Texas Tech University

2023 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 Peggy Donnell Brown for Agricultural Production, K. Michael Conaway for Public Service, and Fred Underwood for Agribusiness.

Peggy Donnell Brown

Peggy Donnell Brown, Agricultural Production. She received her bachelor's degree in secondary education from Texas Tech (1959), before returning to the R.A. Brown Ranch in Throckmorton, Texas. Over the years the Brown Ranch has received many accolades, including the National Beef Cattle Association Cattle Business of the Year, National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vision Award, American Quarter Horse Association Best Remuda, Texas Family Land Heritage Award, and the Texas Simmental Family of the Year. Her job description over almost seven decades on the ranch has been described as “anything that needs doing.” While managing the ranch office and raising a family, Brown served on the Texas Tech University Human Sciences Dean's Advisory Board and the National Ranching Heritage Board of Directors. In addition, she was a member of the Throckmorton School Board. Watch a video celebrating Peggy Donnell Brown.

K. Michael Conaway

K. Michael Conaway, Public Service. He received his bachelor's degree in accounting from East Texas State-Commerce. Following graduation, he began a 30+ year accounting career with Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) in Dallas. Later in his career he served on the Texas State Board of Public Accounting. Conaway followed that stint with entry into fulltime public service. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the newly created 11th District of Texas (2002), a position he would hold for 16 years. Conaway was on the agricultural committee, along with the armed services, budget, and ethics committees. In addition, he worked for a dozen years on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He was named chair of the House Agriculture Committee in 2015. He retired in 2021. Today, he's active as Director of Government Relations with Washington DC's Conaway Graves Group, which was formed 2021. Watch a video celebrating K. Michael Conaway.

Fred Underwood

Fred Underwood, Agribusiness. He received a bachelor's degree in business administration and management from Texas Tech (1971). Underwood is president and CEO of the Trinity Company, a Lubbock-based cotton bale storage facilities. Under his leadership, the family-owned company manages more than 671,500 square feet of storage at seven locations throughout West Texas. He serves as chairman of the Cotton Warehouse Association's Ways & Means Committee. He previously was the organization's president. Underwood is both past vice president and past director of the National Cotton Council and has been a member of the advisory committee of Plains Capital Corporation. In addition, he is past president and chair of the Cotton Warehouse Association of America. Honors include a Texas Tech Department of Animal & Food Sciences' Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Award (2017). Watch a video celebrating Fred Underwood.

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

CONTACT: Tracee Murph, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Manager of the Texas Tech Dairy Barn, Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2802 or tracee.murph@ttu.edu