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Home News-Telegram News Dr. Mario Villarino approved as new agricultural Extension agent for Hopkins County; brings extensive academic resumé to the job

Dr. Mario Villarino approved as new agricultural Extension agent for Hopkins County; brings extensive academic resumé to the job

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Hopkins County officials Monday voted to hire a Texas Agrilife Extension Service specialist with a doctoral degree to serve as the county’s next agent for agriculture.

The vote at the regular meeting of the Hopkins County Commissioners Court was unanimous to hire Dr. Mario Villarino, 38, who is expected to begin his duties in the Hopkins County Extension office in mid-September. He must first complete other projects he is working on for the Extension service before he will be able to move to Sulphur Springs. After completing the “trials” or demos, Villarino will “shadow” the Lamar County Extension agents before officially starting as Hopkins County Extension agent for agriculture.

Hopkins County, one of the state’s busier agribusiness areas with more than $200 million in farm products sold in 2007, has been without an agriculture Extension agent since the end of March, when Larry Spradlin’s retirement became effective. Spradlin had spent the previous 12 years in the post.

Dr. Villarino, one of four applicants, was recommended for the job by a panel at the Extension service’s headquarters at Texas A&M University at College Station. The county pays about $13,500 of the Extension agent’s annual salary, with the remainder of the salary and all the other expenses, including benefits, paid for by the Extension service.

Dr. Villarino brings an impressive academic resumé with him to the job. His current job is listed as Extension Associate in the Department of Animal Science at the Urban Solution Center in Dallas. He is also an adjunct professor in the agricultural department at Texas A&M University-Commerce, where he trains students in diagnostic techniques applied to animal diseases.

He earned his doctor of veterinary medicine degree at National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1995, then  that same year began a “veterinary externship” in the department of small animal medicine and surgery at Texas A&M University. In 2000, he received his doctoral degree in veterinary microbiology from the A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, then spent the next two years at the college doing post-doctoral research under a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service Fellowship.

Since 1999, he has worked on multiple research projects that have been funded by more than $850,000 in competitive grants. For the past six years, Villarino has been project manager in a successful study implementing herd management techniques in controlling Johne’s Disease. He is also currently working with Texas dairy and beef producers in the eradication of bovine paratuberculosis.

His research has led to extensive writings, as well. His list of published papers and articles for the Extension service and others covers two pages of his resumé.

Dr. Villarino, who is fluent in both English and Spanish, is also listed in “Who’s Who in Science and Engineering” an and in the “International Who’s Who of Professionals.”

With such an extensive academic background, some might wonder why Villarino would be interested in a post as a county agent. But Hurley Miller, administrator for Extension District 4, which includes Hopkins County, said during a recent meeting with county commissioners that the job is highly sought by many people in the Extension service, especially when the position is a high profile one in an active program. He indicated Hopkins County fits that bill perfectly.

“This is a position people like to have,” he said.

Commissioners also said they wanted to be sure that the county’s next agriculture agent understood the demands of the job, as the Hopkins County agent works with youths in 4-H and other programs as well as helping with projects and events such as the Northeast Texas Livestock Association’s Junior Market Show, in addition to counseling local farmers and ranchers.

Miller said Villarino, who has two children ages 2 and 5, is “very aware” of the requirements of the job, knowing that some days he may be working from 6 a.m. to midnight, and that he could end up working four weekends a month.

“He’s willing to do that,” Miller said.that same year began a “veterinary externship” in the department of small animal medicine and surgery at Texas A&M University. In 2000, he received his doctoral degree in veterinary microbiology from the A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, then spent the next two years at the college doing post-doctoral research under a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service Fellowship.

Since 1999, he has worked on multiple research projects that have been funded by more than $850,000 in competitive grants. For the past six years, Villarino has been project manager in a successful study implementing herd management techniques in controlling Johne’s Disease. He is also currently working with Texas dairy and beef producers in the eradication of bovine paratuberculosis.

His research has led to extensive writings, as well. His list of published papers and articles for the Extension service and others covers two pages of his resumé.

Dr. Villarino, who is fluent in both English and Spanish, is also listed in “Who’s Who in Science and Engineering” an and in the “International Who’s Who of Professionals.”

With such an extensive academic background, some might wonder why Villarino would be interested in a post as a county agent. But Hurley Miller, administrator for Extension District 4, which includes Hopkins County, said during a recent meeting with county commissioners that the job is highly sought by many people in the Extension service, especially when the position is a high profile one in an active program. He indicated Hopkins County fits that bill perfectly.

“This is a position people like to have,” he said.

Commissioners also said they wanted to be sure that the county’s next agriculture agent understood the demands of the job, as the Hopkins County agent works with youths in 4-H and other programs as well as helping with projects and events such as the Northeast Texas Livestock Association’s Junior Market Show, in addition to counseling local farmers and ranchers.

Miller said Villarino, who has two children ages 2 and 5, is “very aware” of the requirements of the job, knowing that some days he may be working from 6 a.m. to midnight, and that he could end up working four weekends a month.

“He’s willing to do that,” Miller said.

 

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