AgriLife Extension horticulturist wins Superior Service Award for volunteerism

By: Paul Schattenberg, 120-467-6575, paschattenberg@ag.tamu.edu

Contact: Lupe Landeros. 210-467-6575 g-landeros@tamu.edu                                                                                                                                                                           David Rodriguez, 210-467-6575, dhrodriguez@ag.tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – David Rodriguez, Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent for horticulture in Bexar County, has received his agency’s 2011 Superior Service Award in the category of volunteerism.

This award is presented to staff who demonstrate outstanding performance or provide exceptional service to AgriLife Extension, an educational outreach agency of the Texas A&M University System, according to the award guidelines.

David Rodriguez, Texas AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist in Bexar County, won the agency's Superior Service Award in the category of volunteerism. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo)

Rodriguez has been an AgriLife Extension agent in Bexar County for six years. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture from Texas A&M University, along with extensive experience in the green industry, his nomination stated.

It also stated Rodriguez had previous experience with AgriLife Extension, serving as a senior intern under the mentorship of Drs. Jerry Parsons and Calvin Finch — both formerly with AgriLife Extension – to help set up the first Master Gardener class in 1989.

Also cited in the award nomination were efforts by the Bexar County Master Gardener association, a volunteer horticulture program supporting AgriLife Extension programs and activities throughout the county.

“David continually looks for volunteer opportunities for Master Gardeners and is himself very involved in horticultural efforts to improve the community and educate youth and adults,” said Barbara Lutz, president of the Bexar County Master Gardener organization. “He’s most deserving of this award, especially because he leads by example.”

According to the nomination, in 2011 Bexar County Master Gardener program volunteers contributed 35,716 hours to various horticulture-related programs and activities, which translates to more than $720,000 in service to San Antonio and Bexar County. Additionally, last year Bexar County Master Gardener volunteers made more than 250 community presentations reaching more than 30,000 county residents. There are currently about 400 Bexar County Master Gardener program volunteers.

“In the time David has been providing leadership for this program, the number of volunteer hours and extent of volunteerism to benefit San Antonio and the county has increased substantially,” said Lupe Landeros, AgriLife Extension director, Bexar County.  “He also has helped increase youth horticulture programming, expanded educational outreach to the community and green industry, increased public awareness of the Master Gardener program and developed a more defined and directed use of volunteer manpower.”

Some major project areas in which Rodriguez and the Bexar County Master Gardeners participate include: youth gardening education, community adult horticultural education, water conservation and proper irrigation, sustainable limited-space gardening and community beautification efforts.

According to the award citation, Rodriguez also oversees and directs the volunteer activities of the Bexar County Master Gardener Youth Gardening program, which serves more than 200 schools, the majority of which are located in low-income areas of Bexar County.

Landeros added that Rodriguez has further helped increase awareness of horticultural issues, as well as the AgriLife Extension and its local Master Gardener program, through his participation in radio programs on WOAI and KEDA, other media-related activities and presentations in various large and small public venues.

“It’s truly an honor to receive this award, but it’s really a reflection of the time, effort and dedication by the leadership and volunteers of the Bexar County Master Gardener association,” Rodriguez said. “They’re really the ones who make us look good.”

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