Vestal tagged for Extension's emergency management directorship
Dr. Andy Vestal has been named director of emergency management programs for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.
In his role, Vestal will coordinate with AgriLife Extension's administrators, specialists and county agents to provide educational programs and materials for emergencies that impact Texans, according to Dr. Ed Smith, AgriLife Extension director.
"A key component of the agency during emergencies is its ability to provide information throughout its network of agents located in every Texas county," Smith noted. "Andy's experience as our liaison at the Texas Division of Emergency Management during important events such as the hurricanes of 2008 as well as during wildfires and floods are invaluable as we move forward to enhance the assistance we provide the citizens of Texas."
Vestal will be especially involved with a new plan to develop an animal response plan for livestock and horses similar to that followed for human evacuations. The need for such a plan was apparent in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in which more than 20,000 head of cattle were displaced by downed fencing and threatened with starvation and dehydration due to lack of food and clean water.
"In the first 72 hours after a disaster, we are most concerned with the lives and livelihoods of the people of Texas," Vestal said, noting that almost 40 agents in the coastal counties have been organized into "strike" teams to work with the state's animal response effort should another hurricane threaten the state. "Texas AgriLife Extension Service is planning alongside other agricultural agencies and producer groups to ensure that agricultural and livestock businesses remain viable operations through crisis."
He has been an AgriLife Extension specialist since 1994, serving in agriculture and food science education. He was an AgriLife Extension agent from 1977-94, serving in Bexar, Hockley, Crosby and Howard counties.
Vestal earned his bachelor's degree in 1977 from Tarleton State University, master's in 1982 from Texas Tech and doctorate in agricultural education in 1998 from Texas A&M University.