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William Raftis

Agricultural and Applied Economics

A quick trip through Lubbock, Texas, made the decision to attend Texas Tech University rather easy for William Raftis. His passion for agriculture led him to pursue a degree which would allow him to interact in the industry daily.

“I respect the common values agriculturists share.”

William Raftis

“I have a deep passion and love for those that feed, fuel and clothe this nation,” Raftis said. “I respect the common values agriculturists share.”

Raftis, form Springfield, Illinois, is a senior agribusiness major and political science minor at Texas Tech. Having always been involved in agriculture, Raftis said the opportunity to participate in a College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resource Government Internship is what initially sparked his interest in acquiring a minor in politics.

“The internship credits would not have fit elsewhere in my degree plan,” Raftis said. “So, I decided to pick up my minor knowing it had a possibility to be beneficial down the road.”

Raftis standing at Capitol Hill
Raftis gained valuable experience while working on Capitol Hill during his internships.

Raftis said his internship in Washington, D.C., with Congressman Jodey Arrington was something he will never forget. He said it gave him numerous opportunities to be involved in day-to-day operations. He said his internship taught him theimportance of cultivating personal relationships, while making the most of every experience.

“It was a powerful experience,” Raftis said. “I would recommend all students take a chance and apply.”

Darren Hudson, Ph.D., Larry Combest Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, professor, and Raftis academic advisor, said he has always been a motivated student.

“Will is a student who always takes initiative,” Hudson said. “Which made it easy to give him the guidance needed to participate in a government internship.” 

Raftis said he has always had the idea of attending law school in the back of his mind throughout his college career.  He said after completing his internship he became very serious about it. Raftis has plans to attend Texas Tech Law School in the fall, but said he is keeping his mind open to what type of law he will study.

“I don’t want to go in with any preconceived notions,” Raftis said. “You never know what opportunities will pop up along the way.”

Haley Hudson

Agricultural and Applied Economics

Interning, studying abroad, and working while obtaining a degree is not something the average college student thinks can be accomplished, but one Texas Tech University student is proving it can be done.

Haley Hudson, from Lubbock, Texas, is a senior majoring in agricultural and applied economics and minoring in psychology and political science. She is a student assistant in the Office of the President for the Chief Compliance and Security Officer, a member of Presidents Select, and the Congressional Internship Coordinator. Her schedule may seem full, but Hudson has also been accepted into Texas Tech Law School.

Hudson personality
Haley’s vibrant spirit is a valuable asset for the opportunities she has took part in.

“While sometimes I may feel extremely busy it is definitely manageable,” Hudson said. “It is good to diversify your portfolio and resume by getting involved.” 

“My experiences at Texas Tech have helped me develop as a person, both professionally and interpersonally.”

Haley Hudson

Students at Texas Tech have the option to become a part of multiple clubs, organizations, teams, and jobs while earning their degree. Hudson said she thinks these opportunities can set students up for success in the future by giving them world experiences.

“Finding one or two things that you are passionate about and can put your all into is advice I would give every student,” Hudson said. “But, don’t make yourself miserable by becoming a part of too many things.”

Darren Hudson, Ph.D., is not only a professor and Larry Combest Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics but he is also Hudson’s dad. He said he is proud of how well she represents the AAEC department, not only in academics, but in her involvement outside of the department.  

“Haley represents the idea that you can learn a lot in your education.” Hudson said, “And then you can use those skills to push outside of the classroom environment to do great things.” 

It is obvious that Hudson is an accomplished individual inside and out of the classroom. She attributes this to her experiences at Texas Tech. 

“My experiences at Texas Tech have helped me develop as a person, both professionally and interpersonally,” Hudson said. “That is why I think Texas Tech is great.”

From the LBK to the Land Down Under

A day trip to Stradbroke Island provided for constant views of countless marine life and perfect blue waters.


n the 65th row of a Boeing 747 sat a 20-year-old college student not-so patiently awaiting takeoff. This was the last time she’d be on U.S. soil for more than two months. Was this crazy? Possibly. But she knew there was an adventure before her – an experience of a lifetime she couldn’t pass up. This Texas Panhandle girl was on her way to Australia, and what a journey she had before her.

