COLLEGE STATION – With National Dairy Month under way through June, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service announced a recent tribute to Southwest Dairy Farmers.
The Sulphur Springs-based group received the AgriLife Extension Partnership Award. At a board of directors meeting in April, Jim Hill, general manager, and David DeJong, president, accepted the award from Ed Smith, AgriLife Extension director.
Southwest Dairy Farmers is an alliance of dairy farmers from Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma who support “consumer education in nutrition, to promote dairy product use and provide dairy product information,” according to their website.
The group has partnered with Extension in Texas and New Mexico to provide educational programming to kindergarten through sixth grade children, according to the citation.
“By providing leadership, funding, materials and teaching expertise, they have helped expand the Kids and Kows and More program from an annual event held in El Paso, Texas in the early 1990s to a fast-growing multi-state educational program, reaching over 50,000 school-age children each year in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma,” Smith noted.
He said the dairy farmers group also provided funds that enabled the agency to create an Extension dairy position “to develop and deliver a multi-faceted education program aimed at improving the agricultural literacy of the next generation of our citizens and leaders.”
Since 2000, Smith said, Southwest Dairy Farmers not only supported AgriLife Extension programs but also invested in publications, audio/visual materials, equipment and educational technology such as animatronics and 14 Mobile Dairy Classrooms. Recently, the group contributed to an effort by Extension nutrition specialists to develop bilingual versions of educational materials.
The farmers’ alliance was also honored for their work with the 4-H program and stock shows, various county-level dairy days, a dairy outreach environmental training and the endowment of a Southwest Dairy Marketing Chair in the department of agricultural economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.
AgriLife Extension established the Partnership Award in 1999 to recognize “vital alliances with agencies, organizations and others beyond The Texas A&M University System” where the support and collaboration has “significantly enhanced the outreach and impact of AgriLife Extension programs for the people of Texas.”