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Texas legislators, staff grow ag knowledge during farm visit – Texas Farm Bureau

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Texas legislators, staff grow ag knowledge during farm visit – Texas Farm Bureau


By Shelby Shank
Field Editor

Texas legislators and legislative staff got their boots dirty during a trip to the farm to learn more about agriculture.

Hays, Travis and Caldwell County Farm Bureaus worked with the Luling Foundation and the Texas Ag Council to host the Legislative Ag Day on May 8.

Several Texas legislators and over 60 staff members for Texas senators and representatives attended the event, growing a better understanding of agriculture and the issues facing the industry.

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“There are a thousand people a day moving to Texas. A lot of them are coming from big cities, and they probably don’t have any connection with agriculture,” Joe Morris, Travis County Farm Bureau president, said. “We’re trying to bring legislators and their staffers out to the farm and show them around, so they can gain an understanding about what it takes to put food on the table and clothes on your back.”

This year’s event was held at the Luling Foundation, a model farm established over 90 years ago. The farm has been a longtime advocate for Texas agriculture and has a long history of diverse agricultural practices.

“It’s important for legislative staff to see, meet and speak with farmers and ranchers. This event gives legislators and their staff firsthand experience and visualization of what farmers and ranchers do,” Makayla Arthur, senior policy analyst for Sen. Brian Birdwell, said. “It bridges the gap of knowledge between a person who’s never experienced or been exposed to agriculture with a person who lives it every day.”

The day’s activities included various demonstrations to showcase different aspects of farming and ranching in Texas.

A demonstration on beef cattle production showed different feed rations the Luling Foundation feeds its cattle, as well as discussion on grass-fed and grain-finished beef. Questions centered around the current state of the cattle market and the impact ongoing drought and recent wildfires have had on cattle herd numbers.

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A sheep production presentation showed participants the differences between wool and mohair.

“I think one of the things we take for granted is the clothes we put on every single day,” Jaime Villarreal, chief of staff for Sen. Carol Alvarado, said. “We think of food as something that will always be around, but then we think about the labor it took to grow or raise that food. A lot of the times, unless our clothes are a synthetic material, it’s coming from another big part of the agriculture industry, like sheep production.”

Rep. Stan Kitzman noted Texas is growing increasingly urban.

Kitzman’s district includes Waller, Austin, Fayette, Colorado, Wharton and part of Ford Bend counties, covering areas that have a agricultural production but are facing urban sprawl.

“What was already a difficult industry to survive in, we find that our resources for agriculture are being taxed even more, especially with the loss of our agricultural land,” Kitzman said. “We have less and less land to produce our food and fiber on, and it becomes more important that those who make the laws and the legislature understand how critical having our food and fiber grown here is to our food security.”

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Participants also learned about forestry, water, viticulture and other challenges facing farmers and ranchers.

The event was an opportunity to cultivate relationships with legislators and their staff and answer any questions they might have about agriculture.

“It’s really important for staff members like myself to attend events like the Legislative Ag Day,” Lauren Hadley, chief of staff for Rep. Gina Hinojosa, said. “We represent downtown Austin and don’t have a lot of farmland in our district, but issues that happen in rural areas impact our district. So, it’s good for us to have the opportunity to see and gain knowledge on agriculture and how it’s impacting our constituents.”

The day closed with a skeet shoot demonstration, giving the legislators and staff an opportunity to try their hand at the sport and learn about gun safety.

“When our farmers and ranchers prosper, the state prospers. I think Texans recognize farming and ranching is important to the state and helpful for our economy,” Villarreal said. “We need to ensure that farmers and ranchers have the resources to continue to be successful.”

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Texas

See memorials in Uvalde and across Texas that honor victims of Robb Elementary shooting

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See memorials in Uvalde and across Texas that honor victims of Robb Elementary shooting



Groups in Uvalde and throughout Texas have created memorials to honor victims who died in the Robb Elementary School shooting on May 24, 2022.

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Friday marks two years since the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen students and two teachers were murdered in what the U.S. Justice Department described as top-to-bottom “cascading failures” by law enforcement that combined to make the shooting one of the worst in history. 

As the families involved and the community reflect, people find ways to grieve. Many choose to use art.

Over the past two years, groups in Uvalde and throughout Texas have created memorials to honor those victims.

