Writer: Kay Ledbetter

The Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence – Climate and Diversity honor was presented to the Bennett Trust Women’s Land Stewardship Conference during a ceremony Jan. 7 on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station.

The awards recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions displayed across Texas A&M AgriLife and celebrate those contributions and achievements of faculty, students and staff members.

The AgriLife Extension team includes Dr. Larry Redmon, associate department head and program leader, department of soil and crop sciences, College Station; Dr. Robert Lyons, range specialist, Uvalde; Dr. Megan Clayton, range specialist, Corpus Christi; Roy Walston, agriculture and natural resources county agent, Kerr County; Brad Roeder, agriculture and natural resources county agent, Gillespie County; and Todd Swift, regional program leader, South Region.

The conference, part of the Bennett Trust Land Stewardship program held annually in the Edwards Plateau, is funded by the generous posthumous gift from Ruth and Eskel Bennett to AgriLife Extension. This endowment was created for land stewardship education in the Edwards Plateau.

Bennett conference team at awards ceremony
The Bennett Trust Women’s Land Stewardship Conference Team received the Award in Excellence - Culture and Diversity. From Left to right are Dr. Patrick Stover, Vice Chancellor, Dr. Larry Redmon, Dr. Bob Lyons, Brad Roeder, Roy Walston, and Todd Swift. Not pictured, Dr. Megan Clayton. (Photo by Kellett Photography)

The inaugural women’s event was held in October 2015 in Fredericksburg, and was so well-received, the event has been conducted each October since, according to the nomination.

The main goals for the program are to provide women with basic information about economically and environmentally sound management of natural resources in the Edwards Plateau and to empower them to make the necessary decisions regarding their own ranch management.

The age of women attending the conferences ranges from 20 years to 80 years and represent women who spent their entire lives in the “big city” to those who grew up in the country, but for various reasons, have never been the ranch management decision maker, the nomination stated.

They all have a couple of things in common – most have never had the chance to make the management decisions regarding their resources, and they have a tremendous desire to be great stewards of their piece of Texas, according to the nomination.

The Bennett Trust Women’s Conference consists of a day in a classroom; most speakers are women representing AgriLife Extension, other public agencies and the private sector. The second day is spent on charter buses visiting women-owned enterprises related to various production enterprises common to the Edwards Plateau.

Faculty members from Texas A&M University’s ecosystem science and management, soil and crop sciences, wildlife and fisheries sciences, animal science, agricultural economics, and recreation, parks and tourism departments have united to bring a multi-disciplinary approach to the overall educational program.

“Our goal with the women’s conference is to provide them with the tools and confidence to return to their ranch and make a difference,” Redmon said. “This is a critical part of the overall goal of the program.”