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texas tech university | spring 2010

Tech grad leads Texas commodity groups Rathmann continues winning streak Record tying Ryan Gray

FEATURES Beyond the Red and Black with Ryan Gray 22 A Different Perspective on Agriculture 24 Building a Legacy 28 Living the American Dream 32

Table of Contents Thank you to our sponsors for supporting this issue of

The Agriculturist.

DEPARTMENTS Finding Balance Seeing Double in the AEC Department 6 “Ag”letes 8 The Flower Whisperer 10

Latest In Agriculture Wild Hogs: The True Story 14 Smart Crop 16

What’s Happening at Tech Red Raider Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 18 Tier One 20 CASNR Awards 21

Red Raider Families Go Get Lost in the Corn Maze 36 Honor. Heritage. History. 38

Also in this Issue College Survival Secrets 42 Floral Design for You 44 Behind the Mask with the Masked Rider 45 Message from the Dean 46 This issue also available on the Web:

Photo by Laramie Adams

On the cover: Lindsay West Kennedy of Texas Corn Producers Board and Peanut Producers Board. Photo by Rhea Lynn Leonard.

The Agriculturist is a student publication of the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications at Texas Tech University. Each semester, students enrolled in ACOM 4310: Development of Agricultural Publications produce this magazine from start to finish as part of their degree requirement.The magazine is funded solely by advertisers and sponsors and is a not-for-profit publication. spring 2010 |



Jennifer Blackburn


Rhea Lynn Leonard Brittni Drennan


Tracee Murph


Kayln Pearson

WEB EDITOR Rae Buchanan


(Back) Dr. David Doerfert, Samuel Petty, Brett Nelius, Rachel Bobbitt, Amanda Lima (Middle) Rhea Lynn Leonard, Kayln Pearson, Laramie Adams, Jennifer Blackburn (Front) Colleen Monroe, Brittni Drennan,Tracee Murph, Rae Buchanan Staff photos courtesy of Kristen Shaw

Laramie Adams Amanda Lima Colleen Monroe Brett Nelius Samuel Petty



s I look to our magazine layouts taped on the back wall of the classroom many of my classmates would call a second home this semester, one thing comes to mind—these stories represent the individuals that exemplify the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Tech Tech University. Whether they are administrators, professors, coaches, alumni or current students, all play a key role in the CASNR family. Devoting their way of life to agriculture, they represent the college with the utmost quality and integrity, and our staff is honored to highlight each of them. Producing The Agriculturist is an eminent tradition in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, and each year’s staff strives to make their issue better than the last. I would like to give a sincere thank you to my fellow classmates for all the hard work they dedicated in and out of the classroom to make this magazine the best it has ever been. I would also like to thank our professors Dr. David Doerfert and Rachel Bobbitt for their instruction, insight and some peacemaking along the way. It has been an honor to serve as editor for a quality publication that mirrors outstanding friends and colleagues, noteworthy leaders and the greatest college on campus. I hope you enjoy the magazine and learn something new within its pages. Sincerely,

spring 2010 |



finding balance


in the AEC Department

Story and Photos by Laramie Adams As students walk through the Agricultural Education and As she smiled, Wimmer added they were very involved in Communications Building, they may feel they are seeing the same FFA, and it was a motivating organization to be in while in high person in several locations. The reality is they are seeing two differ- school. The twins were proud to say they were both district FFA ent people who happen to look a lot alike. officers their senior year of high school. Wimmer was the district Courtney Meyers, a Texas Tech University agricultural compresident and Meyers was secretary. munications professor, and Gaea Wimmer, an agricultural educa“We did just about every event,” Wimmer said, “but it is funtion doctoral student and instructor, are twins in the Tech Agriny because the way our FFA events in Kansas were set up, they cultural Education and Communications Department. Meyers and would almost always have two events on the same day. I don’t Wimmer are more than just sisters; they are also best friends. know how it happened, but I would always do one event and “We don’t know what it is Courtney would do the other. like not to be a twin,” Meyers said. “One component of my teaching philosophy is student If I was doing horse judging, “It is always nice to have a friend she was judging dairy cattle.” success. I really want to make sure I can do whatever I can and someone to talk to. When Wimmer and Meyto help the students be successful.” Meyers and Wimmer grew ers finished high school FFA up in Fulton, Kan. During high judging, both of them had been school the twins were involved in involved in many of the events many of the same activities. They had many of the same classes and offered. Wimmer’s favorite competition was the agricultural sales the same friends, as well. Meyers and Wimmer were both involved career development event. Meyers was also on the team, which in the National FFA Organization through high school, and it’s won state, and they went to Louisville, Ky., for the National Agriobvious the twins have a strong passion for FFA. cultural Sales Career Development Event. “Gaea and I were FFA jocks—rock stars,” Meyers said Meyers enjoyed dairy cattle judging the most, and she won the with enthusiasm. state FFA dairy cattle judging competition her senior year. Meyers

GaeaWimmer (left) and Courtney Meyers (right) are a positive impact on the students in the department and college.

