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Texas Tech University

Mentally Tough, Not your Average Department Head

From training and competing in Ironman races, to a new position right before a global pandemic, you could say Scott Burris, Ph.D., is physically and mentally tough. 

Burris, who became chairman of the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications at Texas Tech University in January 2020, is a product of this department; he was an agriculture education major and graduated under one of his long-time mentors, the late Paul Vaughn, Ph.D. Burris accredits a lot of where he is today to his late department head.

Burris and two of his training buddies after finishing a race.

“He stayed on me and stayed on me,” Burris said. “Without Paul Vaughn, I would not have gone to graduate school, and there’s no way I would be where I am today.”

Burris said he has learned a lot from past department heads who have been mentors. He said he is thankful for the guidance and leadership from not only Vaughn, but also Matt Baker, Ph.D., and Steve Fraze, Ph.D., who have all been influential in his education and career in academia. 

However, Burris has an experience that not many people, let alone college department heads, can say —  he has finished 13 Ironman races. Though this a physical challenge, it truly highlights his mental strength.  

“Whether it’s in life, work or an Ironman, no one ever has had a great time the whole time,” Burris said. “You get to a point to where you think you can’t handle it anymore and you want to quit. However, that’s not an option.”

Dr. Burris said that you have to know bad times are inevitable, but it is how you handle these situations that really matter. 

“Quitting is unacceptable and is not allowed,” said Burris, quoting his favorite book Toughness by Jay Bilas from his phone notes.

“Not only does this help me when I’m racing an Ironman, this defines my life,” Burris said. “That is the basic rule right there. If you believe that quitting is no longer an option, that eliminates a whole lot of things that are no longer realistic for you. Then you can focus on the choices that are more important.”

Burris and his daughter after an IronMan race that finished on the 50-yard line of the Texas Tech Football field

Burris often references his running notes page of quotes from the book Toughness, by Jay Bilas, to help him push through as he started his role as AEC chair and while guiding the department through a pandemic. 

“I’ve only been doing this for two months,” Burris said. “This is all new, and no one has ever done this before, so who knows if I’m doing a good job.”

Courtney Meyers, Ph.D., professor and graduate coordinator for the agricultural education and communications department, has worked closely with Burris and said she has enjoyed working for and alongside Burris during his transition to department head. 

Meyers said she admires his lead by example leadership.

“One thing I love about Dr. Burris is that he is so open with his communication and he shows genuine interest in everything we do,” Meyers said. “Dr. Burris always asks, ‘What do you need from me?’ and just knowing that if I really did need something, I have someone to go to.”

Meyers praised Burris for being accessible during the COVID-19 crisis and the university’s transition to online courses during the spring 2020 semester. 

“Once a week Dr. Burris has virtual coffee,” Meyers said. “There’s no agenda. It’s just a check-in period to ask questions, see everyone and it really makes us realize that we do miss all being in the same building and being around one another.”

Burris said his colleagues within the AEC department make his job easy.

“I’m on a really good team,” Burris said. “So that changes everything, and I feel honored just to get to play a role on it.” 

Burris believes the AEC students, faculty and staff will all be better following the pandemic because of the way everyone has united to navigate the challenges.

“Eventually this pandemic will end, but we will never go back to the way things were,” Burris said. “Our students are being forced into being self-directed learners, and because of that our students will be better in the future.”

Scott Burris, Ph.D., and his family after his very first IronMan race.

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.” 

CASNR Names Hales as the New Thornton Distinguished Chair in Animal Science

Thornton Distinguished Chair Dr. Kristin Hales
CASNR announced Dr. Kristin Hales as Thornton Distinguished Chair in Animal Science.

A Panhandle native and a leading export in her field of nutrition and beef cattle has brought her expertise to Texas Tech University as the new Thornton Distinguished Chair.

“I came back to academia because I really enjoy mentoring graduate students and helping them learn how to conduct research.” 

Dr. Hales said
Hales named Thornton Distinguished Chair
Dr. Kristin Hales named as the new CASNR Thornton Distinguished Chair in Animal Science.

Dr. Kristin Hales grew up in the Texas panhandle where she raised and showed cattle and sheep. She also did horse judging through her college career but said she always knew her passion was for beef cattle.

“I participated in the Texas Cattle Feeders Association Fed Beef Challenge where you had to feed a pin of cattle,” Hales said. “Then when I was in high school, I worked in the summertime, and after school at our local feedlot. That really piqued my interest in feedlot nutrition, especially in all feedlot cattle aspects and that’s really where I became interested.”

Hales completed her undergraduate and master’s degree in animal science at Oklahoma State University and then came back to Texas to complete her Ph.D. in animal science at Texas Tech. After Hales completed her schooling, she began working for the USDA Agricultural Research Service for the next decade.

“I knew that I wanted a heavy research job,” Hales said. “My degrees were very research driven and in doing the research in graduate school, I realized that I really enjoyed conducting research and analyzing data, interpreting the results, and then writing the results.”

While Hales worked for the government for the past decade there were not many opportunities to work with students or teach, she mainly just conducted her research and analyzed her data.

“I came back to academia because I really enjoy mentoring graduate students and helping them learn how to conduct research,” Hales said. “Helping students find their way and hoping that I can make research enjoyable for them so that they will want to one day do research as well. I always wanted to teach a little bit but going into ag research within the USDA I didn’t have that opportunity.”  

Through the years of research she did while working with the USDA, she said she was very excited to get to be teaching classes that related back to this research.

“I’ve been doing heavy research for the past 10 years,” Hales said. “Which makes it really fun to use what I’ve learned in my research, and then incorporate that into my classroom teachings. I really enjoy being on the university campus and I enjoy being around young people that are enthusiastic about agriculture.”

The animal and food science department staff were very excited to have Hales joining the department. Animal and food science chair and professor, Dr. Michael Orth, spoke very highly of Hales and looked forward to what she will bring to Texas Tech.

“Dr. Hales is a great addition to our faculty,” Orth said. “She became a nationally recognized researcher during her time at the USDA. She has a great work ethic and focus that is also being seen in the classroom. She will continue the tradition of outstanding scholars in the Thornton Chair position following in the footsteps of Drs. Preston and Galyean.”

Hales said she is excited to be back at Texas Tech teaching the next generation of research conductors and answering some of her research questions during her time at Texas Tech.

“When you look at it, time goes by so fast,” Hales said. “I’ve already been out of graduate school for 10 years. You really have to prioritize what questions do you want to answer before you retire because those answers take a long time to get when you’re doing research and so you have to prioritize. Like what things do I want to know before I retire, and I didn’t realize that right out of school.”

Evan Johnson

Texas Tech University School of Law

Native to the South Plains, Evan Johnson, is a Texas Tech University School of Law student that graduated from the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications. Her roots in agriculture have molded her to focus on water law, which has been dear to her heart from a young age. 

“I met and cultivated relationships with many agriculturists, farmers, and ranchers,” Johnson said. “ I listened to them reflect on their lives of service in agriculture and the successes they realized in addition to the struggles they endured. After months of conversations with these men and women, I realized the importance and need that existed to represent and communicate the mission of these producers.”

The agricultural communications degree offers a diverse way of giving a hands-on experience. 

“Agricultural communications allowed me to develop many skills, such as writing, design, photography, and a general sense of professionalism that I have implemented in my professional journey,” Johnson said. “The professors in agricultural communications truly care about their students, and I think that makes a huge difference when you are receiving an education and striving for success.”

Johnson said when deciding where to study law, it was easy for her to make the decision to go to Texas Tech Law with it being her number one option. 

Evan Johnson is proud of the school she represents.

“Tech Law puts students first and teaches the practical skills that make good lawyers. In addition, I remain passionate about agriculture and the culture of West Texas; I hope to remain here and serve the people of the area.”

She encourages students to get involved and to voice future goals and dreams to professors. 

“You should work hard now, listen to your agcomm professors, and talk to them about your aspirations because they want you to succeed,” Johnson said. “Law school is hard, but it is worth it and so are you.”

Bret-Leigh Nance

Texas A&M University School of Law

Student athlete Bret-Leigh Nance represents Texas Tech University.