The Chance

In February of 2018, a mass email was distributed to Texas Tech agricultural communications students announcing the launch of an internship program with a Cargill Joint Venture Company, Teys Australia based in Brisbane, QLD. I read the email and immediately downloaded the application.

 I returned my completed application to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Associate Dean for Academic and Student Programs, Cindy Akers, who was organizing the selection process. Before I knew it, my interview was complete, and I was answering a phone call from Dr. Akers who asked if I’d like to spend my summer in Australia. 

I told Dr. Akers I needed to talk with my family and pray over it for a while in order to feel confident in my decision. I hung up the phone and immediately knew there was no question about it; I needed to find out how to get a Passport. 

Akers made sure I understood the other intern and I would be spearheading this internship for CASNR, so it was going to have to take quite a bit of trust. It was so unlike me to make a decision like this, but I knew I had to jump on board. 

“We really needed students with adventurous attitudes and a willingness to be open-minded to pioneer an opportunity as new and unfamiliar as this one,” Akers said. 

Flash forward to June, and there I was packing up the two suitcases I would live out of for 10 weeks. Before I knew it, I was hugging necks and saying, ‘see y’all soon,’ to my friends and family.

I am not much of one for tears, but I couldn’t help but shed a few when I turned my back and lugged those suitcases up to security. I made my way down to my gate where I’d find the girl who I’d experience the            summer alongside. 

I looked out the window at the sun peeking over the Pacific’s horizon realizing this was my home for the next two months, and by gosh, I was ready to see what Australia threw my way.

Sitting there with her camera bag and a tear streak or two on her face was Ivie Kate Mynatt, a recent graduate of the agricultural communications program from El Dorado, Texas. We were acquaintances and had taken a class together before, so we were familiar with each other. However, there was something about the vulnerability of being each other’s only true connection to home for a while that instantaneously made this relationship something so full of trust and understanding.

“We were both excited but nervous all at the same time,” Mynatt said. “I knew we were going to have an experience of a lifetime, but we were so far away from everything we’ve ever known.”

Throughout our travels, Ivie Kate and I got to know each other. When you have 22 hours of travel time, you can find out a lot about a person. By the time we landed, it seemed as if we had known each other for a lifetime. 

The Purpose

All of those hours also provided for time to think. Because Ivie Kate and I were the first two interns selected to initiate this internship, there were many uncertainties. We knew we would be capturing content for Teys, but there were unanswered questions as well. Agricultural communications is not a discipline of study in Australia, so we were entering an untapped, yet very needed, field within Teys’ company.

In 2015, Mark Miller, Texas Tech’s meat science department chair, established the university’s relationship with Teys’ leadership team. He paved the way for meat science students to conduct research alongside Teys employees through internships in Australia. These internships continued over the years allowing for the relationship between Teys and Texas Tech to flourish. It was when Teys learned of Texas Tech’s agricultural communications program that they became interested in utilizing the skills of the program’s students due to Australia’s lack of equipped agricultural communicators.

“Communications is the biggest issue in the meat industry, and that’s why this internship was so important to establish,” Mark Miller, Texas Tech meat science department chair said.

Instead of having a stomach full of knots climbing into my throat like I had when leaving L.A., I hit the ground in Brisbane with a sense a peace. A sense of excitement. This would open my eyes to my true calling as a communicator in the industry I love. I looked out the window at the sun peeking over the Pacific’s horizon realizing this was my home for the next two months, and by gosh, I was ready to see what Australia threw my way.

The Stay

Day one on the job set the tone of the level of exposure we continuously gained while overseas. On the first day alone, we sat in on a marketing pitch made by the former general manager of eBay China.

Carcasses are chilled for 24 hours before continuing through the harvesting process.

One of the first trips we made was to New South Wales and Victoria where we were both overcome with new sights and learning experiences. We captured videos from two feedlots which would be developed into a video series called, “A Day in the Life of a Feedlot.” In a processing plant in Wagga Wagga, we suited up in frocks and hardhats and captured the ins-and-outs of what happens in a plant in effort to convey transparency. Next, we visited a paddock which rested in the foothills of the gorgeous Snowy Mountain Range to visit with a Teys Grasslands producer.