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finding balance calls winning the competition her unique fact of her high school FFA career. After high school, Meyers and Wimmer went to college at Kansas State Univerrsity. In 2003, Meyers earned her bachelor’ss degree in agricultural communications and journalism. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Meyers went to the University of Arkansas where she received her master’s degree in agricultural extension and education in 2005. She then went to the University of Florida where she obtained a doctorate in agricultural education and communication in 2008. Wimmer received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural education at Kansas State in 2003 and her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, secondary education, at Kansas State in 2006. She alsoo taught six years of high school agricultural education at Centre High School in Lost Springs, Kan. Meyers and Wimmer currently teach at Tech. Meyers started teaching as an assistant professor in fall 2008 and currently teaches three classes in the agricultural education and communications department. In fall 2009, Wimmer came to Tech to work on her doctorate and is currently an instructor in ag leadership. Meyers and Wimmer both said the faculty in the Tech Agricultural Education and Communications Department made them feel welcomed. “When I moved here, everyone was very nice in the department,” Meyers said. “They were eager to help when I needed to get settled.” After deep consideration and prying from her sister, Wimmer chose to come to Tech and credits her sister for a smooth transition. “For me, coming in and knowing people through Courtney made my transition easier,” Wimmer said. “The other graduate students have been really welcoming to me, and I was kind of worried about that, knowing I am related to a professor.” Meyers and Wimmer both said there is an advantage to being in the department. “If students are looking to come to Texas Tech,” Wimmer said from an instructor’s point of view, “they should know there are professors and other faculty in the department who really want them to be successful and accomplish their goals.” “We have four full time faculty in agricultural communications,” Meyers said, “and that is really the largest department, that I know of, that really emphasizes agricultural communications. We teach almost everything a student needs.” Meyers and Wimmer both see a certain quality in the students in the department.


“So many of the students come from a rural background and they are used to hard work,” Meyers said. “The students in the department are very respectful. The students have a mixture of hard work and respect that I really enjoy.” Students with experience from Wimmer’s class know she enjoys conversing with students outside of class. “The students that I am having the most fun with are the ones who have came to visit with me,” Wimmer said, excitedly. “It has been nice getting to know their faces, names and a little more about them.” Meyers and Wimmer have definitely proved themselves to be successful, and they have a proud family who supports them. Meyers is the wife of Daniel Meyers, and they are proud parents of Isabel Ashley. Meyers is a member of several professional societies including the American Association of Agricultural Educators and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. She has also won many awards including the Raiders Who Rock award in 2009 and the Best Research Article in 2006. Wimmer has also won several awards throughout her educational career. She was awarded the Kansas Association of Career and Technical Education–Outstanding New Career and Technical Educator award in 2008. She also won the National Association of Agricultural Educators Region II Outstanding Young Member award in 2009. Meyers and Wimmer share many of the same hobbies, music and venues in Lubbock. They both enjoy teaching classes, watching television, reading books and going shopping. Meyers and Wimmer both have a certain tenacity and passion that comes out when they talk about teaching along with basic teaching philosophies they use in their careers. “One component of my teaching philosophy is student success,” Wimmer said. “I really want to make sure I can do whatever I can to help the students be successful.” Meyers encourages students to learn how to succeed in the classroom. “One of my underlying principles is self efficacy,” Meyers said. “I want all students to feel like they can do it. My goal is to present the information, challenge students to learn, practice learning, and then someday I want the students to say ‘Yes, I know how to do that.’” Meyers and Wimmer both share many of the same beliefs. The twins are a true example of success, and they are definitely a positive addition to the department. They have both showed extreme dedication to their educational careers, and this is what makes them beneficial to the university. A G

spring 2010 |



finding balance

“Ag”letes Story and Photos by Brett Nelius

notes for travel to the professors on time and put forth the effort, you’re fine.” “Time is an issue when you’re an athlete,” Knight explains. “You have to get used to starting projects earlier and spending more time studying because you have to practice and travel, and it all requires your focus.” Taylor Lytle, a junior animal science major from Las Cruces, N.M., has many things in common with Knight. She is currently on the soccer team and chose Tech over schools like Nevada, Arizona and the University of New Mexico because she wanted to make an impact. Lytle starts in the attacking mid position while balancing a full course load and practice. In the past, she has had to spend seven days of a two-week period on the road, and some of those days are during the school week. However, it takes more than that to slow Lytle down. Her biggest hurdle was when she tore her ACL, forcing her to redhe College of Agricultural Sci- maintained a 3.94 GPA. She even came shirt her freshman year. ences and Natural Resources back and competed after the fact. “It took me six months to get over that at Texas Tech University is not Knight was recruited to compete on and even more to rebuild all the muscle.” really known for having an abundance of the track team, and Tech had to fight off Lytle’s major requires her to take many student athletes, but in actuality, CASNR other schools in the Big 12 as well as other challenging classes like biology, chemistry has the athletic cream of the crop. conference schools to win Knight over. From former starting linemen to However, at the end of the recruiting war, and animal production, almost all of which record setting shot put throwers, CASNR Knight insisted she was drawn to Tech and have required extensive labs. She also has practice has an increasing number of athletes. has not looked back since. every day during the fall They must balance school work, Knight still holds e with practice, training, volunteer work and both the indoor and w drills on some days and conditioning on the others. traveling every week, all while maintaining outdoor track and field c “Time management is a healthy GPA. shot put records at Tech my These athletes may not always be with a throw recorded at m biggest challenge,” Lytle said. recognized in the college, but they are 57 feet 11 inches. s “I may leave on the weekend and take my comrespected student athletes both on and off She has had the opw puter, but when I get there, the field. portunity to compete p I’m Patience Knight, a senior double ma- in over eight states and I in the game.” As of September, Lytle joring in range management and wildlife despite missing classes led management from San Antonio, Texas, due to travel, she has a l the Big 12 in assists and had two goals recorded. has had her fair share of challenges while great relationship with her professors, After competing on the field, Lytle attending Tech. especially in CASNR. enjoys returning home to her professors Knight was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s “Everyone is very laid back in the and friends in CASNR. lymphoma her sophomore year and still college,” she said. “As long as you get your


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finding balance


I loved the teachers I had in Ag economics and am proud of getting a degree from the college. “It’s nice to show up in class and have Dr. Jackson joke around a bit about how I did in the game.” Even on the football field, CASNR is well represented. Stephen Hamby earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Economics as well as a Big 12 honorable mention for his athletic performance. “I loved the teachers I had in agriculture economics and am proud of getting a degree from the college,” he said. Since graduating, Hamby has been training to play in the NFL and has traveled to train with teams from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans. Aside from a degree in agriculture, Hamby has learned to excel in any circumstance and credits his Texas Tech roots for teaching him that.