Texas Tech University track and field athlete Bret-Leigh Nance is running the race for success. The agricultural communication student has run track at Texas Tech for four years. Her passion for agriculture has pushed her to become a lawyer. She will attend Texas A&M University School of Law in May after graduating from Texas Tech with a Bachelor’s of Science in Agricultural Communications. 

 “I want to study law so that I can help my community. I come from a rural community that is often affected by rules and regulations often made by people who do not understand agriculture,” Nance said. “I hope to one day help to create policy that will help and not harm agriculture.”

Nance gives credit to her parents for pushing her to be her best.

 “My parents have been the biggest influence, they always told me education comes first and that if you work hard enough you can do anything.” Nance said. 

Nance stays busy on campus with her studies and participating as a Texas Tech athlete. 

“Track has helped me by not only providing me all the resources I need to succeed but has also taught me valuable life skills such as time management, teamwork and resilience.”

She encourages first-year students to get involved with organizations at Texas Tech.

“The connections you make are just as valuable as the education you obtain,” Nance said. “Try to build your network as large as you can.”

She is excited about her future and what she can do to give back to people in Texas. 

“After law school, I plan to move back the Hill Country and eventually open up my own practice around Fredericksburg, Texas,” Nance said. “Later in life, I would like to run for Texas agcommissioner so I can help even more people.”

Bret-Leigh is proud of her accomplishments she has earned over the last four years.

50 Years in the Making

Chancellor Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D. speaks to the media
Chancellor Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D. spoke to the media about the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board commissioner’s visit to the Texas Tech University System in March.

In true West Texas fashion, Texas Tech University and its surrounding communities came together, overcame tremendous obstacles, and, against all odds, finally got the veterinary school they had waited so long for.

In 1971, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board voted for Texas Tech University to open a veterinary school; a seemingly impossible task at the time, which then took half a century to accomplish.

Gaining Momentum

Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell, Texas Tech University System chancellor, said he had been president of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center for four years by the time opening a veterinary school became feasible for the System.

It was not until the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 that the System really began to research and develop momentum for the vet school, Mitchell said. It was then that he and a team of leaders from across the System – including then-chancellor, Robert Duncan – began working on the vet school initiative.

“We actually went and visited the three geographically closest vet schools to Amarillo: Colorado State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State,” Mitchell said. “All three of them are closer to Amarillo than College Station.”

After researching the different models of veterinary education and visiting with surrounding schools, the System chose the newest option to the veterinary medical world: the distributive model.

“If you look at the vet schools that have begun in the last four years, it’s the preferred model, because it keeps your own overhead low, and it really doesn’t put you in competition,” Mitchell said. “In fact, quite the contrary, your local veterinarians become your faculty members, and they love it.”

Having prior experience using this teaching model at TTUHSC, the team was ready to move forward with the vet school initiative by advocating to the community, industry leaders, accrediting agencies and legislative officials, Mitchell said.

Part of this team of advocates was Guy Loneragan, BVSc, Ph.D., who is now dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. Loneragan said he believes the veterinary school could change the landscape of veterinary medical education by creating highly sought after, skillful graduates who are business-minded and have the desire to serve rural populations.

“To me,” Loneragan said, “it means the opportunity to help and contribute to building something that will provide access to high quality, affordable education, which will influence and impact students and rural Texas for generations to come.”

The Tipping Point

On Jan. 8, 2019, the 86th Texas Legislature began and set into motion the most historic legislative session for the Texas Tech University System since the institution’s formation in 1996.

Mitchell said municipalities from across West Texas put aside their differences and came together to sign a letter to governmental officials expressing their support for the veterinary school in Amarillo.

“I’d be willing to bet you that has never happened in the history of the legislature,” Mitchell said.

The Texas Legislature’s Conference Committee voted to include $17.35 million in the state’s budget to establish Texas Tech’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo on May 17.

Just one month later, on June 15, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the state budget into law, thus appropriating $17.35 million for the operational needs of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Loneragan said he attributes Texas Tech’s success at the 86th Texas Legislature to the System’s great leadership and the overwhelming community support they received.

“For the vet school, it’s possible because all of those great leaders moved forward in a very unified approach to make this happen,” Loneragan said.

However, during this legislative session, the System was not only focused on the veterinary school, they were also advocating for the addition of a dental school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

With the addition of a veterinary school and a dental school, the Texas Tech University System will become one of only nine institutions in the nation to have programs in undergraduate, medical, law, nursing, pharmacy, dental and veterinary education.

“The United States has over 3,000 universities, and there are nine that have the compliment that we have…” Mitchell said. “I think, then, from a System perspective, it puts you in an extraordinarily elite position, nationally.”

Three months after receiving the governor’s signature, on Sept. 19, the System broke ground in Amarillo to signify the start of construction on facilities for the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Guy Loneragan looks at the construction plan for the School of Veterinary Medicine with Project Manager Redha Gheraba
Dr. Guy Loneragan, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, looks over the facility’s plan with the project manager, Redha Gheraba.

In a little over a month, the first of many hiring announcements was made on Oct. 30, when Dr. John Dascanio, a large-animal veterinarian, was hired to serve as senior associate dean for the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Then, on Dec. 11, three months after the groundbreaking, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the proposed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree, putting Texas Tech’s vet school on the home stretch.

Throughout this process, Mitchell said he and the System team tried to impress upon people all over the state how important this initiative was for everyone.

“It was not an issue about West Texas, it really was an issue that would impact the entire state.”

Chancellor Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D.

“We tried to make sure that people understood this was not an issue about Amarillo, it was not an issue about the panhandle, it was not an issue about West Texas, it really was an issue that would impact the entire state,” Mitchell said.

The most rewarding part of this journey for Mitchell was watching the different communities come together for something bigger than themselves, he said.

“At a time when politics have become extremely divisive, people still, at the end of the day, pulled together for something that was good for the state of Texas,” Mitchell said.

The Real Work Begins

On Jan. 22, 2020, the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents approved the final budget for the project. With this approval, the next step in the process can begin, Mitchell said.

“Moving forward, the ball is squarely in the court of Dr. Loneragan when it comes to the curriculum and the academics,” Mitchell said.

The School of Veterinary Medicine had hired a total of seven staff members as of March 3, 2020, Loneragan said, including Dr. Bethany Schilling, a mixed-animal veterinarian, as assistant professor in general veterinary practice, and Dr. Britt Conklin, a world-renowned horse veterinarian, as associate dean for clinical programs. By the end of March or early April he said he expected to have finished interviewing candidates for 11 more positions.

“We anticipate by the end of this calendar year we will have 15 to 20 faculty on board and getting ready to start delivering the curriculum,” Loneragan said.

While the hiring process continues, Loneragan said they will also be working with the American Veterinary Medical Association for the accreditation process. He said they will do a site visit of the program at the end of June and should hear the outcome around the end of September, early October.

If approved by the accreditors, Loneragan said they can then begin the admissions process by reviewing applications and inviting students to campus in October. Once they send out offer letters, he said, the next big step is to prepare for orientation and the beginning of classes in August of 2021.

A rendering of the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine.
The School of Veterinary Medicine headquarters will be located on the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center campus in Amarillo. Photo courtesy of Texas Tech University.

Looking Ahead

Mitchell said he is looking forward to the day that the School of Veterinary Medicine opens its doors to its inaugural class.

“In August of 2021, we’re going to have 60 new students running around up in Amarillo with our pharmacy students, with our med students, with the nursing students, with the health profession students that we have up there,” Mitchell said excitedly, “and it’ll be a brand new day, and it’ll be a big celebration for everybody when that happens.”

A similar sentiment was expressed by Loneragan.

“I am most looking forward to the first class of students – seeing them and getting to interact with them – and seeing the faculty start to teach the students,” Loneragan said.

But the chancellor and the dean are not the only ones excited for that historic first day of school. Conner Chambers of Henrietta, Texas, is the lone Red Raider in a family of Aggies. He is a junior animal science pre-vet major at Texas Tech, and said he cannot wait to apply to the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Conner Chambers stands outside of the animal science building.
Conner Chambers, a prospective School of Veterinary Medicine student, is the president of Texas Tech’s Pre-Vet Society, one of the largest student organizations in CASNR.

“I’m ready to apply,” Chambers said. “I’m ready to get there, and it means a lot to me that Texas Tech is supporting this so much for the dreams of students like myself.”

