Texas Sea Grant’s Cummins honored by Texas Extension Specialists Association

July 28, 2017

PORT LAVACA, Texas — Rhonda Cummins, the Coastal and Marine Resources Agent for Calhoun County, has been honored for her support of the community by the Texas Extension Specialists Association (TESA).

At a ceremony in San Antonio July 25 at TESA’s annual meeting, Cummins, whose position is a partnership between the Texas Sea Grant College Program, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Calhoun County, received the Distinguished Program Achievement Award in Community and Resource Development.

“We are so very proud to see Rhonda Cummins honored by the Texas Extension Specialists Association,” said Dr. Pamela T. Plotkin, Director of Texas Sea Grant. “For many years, Rhonda’s extraordinary efforts in her county have benefitted the state of Texas and the coastal and marine resources that sustain our communities and economies. She is passionate in her support of Calhoun County and deserves this recognition of her hard work.”

Cummins was nominated by Dr. Rebekka Dudensing, associate professor of agricultural economics and extension economist at Texas A&M University. Cummins has been working with Dudensing since 2014 on a project to determine the economic impact of recreational fishing in Calhoun County, particularly the effects of tournament fishing. They crafted questionnaires for tourist and tournament anglers that Cummins and volunteers administered while Dudensing tabulated spending and calculated the economic impacts. They are also working to streamline the data collection process to create an economic model for recreational fishing that might be used across the Gulf Coast.

In her nomination of Cummins, Dudensing noted other examples of Cummins’ community development work. “When she realized local children needed an assessable lending library, she built mini-libraries and placed them throughout the county. True to her Sea Grant mission, they are canoe-shaped, and each is different to inspire kids to think creatively.”

Cummins also manages a low-power radio station that broadcasts information about local points of interest, natural history and recreational opportunities, and coordinates the annual Adopt-a-Beach cleanup at Magnolia Beach and leads efforts in Calhoun County for the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program.

“She has truly engaged in all facets of sustainable community development — social (e.g., lending libraries and radio), environmental (e.g., Adopt-a-Beach and programs on marine pollution, rainwater harvesting, and invasive species) and economic (e.g., economic impacts of the seafood industry and recreational fishing),” Dudensing wrote.

Cummins is active in numerous professional organizations, including the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA), the ASBPA Texas Chapter Board of Directors, the San Antonio Bay Foundation Board of Directors, and the Port Lavaca Chamber of Commerce. She is a past recipient of the “Woman of the Year” award from the Port Lavaca Chamber of Commerce and was on teams that won a Superior Service Award from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and two Sea Grant Extension Assembly Superior Outreach Planning Awards.

PHOTO CAPTION:
Rhonda Cummins, Texas Sea Grant’s Coastal and Marine Resources Agent for Calhoun County, was recognized July 25 by the Texas Extension Specialists Association (TESA) with an award for Distinguished Program Achievement in Community and Resource Development. Pictured are, from left, TESA President Steven Klose, TESA Past President DeDe Jones, Cummins and Dr. Rebekka Dudensing, associate professor of agricultural economics and extension economist at Texas A&M University, who nominated Cummins for the award.

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Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.