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Marie Reinke

A first-generation undergraduate student stepped foot on the Texas Tech University campus awaiting her four-year landscape architecture experience. A passion for landscape architecture and campus involvement allowed this student to find their second home. 

“My interpretation of landscape architecture is designing the outdoors in sustainable ways that allow humans and wildlife to interact with nature.”

Landscape Architecture Student

Marie Reinke, from Waco, Texas, is a senior at Texas Tech dual majoring in landscape architecture and business management.

“Some might not understand what this degree is or what we do. My interpretation of landscape architecture is designing the outdoors in sustainable ways that allow humans and wildlife to interact with nature,” Reinke said.

Reinke is a member of the Student American Society of Landscape Architects (SASLA) at Texas Tech and served as the event coordinator.

The SASLA provides an excellent experience through professional opportunities. Something that the organization does differently is putting together an event called WreckShop.

Marie Reinke is a Texas Tech student that has built a strong foundation through her professors and peers within the Department of Landscape Architecture

“This event is something that as a student officer, we spend all summer and most of spring and fall semesters preparing for,” Reinke said.

The three-day event Reinke put on is filled with educational experiences showcased at the First Friday Art Trail, a monthly city art show in Lubbock, Texas has each month.

Reinke emphasized the importance of being involved during her collegiate experience.

“You may ask, where does my business management degree come into play,” Reinke said, “having a business management degree is appropriate and relatable no matter the type of business it is one is working for.”

In August 2020, Reinke will graduate with her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and Business Management. Her career goals are to use her skills to work her way up in a company.

“The participation that I have had within the landscape architecture community has been extremely helpful with making connections with professors and professionals in my field of study,” Reinke said, “it has opened doors for opportunities and relationships that can be built beyond my time as an undergraduate.”

A Blueprint for Growth

Jason Sowell has full confidence in the success of After Design.

andscape architecture design is a tedious process. Every inch of a design has been thought out to ensure the final product is harmonious and successful. Each finished blueprint has numerous hours and dedication hidden behind paper. Jason Sowell and Justin Palacios took on the task of making a blueprint for an event to showcase Texas Tech University’s Department of Landscape Architecture. The event started on paper would be known as After Design.

One of the coordinators of the event, Jason Sowell, is an associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture. He said the inspiration and reasoning behind the event was his research.

“This event emerged from my research in landscape technology, which increasingly recognizes the role of management and maintenance in a landscape’s development and execution,” Sowell said. “Contemporary landscapes require the integration of complex social, technical and biophysical processes, especially over protracted time periods.”

Sowell said After Design will allow outside recommendations for the research happening in the Department of Landscape Architecture through speakers and workshops. Sowell said he hopes After Design will be create a network of scholars to discuss management concerns in landscapes. Secondly, Sowell said he wants to start a discussion about making management a critical link to landscape architecture design.

Sowell is looking forward to the scholars speaking at After Design.

“The speakers are world-renowned scholars within their respective disciplines, and they each have expertise for creating a better world,” Sowell said. “The chance to meet and discuss their work and its application is exceptional.”

After Design is also a blueprint for appreciation. The event was partly put together to highlight the Department of Landscape Architecture’s growth. Alumni of the program will have the chance to see the changes in the department.

Justin Palacios is the marketing coordinator and graduate student in the Department of Landscape Architecture.

“We wanted to set forth that our department is in a revitalization stage,” Palacios said. “We wanted to get the word out there and get that bus rolling.”

After Design will also provide the opportunity for alumni to receive continued education hours. Landscape architects are required to have 12 hours of continued education hours to be a licensed architect in Texas. After Design will allow alumni to get up to four and a half hours for free just by sending in the lectures for proof of attendance to the American Society of Landscape Architects. Palacios said this added bonus of the event shows the care the department has for its alumni.

“We care about you when you are in our program and after you leave the program,” he said.

After Design’s blueprint took a year’s worth of planning to set into motion.

“A lot of effort has been put into developing, organizing and scheduling the symposium’s content from all involved,” Sowell said.

Sowell shared his hopes about the outcomes of After Design. He said he hopes that an appreciation for management as a form of innovation.

“First, I hope for an appreciation for management as a focus in the design of landscapes, infrastructure and urban regions,” Sowell said. “Second is an interest in how different disciplines understand or address management concerns, and what we can learn from one another.”

Planning an event this size was a challenge. Palacios said he had to step back from planning and revaluate to understand and appreciate the purpose and outcome of After Design.

“I see a gala. I see a lot of people talking, a lot of two-way communication between scholars and alumni and students networking,” Palacios said.