Chambers said having the opportunity to attend veterinary school in the epicenter of the beef cattle industry means his educational experience will be geared specifically toward his goal of becoming a large animal veterinarian.

“Being someone who wants to work on food animals in small town communities, it means a lot that Texas Tech is supporting that dream specifically,” Chambers said.

He said the possibility of being one of 60 students chosen to attend Texas Tech’s School of Veterinary Medicine is both exciting and nerve-wracking.

“It’s definitely exciting to be part of the first class to go through a new vet school because that’s something not very many people get to say,” Chambers said.

Mitchell said that once the first class of students arrive, there is just one more milestone left to reach. One that he said was the most important by far.

“I think the day that we have our first students graduate, that’ll be the day that you know all of the work, all of the efforts, all of the heartache, all of the long nights, all of the long days, that’s when you’ll know it was worth it — with that first set of graduates,” Mitchell said with a smile.

Growing soybeans; Growing futures

Dr. Lyford looking at statistics of his research.
Texas Tech University takes pride in doing research internationally to advance agricultural practices in other countries.

Ghana’s poverty and hunger have declined steadily over the last 20 years thanks, mostly, to improved agricultural extension services and improved market access. Researchers in Texas Tech University’s College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources were working to understand the financial benefits of producing soybeans in Africa.

In Ghana, research plots of soybeans were planted to monitor the changes in yield and income for local farmers.

The goal of the research was to evaluate the effect of improved agricultural extension services and improved market access opportunities on productivity level, food security, nutrition status and income levels among smallholder farmers, according to research by Conrad Lyford, Texas Tech agricultural and applied economics professor.

The research took place for a year. At the end of the study, farmers showed interest in continuing to grow soybeans. In the year after, soybean production expanded in almost all targeted communities, according to Esri.

“There’s a lot of inequities in production agriculture in Africa,” Lyford said.

“Typically, most of the farmers are actually women. However, women have a lot less access to credit, quality land, informational resources, and other inputs to be successful in farming. Soybeans were considered at the time to be a ‘woman’s crop’.”

In Ghana, soybeans are put into food for an additional source of protein. Soybeans have appealing nutritional characteristics and looked like they would be profitable, Lyford said. The producers could benefit financially from the crop with the right tools, which they did not currently have access to.

Lyford said the scale of Ghana’s production agriculture differs from the United States, especially when it comes to equipment. Ghana farmers harvest everything by hand, whereas U.S. farmers utilize a wide range of machinery to farm a higher number of acreage.

However, the two countries do share some agricultural commonalities. One way production is like the United States is the mindset, he said. The Ghana farmers are doing a job to benefit the community and their families.

“The big similarity,” Lyford said, “is they’re just growing crops for a source of income and food.”

Lyford said Ghana has a more agriculturally-based economy. A big engine for growth in Ghana is production agriculture, and it is something that can be improved for the better, he said.

Throughout Lyford’s study, yields were substantially increased for most farmers who participated.

As of today, most of the farmers who participated in the study are now producing on their own.

“The ones I talked to were very happy to have done it. They were proud to be involved and pleased with the outcomes.

Dr. Lyford

“Some of the other farmers in different regions and communities are now starting to produce soybeans,” Lyford said.  

Lyford said men and women from the farming communities participated in the study.

“The focus was primarily on women,” Lyford said, “70% of the recipients were women; however, we did have men that were involved as well.”

Women farmers are key contributors to agriculture production, marketing and intrahousehold food distribution.

Available evidence shows food security and overall national growth and development of any economy could be improved if smallholders, particularly women smallholders, are supported, according to Esri.  

The study’s objectives for the research were to determine the current situation with soybean productivity level, food security and nutrition status, he said. Then, they would evaluate the effect of the improved situation and the impact on female smallholders.

Farmer
In Ghana, soybeans are used for farm families who are extremely poor. Soybeans can provide protein for malnourished children.

Lyford’s project aimed to help aid farmers in Ghana with agricultural opportunities. Lyford said he and his team saw significant increases in yield, especially in Sankpala and Chiranda. In the other three areas of research, they found the yields were lower than before the implementation of the study. However, the end of the assessment showed unpredictable climate was the main cause of lower yields, Lyford said.

In regard to income, all areas showed an increase in income for the farmers. The objectives of the study were achieved by identifying new market locations, training smallholders in market dynamics, and linking farmers to agricultural commodity marketing platforms, according to Esri. 

During the research, gender inequality was also a factor. On a national level, there has been improvement with inequality for women. However, some parts of Ghana still struggle with this issue, he said. One example of the inequality women face is receiving lower quality land.

In Ghana, men usually have the power over decision making with resources, education, and training, according to Esri. This was one of the main reasons the study focused in on aiding women he said. 

For the most part, the farmers who were a part of the study were grateful for the experience.

“The ones I talked to where very happy to have done it.” Lyford said. “They were proud to be involved and pleased with the outcomes. At the end, they took over ownership of producing the soybeans. They were very motivated to get the job done. Farmers were now thinking about how to be more productive, and how to overcome constraints they faced the year before.”

Captain Comedy

Sitting in an office surrounded by taxidermy, maps of Texas and legal documents, Captain Aryn Corley gives a flawless impersonation of Superman amidst countless jokes and belly laughter that can be heard down the hall.

Originally from San Angelo, Texas, Corley moved to Levelland, Texas, five years ago. Here, he works full-time as the Texas Game Warden Captain for Region 6, District 2 of Texas and teaches Wildlife Law in conjunction with CASNR. Corley has a part-time gig as well. He is a stand-up comedian, and his humor never turns off. Corley said he has always had a sense of humor and the inability to stop making jokes ever since he was a boy.

“I was almost voted the funniest person in my senior class of high school,” Corley said. “I lost by one vote!”

Corley loves making people laugh and regularly couples that with his love of law enforcement in order to maintain sanity despite the stress of the job.

“Getting to put my time and energy into making people better, it’s just totally worth it.”

Captain Aryn Corley

What many people do not realize is game wardens are state police officers and first responders. Game wardens are often in more extreme situations than other first responders when on the job. Game wardens are called for disaster relief, murder cases, drug cases and to act as border patrol agents in high-risk areas.

Corley became a game warden captain in 2015. He said this is the career he wants to retire from.

“Humor and levity certainly help in a high stress job,” Corley said. “In a way, you could say I’m a dopamine dealer.” His team agrees, including Drew Spencer. a Texas game warden stationed in Lubbock and Crosby counties.

“Corley, in general, makes us realize our job is fun,” Spencer said. “He isn’t always business, so it helps us stay calm, relaxed and not so serious.”

Corley said his favorite part of the job originally was ‘catching bad guys doing bad things’. Now it is seeing personal growth in the people he interacts with. Whether it is watching his own team hit their milestones or taking kids on youth hunts, it does not matter to Corley.

“I never get tired of sharing that experience with that person,” Corley said. “Getting to be involved in that is indescribable.”

Corley said he believes comedy offers a conduit of sorts for relationships and experiences. He said connecting with your audience, whether it is a crowd of people at a comedy club or a team member that had a hard day, with humor allows you to be entertaining while providing an experience they will not forget.

“Getting to put my time and energy into making people better,” Corley said, “it’s just totally worth it.”

Hank’s New Voice

Hank the Cowdog, TTU, Agricultural Education
This illustration by Texas Tech senior, Auden McBeath, depicts the Ranch Life Learning series resting upon a patch of bluebonnets beyond a cattle ranch.

As the importance of agricultural education increases, the National Ranching Heritage Center continues to provide educators with innovative classroom tools and has future plans that will bring Hank the Cowdog to life.

Merely three years ago, author John R. Erickson partnered with the NRHC to publish an informative series of children’s books narrated by his witty character, Hank. The books, known as the Ranch Life Learning series, incorporate ranching, agriculture and wildlife into public school curriculums and casts Hank in his new role as a teacher. 

Hank the Cowdog, TTU, Agricultural Education
This illustration by Texas Tech senior, Auden McBeath, depicts the Ranch Life Learning series resting upon a patch of bluebonnets beyond a cattle ranch.

Julie Hodges is the Helen DeVitt Jones Endowed director of education at the NRHC. Hodges is devoted to the message behind the Ranch Life Learning series and has worked closely in the development of a corresponding curriculum guide. 

“We’ve done some really cool things that I’m pretty proud of,” Hodges said. 

