COLLEGE STATION – Dr. John Sweeten, resident director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Centers in Amarillo and Vernon, has been honored with the Texas A&M AgriLife Vice Chancellor’s Award for administration.
The honor was presented Jan. 8 during the Texas A&M AgriLife Conference in College Station. The Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence were established in 1980 to recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions of Texas A&M AgriLife faculty and staff throughout Texas and provide an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those honored.
According to the nomination, Sweeten has built strong relationships with external clientele groups such as Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas Wheat Producers Board, Texas Corn Producers Board, Texas Sorghum Producers Board, Texas Association of Dairymen, Texas Pork Producers Association, Texas Farm Bureau, North Plains Groundwater Conservation District, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Dairy Producers of New Mexico.
“Each of these are cooperators in our research and are responsible for sharing research dollars with various faculty members throughout the Texas A&M University System,” wrote Danny Nusser, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service district administrator in Amarillo, in the nomination.
Sweeten also is co-creator and convener of the Cooperative Research, Education and Extension Team or CREET in the Panhandle, which involves AgriLife Research-Amarillo, AgriLife Extension-Amarillo, Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab-Amarillo, West Texas A&M University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service at Bushland.
CREET serves as the coordinating and planning mechanism for interagency projects and programs for 77-plus faculty in the Panhandle, plus seven administrators. CREET also has an advisory council of 20 persons selected to represent agricultural and urban interests, state representatives and senators, mayors of Amarillo and Hereford, and local congressional staff.
Sweeten was asked to take on the leadership of the AgriLife Research unit at Vernon in 2008. He has facilitated two joint faculty retreats involving the faculty at Amarillo and Vernon, thus producing promising synergies, according to the nomination.
The nomination continued: Together, the Amarillo and Vernon units have developed joint or complementing programs that include: ruminant animal health; animal manure management for water quality protection; and bioenergy feedstock development. More work is being done in the areas of rangeland restoration, carbon cycling in the soil and atmosphere, and monocot breeding/development.
Sweeten also is a member of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Council, where he introduces AgriLife Research legislative initiatives and works to get them adopted as agenda items at Panhandle/High Plains Days in the State Capitol during Legislative sessions.
He has served as project director for two federal initiatives: Air Quality: Odor, Dust and Gaseous Emissions from Cattle Feedlots and Dairies, and the Renewable Energy and Environmental Sustainability Using Biomass from Dairy and Beef Animal Production Facilities.
Sweeten is currently chair of the Small Grains Advisory Committee, which operates under a statewide strategic plan and has been effective in setting research priorities, allocating pooled royalties among three research units and recommending priorities.
“I have worked closely with Dr. Sweeten for several years to coordinate the Texas Wheat Producers Board funding of Texas A&M AgriLife research projects,” said Rodney Mosier, Texas Wheat Producers Association executive vice president in a letter of support. “His diligence and management skills have led to a streamlined funding and reporting process for researchers that greatly benefits all involved parties.
“Dr. Sweeten’s commitment to the Extension and research programs in the Panhandle has had a major impact on the present and future success and long-term sustainability of Texas agriculture and the rural economy, not only in the area of small grains research, but also in the areas of environmental research and soil and water conservation.”
Sweeten has served as a member and chair of a variety of commodity-related committees. And for the last 15 years, he has served as the higher education representative on the Panhandle Regional Water Planning Group, which has developed 50-year regional plans to match water supplies with demands, including agricultural and municipal, each five years, pursuant to Senate Bills 1, 2 and 3.
“Dr. Sweeten has very high expectations of himself and others, which instills a drive for high performance and excellence from those who surround him,” Nusser said. “He desires success for his faculty and staff. He makes high demands and expectations, then allows others to take responsibility to meet those expectations.”