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Smith County Horticulture Agent Receives Statewide Recognition

Smith County Horticulture Agent Greg Grant received the statewide Lone Star Land Steward Award for his life’s work on his family farm.

Grant, who became the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Smith County Extension Agent in Horticulture in October, was honored with the award given by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation during a banquet in Austin on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Grant was one of seven award recipients representing six ecologically diverse regions of the state. Started in 1996 by the TPWD Private Lands Advisory Committee, the Lone Star Land Steward Awards recognize the important role private landowners play in the future of Texas’ natural resources by honoring them for their accomplishments in habitat management and wildlife conservation.

“It was humbling and inspiring,” Grant said of receiving the honor. “It is very much a labor of love.”

Grant lives on what was once his great-great grandparent’s 50-acre farm in Arcadia, in Shelby County, where he restores parcels of native habitat for the benefit of wildlife and the education of others.

From 1953–1993, Grant’s grandfather farmed, produced hay and raised cattle and horses there. When Grant took ownership, he began to reforest portions of the property and plant some parts in native prairie. His primary wildlife goal is to create habitat for native cavity-nesting birds, pine savanna birds and a number of pollinator species. His pine forest has attracted seven of the eight species of East Texas woodpeckers, as well as eastern bluebirds, pine warblers, brown-headed nuthatches and numerous other songbirds.

Perhaps closest to his heart is a remnant population of prairie trillium, which he discovered growing in his hardwood forest. The rare species was previously unknown in Texas and is now found in only two other locations in East Texas.

In addition to restoring his great-great grandparent’s 1890’s dogtrot farmhouse, Grant has cooperated with the Stephen F. Austin State University Center of Regional Heritage Research as the pilot community for their Voices from Small Places project.

Over the last 20 years, Grant has hosted hundreds of visitors for educational and recreational tours of the property.

Grant said he doesn’t do any of the work on his family’s land for recognition or honors. He finds it comforting to be out in nature and has spent nearly every weekend of his life working on the property.

Six others from around the state received the Lone Star Land Stewards Awards. Since the program’s inception 21 years ago, more than 200 landowners have been honored for conserving more than 3 million acres of fish and wildlife habitat.

“This year we recognized properties around the state ranging in size from over 26,000 acres down to 50,” Justin Dreibelbis, director of TPWD’s Private Lands and Public Hunting program, said. “These landowners and managers come from different backgrounds but what they all have in common is a love for the land and a desire to make it the best functioning system that it can be. The clean air, water, food and fiber that come from these properties is important to all Texans and we are honored to be able to recognize this group of land stewards for their efforts.”

TPWD made videos of each recipient, showing the work they have done on their land. Grant said watching the other winners’ videos inspired him to keep working. Grants’ video can be found at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlh6kVge1DU&feature=youtu.be

Grant was born in Tyler and raised in Longview. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Floriculture and a master’s degree in Horticulture from Texas A&M University.

The Smith County Extension Office is part of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, an agency of the Texas A&M University System. Extension is a cooperative effort of the United States Department of Agriculture, the State of Texas through Texas A&M University, and the Smith County Commissioners Court. 

   

 

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