While driving through Lubbock, Texas, it’s often hard to miss the limitless cotton fields, irrigation systems and cattle that surround and support West Texas. However, Lubbock native Clint White grew up watching the influence of agriculture on his community with no connection to the industry of his own.
A Different Type of Field Experience
After graduating from Texas Tech University with a degree in design communications in 2004, White sought a career opportunity to sharpen his graphic design and overall communication skills and accepted a graphic design internship with Fossil, a fashion design and manufacturing company.
“It’s kind of every Lubbock kid’s dream to graduate and move to a big city like Dallas,” White said. “I knew it was going to be great for my creativity and just to experience a whole different world.”
Six weeks later, White was offered a full-time position as a junior designer for Fossil in which he designed graphics and layouts for catalogs as well as designed watch faces, t-shirts and other merchandise.
After two years at Fossil, a friend approached White with a job opportunity to serve as a senior graphic designer at the Thomas Agency, a full-service marketing firm. White excitedly accepted the position, knowing the Thomas Agency served restaurants including On the Border, Cici’s Pizza and TGI Friday’s.
“I’ve always liked food and have been interested in the restaurant industry so making the move to the Thomas Agency was easy because it fit my interests and offered a lot of opportunity,” White said.
The Thomas Agency serves both small and large businesses allowing White to use his expertise in graphic design in a multitude of applications and settings. White said he designed menus, table tents, posters and other advertising pieces for a variety of clients.
“When I took the job with the Thomas Agency, I was excited to be able to work with diverse clients with unique needs which is what started shaping and molding my later career,” White said.
In 2012, White was promoted to art director at the Thomas Agency, which offered him the opportunity to take his graphic design expertise to a leadership level in which he was responsible for all media produced at the agency.
“At that point in my career, I was really starting to understand how my love for food and skills in communications worked together,” White said. “My time with the agency widened my perspective as a communicator.”
White said after five years of working for the Thomas Agency, he knew he wanted to further pursue food and communications, so he began looking for opportunities within the restaurant industry.
In 2013, White accepted an opportunity to work as a creative services manager for CEC Entertainment, also known as Chuck E. Cheese, at their headquarters in Irving, Texas.
“As creative service manager, my job was to speak on Chuck E. Cheese’s behalf when working with outside agencies to develop advertising and marketing pieces,” White said.
White’s responsibilities also included ensuring all in house materials were highly designed, as well as managing campaigns to fit CEC Entertainment’s national goals.
After a few years of serving as creative services manager, White was promoted to head of creative services and given the opportunity to build his own in-house design team called Studio C.
“Working with such an iconic brand character like Chuck E. Cheese taught me a lot about perspective,” White said. “Chuck E. Cheese has such a broad audience which expanded my understanding of the value of perspective in telling a brand’s story.”
In 2020, as the coronavirus swept the nation, Chuck E. Cheese and the entertainment industry shut down presenting White with a whole new set of challenges.
“At the time, my wife and I had two young children and things weren’t looking great for the entertainment industry anytime soon,” White said. “Since my wife and I are both Lubbock natives we thought moving back might be a good idea before our kids entered middle school.”
As White began searching for possible job opportunities in Lubbock he came across an opening that would change his career trajectory entirely and lead him back home to Lubbock.
Perspective in Agriculture
In May of 2020, White became the director of communications at the United Sorghum Checkoff Program in Lubbock. The Sorghum Checkoff is an organization dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through research, promotion and education.
“I was very intrigued by the Sorghum Checkoff when I found the job,” White said. “Honestly, I was more intrigued by why they were intrigued by me since I had no agricultural background.”
Jennifer Blackburn, vice president of communications at National Sorghum Producers, said he was exactly the type of person the Sorghum Checkoff Program needed.
“Clint had a lot of really valuable career experiences and has mastered how to communicate with consumer which brings a whole new perspective to telling sorghum’s story,” Blackburn said.
In White’s current position as director of communications he develops communication campaigns, manages the organization’s website and social media platforms, as well as engages with producers to better advocate for sorghum.
“Every day I’m kind of learning something new and able to use my skills from working in the restaurant and entertainment industry to advocate for sorghum,” White said.
White said he never imagined himself working in agriculture but now sees immense value in the experience and skills non-traditional agriculturists can bring into the agricultural industry.
“Non-traditional agriculturists offer a lot of value to the agricultural industry,” White said. “Sometimes seeing things from an outside perspective lets you tell a story in a whole new way,”
After a year of serving as communications director for the Sorghum Checkoff, White said he continues to be amazed by the agricultural industry and the people he’s met.
“Agriculture has a lot of opportunity for people outside of the industry,” White said. “Perspective is so valuable today in telling agriculture’s story and people outside of the industry can play a valuable role in telling that story.”