“It’s kind of what we do here at Tech,” Hamby said. “We destroy our competition.” All of these student athletes have proven themselves as some of the toughest and brightest in CASNR, and although

most spectators don’t link CASNR students with athletics, they have certainly proven themselves both on and off the field adding to CASNR’s outstanding reputation campus wide. A G

(Bottom Left) CASNR alum Stephen Hamby wore number 71 on the football field for the Red Raiders. Photo provided. (Right) When not at soccer practice,Taylor Lytle heads into the Animal and Food Sciences Building to spend time studying.

spring 2010 |



finding balance

The Flower Whisperer A Texas Tech bright, shining legend

Story and Photos by Colleen Monroe


JudithWilmington has spent many hours in the horticulture gardens making it a campus attraction.

pon entering Judith Wilmington’s office, students are immediately greeted by her friendly smile, the same smile many experience their first day of floral design class as she radiates with warmth and love. Like a flower herself, she is bright, happy and vibrant. It’s appropriate her home at Texas Tech University is in the Horticulture Gardens. Wilmington began teaching floral design and managing the Tech Greenhouse in 1999, a dream job as she describes it. From the time she started, she began working to promote and revamp the Greenhouse. “I looked at it as a special project,” Wilmington said. “We called it the secret garden because a lot of work had gone on, and nobody knew about it. Plus, we’re slightly hidden.” By the early 2000s the horticulture department had expanded significantly. The university spent $200,000 fixing the greenhouse. They added a new classroom, several labs in order to support the number of students, and added the Flower Show for Floral Design.

10 | the agriculturist

“The flower show is a wonderful advance for the school of agriculture. It shows a variety of things you can do in the college,” said Wilmington. “The college is special because it’s not huge. You are a person. You really have an identity, and I feel our atmosphere is open and friendly.” Mallory Dyess, a recent agricultural communications graduate, said Wilmington was one of the friendliest professors she had during her time at Tech. “Her passion for flowers and design came through during her classes,” Dyess said. “I could tell she thoroughly enjoyed teaching us the subject and managing the greenhouse.” What Wilmington said she enjoys most is time spent working with her students. “When teaching floral design, the best is when a student turns around with a look on their face and says, ‘I get it,’ and they light up. That’s the neatest thing,” said Wilmington.

finding balance


Christina Conway, a Tech alumna, remembers her time in floral design. “Judith had such a great attitude about designing that it made me want to appreciate flowers the way she does and create something I would be proud of,” Conway said. “This was a class where I could go and enjoy myself; it wasn’t about making an A. “She made it a class where we could all be creative and enjoy flowers in a completely different form.” Appreciating flowers is something Wilmington has been doing since she was a child in Denver, Colo. “From the time I was a tiny kid, I loved flowers,” Wilmington said. “I grew up gardening with my grandmother.” “My love of flowers just grew bigger. I have a pretty positive attitude and, flowers give me that,” she said with a laugh. “Some people love dogs; I love flowers.” Love for flowers was passed down to Wilmington and has been passed down another generation to her sons James, Michael and Robert, who all enjoyed gardening as kids. Wilmington and her husband, Orville, of 50 years are proud to share 10 grandchildren now who are dabbling in floral design, as well. house in order to enjoy her family more and remain doing the Wilmington graduated from the College of Agricultural Scithings she loves like floral design and other hobbies. ences and Natural Resources in 1997 and was able to share some Wilmington said she wants to put together a family history of her time on campus with her son, James. book for her children and grandchildren so they will know exactly “It was a delight to be on where they came from and who campus with my son,” she said. “Judith had such a great attitude about design- their family members are. “My kids are so encouraging Wilmington will also and so proud.” ing that it made me want to appreciate flowers continue doing photography She said one of her proudand writing poetry, which she the way she does and create something I would makes bookmarks from and est days was her own graduation. Her sons and six of the sells for a small profit. be proud of.” grandchildren were there, In her spare time she dressed in red and black with will volunteer at several their guns up, supporting their flower shops on the weekends mother and grandmother. to teach floral design or answer customer questions on the Wilmington plans to retire in December after 11 subject. She said she wants to help people with plants because years teaching floral design and managing the greenhorticulture has been so good to her, and she wants to spread that knowledge to others. Many students, faculty and staff are sad Judith will no longer be working in CASNR, but most feel proud to have been able to take her classes or simply know her. She gave most a newfound love for flowers that many would not have discovered if not for her own enthusiasm for the subject. Just like a flower, she has brightened many lives and will continue to do so with all those that cross her path in the future. A


