State's Agricultural Agencies Change Names, Renew Missions

Jan. 15, 2008

Contact: Dave Mayes, 979-845-2803, d-mayes@tamu.edu
Kathleen Phillips, 979-845-2872, ka-phillips@tamu.edu
Mike Jackson, 972-952-9232, mcjackson@ag.tamu.edu

Two state agricultural agencies that have served Texans for a combined 224 years are beginning 2008 with new names and renewed missions.

Texas AgriLife Research is the new name for the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, which annually conducts more than $150 million in agriculture and life sciences research in such areas as improving food and fiber production, enhancing human and animal health, and conserving water, soils, wildlife and other natural resources.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service is the new name of Texas Cooperative Extension, which provides Texans in all 254 counties with non-biased, research-based education programs and services in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H and youth development, family and consumer sciences, and community economic development.

"We are making these changes to better communicate the life-sustaining and life-changing impacts that both AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension deliver to the people of Texas and beyond," said Dr. Mark Hussey, director of AgriLife Research.

Both agencies remain members of The Texas A&M University System, with the same commitment to their partners, clients and mission.

"But we also want to tell our story to a larger audience and a changing state population, attract new resources and build new partnerships, while strengthening our existing ones," Hussey said.

"In this way, we hope to better serve the people of this great state."

The name changes are part of a re-branding initiative launching this year after two years of study and planning. These efforts were led by former vice chancellor Dr. Elsa Murano, who was named president of Texas A&M University on Jan. 3.

"The re-branding efforts are centered on one foundational message: 'Agriculture is Life!'" Hussey said. "The central idea is that life itself is the core value that our agencies seek to sustain and enhance.

"People usually don't realize how much we all depend on agriculture and the life sciences. Discoveries and innovations in these fields directly impact the quality of the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the homes we live in, and, more and more, even the fuels we pump into our vehicles."

"This is more than a name change, or even a new logo design," said Dr. Ed Smith, director of AgriLife Extension. "These new brands will impact not only our marketing materials and signage, but also the way we position and prioritize our programs and work with our federal, state and county partners to serve the state of Texas. It is vitally important to tell our story and that people connect our agencies to the tremendous impacts they have on the state."

One of the drivers of the re-branding initiative was a market study that showed that the work of the research and extension agencies was not widely known across the state of Texas.

"We hope to help people better understand the vital role that agriculture and life sciences still play in improving the prosperity of their lives," said Smith. "We believe that if they come to know us better, they will see that connection more clearly, even within a state population that is now 85 percent urbanized."

AgriLife Research, established in 1887, employs a team of 425 scientists on the campus of Texas A&M University and at 13 centers across the state. Research has made many innovative advances over the years, including development of the Texas 1015 onion and the TAM Mild Jalapeno pepper, which revolutionized the U.S. salsa industry.

Current major research includes the efficient use and conservation of water resources, the development of fruits and vegetables with higher levels of disease-fighting compounds, and the adaptation of crops and other agricultural products for making biofuels.

AgriLife Extension, established in 1915, provides Texans with continuing education programs and services. More than 900 professional educators team with some 90,000 volunteers to serve families, youth, communities and businesses throughout the state. Some 600,000 children annually participate in Extension's 4-H and youth development programs.