In the last three years, Hodges and the NRHC have implemented the Ranch Life Learning series into 60 school districts across the nation, distributing more than 45,000 copies. 

“It’s the only place in the world you’ll be able to see Hank the Cowdog in a realistic way,” Hodges said. 

With the original plan of a three-book series, Hodges was ecstatic to announce the publication of two additional books. 

“Book four will focus on ranch weather,” Hodges said, “and book five will focus on prairie fires.”

Erickson, the series author, lost his own ranch to prairie fires in 2017. Erickson hopes to depict prairie fire management techniques in book five by reflecting on his own experiences.  

“It’s a really interesting book and will hopefully help students in this area understand prairie fire more clearly,” Hodges said, “because there’s a lot of mystery to it.

Based on the success of the first three books, the Ranch Life Learning series has been developed into a multi-faceted curriculum plan. This carefully developed curriculum includes classroom activities, reading strategies, and teaching guides. The series covers topics such as economics, business, geography and animal breeds. 

The Ranch Life Learning curriculum is implemented into classes such as social studies, science, reading and more. By frequently updating curriculums and developing new activities, the NRHC is leading a progressive trend in agricultural education. Hodges said training and providing educators with curriculum guides has been very successful.

“It gives teachers the flexibility of when and how to incorporate it into their curriculum,” Hodges said. 

Julie Hodges, TTU
Julie Hodges standing next to the historic Hoffman Barn that was constructed by Lawrence H. Jones in 1906.

Using a cross-curriculum allows educators to utilize activities and lessons across many different courses. With the help of exceptional educators, Hodges said agricultural education will continue to impact and engage with young minds.

“I see it as a project that will never be finished and it’s something that we can always find ways to enhance,” Hodges said. 

Jim Bret Campbell, executive director of the National Ranching Heritage Center, is also closely involved with the Ranch Life Learning series. Campbell said curriculum developers work hard to create educational and engaging content. 

“They mostly focus on horses, wildlife and ranch livestock,” Campbell said. 

Campbell said the NRHC has big plans for the future of Ranch Life Learning. These plans include the development of the Ranch Life Learning Center exhibit, located on the NRHC property. 

The purpose of this interactive exhibit is to answer the frequent question; what is a ranch?

“The Ranch Life Learning Center will be an indoor-outdoor permanent exhibit that will answer questions with the help of Hank the Cowdog,” Hodges said. 

Hodges said when the NRHC opened its doors, the community was still very in touch with the meaning of agriculture. But times have changed, and an interactive exhibit will not only bring the Ranch Life Learning series to life, but also encourage agricultural education of the public. 

The exhibit will be large-scale and feature interactive technology and activities. The NRHC has been awarded a grant for planning the project but will require additional funding for the building process.

“We’ve made progress raising about a quarter of the funds needed,” Hodges said as she flipped through a binder. “And, we are actively pursuing the rest.”

The Ranch Life Learning Center is currently in the planning phase. By utilizing the skills of professional designers and architects, the NRHC hopes for the exhibit to be inclusive to all ages and levels of agricultural education.  

“We are partnering with various experts to make sure that we can build a wonderful exhibit that would be appropriate for a small child all the way to a seasoned rancher,” Hodges said.

Inclusivity is important at the NRHC. By creating age-friendly exhibits and activities, they are able to broaden demographics and reach a larger audience. Hodges said the NRHC expects a drastic increase in the number of visitors on site when the Ranch Life Learning Center opens. 

“It’s the only place in the world you’ll be able to see Hank the Cowdog in a realistic way,” Hodges said. 

The exhibit will include topics of cowboys, livestock nutrition, prairie ecology and the basics of ranch life. From wildlife to native plant species, this exhibit will cover a broad spectrum. The NRHC is aiming to spread agricultural awareness while preserving the beloved voice of Hank the Cowdog. 

“We’re building something that’s real and telling a real story with the help of a fictional character,” Hodges said. 

Within the next two to five years, the Ranch Life Learning Center will be much more than the plans and blueprints on Hodge’s desk.

Dust in the Nose

Cover Photo

The National Ranching Heritage Center is home to a life size sculpture On the Banks of the Bosque, sculpted by renowned Cowboy Artist Bruce Greene from Clifton, Texas.

At an early age, Greene knew western art was his calling. He started drawing horses before he was able to write. It was not until a family vacation to San Antonio when he was six-years-old that it became evident where Greene’s passion and skill was.

“They set me out on the patio with a French easel and a paint box. I was looking at the trees and started painting and I remember the light came on,” Greene said. “That day I thought, I get this. That makes sense to me.” Greene said.

Years of experience with a paint brush show with past and current pieces of art.

By age eight, Greene’s parents enrolled him in a children’s painting class at the Dallas Museum of Fine Art.

“It was great training,” Greene said. “It was painting from life. Many years later I learned that was the best classroom a person can have.”

Bruce did not think he would be an artist for a living. Being a jobless college graduate with a family to raise, he resorted to what he knew best- painting. Greene made $6,000 his first year selling paintings and decided to try it one more year.

“My wife was just sure that was what God meant for me to do.”

“My wife was just sure that was what God meant for me to do, and it would work out,” Greene said.

Bruce sold his art for 10 years before being involved with the Cowboy Artist of America. For anyone pursuing a career as a western artist, the CAA was the pinnacle. In the 80s, the CAA held seminars a few times each year for artists. A collector of Greene’s artwork challenged him to attend the seminars. Not backing down from the challenge, Greene traveled to Kerrville, Texas, and participated in a weeklong seminar.

“I learned more in that week than I learned in four years of college,” Greene said.

He attended every seminar the CAA hosted for next seven years. During that time, Greene began to teach lower level seminars to help pay for the classes he attended. In 1993, after facing a tough panel of judges, Bruce was elected to be a Cowboy Artist. He was now among the best western artist in the nation.

A friendship with NRHC board member and country music artist, Red Steagall pushed Greene’s art to the next level. In 1998, Steagall invited Greene to a branding at the legendary JA Ranch in the Texas Panhandle. Greene was suddenly engulfed in the world he painted for so many years.

“That was when I got the dust in my nose,” Greene said.

By doing more than just observing, Greene was able to paint not from a picture he took but what he felt in those moments. By living, breathing and working in the atmospheres ranch cowboys are in every day, Greene instills those emotions in each piece of artwork he creates. His art takes viewers into that moment and makes them feel as if they are there living, breathing and working in that atmosphere. 

Greene’s artwork has appeared in the top art shows in the nation, from the Prix De West to the Cowboy Artist of America, making his art work popular among collectors. In the near future, a Bruce Greene art collection will be residing at the National Ranching Heritage Center, Lubbock, Texas. Roland and Joyce Jones from Clifton, Texas, have built a collection of Greene’s artwork over the decades and are donating it to the NRHC. From making $6,000 a year in paintings to now having highly sought after art, Greene has become an iconic western artist from the support of his wife and a little dust in his nose.   

Partnering for Pesticides

Texas Tech agricultural communications are working with TDA to develop a campaign about pesticide education and safety.

I

n an effort to properly inform Texans on the safe use of agricultural and household pesticides, the Texas Department of Agriculture has partnered with Texas Tech University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The TDA-funded project, Pestisafe, will develop a social marketing campaign promoting Texan’s safe use of pesticides.

The idea was brought to Texas Tech by alumnus, Dan Hunter, who serves as TDA assistant commissioner for water and rural affairs.

Texas Tech was a natural choice…

“Texas Tech was a natural choice because of the ties to agriculture and the great work they are doing in agricultural communications,” Hunter said. “We want to make sure that there is greater public awareness of how to handle and take care of pesticides. The incident near Amarillo highlighted the need for this campaign.”

Texas Tech’s CASNR has included their students in this project by using the campaigns class in the senior-level, agricultural communications block. The 51 block students were broken up into 10 different groups to create campaign plans for pesticide outreach and education tailored to various target audiences. Some of these target audiences include pesticide disposal for crop producers, pesticide use and storage for suburbanites, and pesticide education for ages 10 and under.

Erica Irlbeck, Ed.D., campaigns class professor and assistant professor of agricultural communications, said TDA is glad to have students involved in this project.

“TDA is excited about getting some young ideas into their marketing efforts,” Irlbeck said. “They’re really pleased to have students helping them with this because [the block students] have really great, fun ideas.”

