VERNON – The Rolling Plains agricultural economy depends heavily on stocker cattle, beef cows and wheat, and a Texas AgriLife Extension Service team working together on educational efforts to address these has received a Superior Service team award.
The Cattle Trails Conferences creators are Stan Bevers, AgriLife Extension economist-management; Fred Hall, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent, Wichita County; Langdon Reagan, agriculture and natural resources agent, Wilbarger County; and Todd Baughman, former AgriLife Extension agronomist in Vernon.
This award is one of the highest recognitions within AgriLife Extension and is presented to those who demonstrate outstanding performance or provide exceptional service, according to the award guidelines. The award presentation will be made at noon May 10 at an AgriLife Extension awards luncheon at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center near Vernon.
External team members from Oklahoma Cooperative Extension also recognized on the award were Max Gallaway, Stephens County agent; Aaron Henson, Tillman County agent; Bob Levalley, southwest district Extension livestock specialist; and Marty New, Comanche County agent.
The predominantly dryland production of the Rolling Plains extends across the Red River into southern and central Oklahoma, presenting joint programming opportunities for Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension, said Donald Kelm, AgriLife Extension district administrator and award nominator.
In fall 2009, the unique group of Extension faculty from both states met to form the foundation for providing prominent cattle and wheat conferences each fall and winter, Kelm said. The team agreed to design, implement and evaluate two annual educational conferences. One would be targeted for the fall and would focus on wheat and stocker cattle operations, while the second would be in the winter and would focus on cow‐calf operations.
Each conference would alternate between Oklahoma and Texas and the program would include a major speaker, along with traditional Extension specialists from both states. As an example, the first conference included Mark Bumgarner from the Ohio Farm Bureau presenting “Animal Rights versus Animal Welfare.”
The team agreed that evaluating the conferences was of utmost importance, Kelm said. A survey instrument was created to evaluate the conferences from a satisfaction standpoint and from a financial impact perspective.
Based on a 1 to 5 scale,1 being poor and 5 being excellent, the July 2010 conference rated 4.74, the January 2011 rated 4.73 and the August 2011 conference rated 4.31, according to the nomination. Results of the surveys suggested that participants intended to change their production and/or management plan based on the information they had received.
Actual producer remarks commented on the quality of the conferences as well as the synergy that was created by both state Extension entities working together, Kelm said.
J.T. Smith, editor of the Farmer Stockman Magazine, is quoted in the nomination as saying, “I like the synergism of the joint conference. This fits North Central Texas and Southwest Oklahoma … It’s meetings like this that can mean more sometimes in extremely tough times than in good times.”