Judith works with many flower varieties. spring 2010 |


{ AG

latest in agriculture



exas is becoming a pigsty. Over two million feral hogs call this state their home, but there’s just one problem–they do not want to share the land. Sus scrofa is the scientific name for the furry hogs that continually root up the land across the state. The hogs ruin fences, tear up landscape and even destroy crops and livestock. Originally, these creatures were not thought of as destructive. The feral hog is actually a relative of those found in Spain, and the Spanish brought them to Texas as explorations began, accidentally releasing them into the wild. Three hundred years later, the feral hog population has grown similar to the population of Texas. Of the 254 counties in Texas, 225 have verified reports of hog populations in their area. According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, of the four million estimated feral hogs in the United States, almost half are bedding down in the Lone Star state. Some residents don’t seem to notice the hogs while others are constantly frustrated by the havoc they reek. Lee Ueckert, a resident in Austin county, knows firsthand the problems these pigs cause. “I try to manage parts of the land for wildlife and the other part for our cattle, and the hogs don’t care,” he said. “They will tear up the pastures, fences and feeders.” Feral hogs prefer warm, moist areas but these tough animals have been able to adapt to areas all over the state. These areas include brush, prairie and even

14 | the agriculturist

desert regions, making the hog very difficult to control. One reason land owners and the state want to control the population is due to rapid herd growth. The average sow or female can begin producing offspring as early as seven months of age. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, mature females will have up to two litters per year and some can live to be eight years old. The greatest concern associated with these hogs is the damage they cause. State funded studies estimate annual damage by feral hogs to be close to $52 million. “It gets old buying new fencing and even deer corn when the hogs ruin all of it,” said Ueckert. As the numbers increase, so does the amount the state spends trying to control the population and understand how to prevent further damage. In 2006 the state of Texas spent approximately $7 million on various forms of control and educational programs to help Texans find some sort of relief. Texans can do several things to help control the populations and reduce damage done to their property. The most expensive way to control hogs is by a process called exclusion. Exclusion involves building sound, mesh fences to keep hogs out of property and even electrifying these fences. Unfortunately, the Texas Department of Agriculture regards this as only a temporary fix. Another method is to trap or snare hogs. Some Texans don’t want to kill the hogs on their land, so trapping is a fairly easy alternative. Trapping

Texas has seen an incresas in the feral hog population in recent years. Photo by Patrick Lamont. allows land owners to capture hogs in a natural manner. Then, they can be relocated with the help of the Texas Animal Health Commission. The most popular way to control hog populations is hunting. Many people envision traditional hunting methods of control involving camouflage and tracking these animals, but even these methods are not enough considering the size and rapid herd growth. Land owners are now hiring crews to fly helicopters and fixed wing aircraft to hunt down and shoot many hogs at once. These methods are expensive yet effective at thinning populations in a short amount of time. Each of these methods have pros and cons but all Texans should take into consideration that these hogs are wild, unruly animals, and people should use caution in their presence because they are dangerous. Hogs have been known to drive hunters, farmers and ranchers up trees. The animals can range in size from a mediumsized dog to as large as a horse. The growing concern of Texas residents has not gone unheard. The good news is, the state and its residents are working together to solve this problem as quickly as possible. A G


latest in agriculture

Story and Photos by Amanda Lima

In the arid, dusty winds of West Texas, many farmers face the ever-present challenges of irrigation. The questions arise of when to irrigate, how much to irrigate and how can this be done in the most efficient way. These questions are now being answered by Smartfield, a Lubbock agritech company, and its innovative products such as SmartCrop, SmartRate and SmartWeather. The SmartCrop® system is an irrigation management tool that monitors the stress levels each crop may undergo. The main focus is to monitor the plant’s canopy temperature, a temperature that if exceeded for an extended period of time will cause the plant to stress and can begin to negatively affect the plant. Researchers and producers are using this new instrument to maintain an irrigation schedule that will give the crop water when it is the most critical time and turn off the water at times when it is not

Photo by Neal Hinkle

16 | the agriculturist

needed. It is a simple and affordable way to maximize profits while saving water. This innovative system will allow producers and researchers to study and examine irrigation strategies based on the immediate needs of the plant within the growing season. It will also help to make a correlation between each plant and the critical times when water is needed. Smartfield’s SmartCrop system uses infrared temperature sensors to collect canopy temperature data from each individual crop. This data is then sent to the solar-powered base controller every 15 minutes. The base controller has the convenience of operating under solar power but can be battery powered if needed. The base controller of the system then compares the crop canopy temperatures to the crop’s known optimum temperature to determine if the crop is experiencing any levels of water stress. Finally, the data are sent to Smartfield’s Web site and reported in a simple graph format that shows varying levels of stress. The producer has many options to utilize this data like receiving the simplest text message that reads IRRIGATE, to receiving an e-mail and logging in daily to view the stress and temperature graphs for each individual sensor. Thanks to Smartfield, the SmartCrop system has evolved into a more compact, convenient and cost-efficient tool through its generations. The SmartCrop system is now

wireless, sturdier, smaller and less expensive than the previous prototypes. Dr. James Mahan, a plant physiologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service explores the science behind the devices. Dr. Mahan invented and patented the original SmartCrop system in 1996. The following three years the product seemed to simply sit on the shelf. “Now, the USDA owns the patent and greatly supports the product,” Mahan explained. The SmartCrop system has come a long way in its evolution. In the beginning, the infrared sensors were more than $500, and relied on bulky wiring. The current cost of a SmartCrop sensor is around $20. “What used to be the most expensive part of the system is now the most inexpensive and are conveniently disposable,” according to Mahan. Producer Glenn Schur of Plainview,Texas, explained that the new technology enabled them to reduce the cost of the new system. Schur went on to explain that he has saved irrigation water each season for the past five years. “Depending on the cost of energy, it has saved us anywhere from $10 to $16 per acre inch each year,” he said. Schur has four sensors attached to each of the two different base controllers on his farmland. He says he checks his graphs online at least two times per day.

latest in agriculture

Dr. James Mahan sets up a SmartCrop system.