Irlbeck has been teaching campaigns as a service-learning class, which means that students work with a client in the community, for the past 10 years. During the spring 2017 and 2018 semesters, the classes have created campaigns for the department of agricultural education and communications to assist in meeting marketing needs. This semester is different because TDA is not a local client.

“I think it’s a neat opportunity because they’re getting to work with a state agency,” Irlbeck said, “and that’s something that we haven’t done before. It also helps the students to understand a state agency.”

Irlbeck said this semester is also different and special because she has 51 students in the class.

“There are so many of you,” Irlbeck said. “In the past two semesters, there were only five or six groups, and I nearly doubled that. That’s a lot of really cool ideas. [TDA] won’t use everything we send them, but there will be plenty of stuff and ideas to choose from, so that’s exciting.”

Nan Li, Ph.D., assistant professor of agricultural communications, is one of the Texas Tech leaders of the Pestisafe project. Li said she thinks this is a unique chance for agricultural communications students.

“We are trying to be a little creative in a sense that, number one, we want to turn this into a long-term social media plan to really help TDA establish some central themes, cool messages and videos that they can send out to a wide audience,” Li said. “We also want to turn this into a learning opportunity for our students because you guys are terrific. You have the knowledge. You have the skills. You know how to do things.”

Bailey Eubank, senior agricultural communications campaigns student, created this infographic for this TDA project.

Students are using their design skills in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Lightroom to create pesticide educational and promotional materials. They are also using their knowledge of writing, video, photography and research to create an efficient campaign marketing plan for TDA.

Irlbeck said she thinks students will greatly benefit from the research component of the campaign plan. For students to develop their plan, Irlbeck and Li said they will be distributing a survey to Texas residents composed of questions derived from student’s research to help students better understand public perception and knowledge of pesticides.

“It’s important for students to know that conducting research in some capacity is really important for any campaign,” Irlbeck said, “because if you’re not making informed decisions about your campaign, then you’re investing a lot of money based on anecdotal evidence. It’s really important to collect some data with your target audience before you spend the money to purchase design or any other activity.”

After research is conducted, students will begin to use their other skills to produce educational and promotional materials. Irlbeck said her expectations are high for her senior-level, agricultural communications students.

“The main thing is creative and innovative ideas,” Irlbeck said. “I’m expecting a cohesive package from the students targeted at whoever they’re supposed to target. I just want some new and different ideas that TDA hasn’t thought of doing before.”

Once research, educational materials, surveys and campaign plans are completed, the products will be shared with TDA.

Hunter, assistant commissioner for TDA, said he hopes that because of this project, accidents will be avoided.

“My expectations for this project is that we will have a heightened awareness for pesticide safety,” Hunter said.

True Grit: Texas Tech Style

On a tranquil spring evening, Jerod Foster spoke to his students as the sun descended into the mountains. A golden light was thrown across the El Solitario in the heart of Big Bend Ranch State Park and illuminated the desert sky with vibrant pink shadows.

During spring break, 300,000 acres of desert served as the classroom and workspace for 16 undergraduate students enrolled in an adventure media course at Texas Tech University. The course, taught and created by College of Media & Communication Associate Professor of Practice Jerod Foster, Ph. D., immersed students in the outdoors and pushed them to enhance their media production skills as they travelled 90 miles across rugged terrain on bikes. The uninhabited landscape allowed students to gain hands-on experience in a real-world setting.

“My job at Tech is to bridge what I do in the field with the classroom or bridge the industry in the classroom, so students are more prepared to take on the job more immediately, right after school, especially creative production jobs,” Foster said.

Foster’s time as a student at Texas Tech University ignited his passion for photography and set him on a path toward being a highly-renowned photographer. While obtaining his undergraduate degree in agricultural communications, Foster participated in the well-known photo course in Junction, Texas, a photography course taught by the official State Photographer of Texas, Wyman Meinzer. Meinzer’s course immersed him in a hands-on, outdoor learning environment and later proved to be a turning point in Foster’s life.

“After knowing just how effective classes like the Junction intersession are, I wanted to keep teaching these types of courses and keep creating these kinds of experiences for students,” Foster said.

This year’s adventure media course was held at Big Bend Ranch State Park. The seven-day trip required students to camp and bikepack through the beautiful, yet unforgiving, Chihuahuan Desert. The desert terrain proved to be taxing on bikes and bodies alike. Menacing cactus, venomous snakes and dehydration were just a few elements that shaped their learning experience. Without the resources of water or medical facilities for miles, students had to mentally and physically prepare for the harsh conditions they endured.

Day one of the trip
Participants of the 2019 Adventure Media course ride into the Chihuahuan desert to begin a thrilling week-long journey.

Students packed the bare necessities on mountain bikes, along with heavy camera gear, and covered 15 to 30 miles a day, moving to different campsites throughout the week. By the end of the week, they completed the tenacious “Epic Loop” and El Solitario Rim bike route, while creating marketing material for several outdoor-oriented businesses. Students were also responsible for keeping a journal detailing their experiences and recording video content for a group documentary.

“This class was really special to me because it proved that anyone can do anything they set their mind to.”

Jacey Snapp, a junior agricultural communications major, was selected to be a part of this year’s class. Her passion for photography encouraged her to apply for the course.

“The biggest difference between this class and other college classes is that it is 100% totally hands on,” Snapp said. “You are completely thrown out and submerged into the industry, rather than just being told about it, and I feel like as a student, you learn a lot faster.”

Programs like agricultural communications really influenced the adventure media course, Foster said, because the course allows students to focus on a specific field, rather than a broad field of study.

“Unless we’re able to make a direct connection between the theoretical and the conceptual in the hands-on practical, we’re not doing a service to the student,” Foster said. “This kind of class provides those field-based experiences for students to see the connection and to think more deeply, more clearly, and hopefully more creatively as they go into their jobs afterwards.”

Codi Clark, a junior agricultural communications major, also participated in the course. Six months prior to the class, Clark did not know how to ride a bike. Now she proudly shows off her battle wounds and shares how she journeyed 90-miles across a desert on a bike.

“This class was really special to me because it proved that anyone can do anything they set their mind to,” Clark said, “and I’m doing it in such an environment that I love to be in.”

Codi photographing bluebonnets
Codi Clark, an agricultural communications major, photographs the unique bluebonnets and also participated in the Adventure Media class over spring break

Living the Fearless Life

From being credited as the most astonishing entrance into a bowl game to being an honored tradition at football games, the Masked Rider has been a revered icon at Texas Tech University and in the Lubbock community. But this story isn’t about the rider.

The horse, named Fearless Champion, is the 14th horse in this tradition to carry the Masked Rider. Whether it is smiling on the street for pictures or running in front of 60,000 fans, Fearless takes this job by the reins.

“He knows his job, and so for him that’s just another day in his world, and you just get to be a part of it,” said Lyndi Starr, the 2018-2019 Masked Rider.

Daily Routines

A good diet is at the foundation of Fearless’ success. Starr makes sure Fearless gets enough to eat to maintain a healthy weight. She also schedules his meals based on what is happening each week in his ever-changing schedule. She takes into consideration not only the game or appearance time, but also his training because you can’t work on an empty stomach.

While Fearless would sometimes rather watch students herd cows all day, Starr makes sure to get in proper training time. Whether it’s in the livestock arena, Texas Tech Equestrian Center or just around campus, Fearless works on building his stamina so he can ride out his 300+ scheduled appearances. Starr also makes sure Fearless is healthy mentally and socially. While people surround Fearless during his appearances, he also needs some one-on-one time.

“He lives by himself, so I try to spend as much time with him as I can so he has some contact,” said Starr.

While Starr is the major caretaker of Fearless, she does have some helpers maintain safety at appearances. They do anything from maintaining a safety bubble to picking up after Fearless. Starr and Fearless need all this help because when football season rolls around, it’s a whole other ball game.

Fearless doesn’t like to pick favorites, but he appreciates Tim Tadlock’s enthusiasm when he visits the baseball team.

Game-Day Prep & Safety

Before Fearless and Starr can even think about walking onto the field, they need to meet with the rest of the key members involved with the Masked Rider Program on football days. These include on-field vets, band directors, broadcasters and cameramen, and even high profile Texas Tech Athletics personnel.

