Agriculture

New AgriLife Extension agent positions filled

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service employs agents, divided by districts, to serve in every Texas county. These county agents are the agency’s connection with the people in area communities. They are instrumental in providing hands-on education and programming based on scientific research.

Agent transfers

  • Dakota Kempken, agriculture and natural resources, transferred from Bandera County to Bastrop County.
  • Mason Carter, agriculture and natural resources, transferred from Briscoe County to Oldham County.
  • Sierra Stephens, agriculture and natural resources, transferred from Yoakum County to Lynn County.
  • Jessica Humphrey, agriculture and natural resources, transferred from Lamar County to Red River County.
  • Caroline Cruz transferred from a project coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service to be a family and community health agent in Montgomery County.
  • Gabrielle Washington transferred from Matagorda County to be the volunteer management agent for Harris County.

New agents

Following are the newly hired individuals and county agent positions they will fill:

District 1, headquartered in Amarillo

  • Hanna Conner, agriculture and natural resources, Hutchinson County. Conner, of Flatonia, earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture communications and journalism from Texas A&M University. She interned with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and Show Champions Photography twice each. After graduating, she moved to Borger and worked in sales before accepting the position in Hutchinson County. Connor showed heifers, lambs and hogs and was active in leadership, serving at the district 4-H level and continued on to be a Texas 4-H livestock ambassador. She earned a scholarship to judge livestock at South Plains College and later transferred to Texas A&M. “Knowing that I can at least help or impact one kid, farmer or rancher is the best thing that I can hope for while in this position,” she said.
  • Jordan Baze, disaster assessment and recovery agent for District 1. Baze, of Noble, Oklahoma, earned her associate of science in agricultural leadership at Murray State College and bachelor’s degree in agricultural leadership at Oklahoma State University, OSU. She spent two years working for the Murray State College Farm as a general farm hand and, from there, became an intern with OSU Extension in Oklahoma County. Baze was active in FFA, served as the vice president of her chapter and also participated in showing pigs. “My goal is to serve my community in the best way I can so they can go out and have a lasting impact on others,” Baze said.

District 2, headquartered in Lubbock

  • Kaci Scott, family and community health, Lynn County. Scott, of Lockney, earned her bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences education and master’s in counselor education, both at Texas Tech University. After graduation, she was named the AgriLife Extension 4-H and youth development agent in Hale County. She later taught family and consumer sciences and was a lead counselor with the Lubbock Independent School District. Scott spent 10 years as a 4-Her in Floyd County, and now her children are following in her footsteps. She said she has been part of every facet of AgriLife Extension and fully believes in the agency’s mission to improve the lives of people, businesses and communities across Texas and beyond. “Through the many programming efforts and personal development opportunities, I look forward to helping improve the lives of all of the citizens of Lynn County,” she said.
  • Reid Lovorn, agriculture and natural resources, Terry County. Lovorn, of Sulphur Springs, earned his associate’s degree in animal science at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College and a bachelor’s in animal science at Texas Tech University. He spent the past four years with numerous show pig and cattle operations. Lovorn grew up in Northeast Texas raising Beefmaster cattle and still helps manage and market for his family’s show heifer operation. He is a 4-H and FFA alum passionate about getting the Terry County’s youth involved in developmental activities. “My dad was my ag teacher growing up,” he said. “Having been involved at a young age, I’ve seen the importance these programs have had on my life and want to instill that in the youth of my community. While I’m very passionate about livestock, I’m most passionate about people and helping them reach their goals in agricultural endeavors.”

District 5, headquartered in Overton

  • Caitlin Hiegel, agriculture and natural resources, Jasper County. Hiegel, of Kingwood, earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science at Texas A&M with a minor in agrifood sales. She is pursuing a master’s degree in agricultural and consumer resources from Tarleton State University. She was involved in FFA and had experience raising show swine and steers. She also has other experience in dairy cattle from attending the U.S. Dairy Education and Training Consortium. Hiegel said she is passionate about helping others and making a difference in somebody’s life because somebody made a difference in her life. She is ready to begin meeting people in her community and developing strong relationships within the community. “I am most passionate about being able to impact others in any and every way I possibly can,” she said.

District 6, headquartered in Fort Stockton

  • Alejandra Camarillo, agriculture and natural resources, Terrell County. Camarillo, of Iraan, earned her bachelor’s degree at West Texas A&M University. She spent the last year working with Texas A&M AgriLife Research in Bushland with the entomology unit and also as an intern with the AgriLife Extension office in Potter County over the summer. Camarillo grew up in a beef cattle operation and showed market lambs throughout high school. She is passionate about developing leadership opportunities for youth in her county. “I joined AgriLife Extension thanks to the wonderful educators around me who made an everlasting impact on me, and I hope to have the same impact in the community I work in,” she said. “I am most passionate about working in rural communities where I can bring opportunities and knowledge to both adults and youth.”