21 Uvalde murals of Robb Elementary victims

Abel Ortiz Acosta, a resident and educator in Uvalde, collaborated with Monica Maldonado, the founder of the Austin-based nonprofit MAS Cultura, to organize a three-month project incorporating storytelling into artwork. Together, they created 21 murals for the Healing Uvalde project, each commemorating a victim of the Robb Elementary shooting by telling their story.

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“We know that art heals,” Maldonado told the Austin American-Statesman, part of the USA TODAY Network. “We wanted to use that to help this community heal but also show solidarity and be in unity with Uvalde. There is no doubt in my mind that this is part of their healing journey, and for many families we hope this lets them know that their kids and teachers matter and they won’t be forgotten.”

(Click menu icon at top left of map to see full list of murals)

Crosses memorialize victims of Uvalde school shooting

Shortly after the May 2022 shooting, makeshift memorials were placed at Uvalde’s town square and Robb Elementary School.

At the school are 22 crosses for each of the victims and Joe Garcia, the husband of slain teacher Irma Garcia, who died of a heart attack shortly after the shooting.

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Crosses with messages, photos, flowers and other keepsakes still sit around the fountain at the town square.

Uvalde Love Project creates hand-crafted mosaic mural

The Uvalde Love Project was founded by Austin art therapist Wanda Montemayor, fellow Austin art therapists and teachers from Uvalde. The project was designed to bring the healing community closer together after the tragedy, in what Montemayor and her team hoped would aid in the grieving process. Thousands of volunteers contributed handmade tiles to the project.

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“That personal connection and that feeling of safety is where the healing begins, and it’s the collectiveness,” Montemayor told the American-Statesman. “It’s not that ‘I’m alone in these feelings.’ It’s like ‘I’m with you and you and you, and we’re on the same feeling together’… not being alone in your head with these feelings.” 

21 benches made for victims of Robb Elementary School shooting

Georgia native Sean Peacock went through his own personal tragedies and found a way to grieve his loss after losing his sister. To honor the children who were killed in Uvalde, Peacock carved butterfly-shaped benches for the families of the victims, each featuring a child’s image.

According to 41NBC/WMGT, Peacock took a U-Haul to Texas to hand deliver the benches to families.

A memorial built for Uvalde more than 200 miles away

In Riviera, Texas, Lupe Aguilar — a pastor of Community Baptist Church — built a wall dedicated to the victims of Uvalde. Aguilar has no formal connection to Uvalde. 

“It can happen in any community,” Aguilar told KENS 5. “In my mind, in my heart, I had a feeling something needed to be done. Something needed to be built for the children, in memory of the children in Uvalde and their parents.”

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Contributing: Hannah Ortega



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Rough start leads to UC Bearcats baseball elimination in Big 12 tournament by Texas Tech

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Rough start leads to UC Bearcats baseball elimination in Big 12 tournament by Texas Tech


Faced with another elimination game in the Big 12 tournament at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas the Cincinnati Bearcats picked the wrong night to have a rough start.

Strapped for pitching, the Bearcats had to start Michael Conte for the first time all season. Conte had primarily been a reliever, but playing on consecutive days in the Big 12 can take its toll.

In the first two innings, Texas Tech touched up Conte for eight runs on six hits and that was enough as the Red Raiders sent the Bearcats home 10-5.

“I thought Mike threw the ball pretty well, a couple soft-contact base hits, then it snowballed a little bit,” UC head coach Jordan Bischel said. “True to our guys, we didn’t implode, we didn’t melt down.”

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Role players brought to press conference

An emotional Bischel brought reserves Cole Harting, Sean Springer and Kameron Guidry to the interview room with him. None of them played in the game.

“We had a lot more players that could help this team than I had spots in the lineup,” Bischel said. “We have three guys here that have done tremendous things for this program and didn’t get a chance to show it this year. These guys are special human beings. If anyone has the question, how did we do what we did this year? It doesn’t happen without these guys showing up with an incredible attitude and enthusiasm.”

Bischel then turned to the players and told them they didn’t know what they meant to him.

“It might not have been what we were used to or we wanted, but being part of a team like this was special,” Guidry said. “It was something we never got a taste of and never really imagined.”