One of these key players is Stephanie Rhodes, the Texas Tech spirit program director. Just from walking into her office, anyone can tell she has school spirit and pride for Texas Tech and the Masked Rider Program.

“The thing that I never really realized as a fan coming into this was how much goes into that 10-second run and how many people have to be doing their jobs just right for that to happen,” Rhodes said.

She meets not only with cheer squads and Starr, but with Texas Tech Facilities personnel as well. Sandy Collins, associate athletics director of event operations, handles the facilities staff on game day. Collins says a key part of maintaining safety on the field is communication, whether that’s with her staff, Rhodes, or the well-respected Sam Jackson, Ph.D.

While Jackson, a professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, was not initially apart of the Masked Rider Program when he started teaching at Texas Tech, he brought sweeping changes to the safety protocols in the program after an accident in 1994.

“They asked me to help come up with a new plan and new ways of doing things,” Jackson said. “The problem was that football game atmosphere changed, and it got a lot busier and a lot more people and a lot more involved, and we kept doing the same thing.”

Ever since then, Jackson has continued to improve and edit his safety protocols, and has pushed the Masked Rider Program to be one of the best in college sports. Due to his ever-improving safety protocols, no other serious accidents have happened. The small incidents that have occurred, like Fearless’ leg injury past season, resembles a freak accident more than having an unsafe condition.

Texas Tech vs. All Y’all

One of the vital aspects Jackson admires about the Masked Rider Program is the connection with the students.

“I think that the fact we have a student on the horse is a big part of the value of our mascot,” Jackson said. “We don’t want to just have somebody on a horse.”

At the University of Southern California, the rider is a trained professional instead of a student. In Oklahoma State University’s case their horse for the Spirit Rider lives and is cared for in Tulsa instead of on their campus in Stillwater. While these programs have their own noteworthy points to them, Fearless Champion and the Masked Rider have a deep connection not only with the university, but as partners as well.

“I think that the integrity of the one person that’s highly committed to this animal, cares for it daily,” Jackson said. “I think that understanding and that communication between those two is probably unique to our mascot situation.”

Lyndi rides everyday to maintain his strength, endurance, and overall bond with Fearless to make sure every appearance is perfect.

Even though he is treated as “a little prince”, as Rhodes puts it, he never loses his sense of adventure. Recalling one of her first appearances with Fearless and an 8-foot-tall handmade butterfly bicycle, Starr saw first hand Fearless’ commitment to his name. At one of her first appearances, Starr and Fearless were asked to take a picture with the bike.

“I timidly walked up there, and Fearless just walked up to him like it was nothing else,” Starr said.

Even with the fan and his strange bike, Fearless was open toward him, and Starr was inspired from then on.

From that day forward he kinda instilled in me to just be Fearless.

Whether it’s running on the field or hanging out at an appearance, Fearless loves his job and everyone he meets. With the help and guidance from Starr and the rest of the committee, he represents the best of Texas Tech University and truly embodies a Fearless Champion.

“One Health” Solution to Veterinary Shortage

The TTUHSC in Amarillo will be tightly connected allowing veterinary and health professional students to mingle and collaborate which will strengthen their education.
T

exas leads the nation in livestock production with 95 percent of the beef market and 70 percent of milk production residing in the Texas Panhandle, according to Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine. To ensure these industries, as well as the livestock, remain healthy and productive, veterinarians are essential.

According to the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine, 40 percent of Texan veterinarians in rural communities are over the age of 60 and are anticipated to leave the profession within the next 10 years.

Ronald Warner, D.V.M., Ph.D., officially retired from Texas Tech in 2013 but continues to serve as the Texas Tech University Health Science Center representative and epidemiologist consultant for the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine. Warner says it is critical to prepare more students to provide veterinary services in Texas.

“Most of the veterinary workforce out here in rural Texas, west of I-35, are my age,” Warner said. “They’ve been out there, and they’re getting ready to retire, and the young folks are not coming back out to practice.”

Texas Tech is developing Texas’ first veterinary school in more than 100 years to address the shortage of veterinarians in rural and agricultural communities. The plan is establish the school at the Texas Tech Health Science Center in Amarillo, Texas, according to the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine.

Warner recalls when he first heard about the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine, “I thought we should probably be thinking along those lines there’s been a discussion in and out of the veterinary circle about the lack of large animal practitioners,” Warner said.

Tiffanie Brooks, D.V.M., is the attending veterinarian and director for Animal Care Services on the Texas Tech campus. Brooks also serves as an instructor of veterinary medicine for the Department of Animal and Food Science and agrees Texas Tech can support this need through its new veterinary school.

“I’m seeing local veterinarians who are my friends in rural practices in this area that cannot get associates here,” Brooks said.

How Will Texas Tech Meet the demand?

Guy Loneragan, BVSc, Ph.D., has played an influential role in developing the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine since 2014. At Texas Tech, Loneragan is an epidemiologist and professor of food safety and public health in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

“The goal of the vet school is to produce veterinarians to work with small, agricultural and regional centers across Texas,” Loneragan said, “not just West Texas, but all across Texas, East Texas, south and on the border.”

The Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine model is built on the success of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Over the past seven years this program has addressed the critical need of veterinarians in rural areas with 98 percent of graduates staying in the region and 63 percent working in rural private practices.

According to Warner, this new model will not have a centralized teaching hospital.  On top of creating curriculum and working on facility plans, a part of his involvement has been finding clinics to occupy fourth-year veterinary students.

Brooks recalls her experience as a fourth-year veterinary student, saying she was three students behind the surgery table and was not getting the hands-on experience to work on specialized types of surgeries or equipment.  

“If we’re going to attract the right kind of students, and if we’re going to show them what rural practices are like, and the rewards of being part of a smaller community, we’re going to have to train them in those settings,” Warner said.

Brooks believes future veterinary graduates will learn more about real life and graduate with more confidence through this new model.

One Health Underscores Benefit

According to Texas Tech Today, the
TTUHSC in Amarillo serves more than
43,000 patients each year.

According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association, the “one health” initiative collaborates and communicates all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment worldwide.

With the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine at the TTUHSC campus in Amarillo,  the “one health” initiative will be fostered through research and collaboration.

According to Warner, the hope is the significance of “one health” will be ingrained in these veterinary students from the very beginning. Loneragan said the TTUHSC will be tightly connected allowing veterinary and health professional students to mingle and collaborate which will strengthen their education.

I’ve always been told and appreciate that the only real justification for veterinary medicine is to improve human health.

“The Texas Tech family excels at medical education, so we get to collaborate with the health science center and their expertise in medical education,” Loneragan said. “The veterinary school is a natural fit.”

The Texas Panhandle has access to the highest quality education since the TTUHSC in Amarillo serves more than 43,000 patients each year, according to Texas Tech Today.

“I’ve always been told and appreciate that the only real justification for veterinary medicine is to improve human health,” Warner said. “Whether it’s taking care of some dear widow’s poodle, that gives her emotional support, or providing safe economical meals on the table that are healthy.”

Excitement for the Next Generation

For Warner, the opportunity to work on something from the ground up–literally–has been a rewarding experience.

“I say to my wife, this is my capstone,” Warner said.

Loneragan expressed excitement about community support, the future of the school and current high school students who will be taking advantage of the new opportunities. He has also seen “unbridled” enthusiasm from industry stakeholders, rural communities and veterinarians for the School of Veterinary Medicine.

“For me, being a part of the foundation of something that will achieve things I can’t imagine today is really exciting,” Loneragan said.

The future of the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine means so much to current undergraduate students, too. One-hundred and fifty undergraduates classified as pre-vet in the department of animal and food science in the fall of 2018, Loneragan said.

“We have all these students coming to Tech betting their futures on this program, so we better be successful,” Loneragan 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.
C

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.

Finding Your Niche

M

ost students, might not understand the importance of being involved in their campus community, but one animal science student is proving the value of campus involvement and finding your place.

Walker Carson from Turkey, Texas, is a senior animal science major, with chemistry and Spanish minors at Texas Tech University.

Carson is also currently chief of staff for the Student Government Association at Texas Tech. He became involved with SGA as a first year student when he joined Freshman Council and later served for two years as a College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources senator.

“You’re gaining life skills by getting involved in these organizations.”

