New AgriLife Extension specialist hired to expand health programs in the Panhandle

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608,
Contact: Miquela Smith, 806-677-5600,
Rusty Hohlt, 979-458-7553,

AMARILLO – Regional support for chronic disease prevention education is expanding into the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – North Region, announced Rusty Hohlt, Healthy Texas director in College Station.

Miquela Smith has been hired as the new AgriLife Extension program specialist-health and will lead the chronic disease prevention program development and health education outreach in the Panhandle. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

To support the focus on health programming in the Panhandle, Miquela Smith has been hired as an AgriLife Extension program specialist-health. She will join the district team April 24 and office at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Amarillo.

AgriLife Extension has a one-of-a-kind, statewide reach to provide families with knowledge and resources to take control of their health, Hohlt said.

“Miquela has the past experience in public health and AgriLife Extension to help expand health initiatives and programs to the residents of the Panhandle,” Hohlt said.

“This level of support for AgriLife Extension health programs in the Panhandle will provide resources and leadership in preventative health for families and communities,” said Dr. Angela Burkham, AgriLife Extension state program leader – family and community health based in Amarillo.

“As with other AgriLife Extension programs, a local committee will help identify the health and wellness needs and develop the educational plan,” Burkham said. “We look forward to Ms. Smith’s leadership and guidance of the family and community health agents and the health coalitions in each of the targeted counties.”

Smith is already a part of AgriLife Extension, hired in 2016 as the family and community health agent for Lipscomb County. She said this regional support of chronic disease prevention in the Panhandle demonstrates the agency’s commitment to better the lives of all Texans.

“I look forward to developing resources to support the efforts of our AgriLife Extension county agents and to working with community partners to address chronic diseases and emerging health issues,” she said.

Before joining AgriLife Extension, Smith managed studies, including the New Mexico Colorectal Cancer Survivor Project and the Risk Education and Assessment for Cancer Heredity Study as an associate scientist at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, Albuquerque. She also worked for the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico in Albuquerque as the director of volunteers and victim’s advocate.

She earned her master’s degree in public health-epidemiology from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, and her bachelor’s in psychology and Spanish from Trinity University, San Antonio.

“AgriLife Extension is committed to bringing health education programs to the communities we serve. Our agents are able to determine local needs and then tailor programs to meet those needs,” Hohlt said. “By encouraging physical activity, teaching people to cook nutritious meals, and promoting healthy lifestyles, we can improve the well-being of Texans.”


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