to their personal toolbox their whole life. I hope to partner with adults and youth alike to aid in this process.”
District 5, headquartered in Overton
— Maley Green, 4-H and youth development, Rusk County. Green, of Henderson, earned her bachelor’s in agriculture from Stephen F. Austin State University. During college, Green worked at the Walter C. Todd Agricultural Research Center in Nacogdoches, where she was an assistant at the Beef Cattle Center. She also served as the FFA adviser and agricultural science teacher at Full Armor Christian Academy. Green is a fifth-generation commercial cow-calf producer. She also was actively involved in Henderson FFA. She said she is most excited about serving her community and building on the standard of excellence that AgriLife Extension has set in Rusk County. “I joined AgriLife Extension because I wanted to be a part of a great community of agriculture professionals,” Green said. “I love working with and teaching the youth more about agriculture.”
District 6, headquartered in Fort Stockton
— Vanessa Lucero, 4-H and youth development, El Paso County. Lucero, of Socorro, earned her bachelor’s in English language arts and social studies at the University of Texas at El Paso and her master’s in adult education and training at the University of Phoenix. She spent the past 10 years in the parent engagement field, guiding parents and teachers in sharing a responsibility to help children learn and meet educational goals with Socorro Independent School District. Growing up on her grandfather’s farm, she said she understands the need to build youths’ knowledge of opportunities in the agriculture sectors of her region and is passionate about developing volunteers to lead all 4-H club and program activities with confidence and empathy. “I strive for our youth to be lifelong learners creating agricultural communities of servant leaders, entrepreneurs and advocates,” Socorro said.
— Brady Evans, agriculture and natural resources, Midland County. Evans, of Ira, earned her associate degree at Western Texas College, her bachelor’s in agriculture services and development at Tarleton State University and her master’s in agriculture science at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She was a county agent in Concho County for six years before starting her own business and moving to Snyder to become part of the family sheep operation, Defaid Livestock Company. Evans grew up in 4-H and FFA, showing sheep, judging livestock and serving in local and district office positions. She is passionate about bringing agriculture knowledge to those who are not from the agriculture industry. “I am excited to focus on adult education within the agriculture and natural resources community,” Evans said. “There is a lot of area to cover, however, the top priorities of water and wildlife can easily be identified.”
District 7, headquartered in San Angelo
— Caleb Kott, agriculture and natural resources, Sterling County. Kott, of Junction, earned his bachelor’s in animal science at Texas A&M University and will complete his master’s in agriculture leadership, education and communications at Texas A&M this fall. While at college, he was an active member of the Saddle and Sirloin Club, Collegiate 4-H and the Collegiate Wool Judging Team. He grew up as an active member in his local 4-H clubs, showing market lambs and breeding sheep. Along with showing lambs, he competed in livestock judging, wool and mohair judging, food and nutrition, and shooting sports. Kott said he is excited to take on an active role in Sterling County’s youth, as well as with local ag producers. “I joined AgriLife Extension because it is extremely important that we invest in our youth.”
District 8, headquartered in Stephenville
— Terry Taylor, family and community health, Bosque County. Taylor, of Iowa Park, earned her bachelor’s in business administration in marketing at Midwestern State University and her master’s in consumer sciences at Texas Woman’s University. She spent the last eight years as a classroom teacher. She also served as county fair creative arts and education chair for five years and 4-H club manager for 10 years. Taylor grew up in the 4-H system, showing dairy heifers and pigs, as well as participating in foods and nutrition, clothing and textiles, and leadership projects. “AgriLife Extension is about education and agriculture, which are both very important to me,” Taylor said.
District 9, headquartered in College Station
— Karrie Calloway, community engagement coordinator, Harris County. Calloway, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, earned a certificate and completed training at the Culinary Institute of America in Culinary Arts. She earned her bachelor’s degree in agriculture, specializing in plant and soil science. For the past 15 years, Karrie Calloway has served as a second-generation owner-operator of her family’s catering company. In addition, Calloway has worked with the Prairie View A&M University, PVAMU, Cooperative Extension as a program aide. While studying at the PVAMU Agriculture Department, she has actively participated in numerous research and development projects. Additionally, she has pioneered the introduction of farm-to-table concepts and STEM programming for the youth in Sunnyside. “I hope to be a partner to adults and youth alike,” she said.
— Nisa Khan, family and community health, Fort Bend County. Khan, from the United Kingdom, earned her bachelor’s in communications at Birmingham University. She is currently pursuing her master’s in nutrition. Khan has spent a decade as an educator in the field of nutrition in the United Kingdom and Dubai. She has worked for the National Health Service, private clinics and ran her own wellness business working with local farmers and produce. Khan is passionate about real food and permaculture practices and advocates for supporting farmers and being a steward of the land. She said her own journey from sickness to health happened primarily through changing her diet, and this is the catalyst behind her passion.
