Austin County’s extension agents and Texas A&M AgriLife employees and supporters gathered last year for the Leadership Advisory Board annual meeting at Liedertafel Hall in Sealy.
Board member Kenneth Stein discussed the importance of what the agency does.
“At AgriLIfe Extension, that’s what we do. We answer that call,” he said. “We take care of our land. We take care of our animals, our water, our air, each other.”
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, also attended the dinner, noting that Texas A&M AgriLife and other agencies out of Texas A&M “saved part of our district” after Hurricane Harvey.
“I cant tell you what they mean to our area,” Kolkhorst said of area extension agents. “Our extension agents do everything, and when I say everything, I mean everything.”
Kolkhorst said her priorities for this legislative session include Harvey recovery, eminent domain and state park funding.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Austin County staff, including Extension Agents Michelle Allen (Family and Community Health), Haylee Wolfford (Agriculture and National Resources) and Kailyn Capps (4-H and Youth Development) were recognized, along with secretary Kimberly Benjamin.
Jim Mazurkiewicz, leadership program director for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M professor, served as the event’s keynote speaker.
Mazurkiewicz spoke extensively about the Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership (TALL) program.
“He is growing the next generation of agricultural leaders,” Kolkhorst said.
The Texas A&M professor noted that extension agencies started in Texas in 1914.
“It’s in every county in Texas. It’s the most under-recognized agency that we have in the United States,” he said. “Now the program has been emulated in Europe and throughout the world, and it started in Smith County, in northeast Texas, to eradicate the boll weevil.”
The Chappel Hill native told guests at the banquet that they “have a lot to be proud of.”
Mazurkiewicz talked about the importance of building leaders.
“If we don’t train the trainer, where are the farmers and ranchers and ag people in the industry going to get continuing education?” he said, adding some more knowledge on what goes into the program. “We need to reach out to find common issues and common ground. We’re stronger together. Faith and family, that’s the basis of the whole structure of this country.”