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Street’s Light: Recognizing Alumnus Barry Street’s Undeniable Gift of Serving

Barry Street Portrait Outside

It is said that everyone has a gift. Whether it be a physical talent, mental strength or distinct expertise, there is something special planted in every person.

Agriculture’s Seed

Barry Street, a 1979 graduate of Texas Tech University’s College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, spent countless hours working on the family farm growing up.

His background in agriculture paved the way to where he is today and the impact he is making within the Texas Tech and West Texas communities. 

Street quickly learned the value and importance of hard work and family. By the age of 11, he was driving tractors and setting irrigation pipe.

“There were seven of us—mom and dad, and there were two boys and three girls,” Street said. “We lived in a little three-bedroom house. It was busy.”

Street recalls the long days of working with his older brother, Trent Street.

“I’m sure if Dad were here, he would say, ‘Well now, did you boys really work that hard?’” Street said. “We felt like we did. I mean we left early in the morning, and we came in late.”

Even though their parents never went to college, Street said he and Trent always knew they wanted to attend college.

“We started saving money for a college education, and I really don’t know how that got instilled into us because my mom and dad, neither one got to go to college,” Street said. “They both graduated there in Kress. But we kind of had that instilled in us somehow or another.”

“I serve because of what this university has done for me.”

Barry Street

Street decided to attend Texas Tech, where he studied agricultural economics with plans to become a banker.

“There was no intention of going back to the farm,” he said. “And of course, those plans changed when I met my future wife.”

SuDe Street, a 1979 graduate from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and Street were both members of the Block and Bridle Club, a student organization within CASNR.

“My wife came to Tech from Fort Worth to be a small animal vet,” Street said. “She and I met during the Little International [Showmanship Contest], an event put on by Block and Bridle.

“I won the showmanship in the pig show and got a trophy,” Street said. “SuDe asked, ‘Can I borrow your trophy?’ She had her picture made with the trophy and her pig. Anyway, that’s how that started.”

Street said SuDe had always wanted to live on a farm.

“I thought, ‘Well, you know, this is the girl that I’m going to marry,’” he said. “‘If she wants to live on a farm, I know how to farm.’ So I blame her for us going back to the farm.”

They moved to the Street family farm in Kress, Texas, and eventually purchased a cotton ginning facility in 1988.

Texas Tech’s Deep Roots

While Street continues to farm and run Street Community Gin, his passion for Texas Tech has never faded. He serves in several leadership roles in the Texas Tech community and selflessly gives back to the university.

“I love this university,” Street said. “Some people do stuff because they want something in return, but I don’t expect anything back. I serve because of what this university has done for me. Heck, if it hadn’t of been for Texas Tech, I’d never have met my wife, and I probably wouldn’t be back farming.”

The Streets have three children who also graduated from Tech. CassiDe Street, Ph.D., the youngest of the siblings, said her dad’s hark work ethic and dedication goes back to his parents, her grandparents.

“I mean, hard work was just instilled in him, that’s it,” CassiDe said.

CassiDe said she admires many of her dad’s qualities.

“I love his giving nature, his hardworking attitude and his kindness,” she said with tears welling up in her eyes. “He is consistently giving. He believes Texas Tech helped him out so much.”

CassiDe currently works for Texas Tech as the section manager for the Human Research Protection Program and credits her dad for inspiring her career path.

“My research area is in recruitment and retention,” she said. “I think my dad’s giving nature is the reason I went into that research area. There are kids out there that want to go to college, but they don’t have the resources or the means to.

“Because of my dad, I want to make sure that these kids know how to go to college, they know the financial plan, and they know how to navigate college once they get there.”

Street and SuDe established an endowed scholarship in 2013, available to students of all majors within CASNR.

“This is their way of not only helping Texas Tech,” CassiDe said, “but also, incoming students. My dad knows how hard it is to get to college. He knows everybody’s got challenges to get to college, so if he could make it easier for somebody to get to college, he’s going to do it.”

Street said his love for the university and for serving grows as he gets older.

“That love continues to grow, especially being involved in organizations like [the Texas Tech Alumni Association],” he said. “I get to meet graduates from all over the United States who I would have never met before. There are some really neat people who have gone to this university.” 

Street currently serves as the past chair of the Texas Tech Alumni Association National Board of Directors. He has been on the board since 2009, serving in many different roles.

“Barry is a servant leader,” Curt Langford, CEO and president of the TTAA, said. “He has been a tremendous asset to our association. His humility and genuine love for God, his family and his alma mater are very inspiring.”