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Red Raiders strike early and often

Gage Harrelson and Damian Bravo led off the game with singles, then a Kevin Bazzell ground-rule double plated the game’s first run before Conte had recorded an out. Texas Tech would never trail.

They had five runs in the first and three more in the third giving starter Ryan Free a comfortable lead for the evening. Free would go 6 2/3 innings allowing four hits and three runs for the victory as the No. 10 seed Red Raiders took down the No. 5 seed Bearcats.

Bearcat bullpen strong in loss

After Conte, Joey Hurth, Chase Horst, Drew Erdmann and game one starter Nathan Taylor held Texas Tech to just two hits and two runs over the final 7 1/3 innings. But, UC had just five hits on the night which is not conducive to winning tournament baseball games.

Along came Jones

Catcher Alec Jones went out with a bang for UC, walloping two home runs and collecting three of UC’s five hits. He drove in four of the five runs. Lauden Brooks and Luke Sefcik were the only other Bearcats to collect a hit.

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What now?

UC baseball’s RPI was 55 prior to the start of the game according to DI Baseball. That figure will likely change with the loss and affect their NCAA chances.

The 32 wins by the Bearcats is the most since their 31-win 2019 season when they advanced to the NCAA tournament with the automatic berth from the American Athletic Conference.

“It was the best year I ever had,” Sean Springer said. “Having fun with my guys every day.”

Both Baseball America and DI Baseball had UC among the “first four out” of the NCAA tournament before Thursday night’s affair in Arlington. Official bids are awarded on Memorial Day, May 27.

“This was a statement year and put Cincinnati on the map a little bit,” Harting said. “It was a group of guys I didn’t think would ever bond and we did. We found a way to do it and found a way to win games.”

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Athletic trainer tells us how Houston-area athletes beat the Texas heat

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Athletic trainer tells us how Houston-area athletes beat the Texas heat


With intense heat now and over the Memorial Day weekend, Houstonians are gearing up for sweltering humidity, extreme UV indexes and triple-digit temperatures. In the presence of the infamous Texas heat, maintaining proper hydration is vital to keeping Houston’s high school athletes safe.

KPRC 2′s Michael Horton spoke with Alyce Kessler, who just completed her fifth year as an athletic trainer. She is employed by Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital and is contracted with Almeida Crawford High School in Fort Bend ISD.

As an athletic trainer at a Texas high school, keeping athletes hydrated is a major element of Kessler’s job. On a typical day during football season, she is at the campus before the athletic periods making sure that the water basins are prepared and meticulously placed in every area where practices will take place.

Along with providing access to water, Kessler and the other trainers must keep track of the outdoor conditions to make sure the weather isn’t too intense to safely practice. To calculate this, the school uses a wet-bulb globe thermometer. On top of general air temperature, this device measures humidity, radiant heat and wind speed to provide a complete picture of the outside elements. Not only has FBISD adopted the wet-bulb globe measurements for athletics, but Texas UIL has recommended it for marching bands as well.

The wet-bulb globe temperature index has five categories, with Category 1 being the calmest and Category 5 being the most severe. On a typical summer day, Kessler estimates that the wet-bulb globe temperature is a Category 2 or 3, The guidelines affiliated with these categories include several precautions, including shorter practice times, more rest time and dedicated hydration breaks. On a Category 3 day, practices can only be two hours long, and athletes get a rest break of four to five minutes every hour.

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Here’s the rest of Michael and Alyce’s discussion:

Michael Horton:. How do the coaches feel about these [guidelines]? Are they positively received by the administration?

Alyce Kessler: I personally believe that the Fort Bend [ISD] administration has taken very well to these recommendations. We’re one of the first districts in our area to really take these recommendations and enforce them and monitor them with our schools and for our student athletes. In my personal experience, I think that the coaches that I have worked with really appreciate us taking the time to keep the kids safe. I know it does alter their practice plans, but they’re really looking to myself and my coworker as athletic trainer to tell them what is going to be the best environment for our kids to practice and play in. And that’s just because they’re working out in Texas heat, and they don’t want these kids to experience any kind of heat illnesses, including exertional heat stroke. Because that is a leading cause of preventable death that in high school athletes. So, we don’t want that to happen.