After that first trip, Ivie Kate and I were hooked on this constant yet fulfilling opportunity to learn more about the beef industry. This adventure was running full force, so we stayed busy over the next 9 weeks. We took photos in two value-added plants showing how marinades are added to cuts to increase their value. We traveled back to Wagga Wagga to photograph the International Collegiate Meat Judging contest. We flew up to Rockhampton and captured testimonials from Teys employees who hailed from almost 30 different countries. I even completed a project at a hide processing plant which shipped their processed leather worldwide to companies including Audi and BMW. Through these work travels, we flew more than a dozen times up and down the East Coast of Australia. We covered a lot of ground, but we never complained – we were in our own slice of Heaven.

Our weekends were no drag. We spent time down in Sydney strolling next to the Sydney Harbor with constant views of the Opera House. We took a day trip to a small island which boasted perfect blue waters swimming with dolphins, whales and stingrays galore. In our free time, we walked down the street from our apartment to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens to jog through its fortresses of trees and vegetation straight from a dream.

The Takeaway

The last night of our ten-week tenure, I sat out on our apartment balcony and took in the last Brisbane sunset I’d see, at least for a while. It seemed so crazy to me – the concept of heading back to the 100-degree temps and the dry, windy days of West Texas in just a few short hours. We left with countless memories all of which I am grateful for. I have pictures holding koalas and petting kangaroos to hang on the wall, but I left with so much more than just these tangible items.

I grew through this experience. I grew in how I approach communicating the efforts of agriculture to others. I grew in my own confidence and trusting my instinct. I grew in my faith and dependence on Christ when I feel somewhat alone or afraid. It was revealed to me who I am and what I am passionate about, and I owe it all to you, Australia. Cheers, mates.

Many cattle in Australia are strictly grass-fed due to lack of availability of grains. These cattle qualify for Teys’ Grasslands Program.

Fast Times at Texas Peanut Board

Lindsay Hamer has been working for peanut farmers for over a year and has found her niche in the communications field (and the peanut field.)

When Lindsay Hamer started her communications internship at the Texas Peanut Producers Board, she thought she had a good understanding of what her day-to-day responsibilities would be: writing press releases, making social media posts, and answering phones. But as she climbed into the 8-foot tall Tex P. Nut mascot uniform, she started to wonder what she had gotten herself into.

Junior agricultural communications major Lindsay Hamer accepted the position of Texas Peanut Producers Board intern last April after being recommended by Cindy Akers, Ph.D., associate dean for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

“I was recommended by Dr. Akers which was very scary,” Hamer said. “I’m seeing an email from Dr. Akers that just says ‘Lindsay’ on it and I thought, ‘Oh gosh, I’m getting expelled.”

Rather than being expelled, Hamer ended up with a recommendation for a job. Dr. Akers told Hamer her personality matched that of those currently working at TPPB and she would be a great fit for the job.

After applying and interviewing for the position, TPPB wasted no time letting Hamer know she was the top candidate for the job.

“I think one day went by, and Hallie texted me and said I needed to come back,” Hamer said. “I started my first office job and got to take the reins of that position.”

One of the best aspects of the internship is being able to express herself creatively through graphic design, writing and pitching project ideas.

“The nice thing about working for a small commodity group is that you have a lot of free reign to use your own creativity and then they are there for support and back up,” Hamer said. “Hallie and Shelly have been incredible mentors and role models. They have helped me feel more confident in my ideas in my design and everything along the way.”

Hamer said her experience at TPPB has made her career goals clear.

“Before I started here, I was interested in graphic design and kind of that whole aspect of designing things and layouts,” Hamer said. “Now that I’ve had experience with that, I think it’s kind of still the track I’m going. I like marketing and PR campaigns and every job that I’ve had here has been an overview of pretty much every communications aspect that I’ve learned at Tech so far.”

Hamer appreciates the opportunity to work at a wonderful place with wonderful people, like her boss, Shelly Nutt.

Hamer jumps for joy with Mr. Tex P. Nut when she helps out peanut farmers everywhere.

TPPB Executive Director Shelly Nutt has nothing but high praise for Hamer.

“She’s coming up with new programs,” Nutt said. “She comes in one day and she was like, ‘For March, I kind of think I want to do this recipe campaign,’ and it’s this major intense recipe development program that she wants to do through social media. And I’m thinking and I don’t know how you’re going to do that, but get after it.”