Street’s Undeniable Gift

Street continues to make an impact in the Texas Tech and West Texas communities. But he also leaves an impression on everyone he meets.

“I will always think back fondly of my first year on the job with Barry on the board,” Langford said. “Barry’s support, wisdom and constant willingness to help were very encouraging. Not only would he help the association navigate challenges, he inspired others to do the same.”

Langford said he was looking to purchase pumpkins in October to decorate the entrances of the Texas Tech McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center. He reached out to Street in search of a local contact in Floydada selling pumpkins.

Street’s response to Langford was, “Let me work on it.”

“That’s a common response from Barry,” Langford said. “Early on, I didn’t fully grasp what that meant. I’m thinking he’ll simply get me a name of somebody to contact.”

When Langford followed up a couple of days later, Street’s reply was, “It’s taken care of.”

“I go to work the next day, and Barry had purchased a pickup-load of pumpkins and had already arranged them at each of the three alumni center entrances. That’s an example of Barry’s servant leadership.”

CassiDe said her dad’s welcoming spirit and determination are inspiring to her and everyone he meets.

“Whatever my dad does, he’s going to be the best at it,” CassiDe said. “He’s going to go 110% and give it his all. That applies to helping people in any way possible. If someone is in need, he’s going to give everything he can to support them.”

Street claims he does not have a gift.

“But maybe that’s the gift God gave me,” he said, “just to know how to go out and work and put in a long day.”

All Roads Lead Back to West Texas

Fenton and her three kids
Fenton’s 9-year-old daughter, Ella Jane, enjoys gymnastics and robotics; her 8-year-old son, Hays, enjoys being a cowboy, baseball and cub scouts; and Lane, Fenton’s two-year old daughter, enjoys making noise and running around the house.

A recent high school graduate from a rural West Texas town stepped onto the Texas Tech University campus in fall of 2000 – the turn of a new century. She knew three things: she loved agriculture, she enjoyed politics, and she had absolutely no idea what she wanted to be when she “grew up.” Yet, there she stood, meeting with her academic adviser, “all grown up.” 

The Beginning

Carmen Fenton, of Amarillo, grew up around agriculture in White Deer, Texas. Fenton was an area FFA officer and was highly involved in extracurricular actives. After graduating high school, she was uncertain about studying agricultural communications at Texas Tech University.  

“To be honest, I wasn’t really that jazzed about going into agriculture,” Fenton said. “I felt like it was all I had ever done.”

While Fenton was uncertain about studying agricultural communications, Cindy Akers, Fenton’s adviser, eased her uncertainty. 

“When I got to Tech and started digging into ag com,” Fenton said, “I realized this is something I could make a career out of.”

During Fenton’s senior year, ambition turned into opportunity. While she enjoyed agricultural communications, she still had a passion for policy and was eager to pursue her interest. Akers recommended she apply for the congressional internship through Texas Tech.

“I have always loved politics,” said Fenton. “The congressional internship program at Tech really just married the best of both worlds for me.” 

Four Congressmen 

After completing her internship under Congressman Randy Neugebauer and graduating from Texas Tech in December 2004, Fenton continued her time in Washington, D.C., where he was hired on to work in Congressman John Carter’s office as his staff assistant and later his scheduler.

After three years in Carter’s office, Fenton moved to the Oklahoma delegation to work for Congressman Tom Cole as his press secretary. At the time, Cole was chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. 

Fenton’s time with Cole was short lived when Carter offered Fenton a job as his communications director. 

It was an offer Fenton could not turn down, so she went back to work for Carter, and stayed there three years. In 2008, she decided to take a small step back from policy and move to Austin, Texas, where she worked for Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association doing public affairs until 2013. 

By this time, Fenton was married, had two children and her husband was in law school. Together, she and her husband, Jason, decided it was time to move closer to home. 

 “After moving back to Amarillo, I went to work for Mac Thornberry,” Fenton said. “That was the fourth U.S. congressman I worked for.”

After two years in Thornberry’s office, the director of communications position at Texas Cattle Feeders Association opened.

“The job was a good fit, and I have been there ever since,” Fenton said. “It’s been quite a ride.”

Back to West Texas

Ross Wilson, TCFA CEO, said he knew Fenton from her time working for Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association as head of their communications in Austin. Wilson admired Fenton’s great work ethic and the energy she brought to the table. 

“I can truly say there is no other profession I would want to dedicate my life’s work to.” 

Carmen Fenton

“We did our best to keep up with Carmen after she moved back to Amarillo,” Wilson said. “When Carmen was ready to get back into a full-time career, we had an opening, and we were exited to hire her on.”

