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Roy Mills named Ag Pioneer of the Year

NACOGDOCHES, March 29, 2013-- The Nacogdoches County Agribusiness Committee names Roy B. Mills as the Pete Smith Agricultural Pioneer of the Year. Mills will be honored at the 13th Annual Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet on April 8 at the Hotel Fredonia Convention Center.

“A background filled with farming and education has made Mr. Mills a valuable contributor to our county,” said Angela Shannon, member of the Nacogdoches County Agribusiness committee, and ag banquet chair. “His ability to effectively use available resources, to persevere in his work and to advance himself in the ag industry makes him a perfect fit for the ag pioneer award.”

Mills was born on Jan. 18, 1946, one of the 10 children of Johnny and Ruthie Mills. “We were a farming family in a community north of Nacogdoches known as Redland,” Mills said. “Having 10 children gave Dad a little help on the farm.”

The family farm property began with Mills’ grandfather’s 86-acre purchase in the early 1920s. Johnny, a lifetime farmer, added two additional tracks to the homestead. He was one of the community’s few African-American farmers who had a poultry farm in the early 1950s. In addition to poultry, the Mills family grew cotton and a variety of vegetables for market.

Education was important in the family, and Mills is one of the first African-American students to begin a college career in agriculture studies and earn degrees at Stephen F. Austin State University. Mills is a Vietnam veteran, and his military career began after two years of enrollment at SFA. After serving in the US Army, he returned and earned a B.S. degree and M.S. degree in agriculture and also a mid-management certification from SFA.

Teaching vocational agriculture to Tatum I.S.D. students was Mills’ first job after university. He later taught at Nacogdoches I.S.D. for a total of 32 years in the profession. “During my teaching career, my students participated in leadership and judging contests on the district, area, state and national levels,” he said.

Mills retired in 2002 from teaching and spends most of his time on the 230 acres of the family farm, gardening and managing cattle.

A new component to his production is farming worms and using the worm castings to make liquid fertilizer for the pasture and garden. His goal is to offer organically grown beef and vegetables to the market.

As president of Texas Small Farmers & Ranchers/Community Based Organization Region 3, Mills works with large groups such as the United States Department of Agriculture to get information to Nacogdoches and Angelina counties’ minority farmers. He has been involved in workshops that educate participants in new loan opportunities, technological resources and advancements in agricultural practices.

Mills is a lifetime member of Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas, president of the North Redland Cemetery and the Old North Church African-American Cemetery. He is a member of Texas Organic Growers Association, Nacogdoches County FSA committee and a member of Johnson Chapel Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon and as superintendent of Sunday School.

For 44 years, he and Doris Carpenter Mills have been married and have three children, Cedric Mills, Delores Flemons and Paul Mills; and four grandchildren, Ashley, Terrance, Jerreal and Christopher.

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