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TPPA honors outstanding members, students

The Texas Plant Protection Association recognizes its members and graduate students for their service to the association and agriculture, as well as announces poster winners, at its 35th annual conference.

Shelley E. Huguley, Editor

December 7, 2023

17 Slides

"Responding to the Challenges Facing Agriculture" was the theme this week at the Texas Plant Protection Association's 35th conference in Bryan, Texas.

More than 300 producers, researchers, specialists and industry representatives, and students attended the annual event, listening to presentations that ranged from the farm bill and crop insurance to drones to the EPA and water management.

Wednesday, December 6, TPPA held its awards luncheon, recognizing members for their service and leadership to the association and agriculture.

Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement

David Kerns, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension entomologist and associate department head and state IPM coordinator, received the association's most prestigious award, the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award. TPPA Board Advisor Ron Lacewell said Kerns has been a TPPA leader for years.

"If you notice on the posters, his name is all over them. He is a team player and brings a lot of people to the TPPA meetings."

Kerns told the crowd, "This is a huge honor. Receiving something that's named for Dr. Borlaug is just a tremendous thing, somebody who's done so much for agriculture. He's a great agronomist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and to be honored with any kind of award in his name is fantastic."

Related:David Kerns receives TPPA's Norman Borlaug award

He thanked TPPA, his students, mentors and colleagues. "It's incredible. A humbling thing for me."

Industry Award

Toby Hlavinka, American Plant Food Corporation president and CEO, received TPPA's Industry Award. Outgoing TPPA President Greg Steele said Toby and his family have been involved in agriculture in the Gulf Coast for many years. A Texas A&M graduate and prior to American Plant Food Corporation, he was Helena's chemicals director. He's served on various industry boards and been a TPPA presenter, attendee and sponsor for many years.

"I'm envious of y'all because you do something I wish I could," he told the crowd. "I was the worst farmer in the world. I farmed for 14 years and had horrible crops. If it wasn't for the agronomists and the soil people who helped me, I don't know that I'd even been able to pull anything out of the field."

He said what makes him proud is seeing younger generations entering the industry. "When I got into this industry in 1982, and interest rates were 16.5%, it was a ghost town. It was horrible. In ag classes, if there were 10 people, that was a full class. So, it's a very different time. I'm so proud of all the young people coming into the industry and I'm looking forward to mentoring y'all."

Related:Crop insurance: Complicated but could save money

The following awards were presented:

  • Ray Smith Leadership Award

  • Industry Award

  • Academic/Agency Award

  • Consultant Award

  • Outstanding Graduate Student (MS)

  • Outstanding Graduate Student (Ph.D.)

  • Poster Contest winners

  • Pest ID Contest winners

Take a look at the slideshow to see who was honored and who will serve as TPPA president in 2024.

About the Author(s)

Shelley E. Huguley

Editor, Southwest Farm Press

Shelley Huguley has been involved in agriculture for the last 25 years. She began her career in agricultural communications at the Texas Forest Service West Texas Nursery in Lubbock, where she developed and produced the Windbreak Quarterly, a newspaper about windbreak trees and their benefit to wildlife, production agriculture and livestock operations. While with the Forest Service she also served as an information officer and team leader on fires during the 1998 fire season and later produced the Firebrands newsletter that was distributed quarterly throughout Texas to Volunteer Fire Departments. Her most personal involvement in agriculture also came in 1998, when she married the love of her life and cotton farmer Preston Huguley of Olton, Texas. As a farmwife, she knows first-hand the ups and downs of farming, the endless decisions made each season based on “if” it rains, “if” the drought continues, “if” the market holds. She is the bookkeeper for their family farming operation and cherishes moments on the farm such as taking harvest meals to the field or starting a sprinkler in the summer with the whole family lending a hand. Shelley has also freelanced for agricultural companies such as Olton CO-OP Gin, producing the newsletter Cotton Connections while also designing marketing materials to promote the gin. She has published articles in agricultural publications such as Southwest Farm Press while also volunteering her marketing and writing skills to non-profit organizations such as Refuge Services, an equine-assisted therapy group in Lubbock. She and her husband reside in Olton with their three children Breely, Brennon and HalleeKate.

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