News from Director

100 Years in Coming

I am pleased to announce that Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will hold a centennial conference on January  8‑9, 2014—our first gathering of all Extension specialists and county agents since 1999. While we’re together, we’ll celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Extension’s founding legislation, the 1914 Smith-Lever Act, and give special recognition to our partners and Extension Superior Service Award recipients.  


January 8 will feature presentations about the past, present, and future role of Extension education, with a keynote address on the value of public service. On January 9, Chancellor John Sharp will host a luncheon ceremony in tribute to the state, county, and A&M System partners that support Texas Extension.


More information will come as the planning committee progresses. So hold the dates, stay tuned and remember that…


The Smith-Lever Act (pdf) codified into federal law, and provided funding for, outreach endeavors at the land-grant universities founded by the Morrill Act of 1862. Senator Hoke Smith of Georgia and Representative A. F. Lever of South Carolina introduced the act, which stated:


“In order to aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture, uses of solar energy with respect to agriculture, home economics, and rural energy, and to encourage the application of the same, there may be continued or inaugurated in connection with the college of colleges in each State, Territory, or possession . . .”


The appropriation authorized for Cooperative Extension was unique in that it set up a shared partnership among the federal, state, and county levels of government. A formula funding mechanism was designed to ensure support from each of the levels to help the system achieve stability and leverage resources. Learn more at

Introducing: A More Telling Title

As we implement our new administrative structure, the position of regional program director will be renamed “regional program leader” (RPL). This title better reflects the position’s role in providing leadership to regional staff development, program development, and evaluation processes, as well as assisting with statewide initiatives. No change will occur in position function. This coincides with a recent review and update of roles and responsibilities for Extension district administrators and associate department heads, in addition to RPLs.


In the transition from four regions to six, Dr. Susan Ballabina (in the new role of interim associate director for program development) is working with Human Resources to post new positions for RPLs-FCS at the Weslaco and Vernon centers and RPLs-ANR at the Overton and Uvalde centers. This new alignment reflects a strengthened administrative commitment to people (employees and constituents), programs, and partnerships.


Telling Videos Available

A new featured video is posted to the vice chancellor’s website ( entitled, “Texas A&M AgriLife: Real World Solutions for Texans.” The 90-second video highlights the four agencies of Texas A&M AgriLife: AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. 


I encourage you to watch and use the video, as well as others placed on the AgriLife YouTube channel. With the annual One Day 4-H coming up on October 12, you’ll find the event’s 2009 music video with Brison Bursey particularly uplifting. What a great message that reminds us why giving back to others is so important.





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