GAINESVILLE―A new institute at North Central Texas College will promote sustainable agriculture and healthy food production.
The Josey Institute for Agroecology will conduct research and offer educational programs on sustainable ranching and farming for NCTC students, as well as land owners and the general public. The institute’s creation was funded through an $88,000 grant from the Dixon Water Foundation, which promotes healthy watersheds through sustainable land management and has two ranches in Cooke County.
“This institute will help train a new generation of land stewards to manage economically and ecologically sustainable ranches, which are so important to our state’s future,” said Robert J. Potts, president and CEO of the Dixon Water Foundation.
Receiving the foundation’s check on his first day as NCTC president, Dr. Brent Wallace said, “Service to the community is a vital part of our mission. The establishment of the Josey Institute at NCTC is going to allow us to explore some innovative approaches in serving our students, as well as the entire community, by including programs for planetary sustainability. We are extremely grateful for the monetary contribution, but even more honored to have the opportunity to work in partnership with the people at Dixon Water Foundation.”
Science professor Lisa Bellows will direct the institute. “This will be an exploratory year for the Josey Institute, so that we can define the needs of our community, organize our approach, and target the position of NCTC as a leader in agricultural ecology,” Bellows said.
The institute will serve as the new home of the Promoting Agriculture and Conservation Education (PACE) Project, an existing collaboration between the college and the Gainesville Independent School District. PACE students learn about sustainable ranching on a holistically managed property south of the Gainesville High School. Rotational and multi-species grazing are demonstrated on the property, which is owned by the school district and leased by the college. The Dixon Water Foundation has previously funded the PACE Project as well.
The PACE Project has offered several programs for agriculturalists in the past three years. Bellows said, “Internationally recognized soil microbiologist Dr. Elaine Ingham attracted over 180 visitors to our campus, and we provided soil micro training for over 100 participants this past year.”
Through the institute, Bellows will be teaching a Sustainable Agriculture course this fall, in which Whole Land Management will be the focus. The institute has also scheduled several programs for the general public in the coming year.
The Dixon Water Foundation’s mission is promoting healthy watersheds through sustainable land management. To that end, the foundation demonstrates sustainable land management practices at its four ranches in north and west Texas. In Cooke County, the foundation’s Leo ranch is the site of the new Betty and Clint Josey Pavilion, which aims to be Texas’ first Living Building, the highest standard in sustainable building. The foundation also hosts educational programs, partners with researchers, and funds grants for projects that further its mission.