Crops, Plants & Forestry Section

Pictured front row from left are fourth generation cotton farmer Jon Whatley with his father Robert Whatley and sons, from left, Jackson, 13, and Payne, 16. 

Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) and the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts (ATSWCD) recognized several individuals dedicated to the “conservation and management of renewable natural resources.” Included in those recognized were Odem residents and father and son ranchers, Bob and  Jon Whatley. 

The Broken W Partnership, owned and operated by the Whatleys in Odem, received a 2021 Texas Conservation Award for Conservation Farmer. 

“Together, with the help of their families they have dedicated their lives to enhancing the growth and sustainability of their ranching operation. Over the years, Broken W Partnership has utilized soil and water conservation programs provided by the TSSWCB, San Patricio SWCD and the USDA-NRCS,” read a statement by the TSSWCB. “The Broken W Partnership has incorporated a variety of conservation practices on their operation such as brush management, forage and biomass planting, cross fencing, rotational and prescribed grazing as well as livestock watering facilities.” 

Since the late 1970s, the Texas Conservation Awards Program recognizes conservationists and the important hand they lend in the ongoing management of the natural resources here in Texas. 

Categories recognized each year through the program are Poster Contest and Junior and Senior Essay Contests, Conservation Farmer, Outstanding Soil and Water Conservation District, Conservation Rancher, Friend of Conservation, Conservation Teacher and Wildlife Conservationist.

As for the Whatleys, their continued conservationists approach to ranching and their dedication has rightly earned them this recognition. 

“Outside of their work on the ranch, the Whatley family has devoted their time to serving on numerous boards and organizations from the local to national level,” the  TSSWCB statement concludes. “The Whatley family has done an outstanding job in being dedicated stewards of the land and will continue to set an admirable example for others to follow.”


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