Texas Tech University

Benny J. Simpson Endowed Scholarship

Benny Simpson

The Benny J. Simpson Endowed Scholarship was established by the Native Plant Society of Texas in 1997 in memory of Benny J. Simpson. The scholarship is awarded to juniors, seniors, or graduate students majoring in the Department of Plant and Soil Science with emphasis in native plant research.

Benny J. Simpson, co-founder and former president of the Native Plant Society of Texas and life-long Horticulturist, pursued his more than 40-year career at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Dallas. He began working at the research and extension center in Dallas in 1954 when it was the Texas Research Foundation, a private agriculture organization. In 1972, he began his native plant work when Texas A&M took over operations of the center. Benny died in 1996, leaving behind a wealth of invaluable information about Texas native plants.

He was legendary for his plant investigations in the wild, primarily the Trans-Pecos and far West Texas. Benny's official titles were "research scientist" and "ornamental horticulturist." He called himself a "plant hunter" and collected seeds and cuttings that he then devoted years to adapting for use in the landscape.

For 20 years Benny roamed his native Texas searching out wild trees and shrubs. Plants that are not only beautiful, but also might be able to grow in the waxy black soil of North Central Texas and survive the extremes of heat and cold that are tortuous to so many plants. His research led to nine formerly wild species of native plants being introduced into commercial production as ornamentals under Texas A&M trademarks. Among them are two species of desert willow, a mountain sage called 'Mount Emory' and five cenizos, or Texas Sage, including the well-known 'Green Cloud'.

In June of 1996, The Dallas Research and Extension Center dedicated the Benny J. Simpson Native Plant Collection in honor of Simpson. The collection demonstrates more than 20- years of Simpson's research in Dallas, representing 345 plants in 84 genera. In addition to collaborating on published works such as "Native Texas Plants, Landscaping Region by Region", and "How to Grow Native Plants in Texas and the Southwest", Simpson wrote his own book titled “A Field Guide to Texas Trees." The book was published in 1990 by Texas Monthly Press. The book includes 225 native Texas trees.

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Alex Yack
Senior Director of Development

Matt Williams
Director of Development

Shelbey Havens
Assistant Director of Development