We want to keep our kids as safe as possible. We do that by preventing these illnesses from happening. That comes with monitoring the wet-bulb globe temp; that comes from having our precaution items out. So, we keep a bunch of different tools in our toolbox to keep these kids safe. One of those is called the Polar Life Pod. You can use really even a tarp or a Rubbermaid container, like a big one and have ice and water ready. So, if a kid is experiencing those heat illness symptoms, they can we can get them cooled down and bring their body to a normal level if we did need to transport them.

Michael Horton: What are those particular symptoms that you mentioned?

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Alyce Kessler: Symptoms can include dizziness, headache and blurred vision. And when we’re talking about other types of more intense illnesses, we would see kind of see a gradual incline. We would see peak cramping. That’s a good first symptom if kids haven’t had enough to drink, water-wise. Or maybe they have had enough to drink, but their sweat ratio is coming down. So, they haven’t had enough sodium to then absorb that existing water.

Michael Horton: Do you have any general hydration tips for Houstonians who are active outside during these especially hot months?

Alyce Kessler: Yeah. So, there’s not really a magic number for kids—or really anybody—to drink each day. It’s something that they really need to learn about themselves and how their body reacts. But we try and advocate for our kids to drink about two to three cups of water, prior to exercising and then about a cup about 10, 15 minutes prior.

If that’s a little bit hard for them to manage, I try and make it a little bit easier by saying your body weight divided by two, and that’s how many ounces you should be drinking. Say that we have a kiddo in 10th grade; he’s 150 pounds. He automatically needs 75 ounces of water that day. Then depending on, you know, how much he’s sweating during working out, we would recommend about eight to 10 ounces during the workout, per hour.

Michael Horton: Are there any mistakes or myths you see surrounding hydration and athletics?

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Alyce Kessler: I wouldn’t say I see a lot of it. I know a lot of student athletes these days think anything they’re drinking is considered hydration. But we want to remember that the different ingredients of a drink are not always hydrating you. So, they need to really look at the content.

A lot of kids think energy drinks are fine to be drinking, but those are really going to dehydrate them more than actually hydrating them and can actually be hurtful for them. So, I try and have them stay away from those as much as possible, and we really try and encourage if they’re going to be drinking sports type drinks, that they look at the contents and make sure that there is a balance in carbohydrates and sodium, because that sodium is going to help for that water to be reabsorbed, which is what we want. Because if they’re drinking too much water and they’re not actually absorbing any of it, they can feel bloated, and that’s going to make them a little bit more inclined to feel sick.

Michael Horton: At the risk of making this sound like a promotion, are there any brands or supplements you recommend outside of just water?

Alyce Kessler: Within our budget, we buy Gatorade products here. [We use] powder to make Gatorade for especially hot practices, games, things like that. Because it does have a good ratio to what is provided. And then we do have different things that you can buy as an athletic trainer for your athletic training room, and one of them is it’s GatorLyte. It’s basically a salt packet. I’ll say anything similar to that, because we want to encourage absorption of the water. But that’s what we use here. I’m sure there’s other brands that that work very well that other athletic training rooms use. But that’s what I’ve used in my practice as an athletic trainer.

Michael Horton: Is there anything we didn’t get to that you think is applicable for hydration in high school athletics and Houstonians in general?

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Alyce Kessler: Yeah, the athletics figures on high school campuses are going to be a huge, huge help in preventing these, preventable injuries and illnesses from occurring to kids. Having these highly qualified, you know, health care professionals on all campuses can really make or break how these kids are feeling and how they’re learning to take care of their bodies. Ultimately, we are teaching them how to advocate for their own health care and how to take care of their bodies. If they don’t have someone helping them learn that, then those skills might not be learned. That can lead to some pretty serious problems both in the present and in the future.

Michael Horton: Would you say the majority of schools have people in these positions to lead these kinds of conversations?

Alyce Kessler: That’s a no. I think it really depends on districts and how they choose to spend their money in athletics. I know that Fort Bend has at least two athletic trainers at every campus. Some campuses have three. That is really great for those kids. I know some districts have chosen to shy away from having campus athletic trainers, and they have athletic trainers at games. And, although I’m always going to be advocating for us as healthcare professionals to be on campus, I would say that even having them at games is going to be very beneficial for these student athletes.

Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston – All rights reserved.



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