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Jim Prewitt, ag leadership icon, dies at 80

Ag leadership advocate and noted Texas nurseryman remembered, described as "a pillar in our industry."

Jim Prewitt, the owner of Landmark Nurseries Inc. and a strong supporter of university leadership programs such as Texas A&M's Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr. Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership, TALL, program and Texas Tech's Matador Institute of Leadership Engagement (MILE) Program, passed away April 10, 2021, at the age of 80.

Prewitt founded Landmark Nurseries in the early 1980s. While he began his career providing landscaping services for commercial and residential customers, he eventually transitioned to opening wholesale nurseries in Garland, Texas. Landmark Nurseries has evolved into one of the largest wholesale grower/distributors in Texas, according to a Texas Tech University press release.

Jim-Prewitt.jpegJim Prewitt, owner of Landmark Nurseries Inc. and longtime supporter of Texas A&M AgriLife and the Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr. Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership program and the Texas Tech University Matador Institute of Leadership Engagement Program. (Photo courtesy of Texas A&M AgriLife)

Prewitt grew up on a family farm and dairy near Kirbyville. As a boy, he lost an arm in a farming accident but was determined it would never deter him in life or work, according to a Texas A&M release. As a teen, Prewitt served as Texas FFA president and National FFA vice president. 

Walking TALL

Prewitt served on the advisory committees for both the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources (CASNR) MILE and AgriLife Extension TALL leadership programs. 

TALL is a leadership program for post-graduate agriculturists. The program helps to ensure an effective understanding and encourage positive action by participants on key issues, theories, policy and economics that will further the agriculture industry. Prewitt served as president of the TALL Foundation and was the 2013 recipient of the TALL Lifetime Achievement Award.

“His generosity was second to none, and his passion to help the next generation through education was his mission in life,” said TALL Program Director Jim Mazurkiewicz, in a recent release. “Mr. Prewitt gave of his time, talent and treasures to the benefit of many. His service and leadership will be missed by the TALL program and all the organizations he supported.”

Mazurkiewicz, who called Prewitt a true Texas icon, said there was no other person more passionate and supportive of 4-H, FFA youth and the TALL program, helping educate the next generation of Texas agriculture leaders and promoting Texas agriculture. 

Going the extra MILE

Prewitt was also influential in the development of the MILE program. While TALL is geared towards post-graduates, the MILE program focuses on Texas Tech undergraduates. Each MILE cohort takes place over three semesters and includes 14 students representing the six CASNR academic departments. It's designed to provide participants with a competitive edge when pursuing careers following graduation.

Lindsay Kennedy, assistant professor of practice, Texas Tech Univerity, Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, and TALL XIII member (2014), helped create the MILE Program, and credits Prewitt's TALL model for shaping Tech's leadership initiative. 

"The TALL model is such a great structure for engaging with industry and the key issues affecting agriculture, so it was a no-brainer to apply many of those same concepts to our MILE undergraduate leadership program," said Kennedy, who is also the MILE program director. "You could certainly say that Mr. Prewitt’s investment in the TALL Program had a direct impact on the creation of the MILE Program here at Texas Tech University and its success."

In 2019, Prewitt was awarded the MILE Program's Excellence in Leadership Award for his role in starting the program.

“I will be forever grateful to Mr. Prewitt for the impact he made on the MILE Program. He believed in the MILE Program from day one and was instrumental in making the program's high-impact learning experiences possible for our students.

“His commitment and investment in agricultural leadership development can be felt throughout the state of Texas, and he made such an incredible impact on the ag industry as a result,” she added in the release. “He was a pillar in our industry, and his legacy will continue in the lives of our CASNR MILE students."

 

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Jim Prewitt, president of Landmark Nurseries Inc., and his wife, Paula. Jim Prewitt passed away April 10. (Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife)

Both universities praised Prewitt for his strong support of their congressional internship programs.

“Mr. Prewitt epitomized leadership in the agricultural industry,” said Chris Skaggs, associate vice chancellor of producer relations and associate dean of undergraduate programs for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M. “He was a strong advocate for youth involvement in agricultural pursuits through his never-ending support of the state 4-H and FFA organizations, the State Fair of Texas Youth Livestock Auction and the Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Internship Program at Texas A&M to name a few. He was a firm believer in leadership from ourselves and devoted his life to developing leaders of tomorrow.”

Service

Prewitt served on many boards, including the Texas A&M College of Agriculture Development Council.

"Jim Prewitt’s passion for helping educate the next generation of Texas agricultural leaders and promoting Texas agriculture has left a legacy,” said Patrick J. Stover, vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research in a recent release. “His generosity, vision and commitment to teaching and creating learning opportunities will last for generations. We are grateful for his leadership and support of Texas A&M AgriLife. He was a giant in Texas agriculture and a model for all of us.”

Prewitt, a founding member and chair of Texas A&M's Floriculture Advisory Committee, was also a member of the American Nursery & Landscape Association, Ohio Florist Association, and Southern Nurseryman Association. He was also a supporter of the Dallas Summer Musicals organization, Fort Worth Livestock Show and Rodeo Auction, National Association of Agricultural Educators, and San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. Prewitt served on the National FFA Sponsors Boards, Texas FFA Foundation and was founder of the Texas Agricultural Science Leadership Institute.

Memorial services

A celebration of life was held April 19 at South Garland Baptist Church, Garland.

Memorial gifts may be directed to the following:

  • Texas Tech Foundation, Inc., Jim Prewitt Memorial Fund for the MILE (Matador Institute for Leadership Engagement) Program in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and mailed to Texas Tech University, Box 45025, Lubbock, TX 79409, or given online here  
  • TALL Foundation/Mr. Jim Prewitt Memorial Fund — TALL Foundation, 2137 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2137 or visit tall.tamu.edu.

Click here to view his obituary.

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