Saicy Lytle

Saicy Lytle has 2 articles published.

More Than Mr. CASNR


On a normal January evening, Dane Rivas headed over to the livestock arena on the Texas Tech University campus to help set up for Winter Welcome. Rivas thought he was helping out as an Agri-Techsan. Little did he know he would win Mr. CASNR.

Winter Welcome is a weeklong tradition at Texas Tech University to celebrate the beginning of the spring semester. During this week, over 45 events are held on campus, including the Mr. CASNR contest.

Rivas is junior agricultural communication major and animal science minor from Tahoka, Texas. When he graduates in May 2019, Rivas plans to go into ministry with Raider Church and possibly attend graduate school.

“I was really nervous the whole day,” Rivas said. “I got ‘voluntold’ that I was going to do this.”

January 25, 2018, was the fourth annual Mr. CASNR contest. Rivas said during past few years there has been a lack of participation in the Mr. CASNR contest. As a member of Agri-Techsans, a group of student recruiters for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Rivas and his colleagues were trying to brighten the atmosphere of the event.

Stephanie Legako, academic specialist for student retention for CASNR, said she loves how Rivas uses his humor to his advantage. For the talent portion of the Mr. CASNR contest, Rivas did rhythmic gymnastics with a stick ribbon to music from the “Greatest Showman.”

“That was actually my daughter’s stick ribbon that he borrowed,” Legako said, “so I helped him with some of the moves, but what I loved about it is he really owned it.”

Rivas said he put a great deal of work into preparing his talent for the contest, which involved learning how to rip and twirl in one week.

“It was a lot more fun and less nerve-racking than I thought it was going to be,” Rivas said, “It was more of a ‘Here I am, and I’m going to goof-off and try to make y’all laugh sort of thing.’ It was a lot of fun to bring something back that was kind of dying.”

Legako said while Rivas made the pageant fun, he also knows a great deal about the college and can recruit well from being an Agri-Techsan. She said it is nice his skill set now includes wearing the crown and sash of Mr. CASNR.

We have the potential for bigger diversity, bigger advances, and bigger steps within CASNR.

The Mr. CASNR contest consists of three categories: talent, interview and western wear. During the interview, each contestant was asked a question at random. Rivas’ question was, ‘What would you tell a junior or senior in high school who is considering coming to Texas Tech?’

“That’s basically what we do in Agri-Techsans,” Rivas said, “so I felt more at an advantage there.”

“We had a lot of different backgrounds this year,” Legako said, “but I was glad to see an actual CASNR student win.”

In 2017, Clay Brownlee won Mr. CASNR as representative of the Texas Tech Rodeo Team. Though he was involved with the rodeo team, Brownlee was actually an engineering major – not a CASNR student.

During the fall of 2017, CASNR met the enrollment criteria to be recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. This recognition shows how the college’s diversity is growing and qualifies it for federal grants.

“We have the potential for bigger diversity, bigger advances, and bigger steps within CASNR,” Rivas said.

Rivas said CASNR prides itself on having the highest percentage of scholarships given per student at Texas Tech. According to the college’s website, an estimated 43 percent of undergraduate CASNR students receive a scholarship.

Rivas said though CASNR is an agriculture-based college, not all of the students come from a background related to agriculture. He even said that is his favorite part of the college.

“Even if they don’t consider themselves country or from an ag background, they still have a place here, and they don’t have to feel left out,” Rivas said. “You can come from both [ag and non-ag backgrounds] and you can leave in both.”


Rivas proudly wears his sash and crown around campus.

Rivas said it is important people recognize the drive CASNR students have to discuss and make advancements in agriculture, but they are not limited to that. He said CASNR has students going into agriculture, the medical field, public relations, communications, non-profits and even ministry.

Rivas said events where students and their success are highlighted by the college help bring CASNR students together and keeps retention rates high. These events show the community, family, and diversity working within the college and makes students feel more connected.

According to Legako, CASNR tends to be a leader in retention rates. At the end of the 20th class day of the spring 2018 semester, the college was at 95 percent freshman retention from fall to spring.

Rivas has been given the opportunity to better the university and the college and represent them both in a way he was not able to before. He wants CASNR’s scholarships, diversity, and student success to be highlighted more.

“I need to set an example of what CASNR means and shine a light on CASNR,” Rivas said. “We have the most number of national championships in the university, and I don’t think we get highlighted enough for it.”