Smartfield has added other products that are compatible with the SmartCrop system such as SmartRate and SmartWeather. These products are capable of monitoring weather conditions and additional irrigation systems. The SmartRate helps the producer manage an underground drip irrigation system. It collects constant flow rates and

pressure measurements for the irrigation system every five seconds. The data is sent to the Smartfield Web site and graphed in one minute increments. The producer has the same options to receive the information and data gathered, whether it is directly from the Web site or by text message. The SmartRate helps the producer evaluate the performance of drip irrigation systems and gives producers the capability to take appropriate action long before any damage occurs to the crop. Over extended time periods, a multi-year analysis can be done to determine how the irrigation system is performing. SmartWeather is a remote weather station that can provide the producer or researcher with the exact weather data in a certain location. It uses the Smartfield base station hardware to collect environmental data from the field. The system collects temperature, humidity, wind


speed and direction, solar radiation, and barometric pressure. All data SmartWeather gathers are uploaded to the Smartfield Web site. The information can be reviewed or downloaded into a printable spreadsheet. Taber Black, the marketing director for Smartfield, said the $2,600 cost includes everything a producer needs to run a quarter-section field. It comes with two sensors, a base station, a relative humidity pod, and a rain gauge, each capable of running up to 16 sensors, according to Black. Smartfield is also planning to produce a smaller unit targeting the average household front and back yards. They plan to make versions that will allow the user to choose the lawn or plant species they are watering on a digital menu display. Smartfield is currently working with Schur and other farmers to refine the SmartCrop system and to find new ways to address water, energy and climate changes. A G

spring 2010 |



what’s happening at Tech

Red Raider Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Story and Photos by Tracee Murph


ost people have heard of the three Rs to save the planet: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. In 2007, one College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources student brought this slogan to Texas Tech University. Axum Teferra, a senior at the time, majoring in environmental conservation of natural resources, came up with the idea to employ a recycling program on campus as a class project. While taking a class toward her major, Teferra was assigned to come up with an environmental issue and create a solution proposal for it. During her PowerPoint presentation of the project, her professor engaged in her ideas and suggested she present it to Tech for actual consideration. She said she didn’t know where to start, so she got together with a classmate who was in the Student Government Association. Suzette Matthews, SGA internal vice president, passed the idea along to the graduate and professional affairs vice president Scott Gorenc. Gorenc liked her idea and set up a meeting with Teferra, the Tech physical plant, and himself. The physical plant staff was open to the idea and began a recycling route on the majority of campus, picking up recyclable materials. By September of that year, recycling bins for paper materials were placed in all the academic buildings on campus. After being collected by physical plant employees, recyclable paper was then taken to storage. Once the storage bins filled up with paper, they were picked up and purchased by a recycling center. The initial plan excluded residence halls, cafeterias, the Student Union Building and athletic event centers, but due to its

18 | the agriculturist

success and student drive, the program has expanded to include those places, as well. Several departments around campus worked to make the program more visible and accessible to students, faculty and staff in order to help decrease the amount of materials taken to landfills. University Student Housing purchased 25 recycling stations with different labeled slots for plastics, paper and aluminum for each of the residence hall lobbies and individual floors. There are also bins in the student union. The university student housing and hospitality departments are working on other areas to encourage green living, as well. The focus is on making Tech a more sustainable campus, which will conserve money and energy and create a better environment for students. Everything from the Green Seal certified paint on the walls, to the door mats made from recycled rubber, and plastic drink bottles are designed for sustainability. Automatic flush toilets and water faucets, paper-towel dispensers, and even toilet paper dispensers replaced traditional ones in the bathrooms to meet the goal of reducing the use of resources. Plastic laundry detergent containers can be recycled in special bins in the laundry rooms of each residence hall. Hospitality services has partnered with a local biodiesel company to recycle the grease from frying foods and turn it into something useful, as well. As students moved into the dorms for the fall 2009 semester they started their college careers off green by recycling over 12 tons of cardboard. A company called Green Queens removed the campus cardboard and took it to Hurley Packaging to be made into egg crates.

what’s happening at Tech


As the concept of going green becomes even more popular and widespread, Tech’s recycling program will likely expand. There is a cardboard baler and compactor at Murray Hall, and Student Housing has hopes for Tech’s own recycling center on campus some day. A


Top 8 tips for going green 1. First things first, a little R & R & R. Reducing the amount that we consume, and shifting our consumption to well-designed products and services, is the first step.

2. Know what you can and can’t recycle. Read up on the recycling rules for your area and make sure you don’t send anything in that can’t be processed. Each city has its own specifics, so try to follow those guidelines as best you can.

3. Buy recycled. The essence of recycling is the cyclical movement of materials through the system. Look for the recycling symbol on the paper, glass and plastic products you buy.

4. Encourage an artist. If you know someone interested in making art from recycled materials, offer to provide supplies.

5. Recycle your water. Buy a rain barrel and water your lawn and garden with stored rain water.

6. Recycle your greenery. Composting is one of the simplest and most effective recycling methods. Both your garden cuttings and your green kitchen waste can go into an outdoor or indoor composter.

7. Recycle your robots. Electronics recycling is becoming more common in many urban areas, battery recycling is everywhere and there are a number of non-profit organizations that will take computer parts and turn them into working computers for others.