TCFA represents the cattle feeding industry in three states: Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. As the largest cattle feeding region in the country, TCFA producers market more than 6 million cattle each year.

With Fenton’s creativity and eager spirit, she hit the ground running. 

“Since the day I started, until today,” Fenton said. “the nature of the organization has changed drastically.”

Due to the advancement in technology, today’s consumers want to know the exact origin of their food. Naturally, feedyards face some challenges other agriculture organizations may not encounter.

“Typically, when consumers are asking questions about how animals are treated, factory farms, animal antibiotics, etcetera, a lot of those questions are directed at feedyards,” Fenton said. “It’s not always easy to paint that positive picture for consumers.”

It is Fenton’s goal to be transparent with consumers and to talk about how beef is produced modernly and efficiently in feedyards. She said people want to know how their food is raised and it is her job to tell them. 

“I want people to know that what we produce is safe and healthy,” Fenton said. “It’s good for you, it good for me, it’s good for my family, and you should feel good about eating it.”

Fenton and the TCFA team have modified communication efforts at TCFA by developing a more user-friendly website, creating a prominent presence on social media, starting a TCFA blog, and updating all communication platforms to better meet the standards of modern technology. 

Along with the help of TCFA’s communications coordinator, Madeleine Bezner, Fenton is also responsible for developing an annual magazine, designing brochures and other printed media, writing press releases, taking photos, traveling, and helping organize annual events. 

“Carmen contributes many things to TCFA – hard work, loyalty, creativity,” Bezner said, “but most importantly, she contributes a passion for storytelling.” 

One of the greatest challenges of Fenton’s position is developing a working relationship with producers, feedlot workers and TCFA members to develop a consistent, transparent message throughout all communication platforms. 

“Inherently, people in agriculture aren’t very comfortable talking about themselves – they just want to do their job,” Fenton said with a chuckle. “Well, like it or not, it is now part of their job.”

One of Fenton’s favorite parts of her job is drawing back on her previous job experience to bring a level of expertise to the office pertaining to legislation and policy. She said she feels like her position has allowed her to marry all of her interests – beef production, communications and policy. 

“There is nothing else that I would rather do – really,” Carmen said. “I can truly say there is no other profession I would want to dedicate my life’s work to.” 

Out of the Office

When Fenton is out of the office, she can be found at baseball practice, Cub Scout events, gymnastic meets, robotic team meetings and chasing her two-year-old with her husband. While Fenton has a lot going on in her life, she always strives to balance her time between work and family. 

“Ever since I met her, Carmen has really always been ‘Super Mom,’” Wilson said. “I’m happy she came back to West Texas, and I think she is, too.” 

The Full-Time Part-Timer

Brandon Ray photographs the wildlife and landscape on his ranch.

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s a kid, Brandon Ray would head up to Palo Duro Canyon once or twice a year to visit his grandparents’ ranch that has been in the Ray family since 1948. When Ray realized he could go to college at Texas Tech University, only an hour and a half from the ranch, he knew that was where he was meant to be.

“I grew up in Dallas, and I’m kind of the kid that grew up in Dallas that never should have been in Dallas,” Ray said.

Ray graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in ranch management, then moved to Canyon, Texas, to take over his grandparents’ land. His main job was ranching and guiding hunts, but then he found himself excelling in another niche.

Right after he graduated from college, he sold his first journal article. Today, he has written and photographed for over 20 different hunting and fishing publications including: Journal of Texas Trophy Hunters, Texas Wildlife Magazine and Bowhunter Magazine.

It’s like I have three part-time gigs, which is good, because when one is slow, hopefully another one is picking up, and you don’t have all your eggs in one basket with one job, Ray said.

“It’s like I have three part-time gigs, which is good, because when one is slow, hopefully another one is picking up, and you don’t have all your eggs in one basket with one job,” Ray said.

In addition to his many jobs, Ray also participates in the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Canyon. These programs provide assistance to agricultural producers to implement conservation practices on their land.

Ray said he has many different species to manage on his ranch, such as mule deer, aoudad sheep, feral hogs and turkeys. He said most of the time he sees ranchers that are completely invested in cattle or wildlife, but he strives to balance it all together with the assistance of the USDA-NRCS programs.

Jeff Lewter, NRCS district conservationist in Canyon, assists Ray in his conservation efforts, which include wildlife-friendly fences, improved grazing management for soil compaction on rangeland through monitoring activities, mesquite control through aerial chemical spray applications, and solar panel water tanks. Lewter said he has enjoyed working with Ray over the last few years and he is an exceptional steward of the land.

sherman_solarpanel
The Natural Resource Conservation Service is assisting Brandon Ray with conservation practices, such as solar panel water tanks.