Not only is Carson affiliated with SGA, but he is also a member of Block and Bridle, an Honors College student and served as a research assistant for graduate student coordinator, Bradley Johnson, in the Department of Animal and Food Science.

“My job as the chief of staff is to be a liaison between the main executive officers in SGA,” Carson said, “and I have definitely seen a whole different side of student government that I wasn’t aware of.”

One of Carson’s jobs as chief of staff, alongside the SGA president, Sean Lewis, is to have meetings with faculty to discuss issues SGA sees affecting students.

“Getting to talk to faculty members about what directly affects students has been very effective,” Carson said. “They, a lot of the times, think an idea is best, but it may not be necessarily, and they just needed another student’s opinion to help guide them.”

Sean Lewis from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is a senior history major, political science minor and is the student body president at Texas Tech University.

“Walker is a big advocate for agriculture and educating people who may not know much about it,” Lewis said. “The importance of it and how it affects our daily lives and Walker understands agriculture is his foundation and he will always give credit to that.”

texas tech, meeting, student government association, students
Carson spends most of his time in the Student Government Association Office assisting Sean Lewis, Student Body President.

Carson said the most valuable thing a prospective student can be told is to get involved because it creates friendships they may not have found otherwise and keeps students active on campus which is important.

“You’re gaining life skills by getting involved in these organizations,” Carson said. “You’re learning time management and you’re learning to apply these skills to life and I think those are really important things.”

Hofstetter Takes the Reins as New Rodeo Coach

I

n the past 12 years, Jerrad Hofstetter has worked to strengthen the caliber of rodeo athletes in the Lubbock area by hosting clinics and training students. However, when an opening came up for the position of Texas Tech’s rodeo coach, Hofstetter was hesitant to apply.

He worked diligently to fill the open position of Texas Tech’s rodeo coach before deciding to go for it himself.

“A friend of mine, Jennifer Brazil, who ran the equestrian center last year goes to church with me, and she asked me to help find a rodeo coach,” Hofstetter said.

Shaking his head, Hofstetter said he must have called 15-20 people who he believed were qualified for the position and was turned down by each of them.

“My wife ended up telling Jennifer behind my back that I wanted the job,” Hofstetter said, “but I’ll be really honest and say I don’t have a degree, so I never applied.”

Hofstetter said Brazil convinced him to apply and shortly after he was named the new Texas Tech Rodeo coach.

“It’s been a blessing being here,” Hofstetter said. “The kids are absolutely amazing. The people I work with are amazing. This really is a neat, neat program that we have out here.”

No stranger to the highly competitive world of rodeo, the first-year coach qualified for the National Finals Rodeo on three separate occasions before retiring.

According to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas is widely acknowledged as the world’s premier rodeo, which showcases the best rodeo athletes in the world each year.

“I have been fortunate in my career to have seen what it takes to win, and the kids out here are outstanding, but a lot of them haven’t been around somebody that understands how to get to that next level,” Hofstetter said. “This year’s been a huge learning experience for a lot of them.”

Kim Lindsey, the director of the Texas Tech Equestrian Center, said Hofstetter has made an impact on every part of the equestrian center, not just the rodeo team.

“I think Jerrad is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to the Texas Tech Rodeo program,” Lindsey said. “It takes a special individual to be a great coach, and I think we’ve found ours.”

Lindsey said Hofstetter is a team player and has fostered a sense of unity between the four teams housed in the equestrian center: rodeo, ranch horse, equestrian and horse judging.

“We’re all one big team, and if we work like that, we can get more done and be more successful,” Lindsey said.

Hofstetter and Lindsey both agreed the best part of working at the equestrian center is the students. 

“It’s really fulfilling to get to see these kids, especially a freshman, come in and get to see them mature the four years they are here,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey said the whole purpose of what they do is to produce outstanding individuals and build the character of the students.

“A lot of our rodeo kids become professionals, then they go on and do other great things,” Lindsey said. “You have to think about it. If they are going to school and doing all this too, they are pretty driven.”

Hofstetter beamed with pride as he talked about the students on the rodeo team.

“The strongest part about the rodeo team is the character of the kids that are on it,” Hofstetter said.

The 2018-2019 Texas Tech Rodeo Team

In his role, Hofstetter has made sure the students on the rodeo team, even with their busy schedules, are giving back to the Lubbock community.

“We’ve done a lot of community service,” Hofstetter said. “Right before the year started, we laid 1,500 feet of water lines. We put on a rodeo for kids with special needs, and then for Christmas, we went to the children’s hospital and helped make cookies with them.”

Hofstetter said the rodeo program is centered around the students and everything they do starts with the students.

“We are actually not funded by the university,” Hofstetter said. “We are the only school in our region, which is the biggest and toughest region in the country, that is not a part of the school’s sports program. We are like a club.”

Hofstetter pointed out the students have to raise money for everything the rodeo team does and all the gear they need.

“The strongest part about the rodeo team is the character of the kids that are on it.”

“They go out to local businesses, and we’ve been very fortunate,” Hofstetter said. “The local community has been outstanding this year. We’re trying to get past alumni involved and just get this program back on the map.”

Hofstetter stressed the equestrian center and rodeo team can move forward in multiple ways with more notoriety and more involvement from the community and alumni.

“I’ve got a lot of things that I’m pushing for,” Hofstetter said. “We want the whole town to know about us, and we also want to win. We’ve got the talent.”

Hofstetter said they need more seats, stalls and plug-ins at the facility in order to have more events.

“It’s funny because there are a lot of people in Lubbock that don’t realize we have a college rodeo team,” Hofstetter said. “Students right there on campus, they don’t even know we exist. That’s really a shame.”     

“There are too many great things going on out here to be overlooked, and it gets overlooked,” Lindsey said. “We’d just like to share that with everybody. I think we’ve only scratched the surface.”

Going Against the Grain

W

hen you imagine the typical professor, you might be visualizing some strict, straightforward individual. One professor at Texas Tech University is anything but the status quo.

Blake Grisham is a professor in the Department of Natural Resource Management at Texas Tech where he leads extensive fieldwork with many of his undergraduate and graduate students.

Grisham teaches a field-based wildlife techniques course, which spends 17 days in the research facility capturing a wide variety of animals such as turkey, deer, and snakes.

Grisham’s style of teaching sets him apart from professors and engages his Texas Tech students.

“I’ll tell jokes in class; I will trip; I will make fun of myself. I like to open it up so that the students know that I’m human,” Grisham said.

Grisham hails from Black Oak, Arkansas, a quiet town with 200 people. He found his passion for the outdoors in his childhood. After attending graduate school at Louisiana State University, he began studying ground-nesting birds, which later brought him to Texas Tech.

Griffith_Birds
Blake Grisham, Ph.D., tags a Sandhill Crane with his students during spring break in Oregon. Image provided by Blake Grisham.

“There was a research opportunity with lesser prairie chickens in the southern High Plains,” Grisham said, “and that is why I am here, and that’s why I stayed.”

“We [Texas Tech] are the only University in the state that now has a completely field-based techniques class,” Grisham said.

I like to open it up so that the students know that I’m human.

Grisham’s passion for this course helps bring his students into an environment they are in control of and teach them hands-on field techniques.

“It gets them [students] to understand they are their own family,” Grisham said.

He enjoys teaching and helping students find their passion.

“Overall, the thing I enjoy most is all the students who now have meaningful careers,” Grisham said with a smile. “Those things stick with me.”

Grisham creates a lively environment in his classroom with his sense of humor and personality. Grisham enjoys making comical remarks and getting the class to join in on the fun.

“When I teach them how to use rocket nets with explosives in my wildlife techniques class, and see the looks on their faces, those are always memorable,” Grisham said.

  A student of his, Jane Donels, a senior at Texas Tech University from Dallas, Texas, had all positive things to say about Grisham.

“He is very intense and passionate,” Donels said. “He also admits to not knowing everything.”

Overall, Grisham is a fascinating and unique character who is living his dream every day. He started as a small-town kid, who now has many accomplishments furthering his career and helping his students follow their passions.

“I do not have a dream,” Grisham said. “I am living it out.”

Architecture, After Design

A

s everyone is seated, Jason Sowell stares out to the crowd of students and peers. The attendees are on the edge of their seats waiting to learn more about landscape architecture.