8. If you don’t love something, let it go. Lots of charities welcome your donations. Give away clothes that don’t fit, the boxes you used in your last house move, or scented soaps that don’t appeal to your sensibilities.

spring 2010 |



what’s happening at Tech

Tier One The Pride Tech Wants to Achieve Story and Photo by Laramie Adams


exas Tech University has started implementing plans to reach Tier One status, which will designate Tech as a national research university. Officials and employees at Tech are enthusiastic about plans set to reach such a prestigious status. “It is important for us to become a Tier One university because it validates that we are a top research university,” Tech Chancellor Kent Hance said. “We will receive the Tier One status by improving the amount of money we spend on research.” In 2009, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 51 in a unanimous vote in the House and the Senate. The bill set up criteria which will allow one or more of seven Texas schools to become a Tier One university. The bill proposed six criteria for becoming a national research university. For a school to achieve the status, they must meet four of the six criteria. Robert Duncan, a Texas State Senator representing west Texas, aided in passage of House Bill 51. “I think the Tier One bill was one of the most impactful bills we passed this past legislature,” Duncan said. “My name is not on the bill, but we implanted it into House Bill 51, and then we had to stick it on an eminent domain bill as a constitutional amendment and got it passed. It was significant to higher education in Texas and to Texas Tech as a top research university.” One piece of the Tier One legislation created the national research university fund. Money from the fund could be used to benefit Tech if they achieve the national research status. “The fund allows money stranded in a separate fund to be used by schools that meet certain standards,” Hance said. “Tech, in my opinion, has the best chance of meeting all the requirements first. The fund is about $500 million, and it will spin off about $25 million a year. That money would be able to go to the new research universities.” Increased research funding has been implemented to help achieve Tier One status, and Taylor Eighmy was hired as the new vice president of research to oversee the research plan is accomplished. Tech officials have also been working to recruit professors who will bring research dollars to the university. “The key is building our research, and that involves recruiting more graduate students who are vital to running the labs,” said Sally Post, Tech director of communications and marketing. “We are also recruiting researchers who are tops in their field and who will bring research money with them.” One criteria set to reach Tier One status is the number of doctoral degrees awarded must top 200 in each of the previous two years. Tech has awarded just less than that in the past two years, and graduate programs have been increased this past year.

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Chancellor Kent Hance

Russ Bookbinder, Tech’s vice chancellor, said the university has almost reached that goal. “We are very close to reaching over 200 doctoral degrees,” Bookbinder said, “and we have been close to that on an annual basis.” Hance stated confidently he believes Tech might reach the Tier One status in as soon as three years or maybe six at the most. “You can get as good of an education at Texas Tech as you can anywhere in the nation,” Hance said, “but for us to become a top research university we need to get the Tier One status. This has been one of my top priorities at Tech.” A G

Tier One Update Texas Tech is advancing toward the achievement of the Tier One goal. In a statewide election on Nov. 3, voters approved Proposition 4, which created the National Research University Fund (NRUF). To qualify for these funds,Tech must meet minimum levels in the areas of restricted research funds, number of Ph.D. students, Phi Beta Kappa/ARL status, and have an endowment of $400 million. In addition,Tech will need to meet certain quality levels for faculty, undergraduate and graduate programs. At the time of this article, Tech had already achieved several of these criteria.

what’s happening at Tech


2009 CASNR Award Winners The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources annually recognizes faculty and staff by giving eight college awards. The recipients are chosen by the administrative council. Each department chair nominates one person from their department for each award. The CASNR awards started in the 2005-2006 academic school year and the research staff award began in the 2008-2009. Each recipient receives a crystal memento along with a cash award.

Research Award Thomas Knight

Agricultural and Applied Economics

Junior Faculty Award Scott Burris

Ag. Education & Communications

Service/Outreach Award Phillip Johnson

Agricultural and Applied Economics

Student Advising Award Cindy Akers

Ag. Education & Communications

Instructor Award Erica Irlbeck

Ag. Education & Communications

Ryan Rathmann Animal & Food Sciences

Teaching Award Todd Brashears

Ag. Education & Communications

Samuel Jackson Animal & Food Sciences

Research Staff Award Philip Brown

Plant & Soil Sciences

spring 2010 |


Beyond the RED and BLACK with RYAN GRAY Photos and Story by Amanda Lima

It’s July 31, 2009, in Eagle, Colo. Ryan Gray’s normal routine of preparing mentally and physically is fiercely tested by the unfriendly and extreme weather. Ryan is focused on making a good ride by trusting his skills, ability and equipment, all the while the rain is pouring down. What happens next is unpredictable. How Ryan got to this moment is not.


ince Ryan got on his first calf at only 5-years-old, his dreams of riding broncs grew stronger with every ride, especially considering his family’s history in rodeo. “I’ve been around rodeo since I was a little kid.” Ryan said. “I had an uncle that used to ride bareback horses, and I loved watching him ride.” Ryan remembers how exciting his first professional rodeo was when he was only 18 and still in high school.Ryan had the opportunity to ride in Spokane, Wash., with all the guys he looked up to like Marvin and Mark Garrett, Clint Corey and other cowboys he grew up watching on TV. “It was amazing to not only be at the same rodeo,” Ryan said, “but also compete with such talent as them.”

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Without hesitation, Ryan appreciatively said his parents, Kevin and Deb, were his greatest influences. “They were the ones that taught me to take everything seriously and always give more than 100 percent effort at any task.” In addition to all of the moral support, Ryan’s parents spent countless hours and miles driving Ryan to and from each rodeo from his first event as a young boy all the way through his high school rodeo career. After high school, Ryan was determined to find a college that would provide both a good educational foundation and a reputable rodeo team. Ryan chose to attend Odessa College to rodeo and study business management. There, he began dating Lacy Bohlander during his freshman year.