Hamer’s dedication to being creative and switching up the norm is one of her most valuable qualities, Nutt said.

“Lindsay did our weather channel baskets for us,” Nutt said. “That is a 100 percent intern project. Every single intern has to do this project for me. We have a whole book of instructions on how it’s got to be done so that it’s done the same way every year. Lindsay came in and was like, ‘I don’t know why we’re doing it this way because this is really not efficient,’ and I said, ‘We’ve always done it that way, but you’re also 100 percent right. It’s not efficient anymore. It was efficient 10 years ago.’”

The meteorologist baskets sent out are a TPPB initiative to gain publicity for National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month. Since the beginning of the promotion, TPPB has asked meteorologists from local TV networks across the state that if they will feature it on their channel, to upload the video, download it onto a USB and mail it back to the TPPB.

Hamer suggested the channels tweet the video so it would be instantly accessible to their audience.

“Of course, we got a whole lot more response,” Nutt said. “She’s innovative and thinking through what we’ve done and how she can make it better. She does everything around here and she just does it well.”

Nutt said one of the best qualities an intern candidate can have is to be bold.

“I love bold personalities,” Nutt said. “The people that can come into my office like Lindsay does and say, ‘Guess what I thought up? I want to do this!’ I love that.”

I could not have asked for a better internship.

Past Intern Experiences

Former TPPB intern and agricultural communications alumnae Adeline Fox now works at the Texas Water Conservation Association as the communications director. Fox said her time as a TPPB intern was extremely valuable to her professional development.

“Working with Texas Peanut Producers Board was a superb experience,” Fox said. “It was the first real communications job I had in college. TPPB staff members really wanted to share their knowledge and prepare me for future jobs. They provided me with many opportunities to work on challenging and fun projects.”

Fox’s favorite part about her time at TPPB was her opportunity to lead the Texas Peanut Leadership tour which brings in farmers from across the Southwest to Lubbock.

Although the internship is competitive, Fox encourages those who like a challenge, want to learn, and want to grow to apply.

“I would recommend the Texas Peanut Producers Board internship to anyone looking for a challenging and rewarding experience,” Fox said. “The staff and work assignments will prepare any student who is looking to work in the agricultural communications field after college.”

Gaining invaluable skills like graphic design, project planning, and writing have helped Fox in every job she has had since her TPPB internship.

“Working with Texas Peanut Producers Board provided me with great experience and work samples that helped me get my first job,” Fox said. “By the time I stepped into the world after college, I already had the mindset of an adult because of the responsibilities of my internship required. I could not have asked for a better internship.”

Matadors in Training

It was just an idea. But it wasn’t just one person’s idea. They all saw the need for an in-house communications service. Eventually, the idea grew, and it became what is known today as Picador Creative, a communications service offered by the Texas Tech Department of Agricultural Education and Communications.

What started as a large collection of emails from the surrounding Lubbock community became a program that now hires agricultural communication majors as student interns to create various communication materials for anyone with a communications need.

Picador Creative Project Manager Erica Irlbeck, Ph.D, said the agricultural communications program received numerous phone calls and emails on a weekly basis asking for students interested in designing logos, creating brochures, editing videos, and producing other communications materials.

“This kind of got us thinking,” Irlbeck said, “that we might be able to do something that would create a more formal agreement between the students and the people who ask us for things like this. It would be a good way to give students good practical experience and a good service to the community.”

Housed in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications at Texas Tech, Picador Creative offers graphic design, web design, photography, videography, and writing services. The student-run service has completed projects in all areas since its start in 2014 when they received a USDA non-land grant college agriculture grant that allowed them to start designing.

The Design Process

Evan Johnson, student intern for Picador Creative, creating a client design in the workspace for the communication service.

Internship credit is required for all agricultural communications students before they graduate. Irlbeck said the agricultural communications faculty thought, “Why not have a service that allows students to fulfill that credit, along with gaining experience working and designing for actual clients?”

One of the current interns, Evan Johnson, a junior agricultural communications major from Floydada, Texas, said she was initially intimidated to apply for the Picador Creative internship, but decided to put in her application anyways.

“I was honored to receive the position,” Johnson said. “I was really excited to be able to hone my skills and put them into application in the real world. I’ve been able to really listen to clients and create something that they need.”

