COLLEGE STATION — Philip Schackelford, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county agent for Austin County, has received the agency’s Superior Service Award in the county Extension agent category.
The award, presented Jan. 8 during the annual Texas A&M AgriLife Conference in College Station, is given to those who demonstrate outstanding performance or who provide exceptional service to AgriLife Extension, an educational outreach agency of the Texas A&M University System.
Shackelford began his career with AgriLife Extension 19 years ago in Ellis County and eventually became a county agent in Austin County, where he has served for the last 12 years.
In his award nomination, Shackelford was described as an agent who “takes a unique and innovative approach to programming that allows him to reach a diverse audience of both seasoned clientele and newcomers of all ages.”
Shackelford was credited with excellence in conducting various programs, including new landowner education.
“Austin County,” the nomination states, “is fast becoming a bedroom community for the greater Houston metro area,” with 500 new landowners on average buying 10 or more acres annually between 2000-2007. By 2010, education of new landowners was identified as a priority issue.
In January 2001, Shackelford designed a series of educational programs to assist new landowners in Austin County, the nomination states. In 2007, Shackelford expanded it to include several surrounding counties. The program became known as the Multi-County New Landowners Educational Series focused primarily on agriculture production ideas for the new landowners.
“Based on the evaluation results collected from 2007-2011, the course has had a profound impact on nearly 2000 new landowners,” the nomination states.
Shackelford was also cited for having provided educational seminars, workshops and field days to meet the educational needs of beef and forage producers who account for some $71 million of the $101 million in annual agricultural income in Austin County.
The nomination also credits Shackelford with developing several other AgriLife Extension program, including Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists and 4-H youth and development.
“Philip conducts himself with the utmost integrity and treats everyone with fairness and respect,” it states.
In a nomination letter, John and Sheila Howard of Howard Farms wrote, “A relative newcomer to the area, (Shackelford) has adapted to our quirks as well as the special agricultural problems of this area. He has an exceptional ability to relate to people coupled with a sense of humor that makes him an excellent public speaker.
“His personal presentations are highly informative and done in a manner that can be understood by old-hands as well as ‘city-folk-moved-to-the-country.’ And he obtains just the right expert in the various fields for the newest research information. A special side to Philip is his ability to say, ‘I don’t know, but I’ll find out,’ and then he does just that.”