Over the past year, museums in Lubbock, Texas have experienced historic levels of charitable donations, particularly for large expansions relating to children’s education.
One such donation was to the National Ranching Heritage Center (NRHC). The NRHC received a $3.5 million gift for the Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center from the Cash Family Foundation, chaired by Ashley and Clay Cash of Lubbock, Texas.
The Cash family has deep ties to both the NRHC and ranching in West Texas. Ashley Cash is from a multi-generational ranching and oil and gas family in Amarillo, Texas.
“I have pictures of myself swaddled at six weeks old sitting on horseback,” Ashley said. “I had an amazing horse when I was three years old, a little sorrel who had been a cow horse. He was 20 years old when I got him, and he was as tall as he was wide.”
Clay Cash came from a different background, although still tied to farming and ranching. He was raised in Salt Lake City, where his parents had moved for his father, R. Don Cash, to pursue a career in oil and natural gas. However, both sets of Mr. Cash’s grandparents lived in West Texas, and he spent most summers with them.
“Farmers and ranchers, they’re just some of the best people,” Clay said. “I just genuinely enjoy the people that support our region and our country.”
Clay returned to West Texas to pursue his education at Texas Tech University and upon graduation, began working for Inert Gas, a subsidiary of Atmos Energy. Around that time, Ashley had finished her studies at Southern Methodist University and was working at the Tascosa Golf Club in Amarillo
It was there that she was introduced to Clay through a mutual friend. They were married in 2002, and at the beginning of their marriage, moved quite frequently for Clay’s work with Atmos.
“Bless her heart, I drove her all over hell’s half acre,” Clay said.
Through all the tumult of consistent geographic upheaval, one thing remained constant in the Cash’s lives: philanthropy. Ashley remained heavily involved with the Junior League during their time in both Dallas and Midland.
“I think both of our families were philanthropically minded,” Ashley. “It’s good to do for others. When you make someone smile, it makes you smile as well… The more you give, the more you get back, even though you’re not looking for that.”
It was during their time in Midland, around 2012, when a friend recognized Ashley’s deep ties to ranching and recommended that she should get involved with the National Ranching Heritage Association. Ashley became the first member of the Cash family to be on the board of the museum, followed by her father-in-law, R. Don, and then Clay.
The Cash family believes in the NRHC and its mission to keep the values, history and culture of ranching alive. When approached by the museum to help develop a new children’s wing, they were excited to have, as Clay said, “an opportunity to celebrate those who, quite frankly, get overlooked. Most people don’t know where your beef comes from.”
“It’s an amazing organization, and the need for [the Ranch Life Learning Center] is so high right now that, when they came to us…we couldn’t say no,” Ashely said.
The Cash family is optimistic about the impact of the Ranch Life Learning Center and hope that at the end of the day, people from urban and suburban areas will gain more knowledge about the ranching industry.
“They may not end up ever doing anything agricultural, but they will have a much better understanding,” Clay said. “At the very, very minimum, they’re getting a better understanding of what it’s really like in the ranching world.”