Boll weevil eradication pioneer Dr. Charles Allen retires from Texas A&M AgriLife

Dr. Charles Allen receiving his Superior Service Award in the Distinguished Career category in January.

Writer: Susan Himes, 325-657-7315, Susan.Himes@ag.tamu.edu

SAN ANGELO — Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist Dr. Charles Allen retired last week after three decades of service to the agency.

Allen, a professor and associate head of Texas A&M’s entomology department is an award-winning scientist who spent the last 10 years of his career in AgriLife Extension’s District 7, based in San Angelo.

“I will miss the people the most; I’ve been so fortunate to work with really good people over the course of my entire career,” Allen said at his recent retirement event in San Angelo. “Everything I’ve ever done has been with a group or a collaborative project. It is so gratifying to have the opportunity to work with fantastic people on big, meaningful projects that ultimately did a lot of good for a lot of people.”

These meaningful projects included his leading the charge to eradicate the boll weevil. The state of Texas was saved an estimated 3.3 billion dollars in cotton crop damage and revenue loss thanks to the boll weevil eradication efforts of Allen and his team.  Every year, those eradication efforts have kept 12 million cumulative acres of cotton from needing to be sprayed in Texas.

He also led the team that eradicated the pink bollworm from the continental U.S. The eradication resulted in over $400 million in net benefits for cotton growers in the southwestern U.S.

At his retirement dinner, Allen was feted by friends, family and co-workers – some who had traveled from across the state and nation to celebrate his career.

“The advances that I have witnessed (in the cotton industry) in my lifetime are just tremendous,” said AgriLife Extension interim director Dr. Parr Rosson, who traveled from College Station. “Many of those advances, in terms of insect control, integrated pest management, the ability to increase yields and increase profitability to farmers have come about because of the efforts of folks like Dr. Allen.”

San Angelo AgriLife Center resident director of research Dr. John Walker and district administrator Marty Gibbs also paid tribute to their retiring colleague.

“Everyone might know the contributions Charles has made to the industry and the cotton growers, but he’s also made so many contributions to the AgriLife center in San Angelo,” Walker said. “He has been an inspiration for all of us. I’m going to miss his counsel, and we’re all going to miss Charles more than he knows.”

“Dr. Charles Allen is one of the most professional, hardworking and dedicated individuals I have ever worked with in AgriLife Extension,” Gibbs said. “He has made tremendous impacts in the lives of farmers and ranchers over the past 38 years that have shaped the future of agricultural production in this region for many years to come.  

“Charles is a champion of extension education and has committed his career to building relationships with county extension agents, commodity leaders and agricultural producers across the State of Texas.”

Last month, Allen received a Superior Service Award in the Distinguished Career category for his 34 years with AgriLife Extension and for his work with the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Program.

Other awards for his work include the West Texas Ag Institute’s Innovator award, the Service to Cotton award from the Plains Cotton Growers and the Friends of IPM – Pulling Together Award for the Entomology Team’s work in managing the sugarcane aphid.

In addition to his pest eradication work, Allen said that it was in leadership where he was able to do the most good for Texans.

Allen supervised as many as 2,200 people during his 38-year career. He started his AgriLife Extension career in 1981 in Weslaco. He then went to Fort Stockton where he spent 13 years as a specialist. In 1996, he left to be an extension entomologist at the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

In 2000, Allen returned to AgriLife Extension to serve as program director for the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation and as a professor and extension specialist in Abilene. Allen became the statewide IPM coordinator and associate department head in San Angelo in 2009.

Allen’s academic contributions include 19 publications authored or co-authored, 43 extension publications, 117 articles and three white papers. Over the course of his career, he received $3.1 million in grant funding and managed over $16 million in state funds.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together. I’ve been blessed to associate with many fine, hard-working people, the salt of the earth, and I will not forget them,” Allen said at the conclusion of his retirement celebration.

“In Extension, we have the rare opportunity to invest our lifeworks in improving other people’s lives. It is a special gift, both to those we serve and those whose job it is to provide the service.”

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