Texas Tech University

2020 Gerald W. Thomas Outstanding Agriculturalist Awards

Texas Tech's Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources honored three leaders with the Gerald W. Thomas Outstanding Agriculturalist Awards during the 94th annual Davis College Pig Roast at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. The Pig Roast also celebrates scholarship donors, recipients and intercollegiate judging teams.

The annual outstanding agriculturalist awards recognize individuals for contributions to various areas of agriculture. This year's recipients are Sam Middleton for Agribusiness, Mike Simpson for Public Service, and Dan B. Smith for Agricultural Production.

Sam Middleton

Sam Middleton, Agribusiness. He is owner and qualifying broker of Charles S. Middleton & Son, a farm and ranch real estate and appraisal company established by his grandfather in 1920. Middleton holds real estate broker's licenses in five states, including Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas, and is active in ranch sales throughout those states. He holds memberships in the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association, and the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. He served as past President of the National Ranching Heritage Association and worked on the organization's endowment board. Middleton has been involved in the sale of some of the largest, most historic ranches in the Southwestern United States, including the 136,000-acre Frying Pan Ranch, 71,000-acre Canadian River Ranch, and the 130,000-acre Matador Ranch. He also handled numerous sales for Anne Marion, owner of the 6666 Ranches. He is a past director of the National Windmill Museum, and currently serves on the Texas Tech Equestrian Center Advisory Board.

Mike Simpson

Mike Simpson, Public Service. He received his bachelor's degree in animal science (1975) from Texas Tech. The Floydada, Texas, native was employed by Elanco Animal Health for more than four decades where he held positions in sales and marketing, and strategic account management. When he retired, Simpson was beef business manager for U.S. feed yard corporate accounts. He is certified in training courses that address leadership, communication, and strategic account management. Simpson is past chairman of the Texas Cattle Feeders Allied Industry Committee, and currently has a consulting business that focuses on facilitating workshops on leadership and communication. Simpson was honored as a Davis College Distinguished Alumnus (2015), and was inducted into Davis College's Department of Animal and Food Sciences Hall of Fame for Distinguished Service (2018). Simpson is currently chair of Texas Tech Equestrian Center advisory board, Chairman of the Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding Center advisory committee, Davis College Dean's Advisory Board, is a member of the Davis College Matador Institute of Leadership Engagement (MILE) Program Advisory Committee.

Dan B. Smith

Dan B. Smith, Agricultural Production. He received his bachelor's degree in agriculture economics (1976) from Texas Tech. A fourth-generation farmer, Smith produces cotton, corn, grain sorghum and wheat in Floyd, Hale and Briscoe counties in Texas. The Lockney, Texas, native was the winner of The Farm Press 2020 "High Cotton" award for sustainable cotton farming in the Southwest Region. He has served as Mayor of the City of Lockney, Board of Trustees of Lockney ISD, President of Floyd County Farm Bureau, Floyd County Appraisal District. He is currently President of the Lockney Economic Development Corporation. Smith served on the Board of Directors for Texas Farm Bureau (2012-2018). While serving with Texas Farm Bureau, he made frequent trips to Austin, Washington D.C., and throughout the United States promoting and advocating for Texas and U.S. agriculture. Smith served on the study and research committees in the development of the John Deere CS690 Cotton Stripper-Baler, in addition to serving on the Northern High Plains Boll Weevil Steering Committee.

The outstanding agriculturalist awards, established in 1969, are named for Gerald Thomas, who served as dean of Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences from 1958 to 1970.