Ag Spotlight: The DeForest father-daughter duo

The DeForest’s and their Ag Extension journey


Photo Courtesy of Emilee DeForest

The DeForest family at Emilee DeForest’s graduation.

Tarleton graduates go off and become doctors, lawyers and many great things; one of those things being ag extension agents. Ag extension agents serve as experts on various agricultural topics, such as economics, livestock production, land quality and more. Both Tarleton alumni, the DeForest father-daughter duo, made a future as ag extension agents. 

Shannon R. DeForest graduated from Tarleton in 1989 with a Bachelor’s degree in Ag Business. Years later, in 2019, his daughter Emilee DeForest graduated from Tarleton with a Bachelor’s of Science in Agricultural Services and Development. They both went on to become agriculture extension agents. 

“To me [an ag extension agent] is someone who can get you an answer to pretty much any question you have,” Emilee said. 

“Want to know how to manage your pastures? Call a County Extension Agent. Want to learn more about how to eat healthier? Call a County Extension Agent. Want to learn how you can get your kids involved in an organization that can teach them life skills, such as responsibility and leadership? Call a County Extension Agent,” Emilee added.

Shannon DeForest serves as the Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural resources for Lavaca County. Emilee DeForest serves as the 4-H and Youth Development Extension Agent for Calhoun County. Though both serve as county extension agents, their jobs are very different.

Mr. DeForest often works with the farmers and ranchers in his county to assist in their operations or solve any issues that may occur. He also assists the youth in his county with their livestock projects. 

“I mainly work with the youth of Calhoun County. I not only work directly with the 4-H youth on their projects, but I also lead agricultural literacy programs in the local schools. Gardening and Hatching in the Classroom are two of the programs I lead in the schools,” Emilee shares.

As people get further and further from the farm, Emilee shared that she expects the future of agriculture to be challenged. She adds that the defamation of agriculture and people simply being misinformed poses a threat to the industry.

“In particular for the area that I serve, and others across the state, land fragmentation [is a problem,]” Mr. DeForest shared. 

According to Emilee, a good way to combat misconceptions as well as provide the public with agricultural issues is to serve on teams and spread positive information on agriculture.

“Utilizing young people to teach their peers is one of the best ways to do it, in my opinion, since they know how to talk to each other. Getting information to people at a young age will hopefully help spread the positive light on agriculture for the future,” Emilee said.

Throughout her time at Tarleton, Emilee was involved in the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow organization. She originally began as a member, then later served as the club’s president.

“This organization allowed me to travel to conferences in other states, such as Stillwater, Oklahoma, St. Louis, Missouri, Snowbird, Utah (and all the states in between Stephenville and there) and even spent a few days touring Yellowstone National Park. While at the conferences, I was able to network with a variety of professionals involved in the agricultural industry,” Emilee said.

Although Mr. DeForest and Emilee had different ag experience at Tarleton, they both shared that their experiences were nothing short of fun and educational.

“Tarleton has a big presence in extension,” Mr. DeForest shares. “I would encourage anyone that has questions about a career in extension to give me a call and we can visit about it.”

Emilee adds that although her father was an ag extension agent, while she was growing up she wouldn’t have pictured a career as an extension agent for herself.

“When talking about getting to work with youth, who are as passionate about 4-H as I am, [this] got me really excited. Now that I’m two and a half years in, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Getting to offer opportunities for the youth like the opportunities I had growing up gives me such a great feeling, knowing I might make a difference in at least one kid’s life,” Emilee said.

For more information about careers as an Ag Extension Agent, feel free to reach out to Shannon DeForest, the Lavaca County extension agent. For more information on how to find the Ag Extension Agent that pertains to your county, go to