Dr. Tom Fuchs, Texas AgriLife Extension Service's state integrated pest management coordinator headquartered at San Angelo, will retire Dec. 31.
Fuchs earned a bachelor's and master's of science and a doctorate degree, all in entomology, from Texas A&M University. He has been with Texas A&M System agriculture for 40 years. He started as a researcher of cotton, vegetable, grain sorghum and sugarcane pests with Texas AgriLife Research at Weslaco.
In 1979 Fuchs was named Extension's West Central Texas District entomologist at San Angelo. In that role he worked in agricultural pest management with the district's then-17 counties in West Central Texas.
Fuchs was named to his current position in 1993. With that promotion, he became responsible for the statewide integrated pest management program, now the largest university-based program in the nation with 28 full-time faculty members and a $2.4 million annual budget. These professionals provide education related to integrated pest management to the public through newsletters, workshops, meetings, field tours and other traditional methods. They also evaluate and demonstrate new technology related to pest management to assure that it is economically and environmentally sound.
Since 1999, Fuchs has served on 20 AgriLife Extension-related committees. He has been president of the West Texas-New Mexico Chapter of the American Registry of Professional Entomologists, president of the Southwestern Entomological Society, and on the governing board of the Entomological Society of America.
Fuchs is the chair of the National Boll Weevil Eradication technical advisory committee and a member of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation's technical advisory committee. He has also served on the steering committee and advisory council of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Southern Region Integrated Pest Management Center in North Carolina. The center directs grants and integrated pest management information for 13 states - including Texas - and two territories.
Fuchs' career achievements as a research and extension entomologist include:
- Importing a small wasp parasite which provided biological control of the worst insect pest of sugarcane in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
- Determining planting date windows so grain sorghum could be planted in the Rio Grande Valley without sustaining sorghum midge damage.
- Leading the development of delayed uniform cotton planting to manage the boll weevil in the Southern Rolling Plains.
- Collaborating with other scientists to develop a boll weevil overwintering survival and spring-emergence computer model and other ecological data that underpin the boll weevil eradication program.
- Experimentally establishing the relationship between cotton aphids and various components of yield leading to the development of an economic threshold for Texas cotton.
- Collaborating with animal scientists and entomological researchers in Texas and the western U.S. to develop the research base for control of external parasites of sheep and goats.
His work has been instrumental to the development of a number of programs, including a new employee mentoring program and an internship program which allows college students in agriculture to gain field-level training and experience in analyzing plant and pest problems.
Fuchs' awards earned individually and by his unit include: Outstanding State IPM Program by the Southern Region, Regents Fellow by Texas A&M's board of regents, individual and team Superior Service Awards from AgriLife Extension, the Vice Chancellor's Award in Excellence from the Texas A&M Agriculture Program, the Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award from the Texas A&M Former Students Association, the National Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension from the Entomological Society of America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Honor Award for Excellence, and the Governor's Clean Texas 2000 Award for Environmental Excellence.
Fuchs and his wife, Janis, live in San Angelo and have two grown children and four grandchildren. Following retirement, he said, he plans to investigate providing financial counseling to others, as financial planning has been a key personal interest of his for 25 years.