AgriLife Media Relations Unit receives Superior Service Award

COLLEGE STATION – A team of veteran media relations specialists has been awarded a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Superior Service Award, the highest employee honor given by the agency.

Unit members Kathleen Phillips, College Station; Blair Fannin, College Station; Robert Burns, Overton; Steve Byrns, San Angelo; Kay Ledbetter, Amarillo; Rod Santa Ana, Weslaco; and Paul Schattenberg, San Antonio, were award recipients.

The award, presented Jan. 8 during the annual Texas A&M AgriLife conference in College Station, is given to staff who demonstrate outstanding performance or provide exceptional service to AgriLife Extension, an educational outreach agency of the Texas A&M University System.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Media Relations Team was presented a superior service award from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service on Jan. 8, 2013. Team members are, from the left back row: Robert Burns of Overton, Blair Fannin of College Station, Paul Schattenburg of San Antonio and Steve Byrns of San Angelo. Front row, Rod Santa Ana of Weslaco, Kathleen Phillips of College Station and Kay Ledbetter of Amarillo. (Photo courtesy of Texas A&M AgriLife Communications)

The awardees were recognized for media work over a five-year period. The team distributes a minimum of one news release every weekday, which has translated to an average of about 575 AgriLife Extension-related news stories a year, publicizing more than 2,880 Extension programs and events.

Daily media releases over the past five years by the AgriLife Extension news team resulted in 36,997 printed news clips, viewed by more than 1.4 billion individuals and representing 2,214 contacts with journalists worldwide.

“Their regular reporting about Extension programs and people plays a valuable role in building awareness and support that Extension enjoys among stakeholders and clientele,” wrote Dr. Ed Smith, former director of AgriLife Extension, in a commendation letter. “However, the unit really shines and plays a critical part organizationally when Extension educators must address emerging issues and emergencies. Drought, wildfires, floods, pests and disease outbreaks, economic hardships and opportunities, the Farm Bill – all are times when the unit has met the challenge of coordinating and maximizing Extension’s public information and media relations.”

Ron Smith, editor of Southwest Farm Press, wrote, “The AgriLife Media Relations Team produces daily posts that have been extremely valuable as Farm Press and other farm publications transition into electronic media. I have come to rely on the team for contact information, well-written timely articles pertinent to Texas farmers and ranchers, and for tips on hot topics and coming trends.”

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