In addition to hiring student interns, Picador Creative also has a graduate assistant handles client relations and oversees the undergraduate student interns on a daily basis. The current graduate assistant is Jenna Holt-Day, a second-semester agricultural communications graduate student from Levelland, Texas.

Holt-Day said working for Picador Creative has allowed her to gain real work experience in a field she would like to be in once she graduates from Texas Tech.

“Whenever you are applying for jobs, a lot of potential employers want around two years of work experience,” Holt-Day said. “I think this assistantship can be considered real work experience with the agricultural communications degree that I have. This position puts you in a role you can take with you in your future career.”

This position puts you in a role you can take with you in your future career.
Jenna Holt-Day

Holt-Day said her primary job responsibilities are client relations. She is in charge of setting up the initial meeting once the client emails her and communicating with the client throughout the entire design process. Following the initial meeting, an intern is presented with the job description, and the design process begins. With multiple clients at once, the jobs are divided up among the three interns, allowing them to gain experience in developing materials for print and web.

Former Picador graduate assistant and Texas Tech alumna, Keely Hamman, said teamwork played a major part in getting design pieces ready for clients. Before sending the projects to the clients, the designs have been looked at multiple times by several different sets of eyes to be sure the best work is being sent.

“We were like a family that made really great communication pieces,” Hamman said. “We would always help each other out however needed.”

Building a Client Base

In the beginning, Picador Creative had only one or two clients at a time, but now the communication service often works with four to five clients at once. Past clients of Picador Creative include the National Ranching Heritage Museum, Terry County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation.

Along with working for clients in the Lubbock community, Irlbeck said the interns have been beneficial to the agricultural education and communication department as well. In the 2016 spring semester, the department launched a campaign to promote the new online master’s degree program. Picador interns were in charge of creating content and marketing materials and continue to do so now.

As a graduate assistant for Picador Creative, Jenna Holt-Day often conducts client meetings to clarify what the client is wanting.

In addition to the client base, Johnson said she is also able to apply her experience to promoting her band, the Riley Adams Duo. She said she is able to use the skills she has learned in class and enhanced through her internship to produce social media content graphics and posts to help promote her band, along with contacting other professionals to set up shows.

“I’ve had people comment to me, ‘Wow, you are the most professional musician I’ve ever had contact me,’” Johnson said, “And I’m like ‘Yeah, I learned that through agricultural communications.’”

Irlbeck said Picador Creative is positive addition to the department because it is an outreach into the community and allows students to fulfill their internship credit, grow their portfolio, and be compensated with a scholarship.

“On the student side of this project,” Irlbeck said, “their portfolios when they finish their internship with Picador Creative are pretty amazing. They’ve been able to work with an actual client that has a need, and they’re able to fulfill that need through some sort of creative service, be it graphic design, video, web design, photography, or whatever the client needs.”

From Class to Industry

Picador Creative’s graduate student and interns are able to use what they have learned in the internship and apply it to their classwork, and vice versa. Holt-Day said she is able to implement things she learns in class, allowing her to be able to see how classwork relates to a real business.

With the hands-on experience Picador Creative gives her, Jenna Holt-Day can talk about her assistantship in class discussions.

Hamman, a Jacksboro, Texas, native, said she also saw the benefits of working with Picador while taking classes for her master’s degree in agricultural communications.

“While having the assistantship of Picador Creative while in graduate school,” Hamman said, “I had the unique opportunity to have a backside view of how a communications agency worked and the ideas of that agency that were being taught in class.”

Irlbeck said one of the biggest rewards of Picador is watching the students grow in their abilities in all aspects of the communication industry.

“I’ve seen, just from watching the interns, how their quality of work grows tremendously,” Irlbeck said. “They may not have the confidence when they first come in, but within just a couple of months their design abilities, their confidence, their speed, and their creativity has grown tremendously.”

Johnson said she has definitely seen an improvement in the quality of her work and her confidence in her design abilities since her start at Picador Creative in June 2016.

“I feel a lot more comfortable and confident, especially in my professional skills,” Johnson said. “I am confident in my abilities to write a professional email, and I am confident in my design abilities. I now know I can produce what I say I can produce.”

I now know I can produce what I say I can produce. Evan Johnson

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