AgriLife Extension county agents earn awards

Writer: Steve Byrns, 325-653-4576,

Contact: Wade Hibler, 512-756-5463,


HORSESHOE BAY – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agricultural and natural resources agents from across the state were recognized with awards at the annual Texas County  Agricultural Agents Association meeting, which this year was held recently at Horseshoe Bay.

Five agents were presented with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest award a county agricultural agent can receive from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, said Wade Hibler, president of the Texas association and AgriLife Extension agent in Burnet County.

Each recipient is selected by peers based upon outstanding professional growth, program effectiveness, leadership ability, loyalty to AgriLife Extension work, civic and community involvement, and having been a national and Texas member for at least 10 years, Hibler said.

All Distinguished Service Award recipients will again be honored at the national association’s annual meeting and professional improvement conference, which is part of the national multi-association Galaxy IV Conference set for Sept. 15-20 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Distinguished Service Award winners and accomplishments they were recognized for at the Texas association’s annual meeting were:

– Robert Pritz, Taylor County. Pritz is an 18-year veteran of AgriLife Extension who started his career in Wise County, then moved to Callahan County for 11 years and since 2008 has served as AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Taylor County. He has utilized numerous forms of educational methods. Pritz is active on many AgriLife Extension and external committees for the overall enhancement of his innovative educational programming.

– Rick Hirsch, Henderson County. Hirsch has developed a dynamic program development and delivery system that has targeted beef, forage, horse, horticulture and wildlife clientele as well as a strong 4-H livestock program in Henderson County for over 20 years. His program area committees have developed a reputation for delivering timely research-based information in addressing current and emerging issues. Hirsch received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and his master’s degree from Tarleton State University.

– Fred Burrell Jr., Dallas County. Burrell has been conducting innovative and effective educational programs in agriculture and natural resource conservation for more than 22 years. He is most proud of the work he has done implementing and developing the North Texas Master Naturalist program in Dallas County and his National Association of Counties Extension Fellowship assignment in Washington, D.C. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University.

– J.D. Ragland, Randall County. Ragland has served AgriLife Extension for 26 years. He has served in Castro, Floyd and Randall counties. Throughout his career, he’s demonstrated outstanding leadership in areas of cotton, wheat, beef cattle and horticulture. He also excels in implementing strong 4-H leadership, livestock exhibiting and judging programs. He has received the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Achievement Award and the Texas 4-H Meritorious Awards. His greatest reward is having coached the 2008 Texas 4-H Livestock Judging Championship Team.

– Brian Yanta, Goliad County. Proudly representing agriculture and AgriLife Extension through quality educational programs has been Yanta’s main focus throughout his AgriLife Extension career. While working with many diverse groups, he has exhibited outstanding leadership skills in developing and conducting innovative programs that meet the needs of all county clientele, regardless of subject matter. Through his work, Goliad and surrounding county clientele have recognized him and AgriLife Extension as leaders in agricultural education.

Other awards presented at the annual meeting included:

Achievement Award  (presented to members with less than 10 years service) –  Brock Fry, Marion County; Omar Gonzales, Willacy County; Ryan Martin, Motley County; Clint Perkins, Wood County; and Jesse Lea Schneider, Presidio County.

Early Career Awards (presented to members with less than five years of service) – Jennifer Herrera, Cameron County; Kara Matheney, Colorado County; Micah Walker, Gillespie County; Major Stevenson Jr., Fort Bend County; Emily Cooper, Navarro County; Megan Logan, Erath County; Nick Gonzales, Brown County; Miles Gibbs, Val Verde County; Chadd Caperton, Jasper County; Aaron Lowe, Cherokee County; Fred Hall, Wichita County; and Caitlin Jackson, Crosby County.

      Extension Program Awards/Agriculture – Search for Excellence in Livestock Production, Jon Green, Parker County; Search for Excellence in Crop Production and Search for Excellence in Landscape Horticulture, Shane McLellan, McLennan County.

TCAAA Specialist Awards for Distinguished Service – (state recipient) Dr. Joe Paschal, professor and AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, Corpus Christi; (district recipient) Steve Byrns, AgriLife Extension editor and communications specialist, San Angelo.

Texas Cotton Producers Association – Brent Batchelor, Matagorda County.

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association – Mark Currie, Polk County.

Texas Corn Producers Board Distinguished Service Award – Marcel Fischbacher, Moore County.

Texas Wheat Producers Board Outstanding Agent Award – Vance Christi, McCulloch County.

Texas Peanut Producers Board Outstanding Agent Award – Manda Anderson, Gaines County.

Texas Association of Dairymen – Mike Berry, Comanche County.

Willis Gass Soil Fertility Award – Marty Jungman and Ryan Collett, Hill County.


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