College Q&A: Pecan Valley AHEC changes name

Sept. 24, 2011 at 4:24 a.m.

By Katie Long

A friend of mine went through a program last summer that was sponsored by Pecan Valley AHEC. Where is Pecan Valley and what does AHEC mean?

Pecan Valley AHEC recently changed its name to clear up the confusion about Pecan Valley, which referenced the service area covered by our local Area Health Education Center. Beginning Sept. 1, the local AHEC, located at Victoria College and sponsored by the University of Texas-Medical Branch at Galveston, will now be referred to as Texas AHEC East - Victoria Region. Their service area includes Aransas, Austin, Calhoun, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Lavaca, Refugio, Victoria, Washington and Wharton counties.

AHEC is a grant program funded by private, state and federal sources whose mission is to improve the health of local residents through education and support. AHEC organizations help communities address unmet health needs and seek to develop a quality health workforce in medically underserved areas.

It sounds like your friend may have been involved in AHEC's ECHO Project. ECHO, which stands for Encouraging the College-Bound into Healthcare Occupations, is an outreach program aimed at high school students. Groups of students meet with AHEC personnel once a month at various local high schools. ECHO students are invited to participate in a weeklong summer program to visit local hospitals and tour the facilities at VC and the University of Houston-Victoria to get a hands-on look at educational and career options in health care.

AHEC also sponsors the Pasture to Plate event in partnership with Agri-Life, along with Detar Healthcare Systems and Citizens Medical Center. This event is held in conjunction with the Farm and Ranch Show each October. More than 600 third-graders from VISD schools will attend an interactive series of kid-friendly presentations focused on proper nutrition, exercise and the relationship between the foods they eat and where it comes from.

One of the newest AHEC efforts - funded by a $15,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation - provides training for a Community Health Workers program. Community Health Workers (CHWs) are frontline public health workers who are established and trusted members of their community. They may serve as liaison or intermediary between health or social services and the community. The goal is to ease access to services and improve the quality and cultural sensitivity of service.

As you can see, AHEC is very involved in programs and support activities that promote wellness in our community. You may find out more about AHEC's programs by visiting their website at

Do you have a question about Victoria College? Contact Katy Long, Marketing and Communications Department, at 361-485-6835, or



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