After rodeoing together and dating for two years, the couple decided to get their bachelor’s degrees at Texas Tech. He thoroughly enjoyed his professors in CASNR while majoring in agricultural leadership, and he continued to ride for the Tech rodeo team. “To my surprise,” Ryan said, “each teacher was friendly and willing to work with me and my rodeo schedule.” Despite the difficulty of missing classes due to rodeos, Ryan viewed college as he would a business. “You have to be organized and learn to balance your school schedule with your personal life, regardless,” Ryan said. During Ryan’s last year of college he proposed to his college sweetheart, Lacy, and they married May 20, 2006, in Phoenix, Ariz. Ryan graduated from Tech in December of 2006 and has since been hitting the road hard. Lacy works around her own busy schedule of owning her own custom jewelry and purse business in order to attend Ryan’s rodeos and cheer from the stands. Despite not being able to have his wife by his side at every event, Ryan travels with the best of bareback riders and some of his best friends. Ryan said he cannot remember a rodeo this year that at least one of his traveling partners didn’t win or at least place. “When you are around guys that are constantly winning, you just can’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself, even if you are going through a rough time,” Ryan said.

The traveling team’s positive attitude, upbeat personality and winning mentality rub off on each other. “The people you surround yourself with are the people who encourage you the most.” The rain continued to pour on that dark Colorado night as Ryan mounted his horse. He squeezed his legs around the mare as he felt her tighten up followed by his flank strap. As the chute gate opened, the mare headed out challenging Ryan with every move, which was more than he expected. Despite the miserable weather conditions, Ryan held on with control and stayed in sync with the mare. As the eight-second whistle blew, Ryan leaped over to the safety of the pick up men. He quickly ran to retrieve his soaking wet equipment from the other side of the flooded arena and headed to covered shelter. Ryan waited with anticipation for the announcer to say his score. In all his years of riding he had never heard a crowd cheer so loud and enthusiastically. Ryan made history that day. “I knew it was a good ride, but I had no idea I just tied the bareback world record with a 94-point ride.” A

Ryan scored an amazing 89.5 on Knight Rocket landing him 2nd place in the 10th and final round of the 2008 National Finals Rodeo (NFR). Photo provided by Ryan Gray.

Also at the 2008 NFR, Ryan placed 3rd with an 86.5 ride in the 6th round on Power Play, a bronc owned by Sammy Andrews Rodeo Company. Photo provided by Ryan Gray.

“You just can’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself, even if you are going through a rough time.”


spring 2010 |


A Different



Agriculture Story and Photos by Rhea Lynn Leonard

24 | the agriculturist


exas commodity groups strive to develop and maintain opportunities for producers while also working to educate consumers about the importance of the agriculture industry. Among these commodity groups, a Texas Tech University agricultural communications graduate is heading communication efforts throughout the state of Texas. Lindsay West Kennedy is the communications director for both the Texas Corn Producers Board (TCPB) and the Texas Peanut Producers Board (TPPB). Upon graduating from the University of Arkansas in May 2005, Kennedy headed 600 miles west and decided to begin a new adventure at Tech to obtain a master’s degree in agricultural communications. After meeting a group of Tech students at a professional development conference hosted by Arkansas, she visited Lubbock and loved everything about it. “It was one of those things that hits you like a rock,” Kennedy said. “I knew very quickly Tech was where I was going to continue my education.” After graduating from Tech with her master’s degree in December 2006, Kennedy returned to Arkansas

to start her career by helping to establish a regional agricultural newspaper called Ozark Farm and Neighbor–Arkansas. She gained valuable experience as the publication’s managing editor and worked to develop the paper’s circulation. Although she was able to begin her career in her hometown of Prairie Grove, Ark., where her family has farmed since 1860, Kennedy knew she still had unfinished business in Texas. When the communications director position at the Texas Corn Producers Board and Texas Peanut Producers Board came open, she applied. “I threw my hat in the arena to see what would happen,” Kennedy said as she chuckled. “The next thing I knew, I was moving back to Lubbock.” Kennedy has now handled the media and public relations for both Texas commodity check off boards for just over two years. She maintains both organizations’ Web sites, writes press releases, attends farm shows and

“It’s one of those things that hits you like a rock. I knew very quickly Tech was where I was going to continue my education.”

spring 2010 |


coordinates with communicators from each commodity’s respective national organization. In addition, she also spends time educating consumers and children about the importance of agriculture. TCPB and TPPB strive to provide producers with better market opportunities, better crop varieties, and to help the corn and peanut industries succeed at the state level. The voluntary corn and peanut check off programs use producers’ dollars for research, promotion and education. Kennedy said both boards allocate a considerable amount of their yearly budgets to fund research aimed at developing varieties that produce better in the unique and diverse Texas growing conditions. The research dollars ultimately help farmers to be more efficient in growing crops, which allows them to maximize their profits. “We want our growers to have a good crop and be able to make the most out of it every year,” Kennedy said. “As a check off board, we provide the organizational support to help extend their opportunities in the market place.” It’s Kennedy’s job to make sure the public has a positive image of the corn and peanut industries. She said the general public is becoming increasingly less educated about agriculture, often not realizing their food comes from a farm rather than a grocery store. Getting the message out to the public is very important and rewarding when they grasp the importance of agriculture, she said.