 

“Brandon understands the importance of taking care of the land,” Lewter said, “as well as protecting and conserving the natural resources found on the ranch.”

Lubbock Landscaping Redefined

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hat started as a college student trying to earn money on the side has bloomed into West Texas’ oldest premiere provider of landscape design and construction. Tom’s Tree Place has re-defined the meaning of growing a business while holding onto its local roots.

Texas Tech alum and current owner of Tom’s Tree Place, Alex Scarborough, recalls his dad, Tom Scarborough, sharing the story of how the popular landscape-design company began.

“When World War II was over, my dad was headed to Texas A&M to go to forestry school there.” Scarborough said he hitch-hiked and thought he would stop by and see his Navy buddies in Lubbock. He said he got out of the truck and saw his first tumbleweed rolling across the ground.

There was a lack of admission slots due to so many veterans coming back from WWII, so the state of Texas required Texas citizenship to attend any of the universities within the state. Luckily, that did not stop Tom, the southern Mississippi native, from still attending one. 

“His buddies were getting ready to start the semester and they asked him, ‘why don’t you just go to school here?’” Alex said. “So, they went down to the admissions office with him and swore he was from some little town in Texas.” 

While Tom was attending school, he started a tree-spraying business to earn extra cash. It was not until a customer expressed how difficult it was to get in contact him without a place of business that Tom decided to purchase some property in Lubbock, Texas.

“He got a place on West 34th street, way outside of town. He came out here in 1950 and started the business on this location,” Alex said, pointing at the ground. “This is the original.”

Despite the growing popularity of landscape architecture, many people are not aware of the various roles they play. The Lubbock-based landscape design company is making it known that the landscape industry has more to offer than just jobs mowing grass.

Abbie Jones, marketing coordinator of Tom’s Tree Place, said the retail nursery is one of the many services offered by the company. 

“The retail nursery is where people come in and buy plants,” Jones explained. “It’s kind of like the do-it-yourself customers that come and get the fertilizers, garden seeds, and the plants and trees.” 

Jones said there is also the landscape architect sector of the business, where the design aspect comes into play.

“We bid projects out for jobs that are already designed, and we just offer to install them,” Jones said. 

Landscape construction comes with two different aspects: a hardscape division and a softscape division. Jones explained hardscape and softscape are the complete opposites of each other; both are necessary to make a landscape fully functional.

I think that we all think it’s important to give that back to the community.

“The hardscape sector of the business is anything that’s not living.” Jones said. “This would be the concrete pavers, brick walls, and a bunch of grading and drainage. Then we have the softscape side of the business, which is installing all the living products. The trees, the plants, the flowers all go with that.”

Whether their work has been recognized or not, almost everyone in Lubbock has seen a job done by Tom’s Tree Place. From the landscape installation at Texas Tech’s new performance center, to the re-construction of the Dairy Barn, it is hard to believe that there is someone in Lubbock who has not come across a Tom’s Tree Place project.

An often-visited development is the re-design of the Will Rodgers and Soapsuds statue on Texas Tech’s campus.

“The statue’s the same, but it used to be to where you couldn’t walk right up to it,” Jones said. “We redid the hardscape on it, so we poured all the concrete that’s around it.”

An ongoing project Tom’s Tree Place has upheld since 2000 is the maintenance and upkeep of North Overton. 

“When I went to college, students didn’t dare go off in there because it was a scary place to go,” Scarborough said. “We’re really proud with how that’s turned out, it’s changed that whole area of town. It’s just a nice place to live now, well-lit sidewalks, good bus connection, a lot of bicycling. The whole neighborhood is pretty neat.”

Tom’s Tree Place is also responsible for the re-design of the fountain and planting the trees at the Broadway and University Avenue entrance to Texas Tech. Jones, who graduated in 2011 from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications before she worked for Tom’s, said she is most proud of the beautification of the campus. 

“That was just a really cool project to be a part of because Texas Tech is so near and dear to my heart,” Jones said, “and it’s cool to see our stamp around campus and contribution to the beautification of it.”

Not only does Tom’s Tree Place deal with commercial landscape construction, but they are also engaged with the community in a variety of ways. Since 2014, Tom’s Tree Place has hosted an annual Easter egg hunt. This event was created to encourage kids in the neighborhood to have a fun, safe egg hunt.