A Spice of Life: Ariana Rivera

student at Texas Tech
Ariana Rivera brings a boost of life to Texas Tech University. She is involved in multiple school organizations, and is excited to continue her education.

oming from one of the most vibrant and cultural cities in Texas, San Antonio. Ariana Rivera is an undergraduate student at Texas Tech University studying in the department of natural recourse management program (NRM). Her love for conservation helped her make the decision to pursue her education in protecting the environment.

“I think that protecting the environment for future generations is extremely important and I think that this degree can help me to do just that,” Rivera said.

The NRM bachelor’s degree offers many classes that give students a hands-on experience. 

“In my very first intro to NRM class we learned so many skills on outdoor excursions and a camping trip to Junction, Texas which was such a cool and unique experience that you can only get in NRM at Texas Tech,” Rivera said. 

Between the exceptional classes, professors and school spirit Texas Tech will always hold a special place in Rivera’s heart. 

“I have been in the Goin’ Band for two years,” Rivera said, “and it was such an amazing experience to enter the sold-out Jones stadium through the tunnels and be on the field to perform the pregame festivities,” Rivera explained. 

She stays busy between her studies, being part of the Goin’ Band, working for Top Teir Catering, interning at the Science Spectrum, and being a member of the Wildlife Society. 

Rivera hopes first year students will make the most of their collegiate experience too.  

My one piece of advice is that every year counts. Even if you don’t finish early like I did, cherish every semester and really strive to do your absolute best.

The Future

In May of 2020, Rivera will graduate with her bachelor’s degree.  Currently, she wants to pursue graduate school to ultimately receive her doctoral degree in natural resource management. She stated that her career goals may seem vague right now, but in general she hopes to share her knowledge of the environment with those who are not as well-informed.  

“I think it would be amazing to travel to other countries and teach people how to sustainably obtain resources from the earth so that they can prosper without harming the earth,” Rivera said. 

Rivera gave thanks to her parents for helping her along this journey of her life. 

“When I graduate, the degree I get, and all my future accomplishments will be their accomplishments as much as mine,” Rivera said.

A group of fellow students spoke kindly about Rivera.

“Her work ethic is something that I have aspired to have, and she always has a smile on her face.” said one of the students. 

Rivera brought her San Antonio spice of life to a West Texas town, and found her home here at Texas Tech University. 

Purple Deadnettle
The Purple Deadnettle is a flower that Rivera admires. The outer color is breathtaking, all while being tough to the conditions around it.

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.”

Moving Up, Expanding Out

The Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Texas Tech University is considered one of the nation’s premier animal and food sciences departments in the nation. Equipped with state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities as well as widely recognized faculty and staff. AFS has recently felt unparalleled growth in student enrollment.

Since 2013, the Department of Animal and Food Sciences has experienced an unprecedented 45 percent growth in undergraduate student enrollment, dwarfing the total enrollment growth of the university, which usually only sees a 3 percent average increase in undergraduate enrollment each semester. The student increase in AFS over the past five years is one of the largest growth margins by a department on campus.

The department’s faculty and staff have seen first-hand the continuing enrollment progression. Michael Orth, Ph.D., is chair of the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Texas Tech.

“We’ve gone somewhere in the 400-500 student range to 684,” Orth said. “In particular, if you look at the last four years, our new enrollment was about 150 students four years ago. Three years ago, it was 170 students. Last year, it was 200 students. Now, in this current year, it is over 280.”

Reasons for Growth

The Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Texas Tech was ranked among the top 20 in the country, according to GraduatePrograms.com. The department is equipped with four multimedia classrooms, five specialized teaching and research labs, the largest retail meat cooler on a university campus, and a retail store. Additionally AFS is staffed with faculty members at the forefront of research in topics, including food safety, muscle biology, nutrition, and breeding and genetics.

According to Orth, there are three major reasons why the department has experienced such large enrollment increases: the annual youth camps and activities hosted by the department, the emergent companion animal program, and the implementation of a veterinary school associated with Texas Tech.

“We have livestock, horse and meat judging youth camps, so we have a lot of youth on campus,” Orth said. “In April, we have a lot of local contests here for 4-H and FFA. A lot of kids get exposed to the department. We feel like when people come to Texas Tech, that’s one of the best recruiting tools. If kids come here and they have a good time, they’re more likely to come back.”

The new companion animal program within the department serves as a non-traditional route for pre-veterinary science students who may come from suburban or urban backgrounds, as well as students who may not have an interest in a livestock-centric animal science degree. Orth said the program has given an opportunity to a set of students that comes to the department looking to do something a little different with diversified learning and research opportunities.

Students gather in the atrium to socialize, complete classwork or eat from Cowamongus, the restaurant housed in the animal science building.

