Program 6

South Texas Advancement Resource

Gene S. Walker Scholarship Fund

Each year STAR will award a $1000 scholarship to a student pursuing a degree in Agriculture or Ranching that demonstrates the academic accomplishment and strength of character long valued by Mr. Walker.

Click here for Gene S. Walker Scholarship application. (application attached)

Program 5

Texas A&M Capstone Program

Partner: Texas A&M - BAEN Capstone Program

Each year, STAR works with Texas A&M University and provides a Capstone project for the BAEN (Biological, Agricultural Engineering) senior students as well as the AGSM (Agricultural Systems and Management) senior students. STAR provides the resources and stewardship for these “Senior Class Projects” which are publicly presented in the Engineering technology showcase event each May.

The detail below is the project synopsis presented to the students in September. We work with the groups of students that visit our facilities through the academic year to help them achieve a satisfactory solution to their project.

Water-Energy-Crop Analysis for Optimal Land Management & Irrigation Huisache Pasture (Aguilares, TX) 2020-2021


1. Deliver irrigation water to a 100 acre tract in the Huisache pasture utilizing solar
power and existing impounded water in an adjacent livestock pond. While a water well could supplement the capacity of the livestock pond, water treatment will be required to reduce dissolved solids to a level acceptable for agricultural production.
2. Determine the best option for a cash crop, whatever it may be, considering the annual rainfall, irrigation system capacity, soil type, and other climate factors.
Scope: The area is traditionally underutilized for agriculture due to the harsh environment. A solution for the development of a sustainable agricultural model will benefit the area by providing alternatives to the ranchers and local communities. In addition, this South Texas area can be seen as a hotspot whose challenges and potential solutions could have far reaching benefits globally.

Design Objective: an irrigation system that serves the 100 acre tract with the best delivery for the selected product.

1. Analyze the relevant conditions with the goal of enabling selection of the most suitable crops with the highest likelihood of success and the greatest commercial viability. There is no limitation on the selection, or combination of items, anything from cotton, olives, hops, onions, alfalfa, grapes, coffee, etc. could be considered.
2. Provide an irrigation design, considering energy, water, and climatic constraints. Known Constraints: no commercial power available.

Design Deliverables
Phase I (2020-2021):
1. Detailed design for the irrigation system.
2. Detailed plan for crop selection.
3. Operational business plan that illustrates commercial viability.
Phase II (2021-2022) Implementation of Phase I.

Sponsor commitment

The Huisache pasture is part of a larger ranching operation. There are other facilities on the ranch such as housing, existing water wells, and equipment. Lodging is available for up to 8 people on the ranch, within 3 miles of the study area. The ranch is located 12 miles South of Aguilares, TX on Jennings Rd. in Webb County.

The budget demand for phase I of the Capstone program is relatively low, with an annual cost of $8,000 to cover travel, lodging, scientific samples, and supplies.
Phase II will be implemented following the budget developed by the students. 2020 is the fourth year of the program and will yield enough data from the combined business plans delivered by the student groups over the last 4 years to final implement a viable solution in the 100 acre project area.

Program 3

Vocational Student Assistance at Laredo College

Partner: Laredo College 


Working in partnership with Laredo College, South Texas Advancement Resource operates a program for workforce development, which incentivizes students to remain successfully enrolled; and complete a vocational certificate program.
Specifically, we are targeting those programs that will be of benefit to our core mission of agricultural operations, such as farming and ranching. The four, 1-year programs are:






Automotive Mechanics Technology



Welding Technology                 



Diesel Mechanics Technology


Based on need, STAR disburses a monthly stipend from $250, up to $500/mo., directly to each student to assist with general expenses to allow them to focus on their chosen certificate program.
As long as the student maintains a 2.5 GPA and has a solid attendance record, the payments are disbursed on a monthly basis. This payment arrangement, versus a lump sum cash distribution, helps to ensure the continued active participation of the students.
Currently, of these four programs at Laredo College, 54.9% of the students are economically disadvantaged and qualify for financial aid. Our program focuses on those students with the greatest financial need, for which grants that cover tuition and
books are not enough aid to allow for a good chance of student success. students in our program are those who are in the lower half of this group.

