The recent addition of three new areas to the boll weevil eradication effort in Texas has prompted the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation to create a new department designed to increase communication and service to cotton producers.

The foundation will conduct operations on more than 6 million acres of cotton this growing season. With such a large operation, foundation officials wanted to make sure the organization maintained a personal touch with Texas cotton producers and established a Producer Relations Department.

Members of the department will be available for presentations to growers, grower organizations, service clubs and other groups. They will also be actively involved in educating the public about the foundation's mission.

In addition, the department will work with state and federal agencies and legislators to communicate the program's goals and objectives. Rachael Neagle, formerly assistant communications director, has been tapped to head the department. Melissa Pierce, producer relations specialist, will work with Neagle and concentrate primarily on the Southern High Plains and Northern High Plains zones, anchored by Lubbock and Plainview, where more than a third of the states cotton is grown.

Pierce, a Plainview native, is new to the foundation and brings a strong background in agriculture to her position. As a member of a family who farms cotton near Petersburg, she has been involved in agriculture her whole life. She attended Texas Tech University. Before joining the foundation Pierce worked for the Quixote Group, a marketing-based public relations firm located in Greensboro, N.C.

The Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation seeks to maintain Texas' position as the nation's leading cotton producer by eliminating the damage caused by the crop's most consistent threat. The foundation operates 11 eradication zones that cover most of the state.”