COLLEGE STATION – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service presented its Superior Service – Extension Program Specialist Award to Ward Ling, who has served as watershed coordinator for the Geronimo and Alligator Creek Watershed Project since 2009.
The Superior Service awards are the highest award presented by the agency, and recipients were honored Jan. 8 during a noon luncheon.
In short, the Geronimo and Alligator Creek watershed is a drainage area of land approximately 44,000 acres in size near Seguin. A creek into which this land area drains has a water quality impairment for excess levels of bacteria in surface water. The cause of this impairment has been determined to be non-point source pollution.
Ward’s job is to unify the public, provide education and motivation to produce a positive change in water quality within the watershed, his nomination stated.
“This requires voluntary behavioral changes by stakeholders in the watershed, and is therefore quite challenging,” Michael Kuitu, AgriLife Extension program specialist, College Station, said in writing the nomination. “Nonetheless, Ward has accomplished notable benchmarks of success in his job over the past few years while contributing in ways that go above and beyond his assigned scope of work.”
Concerning the clientele Ling serves, which are primarily stakeholders of the aforementioned watershed, he goes to great lengths to ensure custom-tailored outreach and education is performed.
For example, one non-point source of pollution in the watershed includes feral hogs, or wild pigs. Ling provided targeted outreach and education on feral hog control in the watershed, the nomination stated. In doing so, stakeholders within his watershed learn of feral hog behavior and implement best management practices to control their populations.
Ling has orchestrated numerous other outreach and education events of different topics, some on a repeating basis, for the many areas in which public interests and needs overlap with water quality.
Over the past three years, Ling has delivered more than 30 workshops and large-scale events in the watershed, with direct contacts exceeding 1,600 persons. Despite substantial time and travel demands, he is integral to numerous AgriLife Extension programs outside the watershed, such as the statewide Texas Watershed Steward Program.
As a result, Ward has presented at over 40 additional workshops and conferences throughout Texas and the U.S. during the same time period, reaching approximately 2,000 additional, direct contacts.
“By creating a responsive outreach and education approach tailored to clientele needs, Ward has been able to reach not only those familiar with AgriLife Extension, but also introduce our agency to the larger public,” Kuitu said in the nomination.
“This increases the footprint of AgriLife Extension along with its name recognition. Simultaneously, all attendees of workshops and events in the watershed also learn of their local water quality impairment and ways they may help reverse it.”