AgriLife Extension agent for Swisher County garners top agency award


David Graf presented with Superior Service Award

COLLEGE STATION – David Graf, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources in Swisher County, has earned the agency’s highest award.

Graf, a seven-year AgriLife Extension employee, was recognized with a Superior Service Award in the county agent category at ceremonies held Jan. 8 during the annual Texas A&M AgriLife Conference in College Station. The honor is given to staff who demonstrate outstanding performance or who provide exceptional service to AgriLife Extension, an educational outreach agency of the Texas A&M University System.

Graf was honored for outstanding programming and AgriLife Extension efforts in the areas of cotton production, irrigation management, marketing and 4-H and youth development.

Cotton accounted for just over 70 percent of Swisher County’s total gross dollars of crop production in 2011, according to Graf’s nomination. As well-water levels declined too low for corn production, the county’s producers indicated they would increase their cotton acres.

The Swisher County AgriLife Extension Ag Committee and Graf developed a comprehensive educational program to enhance efforts toward improving cotton production efficiency while optimizing net profit and conserving water.

“David has proven himself as an outstanding county AgriLife Extension agent for Swisher County,” wrote Barry Evans in his letter of recommendation supporting Graf’s nomination.

Evans, of Evans Grain at Kress, noted that Graf conducts method demonstration tests requested by local farmers.

“David gears programs to what is relevant to the farms and ranches in Swisher County. He takes input from the producers to develop these programs.”

Graf has developed two innovative programs to increase participation in 4-H livestock projects at a reduced cost, according to his nomination. With the help of several 4-H leaders, his first program was to establish a commercial livestock division for the Swisher County Stock Show. This division allows youth to purchase an animal and feed at market price. They must keep records, have monthly facilities checks and participate in an interview as part of their project work.

His second program established the 4-H Buddy Program in conjunction with the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army purchases an animal and feed for at-risk youth identified by the school counselor. In return, the student cares for the animal, keeps records and then donates a portion of the premium sale earnings from the animal back to the Salvation Army to be utilized by the next year’s students in the program.

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