Texas A&M AgriLife faculty and staff were honored Jan. 14 during the Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence ceremony, which followed the annual State of AgriLife Address, both held virtually this year.
The awards, established in 1980, recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions displayed across Texas A&M AgriLife and celebrate the contributions and achievements of faculty, students and staff members.
Recipients represent personnel in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, TVMDL.
Congratulations to Mengmeng Gu, Ph.D. Lisa Whittlesey, Randy Seagraves and Caren Walton who all received Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence this year. These awards recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions displayed by faculty, students and staff members across Texas A&M AgriLife.
Extension Education Awards
The Extension Specialist or Program Specialist Award was presented to Mengmeng Gu, Ph.D., professor and AgriLife Extension specialist, Department of Horticultural Sciences. Gu develops research projects and outreach educational programs about sustainable landscape management. Her workshops about unmanned aerial systems address the possibilities of using drones to monitor plant health, irrigation needs, pest pressure and inventory without having to manually scout each crop. Gu is best known for her work with the Crapemyrtle Bark Scale Team, recognized for its national impact via webinars, YouTube videos and publications.
Team Collaboration Award
The Team Award was presented to the Junior Master Gardener Learn, Grow, Eat & GO! Team consisting of AgriLife Extension’s Lisa Whittlesey, senior program specialist and International Junior Master Gardener coordinator; Randy Seagraves, horticulture program specialist; Caren Walton, horticulture program specialist; Michael Lopez, family and community health program specialist; and Rusty Hohlt, Healthy Texas program director, all of Bryan-College Station, as well as Renda Nelson, program director, Better Living for Texans/SNAP-Ed, Amarillo. The team formed from an intervention study targeting childhood obesity among third graders at 28 schools. The study showed a wide range of positive results, including children with a reduced body mass index, increased physical activity and better engagement with parents. In the 2019-2020 school year, the program was offered in 119 Texas counties. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the team created 40 online videos that allowed county programs to continue working with schools. Now their work has expanded nationally and internationally, with 29 states receiving training and supplies. The program is now being used in international development in several countries, and the team continues to expand it to additional age levels and regions.