Another opportunity students may seek through the Department of Animal and Food Sciences is admission to the forthcoming veterinary school in Amarillo. In 2017, the Texas Legislature passed a budget allocating $4.1 million to the creation of a Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine.

“I really think that just the idea that we might have a vet school has increased the popularity of our program,” Orth said. “And really for getting into vet school, the best major is animal science because of the animal background and teaching that you get.”

Although the overall growth of the department is recognized as a testament to its success, building and program limitations are being brought to the forefront of concern.

“It’s been great to see the growth in the department, but right now we are basically busting at the seams,” Orth said. “We need more facilities. We need more space. That’s becoming a critical issue because if we keep growing at say a 15-20 percent clip, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Right now we are basically busting at the seams.

With the increased student enrollment, faculty and staff are faced with an ongoing lack of available classroom space, office space and teaching laboratories. The overall scarcity of room is becoming a challenge in maintaining the hands-on nature of the program and its production courses.

Nick Hardcastle is a doctoral student in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. He graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in animal science from Texas Tech and has seen the department grow over the years.

“It’s just crazy to see how much growth animal science has had,” Hardcastle said. “The classes I started off in at Tech only had like 20 people in them, and now that I’m teaching them it’s just these massive classes with like 50 to 60 kids.”

When it comes to maintaining small class sizes to promote student engagement and interaction, faculty and staff, including Orth, have to ask difficult questions.

“As many classes as we can have a laboratory or a hands-on component, and that just gets more and more difficult when you get really big,” Orth said. “Where do you do it? We only have one teaching lab. In the fall we have to ask, ‘Do we meet on Saturdays? Do we meet in the evening?’”

With the increase in undergraduate enrollment, the department is developing new extra-curricular opportunities to engage a wider range of students. Recently, the academic quadrathlon team was restarted and went on to win the southern section competition in 2017. Other opportunities for students include a wider range of study abroad programs, the potential for an animal welfare team, and wool, horse, livestock and meat judging teams.

Hardcastle was a member of the 2013 Texas Tech meat judging team and a coach on the 2016 Reserve National Champion meat judging team.

“I think now that there are so many more students in the department, we’re also seeing a lot more interest in our judging programs,” Hardcastle said. “Our teams now have like 20 kids compared to the eight or nine that other teams have. A lot of those kids end up staying and getting a master’s, too, so the graduate program is seeing growth from that, too.”

As the program and the agriculture industry continue to grow and new opportunities become available to students, the Department of Animal and Food Sciences expects to see continued growth in undergraduate student enrollment, Orth said.

“You know, you’re always going to need food no matter what, and it’s always an important thing,” Orth said. “The animal and food science areas are global industries. You’re interacting. You’re importing, you’re exporting, you’re working with several different countries. It’s expanding.”

Horse statue outside of the Department of Animal and Food Sciences overlooks the doorway students enter for class.

AgriTechsans Plan for Interviews This Month

Image courtesy of https://www.depts.ttu.edu/agriculturalsciences/Students/current/agriTech/index.php

The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University is preparing to interview and select the newest group of AgriTechsans in April.

CASNR’s AgriTechsans are responsible for promoting and recruiting for the college and university both on and off campus. Brandyl Brooks, the current AgriTechsan advisor, is new to the position this year.

“I am excited for the interview process in April and all the nominations of the students. I think it’s going to be great,” Brooks said. “It’s been really fun working with the AgriTechsans this year and I think it’s going to be really great getting to start with a new group too.”

The AgriTechsan program has been assisting CASNR for decades. Cindy Akers, Ph. D., a previous AgriTechsan and current professor and associate dean for Academic and Student Programs at CASNR, said she is a strong supporter of AgriTechsans and the work they do for the college.

“Back when I was an AgriTechsan until now, anytime we hear about a student who’s made the biggest impact, it’s always an AgriTechsan who came to their classroom,” Akers said.

Akers believes students are the best tools to use when recruiting.

“Students relate to students,” Akers said. “When a student selects a university, they’re more apt to ask tough questions to a current student; questions that they might not want to ask an adult or a professor or an associate dean, or even a staff member. So, really, the AgriTechsans are our best tools.”

AgriTechsans are recommended by faculty members and come from a variety of majors within CASNR. If selected, students will submit a formal application to the selection committee. Applications are reviewed and sorted, and chosen applicants are invited to interview with Student Success Center staff and a group of graduating AgriTechsans. The selection committee will then choose the group of AgriTechsans for the upcoming year. The new team of AgriTechsans is trained before the beginning of the fall semester. During their term, the AgriTechsans visit local high schools, attend campus events, and travel to major stock shows to meet with potential students.

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