— Steven Frederick, agriculture and natural resources, Harris County. Frederick, of Gonzales, earned his associate’s from Blinn College and his bachelor’s in agricultural science with a teaching option from Texas A&M. He spent the past three years teaching agricultural science at Seguin Independent School District and then at Yantis ISD before joining AgriLife Extension. Frederick grew up in a small rural town with beef cattle and poultry production. He was involved in FFA, showing pigs. He also participated in livestock judging and served as a local and district officer. He said he is passionate about his work and serving the youth and adults of Harris County to grow the next leaders in agriculture. “I joined AgriLife Extension to better serve the people of Texas,” Frederick said. “I hope I can help them gain more knowledge on the importance of agriculture.”
— Willa Williams, Ph.D., urban youth development, Harris County. Williams, of Houston, earned her bachelor’s in plant and soil science at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, her master’s in agricultural and extension education at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and her doctorate of higher education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She spent the past eight years as a regional 4-H youth development specialist with the University of Missouri Extension in the Branson and Springfield area. She has worked as a 4-H state STEM specialist for the University of Arkansas and Colorado State University. Williams said she has always loved science and the outdoors and is passionate about helping youth find their future career just as 4-H helped her find a career in science and education, adding, “I hope to help youth gain the skills and knowledge that will help them succeed in life.”
District 10, headquartered in Uvalde
— Paige Bielamowicz, 4-H and youth development, Caldwell County. Bielamowicz, of College Station, earned her bachelor’s and master’s in animal science from Tarleton State University. She spent the past six years as a research assistant for Tarleton State University and Texas Tech University. During graduate school, she coached the college Dairy Challenge Team and guest lectured for dairy courses. Bielamowicz grew up in an agricultural family, gaining experience in horses and beef cattle. She was involved in FFA as an officer, showing and judging poultry, and competing in public speaking events. “I joined AgriLife Extension to positively impact the community, especially the next generation by working with 4-H kids,” she said.
District 11, headquartered in Corpus Christi
— Amy Nowlin, coastal and marine resources, Matagorda County. Nowlin, of Edna, earned her bachelor’s in communications at the University of Houston-Victoria and her master’s in curriculum and instruction and educational leadership at Texas A&M International University. She spent over 10 years working for the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Department of Transportation’s Government and Public Affairs division. Nowlin earned her teaching certifications in Special Education and Life Sciences and was employed as the Formosa-Tejano wetland instructional specialist for Calhoun County ISD. She is also a state-certified Texas Master Naturalist. She said the uniqueness of Matagorda County continues to be a main attraction for Texas. “As a nature enthusiast and life learner, I am eager to discover the needs of Matagorda County that I may service as I grow into this position,” she said.
District 12, headquartered in Weslaco
— Valeria Arredondo, Better Living for Texans, Webb County. Arredondo, of Laredo, earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a minor in psychology. She has been working with AgriLife Extension for the past six years while she completed her education. “I joined AgriLife Extension with the hope of this being my career, and it has helped me grow and be passionate about helping others and being there for the community,” Arredondo said.
— Jeffrey Hester, agriculture and natural resources, Webb County. Hester, of Pleasant View, earned his bachelor’s in agricultural sciences at Austin Peay State University and master’s in agricultural leadership, education, and communications at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He has worked with the United Independent School District for the past two years. Prior to moving to Laredo, he served as the agriculture and natural resources agent for the University of Tennessee Extension in Sumner County. Hester grew up in the Tennessee 4-H program, showing horses, raising tobacco and participating in leadership and citizenship events. “I pray that I can always be a valued educator in AgriLife Extension, where the people see me as a servant to their community, but they are taught and guided to emulate their experience to continue cultivating change within their own community,” Hester said.
— Karina Sauceda, agriculture and natural resources, La Salle County. Sauceda, of Cotulla, earned her bachelor’s in agricultural communications and journalism at Texas A&M University and enrolled in a Master of Public Administration program at Texas A&M International University. She spent the past years as a congressional intern for Texas District 23 and a public information officer/main street coordinator for the City of Cotulla. Sauceda grew up in the 4-H system showing livestock and participating in shooting sports. She is passionate about cultivating agricultural education and happy to be home in the community she grew up in. She said joining AgriLife Extension has always been something she has looked forward to as it is a program that poured so much into her.
— Ashlie Stayton, family and community health, Atascosa County. Stayton, of Pleasanton, earned her bachelor’s degree in fashion management. She spent the past four years as the 4-H program assistant in the AgriLife Extension office in Atascosa County. Stayton grew up in Atascosa County and was a member of the 4-H program, showing rabbits and participating in Fashion Show and Food Show. “I am most passionate about working with adults and youth within my community,” she said.