Rivas said he wants others to know he is just an ordinary student walking around campus. He is an active and involved student and wants to help do great things.

“I’m just a normal person who won Mr. CASNR and wants to use the platform to better the college and better the university,” Rivas said. “I represent CASNR now in this role.”

5 Things Ag Comm Majors Want You to Know

Have you ever wondered ‘What the heck is agricultural communications?’ Have you ever asked someone what exactly ag comm people do? As an agricultural communicator, I get asked both of these questions frequently. We have a big job and play an important role across many industries.

According to the Texas Tech Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, agricultural communications prepares students to communicate and advocate for the agricultural industry. Students learn a variety of written, verbal, visual, photography and technological skills. The University of Georgia Career Center stated, “The agricultural communications major prepares students to report agricultural information to consumers, farmers, agribusinesses, commodity groups, and governmental agencies.” We hold positions such as: marketing, sales, management, journalism, media, photography, public relations, advertising, web design, graphic design and communications. Honestly, we can do it all.

I often hear people asking questions about ag comm majors. I think we are one of the most misunderstood majors you can find. Agricultural communications degrees are not found at every university, so we are really quite unique. There are so many stereotypes of ag comm majors out there, and I want to help people understand who we are and what we do. To all the people who have questions, here are five things all agricultural communications majors want you to know.

1. Texas Tech is the #1 ag comm undergraduate program in the nation.

Forget the yellow brick, follow the ag comm Road! Texas Tech University has great faculty, and our ag comm professors are the best in the field! Photo credit: Saicy Lytle

A study done by the University of Arkansas named Texas Tech the number one agricultural communications undergraduate program in the nation. THE NATION. How cool would it be to say you are a part of the number one program in the nation?

2. No, we don’t talk to animals.

We love animals! Talking to them would be a little weird though. Photo Credit: Phere

We all get asked the same question. “Do you talk to cows?” No, we talk about cattle, but not directly to them. People often assume agricultural communications prepares students to be animal whisperers, which is not the case. At first, I thought people were joking, but no, people actually think our curriculum involves learning agricultural animals’ dialects.

3. We are the go-between in the agricultural industry.

As the gate is between lands, so communicators are between producers and consumers. Source: Free Images

Agricultural communicators are the gateway between the producers and consumers and we help both understand each other. Lots of agriculturists use very technical terms that the average consumer would not understand. As a communicator, our job is to help relay that information in a comprehensible manner. We are the liaison for the average person, to help them get the information they need, in a way they understand.

4. Life isn’t always easy as an ag comm major.

Dirty Hands
Ag comm majors like to get their hands dirty, too! Source: Pxhere

We aren’t an “easy” major; we actually have a very important job. We serve an integral part in the way our industry works with others. Without the work we do, consumers wouldn’t get their answers as easily, and no one would be there to help the agriculturists relay their knowledge back to the consumers. We like to take on challenges just like everyone else, and even get our hands dirty from time-to-time.

5. We aren’t limited to what jobs we can do.

A study done within the Texas Tech Department of Agricultural Education and Communications found about one third of the respondents had jobs in marketing, advertising or public relations. One tenth of the respondents worked as executive directors or in some other administrative role. Others said they work in legal and financial services, education, and some in university admissions.

Job Categories
This chart shows some of the specific jobs our alumni had in a recent study. Source: Texas Tech Department of Agricultural Education and Communications

Of these job categories, the most common company categories was non-agricultural related businesses. While a majority of agricultural communicators do work within the industry, this study goes to show that you can do a multitude of things with the degree. If an agriculture position doesn’t interest you, that’s okay – there are still plenty of options out there.

Company Categories
This graph shows the various companies that some of Texas Tech agricultural communications alumni have gone in to following graduation. Source: Texas Tech Department of Agricultural Education and Communications

Another study completed within the department researched how much money ag comm graduates make. The study found that the mean salary for first year graduates with a bachelor’s degree was $31,326. Of these respondents, 91 percent completed an internship in college, and 26.7 percent of those received full-time jobs from their internships. This certainly isn’t the highest paid position, but we have a very rewarding job!

As you can see, agricultural communications students have many talents. From job opportunities to being the industry liaison, many doors are opened when you have a degree in agricultural communication.  For information about the degree offered at Texas Tech, please visit our department website.

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