“The egg hunt is a fun event to get our neighborhood involved with the business,” Jones stated. “I think that we all think it’s important to give that back to the community and the egg hunt is the one that gives back to this actual neighborhood the most.”

When it comes to challenges the company faces, Jones said the biggest one is keeping themselves relevant to the community.

“A challenge is how to keep yourself relevant, but not to the point where you’re only focused on the bottom line,” Jones said, “but you’re also focused on the community and your positive impact on the community.” 

Climbing out of the Canyon

Jeff Klose standing in front of his walls of banners. These banners are awarded to winners of different teams.
Jeff Klose standing in front of his walls of banners. These banners are awarded to winners of different teams.
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hen Jeff Klose started teaching agriculture at Canyon High School, there was barely a program, with 67 students, now after seven years Klose has built the program to one of the biggest agriculture programs in the nation, with 400 students.

Klose said he learned two lessons at Texas Tech University he tries to teach to his students: you have to beg, barrow, and steal from others; and, second, the education is as equally important as teaching students how to live and work in society and how social situations work.

Klose credits his family, friends, education, and a career he adores to his time at Texas Tech. Klose said he also enjoyed his college experience.

“I tell my wife all the time,” Klose said, “if I won the lottery, like the big billion-dollar lottery, I would quit my job and go back to college. That’s how much I love Texas Tech.”

Klose first major at Texas Tech was chemical engineering. He then changed to wildlife biology. Klose said wildlife biology just wasn’t for him, so he went back to his dorm and prayed, trying to figure out what he was going to do.

 “When I really got down to it the things that made me happy were all in the agricultural education profession, so that’s when I knew this is what I had to do,” Klose said.

Klose said he loves the people, comradery, and being an agriculture teacher, but his favorite part of teaching is watching his students be successful and see what his students achieve after they leave the program.

After Klose graduated from Texas Tech, in 2002, his first job as an agriculture teacher was at Lubbock Cooper High School. After five years, he moved to Bridgeport, Texas, where he taught for three years.

“My wife, who is from Pampa, Texas, said ‘you get me back to the Panhandle as fast as possible’ I said, ‘yes ma’am,’” Klose said with a laugh.


They brought me in to build the best program, the best FFA chapter in the nation,

Jeff Klose

So, when Klose’s advisor at Texas Tech, told him about the position opening in Canyon, he applied.

“Canyon has always intrigued me because it sits in the middle of one of the largest agricultural regions in the world,” Klose said. “For a very long time, the ag program was very weak. There just was not a focus on agricultural educational.”

“They brought me in to build the best program, the best FFA chapter in the nation,” Klose said.  “We are not there yet, it has been seven years, but we are getting closer.”

When Canyon Independent School District hired Klose, there were 67 students enrolled in agriculture classes. Klose said by his second year, there were 300 course requests for agriculture classes and the programs numbers have since been rising steadily since. Klose spent the summer calling parents to encourage their students to take an agriculture class.

When Klose first started the program had the capacity for 100 students. This included one classroom, a small office, and one agriculture teacher. In the past seven years, four other agriculture teachers have been to the added to the program and their building was renovated to include three classrooms, an office, and a big agricultural mechanics shop.

Jeff Klose instructing a student on how to grade a fleece for the Wool Juding Career Development Event.
Jeff Klose instructing a student on how to grade a fleece for the Wool Juding Career Development Event.

Logan Giles, who was one of Mr. Klose’s students, said the number of students enrolled in an ag class grew every year, during his four years.

Klose said if enough agriculture mechanics course requests come in, they will be hiring another agricultural mechanics teacher and adding on to their building, again.

“Anytime you grow a monster you have to continue to feed that monster,” Klose said.

Klose said what drives him to further develop the program is to teach as many students as he can about agriculture, even if it not much. He said he is most proud of his student success.

Giles said Mr. Klose would work to teach students who did not grow up in an agriculture setting the fundamentals of agriculture. Giles also said Mr. Klose inspired to him to show people the reality of the agriculture community.

“He really worked hard to get everyone involved in different FFA competitions and classes where they could just learn some kind of trait in agriculture,” Giles said.

Giles said Klose works hard to get know every student and build a relationship with them, and that Klose wants to know his students really well.

“He really wanted to teach and get everyone involved in agriculture in some way,” Giles said.

 “You get in the classroom and you start training all these teams and taking these kids on trips,” Klose said. “You get to see the growth of these students and for them to go on and graduate is really amazing.”

 “The public perception of what we do is detrimental to our profession right now and agriculture in general, that the more young lives we can touch and help understand the future, the better we can be,” Klose said.

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