AgriLife Extension agents’ work with migrants recognized with Vice Chancellor’s award

COLLEGE STATION – The “Migrant/Low Income Family Education in the Panhandle” effort in Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s District 1 has been honored with the Texas A&M AgriLife Vice Chancellor’s Award of Excellence for Diversity.

The award was presented Jan. 9 during AgriLife Extension’s Centennial 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.

Those being honored were AgriLife Extension family and consumer sciences agents Sue Owens in Moore County and Amy Wagner in Potter County, along with Lizabeth Gresham, Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension agent in Potter County.

While working individually in their own counties of service, these three agents have combined forces, resources and communication skills to bring a greater understanding of resource availability, educational opportunities and skill building tools available to families that might not typically be reached by AgriLife Extension or reach out in any way for such help, according to the nomination.

As a team, they have developed resources and become the trainers for their counterparts throughout AgriLife’s North Region when it comes to diversity and low socioeconomic education, the nomination continued.

The Panhandle, and specifically Potter and Moore counties, serve many lower socio-economic families and a migrant labor force that has settled in the region to work in primarily agricultural-based industries such as meat packing.

In 2008, there were 434 refugees received in the area. In the last six years, there have been 3,330 immigrants resettled in this region, and an additional 3,000 others through secondary migration. This number is large for the Panhandle. With such a significant influx of migrants, the educational and social systems are often not equipped to handle their needs.

On top of these immigrants to the region, these two counties are home to more than 55,000 individuals who live at or below 185 percent poverty. Many of the immigrants would fall into that category, and that is why the three work to address both migrants and lower socio-economic families with the outreach. Their efforts have included designing and implementing programming in shelter, food, clothing, safety, hygiene, employment, schooling for children, adult education, pests and language.

“Because of their combined efforts, the migrant and limited-resource families of this region can assimilate to their new surroundings easier, have a better understanding of the resources available to them through various agencies, and can educate themselves to become more self-sufficient and self-confident,” said Angela Burkham, AgriLife Extension family and consumer sciences regional program leader in Amarillo.

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