Joe D. Townsend was one of four alumni who received the 2017 Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on Nov. 10 in College Station, Texas.
The award recognizes graduates of the college for outstanding leadership and significant contributions in agriculture, natural resources, life sciences or any related areas.
Townsend earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M in 1967 as an agricultural education major with an emphasis in teaching, student development and leadership.
After graduation, Townsend began his career as an educator teaching high school while also continuing his schooling eventually earning a doctoral degree from Iowa State University in 1981. Three years later, he returned to Texas A&M where he began teaching at the university.
“He was a charismatic leader and selfless motivator who encouraged all young people to succeed,” said Kelsey M. Christian, Director of Development for the Texas A&M Foundation
Townsend not only created advocates in agriculture, but he also guided the development of the agriculture leadership degree at Texas A&M. His excellence in leadership and teaching created a legacy that carries on through the formation of the Dr. Joe Townsend ’67 Leadership Fellows.
The fellows are a prestigious group of selected students who are eager to enhance their skills beyond the university. From meeting with industry professionals to high impact experiences, the fellowship develops executives who will be future leaders in the agriculture industry.
“Joe and his wife were instrumental in the development of this program that benefits many talented students in the college,” said Leroy Shafer, former Chief Operating Officer of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Townsend continues to give back even in retirement. He is active on South Padre Island, where he and his wife now live. There, Townsend is a member of the Economic Development Board and remains working with the Texas FFA Association.
“His legacy in higher education, student leadership and Texas agriculture will continue on through the many lives he touched during his 30 plus years at Texas A&M,” Christian said. “His influence will undoubtedly carry on for generations.