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Young named Ag Educator of the Year
Posted 03 - 21 - 2012

Dr. Leon Young, pictured above, will receive the Agriculture Educator of the Year award sponsored by Citizens 1st Bank at the 11th Annual Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet, Monday, Apr. 2 at Banita Creek Hall. Dr. Young’s contributions include notable improvements in the Stephen F. Austin State University agriculture research center and the SFA gardens, assistance with graduate student research, and improvements in Tanzanian farmers’ crop production.

Upon moving to Nacogdoches in 1975 Dr. Young began teaching soil science and agronomy courses, teaching more than 2,500 agriculture students during his 36-plus years at SFA. He also served as director of the SFA Soil, Plant, and Water Analysis Laboratory which has analyzed in excess of 200,000 soil samples under his direction and made lime and fertilizer recommendations on each. 

“The first thing Dr. Young’s students learned was ‘do not say dirt in his class,’” said former student Chad Gulley, Texas AgriLife County Extension Agent - Agriculture and Natural Resources, Smith County. “Students also learn that no matter how sophisticated or advanced the human race becomes, we still owe our existence to a layer of topsoil, and the fact that it rains.”

From 1984 to 1997, Dr. Young served as chairman of the Department of Agriculture in the SFA Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. 

During this period new facilities were constructed at what is now the Walter C. Todd Agricultural Research Center or “beef farm” on Highway 259 N. These facilities included a swine barn, new working corrals for beef, and the poultry research center and its feed mill.

“In 1991 the agriculture curriculum was revised, and during this period Dr. Young assisted Dr. David Creech in developing what has become the SFA Gardens,” Gulley said. “He was involved in hiring the first arboretum technician in 1997, and how that garden did grow.

“Dr. Young is a resource I still utilize as a County Extension Agent even today. He is truly deserving of this honor,” Gulley said.

According to Dr. Young his greatest joy and accomplishment has been the direction of thesis research and writing for 29 masters degree students. These research projects have helped improve the soil and forage testing service, improve lime and fertilizer recommendations, and understand the problems of broiler litter management. 

Currently there are two graduate students working on forage quality and testing and two graduate students looking at the use of wood ash from biomass plants as liming materials and as a potassium fertilizer source. 

Dr. Young was awarded the prestigious Regents Professor title by Stephen F. Austin State University in 2008. He is a 42-year member of the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America. He is also a member of the Crop Science Society of America and the National Forage and Grassland Council. He is a contract broiler grower for Tyson Foods. 

Dr. Young grew up on a farm in Medina County near Devine, Texas. His mother taught school and his father was a farmer-rancher. He helped on the farm, herding cattle, planting, irrigating, and harvesting mostly forage crops. Early on the family had a cow calf operation but in the 60s switched to conditioning feeder cattle before they went to feed lots. He was active in F.F.A. and had some success in the public speaking contests. He graduated from Devine High School and entered Texas A&I University in 1965 and graduated with a B.S. in Plant Science in 1970. In 1970 he moved to Ames, Iowa and began graduate work in soil fertility at Iowa State University. The M.S. and Ph.D. degrees were awarded in 1972 and 1976 respectively. 

While at Iowa State his research focused on a comparison of corn and soybeans responses to phosphorus and potassium fertilization. According to Dr. Young, most importantly while living in Ames, he met and fell in love with Loraine Heddleston. They married in 1973. He and Loraine have four children, Molly, Drew, Matthew and April, and three grandchildren, Sam, Ella, and Jack.


About the event - sidebar

The 11th annual Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet begins at 6 p.m., Monday, Apr. 2 at Banita Creek Hall, 401 W. Main St. Event chair is Angela Shannon, Agriland Farm Credit.

The keynote speaker is Sheriff J.B. Smith from Smith County. He is a well-regarded humorist.

· Farm Family of the Year:  Forrest Lee Meador Family  (Sponsor: Tipton Ford)

· Agriculture Pioneer:  Dr. James Kroll  (Sponsor: Heritage Land Bank)

· Agribusiness of the Year:  Bright Coop, Inc.  (Sponsor: First Bank & Trust, East Texas)

· Agriculture Educator of the Year:  Dr. Leon Young  (Sponsor:  Citizens 1st Bank)

“The purpose of the event is to recognize the impact the agriculture industry has in our county, honor the people that stand out in our ag community and foster the future growth of the industry,” Agribusiness Committee Chairman David Alders said. “Scholarship funds will be awarded to deserving youth who are attending the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture at SFA, and this year’s award recipients will be honored.”

The banquet begins with a meet and greet at 6 p.m. Dinner service will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 each or $250 for a table of eight and are available now at the Nacogdoches County Chamber, 2516 North St. and from committee members. Businesses are welcome to sponsor tables to provide complimentary admission for youth ag groups.

Call the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, 560-5533 for ticket and table reservations, or download a registration form from

The Nacogdoches Agriculture Committee consists of representatives from Nacogdoches County Farm Bureau, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, Nacogdoches Economic Development Corp., Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Cooperative Extension Program, Pineywoods RC&D, Stephen F. Austin State University - Agriculture Department and the Texas Forest Service are proud to co-sponsor the Agriculture Banquet honoring the Agriculture Industry in Nacogdoches County.

In addition to the banquet, the committee has organized farm tours of the County for media and business representatives on Friday, Mar. 30. Contact Jamie Sugg or Crispin Skinner, 560-7711, for tour information and reservations.

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