Sowell is a registered architect and a professor at Texas Tech University in the Department of Landscape Architecture. Sowell spearheaded the Texas Tech event, After Design, at the College of Architecture in April 2019. After Design is a symposium the role of management to students how architects think about how architects think about landscapes and the steps it takes to implement them long-term.

 “I invited a whole series of scholars and practitioners in the state of Texas, who are at the forefront of management concerns in a whole range of different landscapes,” Sowell said.

Sowell had help from his graduate student and communications manager, Justin Palacios, on this project. Palacios is handling the marketing and communications aspects of the event and has created groundwork for future events.

“This is a brand-new event that is going to become an annual event,” Palacios said. “So, I’m really trying to create a foundation for him.”

I invited a whole series of scholars and practitioners in the state of Texas.

Aside from After Design, Sowell also teaches landscape architecture studio classes where he helps students craft a variety of solutions to architectural problems or questions. During the spring 2019 semester, the students worked toward generating different scenarios on how downtown Lubbock can be redesigned to fit the city’s Draft Master Plan.

Jason Sowell PhD works in his landscape architecture design program to develop lesson plans for his students.

“The Draft Master Plan proposes to revitalize the downtown as a new place for commercial, residential and retail,” Sowell said.

Sowell has a passion for landscape architecture and plans to remain teaching students the proper curriculum. He will also continue working as a registered architect to help solve some of the leading issues in the industry. He resonates with nationally renowned landscape architecture icon, John Brinckerhoff Jackson, and supports his definition of landscape architecture.

“J.B. Jackson, who was a significant cultural historian of landscapes, asserted that landscape is, in essence, humanity taking upon themselves the responsibility to accelerate biophysical prophecies,” Sowell said. “It also means that there is a need to care for that landscape and manage it in order to achieve the goals and objectives that the cultural and social outline.”

Building a Rodeo Legacy

  • Members of the Texas Tech Rodeo Team come from all across North America. The rodeo life is part of their heritage and all have the goal to continue building Texas Tech’s legacy.
R

odeo is a tradition passed down from generation to generation. It is in their blood. For some Texas Tech Rodeo Team members, rodeo success is part of their heritage.

“My grandpa on my dad’s side is a world champion steer wrestler, and my Uncle on my mom’s side is a world champion tie down roper and team roper,” Rainy Robinson, a team member from Caldwell, Idaho majoring in agriculture economics said. “It was just bred into me, I guess.”

It was just bred into me, I guess.

The Texas Tech Rodeo Team is built on tradition, and the new coach, Jared Hofstetter, is coaching a team to carry on that legacy. The current team has many accolades under their belt buckles, including members participating in The American, members qualifying for the College National Finals Rodeo, and the reserve champion Southwest Region women’s team.

The Texas Tech Rodeo Team has also participated on the international stage. Kashley Seitz is a team member from Canada, she ropes and runs barrels. While in high school, she was the first Canadian to win the all-around title at the National Junior Highschool Finals. Shelby Spielman is a barrel racing, goat tying, roping team member that has more recently made her Canadian debut.

“Outside of college rodeo, my biggest accomplishment thus far would be that I qualified for the Canadian Finals Rodeo.” Spielman said, “And I also won a $20,000 slot race this past summer, which was cool.”

Spielman was also one of the three team members that competed at The American in February 2019.

Being a member of the rodeo team requires many hours of hard work and practice. The team spends at least three hours a day practicing on their own. They own their own horses and they spend a large majority of their time breaking and training them. Each member started this sport at an early age.

“Whenever I was old enough to start entering it just seemed like the natural thing for me to do, and I have been going to them ever since,” Seitz said.

The rodeo way of life brought many of the team members to Tech as they were recruited by the previous coach Stetson Corman.

“I also was very interested in going to Texas Tech because of the opportunity to get such a high-quality education at a high-quality university,” Seitz said.

Members of the Texas Tech Rodeo Team come from all across North America. The rodeo life is part of their heritage and all have the goal to continue building Texas Tech’s legacy.

Quality Over Quantity


Madison Ainsley, senior animal science student, gives a welcoming smile in front of the Texas Tech University entrance.
I

t is a feeling you simply cannot put into words. An overwhelming sense of home where a student feels like anything is possible. It is a feeling that cannot be described through an email, letter in the mail, or phone call, it just needs to be experienced. Texas Tech University has a strong reputation of giving students the feeling that this is exactly where they need to be when they step on campus. 

After Madison Ainsley, a senior animal science student, first visited Texas Tech College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources she knew it was exactly where she needed to continue her college education. 

“The CASNR community made it feel like it was their privilege to have me, and that was such a cool feeling,” Ainsley said. Without the students, CASNR would not be a successful program as it is today. Professors know it is their job to nourish and guide students so they are able to become the best version of themselves. 

“The saying that it takes a village to raise a kid was really true for me,” Ainsley said. “There were multiple people in my life who influenced me and helped raise me, and when I started walking around the agriculture department that is exactly what I felt, the village.” 

CASNR’s faculty and students make special efforts to ensure potential Red Raiders, and current students, feel welcomed and wanted. The people who make up CASNR want potential students to feel the way they felt when they first visited Texas Tech. Each faculty member and student holds a unique role within CASNR, which makes it a successful program. 

Mark Miller, professor in meat science, food processing and preservation for the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Texas Tech, said all he had to do when Ainsley came to visit Texas Tech was paint her a picture of what it was like to be here. 

“We want to pursue excellence, strive for honor, serve unselfishly, and know our teams are only as good as all the people on it,” Miller said when asked what he tells potential students when recruiting.  

After being a student at Texas Tech for three years, Ainsley has been able to witness the other side of the recruitment process and watch CASNR reach out to potential students. 

“It’s not because they want numbers or money,” Ainsley said. “It’s because they want the best, high quality kids.” Transferring from Texas A&M University after her first year, Ainsley has experienced being recruited by top-notch universities. When Ainsley was asked how CASNR’s recruitment process was different from others, she said she believes quality over quantity is what Texas Tech is doing, and that is what CASNR recruits. 

“Their growing numbers, in my opinion, is only proof that more kids want to be a part of such a successful program,” Ainsley said. One of Texas Tech’s strongest recruitment strategies is the ability to respond quickly.

“CASNR does an awesome job of being able to get acceptances back to students faster than any other university,” Miller said. 

CASNR recruits their students, like Ainsley, by giving a personal touch. Showing students they are cared for and wanted at a university with over 36,000 students is the best feeling when a student is about to move away from home. When Ainsley finally decided to visit Texas Tech, she said she felt cared for and wanted. Ainsley said as soon as she stepped onto Texas Tech’s campus, Miller took her under his wing and made her feel like she was already a student in CASNR.  

“I spent an entire year at a different college, and I would say at least 50 percent of my time I was still at that other college, I felt like I already belonged at Tech because that is how much people cared,” Ainsley said. 

Madison Ainsley with her guns up.
Madison Ainsley, senior at Texas Tech, throws her guns up in front of the animal science building where she has spent her time studying the past three years.

As a new student at a huge university like Texas Tech, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the large number of students. Being understood and known by professors is a high priority for many students, which is why the CASNR community takes time to develop a relationship with their students. 

“To be able to know them, their story, their family and their needs is what I love most about the CASNR community,” Miller said. “For a professor to be able to listen to their students personal goals, desires and dreams is what makes the CASNR community so special.”

Being a part of a family like CASNR is exactly what a potential Red Raider needs during their time at Texas Tech. The sense of belonging a student has when surrounded by a community who is always raising the bar is an indescribable feeling that pushes each individual to be their best. 

“They are the kind of people I aspire to be like,” Ainsley said.

“They foster such a positive environment that allows for each individual to grow on their own level and become a star in their own way.”

CASNR doesn’t expect you to fit a mold. They do not expect you to look or act a certain way. They want each individual to come and achieve their personal goals through their own methods. 

Miller said when he is able to speak as highly about his students as he does, it makes all the hard work worth it. 

“I don’t have to work ever because I get to work with amazing students,” Miller said. 

Having students like Ainsley and professors such as Miller is what makes CASNR, CASNR. 

“CASNR students have a high degree of integrity and honesty and at the end of the day, they want to be the best,” Miller said. “They have a big heart and are unselfish.”

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