Our work in Texas, the United States and beyond improves our health, protects our environment, enriches our youth, and feeds our world. And not only does our work enrich lives but it also creates jobs and a stronger economy. So, as April marks the celebration of Earth Day and Arbor Day, I’d like to thank each and every one of you and highlight a few our recent “green” initiatives and accomplishments.
Improving Water Quality and Quantity
The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) recently won the Texas Environmental Excellence Award for environmental preservation and protection. The award was given in the civic/community category for the Institute’s Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership. Through collaborations and partnerships like this one, the Institute provides research, educational demonstrations, training, and sustainability and drought management programs. Learn more about TWRI.
Protecting Our Forests
The 2011 drought took an incalculable toll on our Texas forests and communities as wildfires ravaged the state and lack of water stifled our vegetation. But through it all, the Texas Forest Service (TFS) helped communities protect their homes and businesses from wildfires and drought. In November, I presented them with a Vice Chancellor’s commendation award for their efforts. In addition, the agency is poised to launch an online wildfire risk assessment portal on Friday that will provide Texans with up-to-date information on wildfires statewide. Learn more about TFS and the Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal.
Converting Renewable Resources to Fuel
As the nation’s fuel consumption grows, Texas AgriLife Research Scientists are working to revolutionize our diesel and jet fuel resources. At the Algae Research and Development Facility in Pecos, Texas, scientists are seeking to develop a technology involving microalgae that could potentially produce about 3,000-5,000 gallons of diesel or jet fuel per acre per year, which is significantly more than most energy crops. This research is making significant progress toward commercialization of algae production. Read more about Texas AgriLife Research’s work transforming algae into fuel.
Enriching Our Youth
The Sequor Youth Development Initiative (YDI), supported by the department of recreation, parks and tourism sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Texas AgriLife Extension, helps youth service practitioners develop, improve and evaluate youth programs and services. The initiative strives to bridge the gap between youth development research and practice by providing easy access to the most recent developments in the field. Find out more about YDI’s programs and resources.
Conservation of Wildlife Populations
Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch is a nonprofit research facility dedicated to the conservation of Texas’ wild quail populations. The organization provides land managers and other stakeholders with relevant technology and management schemes specific to the Rolling Plains of Texas. Recently, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp (pictured left) visited the ranch to get an inside look at their work. Learn more about Rolling Plain Quail Research Ranch.
As we work together to create safe, healthy food, preserve our environment, provide clean water and so much more, let us all take a moment to recognize what a difference we are making and congratulate one another on our accomplishments. Just this past January, Dr. Keerti Rathore of soil and crop sciences received a Cotton Genetics Research Award for breeding cotton plants with reduced seed gossypol that could lead to a new, high-quality food source, cottonseeds, for people around the world. And in November, Dr. Brad Wilcox, a Texas AgriLife Research rangeland specialist, received the Outstanding Contribution to Rangeland Management Award by the Texas Section Society for Rangeland Management. The nomination stated his research transformed the understanding of the role of vegetation in the rangeland water cycle.
It’s clear that our work is making the world and our environment better today and providing hope for a better tomorrow. So thank you for your incredible contributions, and let’s continue to make every day Earth Day!
Mark A. Hussey, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor and Dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences