Texas A&M AgriLife celebrates 50 years at Overton Research and Extension Center July 12

OVERTON – The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton will celebrate 50 years as the agricultural science and education headquarters for East Texas on July 12.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary on July 12. (Texas A&M AgriLife staff photo)

A ceremony is planned at 1:15 p.m. at the center, 1710 N. Farm-to-Market Road 3053, to recognize the half-century of research that has helped guide cattle, forage, ornamental plant, and fruit and vegetable production and Extension outreach programs to educate producers and the public about recommended best practices.

The program and reception is open to the public and will include a presentation focused on the historical importance of the Overton center and a keynote address by Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp.

Dr. Charles Long, center director, said there are many aspects of East Texas agriculture that would not exist in their current form without establishment of the center in 1967.

Long said Dr. John Lipe, AgriLife Research horticulturist 1971-1981, introduced the first blueberries to East Texas and Dr. Don Patterson, AgriLife Research horticulturist 1972-1987, conducted trials on sweet potatoes to improve cultural practices and created a new variety.

Other research bolstered established regional producers, including the enhanced propagation of field-grown rose plants and study of disease, weed and nematode control in rose plant production and cold hardiness in rose varieties by Dr. Brent Pemberton, AgriLife Research ornamental horticulturist, 1982-present.

Annual bedding-plant trials contribute much to the ornamental plant production and use in Texas, Long said.

Ongoing and future research will focus on emerging sciences regarding production challenges in horticulture and forage-based beef cattle production, he said.

“We are pleased with the first 50 years of the operations at the Overton center, and we look forward to continuing research and Extension activities to improve success of agricultural operations and quality of life for Texans,” he said.

Long will begin the presentations with welcoming remarks.

Dr. Monte Rouquette, AgriLife Research forage physiologist, Overton, will provide historical context regarding the center’s origin and the impact AgriLife Research scientists and AgriLife Extension specialists have made in East Texas, the state and beyond.

Rouquette said the breadth of research work at the center, from improving the reproductive physiology of Brahman cattle to plant breeding efforts for improved varieties to management practices and strategies, has made a profound impact on the soil-plant-animal-environment interface of agriculture for Texas and other parts of the U.S. and international locations.

“It’s important for people to know the impacts we’ve made for the people of Texas,” he said. “Our job as scientists and specialists is to incorporate the AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension mission, and to be attentive  to stakeholder needs when it comes to soil, plant, animal and resource stewardship.”

Long and Shelia Lewis, AgriLife Extension District 5 administrator, Overton, will follow Rouquette by recognizing friends of the Overton center, including past faculty and staff, along with residents and organizations that contributed to its success over the past 50 years.

Sharp will follow with his keynote address.

Dr. Doug Steele, AgriLife Extension director; Dr. Craig Nessler, AgriLife Research director, and Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, all from College Station, will follow with comments.

The program will be followed by a reception.

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