Agrilife strives to improve life, health, prosperity
by Kenda Nelson
Jan 20, 2013 | 2270 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Donalson, county ag agent, discusses the accomplishments and plans for 2013 with the commissioners court last Tuesday.
Michael Donalson, county ag agent, discusses the accomplishments and plans for 2013 with the commissioners court last Tuesday.
Since Michael Donalson took over as the county extension agent last year, he has made 82,338 phone and mail contacts to promote educational programs for economic development, environmental stewardship, family health and well-being, youth development and better understanding of agriculture and coastal issues.

“The Texas AgriLife Extension Service plays a vital role in Refugio County,” he told the commissioners at last week’s meeting. “We provide relevant, research-based information and education to help Texans improve their lives and to address their problems.”

Donalson is at the forefront of educational programs for youths and adults alike, which plays an important role in rural counties like Refugio.

The agent and his assistant Monica Flores, sponsor and assist sponsors of dozens of programs offered through 4-H and other organizations throughout the county.

“There were over 225 Refugio County Youth that participated in the Youth Livestock Show that is held in conjunction with the Refugio County Fair,” Donalson said. “The livestock that is exhibited is sold to local youth supporters for upwards of $300,000. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that buyers are receiving a safe, quality product that has been raised in an ethical manner.”

The county’s Junior Livestock Committee along with the extension service developed the Refugio County Quality Counts Program held last August. The three-hour event educated youths on the aspects of proper and ethical livestock production.

An overwhelming 100 percent of participants had increased test scores after attending the program.

Donalson said 78 percent of the youths were not cleaning their facilities.

“Sixty-seven percent had never attended a program,” Donalson said.

The agent told the court that successful programs for youths such as the Earth Science Field Day as well as adults, such as the Africanized Bee Safety Training were well-received and will continue and new ones will be instituted for 2013 as need arises.

A program developed in 2012 that will continue in 2013 is an annual Refugio County Beef Cattle Workshop. Beef producers also participate in the Tri-County Blanconia Field Day and the Tri County Commercial Cattle Sale.

The county, though the smallest, grossed the highest in the sale, Donalson said.

Farming interest are also addressed with field trials and the annual Crop Tour.

Development of an educational food program began late in the year and is expected to be implemented this year.

“We respond to the residents who come to us for information and educational services and reach out to meet local educational needs,” Donalson said.

More information about programs and activities may be obtained by contacting the extension office at 107 E. Roca in Refugio or by calling 526-2825.
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