District 7, headquartered in San Angelo

  • McKinley Crownover, family and community health, San Saba County. Crownover, of Hamilton, earned her bachelor’s in public health at Tarleton State University with minors in childhood and family studies and psychology. She spent the last two years as a preschool teacher and devoted her time to her college studies. Although Crownover did not grow up in 4-H, she did participate in FFA. She started showing pigs at age 9, participated in the home economics side of the show, and is a national champion in range judging. “I’m very passionate about working with all community members to help provide resources to individuals, as well as helping the youth develop leadership skills in 4-H,” she said. “I chose AgriLife Extension because I wanted to make a difference in communities.”
  • Sarita Short, assistant agriculture and natural resources and 4-H agent, Callahan County. Short, of Coleman, earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a Master of Business Administration, both from Texas Tech University. She grew up showing market lambs and was active in speaking and judging competitions. During college, she showed and judged and is passionate about bringing opportunities in all aspects to the youth programs at Callahan County. She also looks forward to working with producers. “I joined AgriLife Extension in hopes of learning and advocating for the producers and youth of my community as I grow in my career,” she said. “I’m especially excited for the opportunity to make more connections within the agriculture industry and to lead youth to discover their own passions.”

District 8, headquartered in Stephenville

  • Danae Hicks, family and community health, Ellis County. Hicks, of Clinton, Illinois, earned her bachelor’s in agriculture from West Texas A&M University. She jumpstarted her career with AgriLife Extension by completing an internship in Potter County. She then worked as a parent engagement coordinator and volunteer liaison at an elementary school in Amarillo while pursuing her teaching certificate in family and consumer science. After receiving her certificate, she taught Culinary Arts and Principles of Hospitality and Tourism at Cumberland Academy in Tyler. Hicks grew up in 4-H in Illinois, showing horses and dogs as well as in FFA on the dairy and horse judging teams. She is passionate about working with the community to encourage lifelong learning. “I look forward to making connections in the community and helping all ages of citizens learn to better their health,” Hicks said.

District 9, headquartered in College Station

  • Anna Duron, family and community health, Brazoria County. Duron, of Corpus Christi, earned her bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and foods at the University of Houston-Central Campus. She has spent time with AgriLife Extension in the 4-H program in Fort Bend County as well as supporting the Better Living for Texans and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in Nueces County. In addition, she has furthered the work of various nonprofits and supported students pursuing higher education. Duron showed lambs and was a part of 4-H food and nutrition, clothing and textile projects. Above all, Duron said she values the indispensable volunteers who commit their time and talents to the AgriLife Extension programs. She is actively looking for volunteers for her family and community health committees. “I am most passionate about preventing chronic disease and maintaining optimal health for the residents of Brazoria County,” she said.
  • Kimberly Mayer, horticulture, Brazoria County. Mayer, of Richwood, earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at Texas A&M University Kingsville. She spent the past four years as the executive director for Keep Richwood Beautiful, running the day-to-day operations. As a certified Texas Master Gardener, she also manages the Richwood Community Garden, where the produce grown is donated to a local food pantry. Mayer enjoys gardening in her spare time and can often be found watering, weeding and planting at the Community Garden. “The biggest passion that I have when it comes to my work with AgriLife Extension is being able to reach the residents of Brazoria County and provide top-notch education about all things related to horticulture to all ages,” Mayer said.
  • Leah Stiles, 4-H and youth development, Galveston County. Stiles, of Pearland, earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Sam Houston State University. She worked many years at a local feed store in high school and college. Her high school years included involvement in FFA and raising and showing pigs. Stiles said she is passionate about working with the youth of Galveston County to provide opportunities and resources for leadership and agriculture. “My goal is to work daily for today’s youth to build their leadership skills and involvement in the agricultural industry, she said.
  • Shannon Sullivan, assistant horticulture agent, Harris County. Sullivan, of Katy, earned her bachelor’s degree in ecological restoration from Texas A&M. She spent six months as a project manager working for the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board in Temple. In addition, she has also interned for the Texas A&M Forest Service in Conroe and spent time as a range/botany technician for the American Conservation Service in Heber, Utah. Sullivan grew up in the FFA system at Seven Lakes High School in Katy. She is very passionate about working with Harris County youth, as well as participating in adult education pertaining to local environmental issues. “I joined AgriLife Extension for the chance to give back to my community and present others with the knowledge essential for environmental understanding and growth,” she said.
  • Toni Wellington, community relations coordinator, Harris County. Wellington, of Indianapolis, Indiana, earned an associate of arts from Lone Star College and is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Houston-Downtown. She has served youth through ministries and camp at Stoney Creek Ranch Urban Initiative for four years. She’s spent the past several months working with women at a drug and alcohol addiction facility and with low-income families. Prior to that, she was a preschool teacher. Wellington said her heart has always been with youth and families, where she enjoys seeing people who come together for a greater purpose. Working has never felt like work because of her passion for people. “I’m passionate about serving youth and families. My background of servitude has developed my ability to reach communities where there are struggles to find fresh resources, financial assistance and stable work environments,” she said.

District 10, headquartered in Uvalde

  • Allison Drabek, 4-H and youth development, Wilson County. Drabek, of Moulton, earned her bachelor’s in agricultural leadership and development and master’s in recreation, park and tourism sciences at Texas A&M. She spent the last two years as a teaching assistant for various professors at Texas A&M and previously worked at an after-school program as a counselor and supervisor. Drabek also completed an internship with AgriLife Extension at DeWitt County. She grew up in the 4-H program showing cattle, judging livestock, and participating in food and nutrition, food challenge, shooting sports and leadership projects. Drabek’s passion for working with youth started when she was a 4-H member. She plans to give back to the organization by working with all 4-H clubs in Wilson County. “I am most passionate about agriculture education to all youth, whether the kids are active in 4-H or not,” Drabek said. “I plan to extend AgriLife Extension programs into the local schools to reach a larger audience of youth and educate them about agricultural industries.”
  • Taylor Levy, urban youth development, Travis County. Levy, of Houston, earned her bachelor’s in nutrition and foods at Texas State University and her master’s in public health education and promotion from Texas State University. She also completed her registered dietitian internship at Oregon State University. Taylor has provided Central Texans with nutrition and public health education for the past two years. She said she is passionate about educating adolescents and youth. “My academic and career background has focused on educating youth and adolescents to promote the development of healthy behaviors,” she said. “I will continue to serve the community by developing new partnerships in Travis County to ensure families and children receive the best services.”
  • Morgan Newton, 4-H and youth development, Travis County. Newton, of Pleasant Grove, earned her bachelor’s in agricultural education and animal science from Colorado State University. She spent the past five years as an agricultural teacher in Colorado. Newton grew up showing livestock in 4-H and is excited to be in the 4-H program again. She said she hopes to expand the reach of the 4-H program in Travis County and is actively seeking volunteers for her committees. “I am excited to work with our youth to help develop our next generation of leaders,” she said.

District 11, headquartered in Corpus Christi

  • Hailey Hayes, agriculture and natural resources, Calhoun County. Hayes, of Baytown, earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary agriculture from Sam Houston State University and a master’s in agriculture food and natural resource from Tarleton State University. She spent the past 11 years as an agriculture science teacher. Five years were with Goose Creek in Baytown, and the others were at Calhoun Independent School District. Her family raises show pigs along with American cross cows. Hayes said she is passionate about making a difference in the agriculture community by focusing on the truth about agriculture. “Our entire life revolves around agriculture, and we wouldn’t change that,” she said.
  • Marcie Kucera, Better Living for Texans, Victoria County. Kucera, of Victoria, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston-Victoria and is working on a master’s degree in counseling psychology. She has worked as a private tutor and college admissions advisor for 20 years. She spent the past two years as an academic advisor with Faith Academy secondary campus. Kucera said she is passionate about working with community partners to help individuals with limited resources have a better quality of life. She believes that small changes in choices can make lifelong improvements to build on. “AgriLife Extension and Better Living for Texans allows me to combine two areas of my life that I am passionate about – education and working with those with limited resources.”

District 12, headquartered in Weslaco

  • Aileen Sifuentes, Better Living for Texans, Webb County. Sifuentes, of Laredo, earned her bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M International University and is currently working on her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in education technology. Sifuentes spent the past four years working with pre-K3 students at Ligarde Elementary in the Laredo Independent School District. She is passionate about early childhood education and providing educational opportunities for Webb County’s lower-income schools to provide nutrition and gardening education to parents and kids. “I love working with people and helping my community, especially kids, as they are the future of this country,” she said. “I hope to be a positive impact on my co-workers, my community and AgriLife Extension.”
  • Phyllishia Lopez, 4-H and youth development, Kleberg and Kenedy counties. Lopez, of Mercedes, earned a bachelor’s in animal science at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She spent a summer internship with the AgriLife Extension office in Cameron County. She also worked at Innovative Seed Solution as a seed technician conducting research on sorghum varieties while attending college in Kingsville. Growing up, Lopez participated in FFA showing pigs, heifers and rabbits, and was the president of her FFA chapter. “I’ve always been passionate about agriculture, and becoming a 4-H agent within AgriLife Extension allows me the opportunity to continue expanding my knowledge while getting to work with others who have the same interest,” Lopez said.

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https://agrilifetoday.tamu.edu/2022/09/23/new-agrilife-extension-agent-positions-filled-across-the-state/ New AgriLife Extension agent positions filled

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