The Texas Association of Dairymen was honored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service with a 2017 Partnership Awards on Jan. 10 during the annual AgriLife Extension Conference in College Station.

The Extension Partnership Awards recognize vital alliances with agencies, organizations and others beyond the Texas A&M University System.

“We are grateful for the engagement provided by the Texas Association of Dairymen, which significantly enhances our outreach and impact to clientele in the dairy industry, as well as the education of our youth,” said Dr. Doug Steele, AgriLife Extension director.

That partnership was called upon when winter storm Goliath hit in 2015 and the association and AgriLife Extension personnel combined forces to work with affected producers and the media, according to the nomination.

Darren Turley, executive director of the Texas Association of Dairymen in Austin, said the Texas dairy industry has benefitted greatly from the partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife.

“Texas has continued to be one of the most progressive dairy states in the nation and that could not have happened without this partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife,” Turley said.

In accepting the award, Willie DeJong, an association board member and owner of Hidden View Dairy in Dublin, said he moved to Texas 20 years ago from California and had never seen the type of support as that provided by AgriLife Extension.

“It is truly an investment not just in an industry’s future, but it is an investment in the education of all those involved, and I applaud the efforts,” DeJong said.

As an advocate for the Texas dairy industry since 1991, the Texas Association of Dairymen has been steadfast in its support of AgriLife Extension programming for dairy producers and workers, as well as agricultural literacy for consumers and youth, the nomination stated.

With the association’s underwriting of travel and other expenses, AgriLife Extension dairy specialists can cover the state, offering most programs at no charge.

Also, association leaders and staff have collaborated in the development of workforce training, particularly about humane animal handling, watershed protection and environmental stewardship.

The Texas Association of Dairymen leadership also recognizes the importance of the next generation, financially supporting the Texas 4-H dairy judging teams, including travel for judging teams to compete beyond the state level.

The association sponsors an annual award for an outstanding county agent and invests in the Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership program, including its new Emerging Leaders program.

“AgriLife Extension and the people of Texas have a valuable partner in TAD as we both work to ensure an abundant, safe and high-quality food supply,” Steele said.

Capital Farm Credit and the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association also received 2017 awards.