The target
Current Student Demographics

Average age



Oldest participant



Currently receiving financial aid Unemployed









Live at home



Median commute



Longest commute


10 miles roundtrip 100 miles roundtrip

Median Monthly Stipend from STAR $350 per student

The goal of our program is to provide additional assistance in the form of a monthly stipend to help with monthly expenses. Otherwise, this financial burden may prohibit the students from completing their certificate training.

All of the students feel that they must help out with family living expenses and their personal obligations. The majority of the students give the money to their parents to assist with utilities, groceries, and transportation.

In one case, the student travels more than 100 miles per day, which is over $60 per week in fuel cost, not to mention maintenance and wear and tear on the vehicle.

Another example, unfortunately, is a child support obligation that was proving to be a problem.

Our monthly assistance is proving to be an essential component in the success of the students and is enabling them to continue with their education. Our long-term goal is to support a total of 51 students through their one-year programs.

The STAR program incentivizes students to remain with their respective programs and targets those with the greatest financial need. Our workforce development program, structured in this manner and combined with job placement assistance, will prove to be a long-term success for the community

At an average cost of $3,150 per student, the total annual program cost will be $160,650.00 at our goal level of 51 students.

Donations of any amount are encouraged; single student sponsorship is an option.

Program 4

Trade Tools for Vocational Students

Partners: Laredo College

The tools and supplies needed by the Laredo College vocational program students, which are a requirement for the curriculum are also cost prohibitive to many of the students. We have partnered with Laredo College to provide as many tool kits as possible to be able to enable as many students as possible to enroll, and succeed in their vocational education.
Each of the welding students has a tool and safety equipment requirement of $336.76 to be supplied with the tools and safety equipment required to attend the class. Likewise, each of the electrician students has a required tool pouch and safety supply requirement costing $449.50.

Our goal is to supply 40 of each the required tool kits at a total cost of $31,450.
The STAR program incentivizes students to remain with their respective programs and provides the required tools and supplies to enable active participation and the greatest chance of success.
The toolkits can be branded with a sponsor logo to ensure long term visibility.

Program 2

Urban Conservation Project

USDA Grant NR197442XXXXC050

Partner: Laredo College


Project Objectives

Provide vegetable production on a 2.5 acre area at the STAR farm in Webb County to create an urban garden to support Webb County, Texas. The project will include two High Tunnels, as well as a traditionally irrigated garden area. Our project will determine whether a sustainable model is a viable solution in the Webb County area near Laredo Texas.
The 2 high tunnels will be 24’ x 105’ and will be spaced to allow a wind break and limited shelter for the traditional garden areas that will be located adjacent to the high tunnels. The high tunnels and the traditional garden area will be rotated in and out of production throughout the year to take the greatest advantage of the available growing season while protecting against the harsh environment of the South Texas locale.


  • Civil works to level and prepare the gardening area
    Installation of Qty 2 24’ x 105’ high tunnel units
    Installation of pumping and piping for water distribution
    Drip irrigation system installation for the traditional agriculture operations Planting
    On-going maintenance
    Community outreach via Laredo College the school districts.


This project is aimed more toward an urban garden setting and is part of our portfolio of projects which will become a learning center for our Laredo College vocational students, and the local independent school districts. The local community will benefit from our production as we will provide 100% of the production of the urban garden project to the surrounding community for free.


  Civil Works ground preparation for high tunnels and garden


$ 5,000

  High Tunnel procurement


$ 15,000

  High Tunnel Installation



  Electrical power and distribution installation



  Installation of water pumps and piping



  Installation of drip irrigation system



  Plants, seeds, tools, supplies



  Maintenance and operations



  Outreach programs







Partial funding has been received through USDA Grant NR197442XXXXC050 in the amount of $10,500.

Sponsorships are available for the procurement of any of the budget items above, as well as for signage and branding at the project area.