Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz, 979-845-1554, email@example.com
COLLEGE STATION – A $5 million endowment has been established in the name of former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. that will provide additional resources to help support one of the state’s leading adult agricultural leadership programs.
Briscoe Ranch Inc. has established the Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr. Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership Extension Program Endowment, also known as TALL. The TALL program is a competitive, leadership enhancement program for continuing education for emerging leaders in agriculture and rural Texas.
The endowment will enrich programming and operations within TALL, according to program administrators. They will also provide support for leadership enhancement programs for continuing education of emerging leaders in agriculture and rural Texas. The TALL Advisory Committee will continue to assist with the implementation of the program curriculum and to raise the programmatic monies to support the overarching mission of developing the next generation of agricultural leaders.
“One of my longtime goals as director of this program was to establish the endowment in Gov. Briscoe’s honor for his leadership and support through the years serving as chairman of TALL,” said Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz, who has been TALL program director for the past 20 years. “We are extremely grateful to the Briscoe family as this endowment will help elevate this program to the highest level across the nation and truly recognize the contributions Gov. Briscoe made to this program for more than two decades.”
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will oversee the funds, managed by the Texas A&M Foundation, which will help facilitate operations for the TALL Program and its related activities.
“Dolph Briscoe Jr. was a fine Texas gentleman, a wonderful Texas Governor and a well-informed citizen,” said James L. Powell, who after the death of Gov. Briscoe in June 2010 served as president of the TALL Foundation and chairman of the TALL Advisory Board until January 2013. “He knew the absolute necessities for all people are food, clothing and shelter. As a seasoned diplomat, his interest in encouraging the healthy and safe future of our population resulted in the formation of Texas Agriculture Lifetime Leadership, which assembles interested emerging agricultural leaders for education in protecting and producing these absolute necessities. Dolph’s foresight remains a great achievement for the state of Texas.”
According to Mazurkiewicz, Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr. once said, “at least 10 years of experience is needed to reach the educational level of TALL graduates.”
“As a result, alumni of TALL become a valuable resource to rural Texas and the agricultural industry,” Mazurkiewicz said. “Graduates use their new knowledge and skills to garner leadership roles. Many become active in local organizations, while others pursue even loftier positions.”
Mazurkiewicz said the TALL program was initiated in 1987 and Briscoe served as chairman for 23 years. He helped assemble leadership that included Eugene Butler, editor emeritus and major stockholder of Progressive Farmer magazine; Charlie Scruggs, editor of Progressive farmer; Dan Gattis, general manager of the Houston Livestock; Jerry Lucy, prominent ranch and Build East Texas leader in East Texas; Billy Connor of Texas Ag Cooperative Council; Dennis Engelke of Texas Rural Electric Cooperatives; and Dr. Jim Grumbles of Dow Enlanco. Others were James Powell, Bill Nelson, John Armstrong, Anne Anderson, Charlie Ball, Bob Whitson, Norman Vestal, Bob Murdock, Bill Powers, Clemon Montgomery, Norman Moser, Huey Whitehurst, Marcus Hill and Roddy Peoples.
“This group helped guide the TALL Program through its early years of inception,” Mazurkiewicz said. “It was Charlie Scruggs, then editor of Progressive Farmer, a noted Texan in agricultural circles and widely recognized for leadership in the effort to eradicate the screwworm, that offered the suggestion: ‘Get Dolph Briscoe to help out. He has the stature to give overall visibility and gain support for the program.’”
According to memoirs from Dr. L.S. Pope, the first TALL director, “former Governor Briscoe was an ideal choice. A man of impeccable integrity, state and national leader in the beef industry, prominent rancher and banker, public figure and twice governor of the state, he could give an immediate boost to program recognition.”
“This endowment has been a long-term goal of mine as Gov. Briscoe loved the TALL Program and was the impetus for getting it started,” Mazurkiewicz said. “He loved agriculture and he loved rural Texas. His character and respect in this state was second to none. Whatever he lent his name to, he got behind it and made a difference.”
“Texas and U.S. agriculture needs leadership now more than ever if we are to feed 9 billion people by 2050,” said Jim Prewitt, current president of the TALL Foundation. “Only 11 percent of the world is tillable and we will have to produce more to meet the demands of the future. The TALL program addresses the challenges facing agriculture through education, building relationships and fostering innovation.”
Prewitt said the TALL program is fulfilling Briscoe’s original vision of “creating a cadre of Texas agriculture leaders to meet current and future challenges by turning them into opportunities.”
Mazurkiewicz said the mission of the TALL program is to create a cadre of Texas leaders to help ensure effective understanding and encourage positive action on key issues, theories, policy and economics that will advance the agriculture industry. The Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr. Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership Extension Program Endowment is an investment in the future leaders of agriculture and honors former Gov. Briscoe’s commitment to agriculture, rural communities and Texas, he said.
For more information about the TALL program, visit http://tall.tamu.edu.