“It’s a tall mountain to climb,” Kennedy said. “However, it’s what makes my job fun and challenging.” Marie Hefley, a senior agricultural communications major from Texline, Texas, is the communication intern for Texas Corn and Peanut Producers. “Lindsay is an amazing person, very knowledgeable, and makes my job not only a learning experience, but very fun and enjoyable, as well, ” Hefley said. “She is very professional, but also a great friend.” Hefley works for Kennedy and helps do various office work, keeps up with industry news and other necessary tasks. Hefley said she enjoys her internship, and it has been very rewarding. As Hefley smiled, she said this internship has been a great learning experience, and she continues to learn about the industry each and every day. Kennedy enjoys working in the agricultural industry in Texas. After being gone from the great state of Texas, she was glad to come back. With a smile on her face, she said it was one on the best decisions she ever made because she ended up meeting her husband, Byron. “Texas has a sense of adventure that I love,” Kennedy said. “I’ve learned a different way of agriculture, different perspectives, and every day brings a new challenge to communicate the great things agriculture does for our country.” A

“I’ve learned a different way of agriculture, different perspectives and every day brings a new challenge to communicate the greatest things agriculture does for our country.”

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Building a Legacy Story and Photos by Jennifer Blackburn


n a cool November evening in 2004, collegiate livestock judging teams and coaches from all over the United States made final preparations for the most influential day of their collegiate judging careers—the national championship at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky. 28 | the agriculturist

Ryan Rathmann, coaching at Texas A&M University at the time, had to make the decision which five team members from a total of 13 would have the opportunity to represent their university the following day. He stayed up the entire night praying and worrying about which five he would choose to compete. One member, Dustin Warren, had not performed well in practice during the road trip from College Station, Texas, to Louisville, but from a compelling notion within, Ryan woke Warren at five in the morning the day of the contest, looked him straight in the eyes and asked if it was his day. Ryan said Warren always knew when he was ready, and he never had anyone look at him the way Warren did that morning. Warren exceeded expectation and the team won. After the banquet, Warren called his mom, overwhelmed with emotion, and told her it was the best day of his life. Ryan, with tears in his eyes, said, “I will never forget that day.” Ryan’s success is truly measured by the philosophy that teams are remembered by how they finish the year in Louisville. He said his greatest hope for team members is their experience and accomplishments from livestock judging will promote greater success and character development later in life.

Background Ryan developed his own passion for production agriculture at a young age as he grew up on a cow calf operation in Bastrop, Texas. His dream as a young boy was to attend veterinarian school. However, he said he reevaluated his career plan and turned to mentor Dr. Chris Skaggs, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M, who prompted his interest in teaching at the university level. Another influential mentor to Ryan is his own father-in-law, Norman Kohls, who Ryan describes as an outstanding animal breeder and a man of vision because he always thinks about the future in his decisions. Ryan married Norman’s daughter Kayla, coordinator of student and alumni programs in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences

“Ryan’s success is only due to those who chose to follow him, which is a true testament to the legacy he is creating.”

Camaraderie Two years later, Ryan made the transition from Aggie to Red Raider, but his goals and objectives have undoubtedly remained the same. “What I enjoy the most,” he said, “is the development of relationships with members from my teams.” “I’m still young, so I have accumulated a network of over 70 kids that I have mutual respect and friendship with,” he said. “I would stand behind any of them and hope they would do the same for me.” Ryan has coached teams for six years now, and each have won the national title—giving him the honor of becoming the most successful collegiate livestock judging coach of all time. Dr. Scott Schakke, coach at Kansas State University, was tied with Ryan for the most Louisville wins until last fall when Ryan’s team clenched a sixth national title, but in retrospect, no other coach has gone undefeated like Ryan. Not to mention, since his tenure at Tech, he has coached three consecutive national champion meat animal evaluation teams.Yet, even with tremendous success, his peers admire his selflessness. “I try to conduct myself with more humility and always prioritize the interest of students to a much greater degree than myself,” he said. “I firmly believe there is more support for the judging teams at Tech than any other university in the nation. Students are put first here.”

Ryan taking k reasons from f 2009 Nationall Champion Ch team member. b spring 2010 |


has made a tremendous impact on his life and still continues to do so today, even as contemporaries. “As a coach now, I’m still in awe of the passion Ryan holds for livestock judging,” he said. “There are very few that have shared the same passion he does.” “Even now, it is like Ryan is my coach, and when we work our teams out together, I still try to absorb as much knowledge as I can from him.” Family “Ryan’s success is only Ryan’s greatest support due to those who chose to comes from his wife who said follow him, which is a true early in their relationship, she testament to the legacy he is made that commitment to help creating,” he said. him be successful. “From a university “I do a lot of work behind standpoint, he’s invaluable. the scenes, whether it is helping It’s not the fact the university with admission applications, is getting exposure from a scholarships, internships, or successful livestock team. The simply being a cheerleader,” fact is they’re getting a good she said. “The night before a person too.” contest, I always ask how he’s Wilson said Ryan has feeling and make sure I have intelligently surrounded positive, uplifting things to say Ryan with wife Kayla and daughter Kinlee Ryan. himself with good people to him. I don’t think people understand how truly stressed out he gets, but his faith really pulls at Tech and is trying to show Tech is a place with world class education and an outstanding agriculture setting. him through in some tough times.” In the future, Ryan said he hopes to make Tech the best Ryan and Kayla welcomed their first daughter, Kinlee Ryan possible choice for young adults with a passion for judging and Rathmann, in January 2009, which has had a slight impact on production agriculture. A Ryan’s manner Kayla said. G “He’s a lot more relaxed now with the birth of Kinlee,” she said smiling. 4 “I can learn so much from Ryan and the way he handles his students and people in general. He never harbors ill feelings toward people and he’s gained 7 a lot of respect from those around him, 6 which is hard to achieve.” 5 “What I love about Ryan is his 4 selflessness. He coaches for no self satisfaction or glory,” she said. “He does 3 it for the students and wants to make a 2 difference in their lives.” 1 at Tech, after they graduated from Texas A&M. She said Ryan possessed the characteristics she was looking for in a man, which were similar to those of her own father. “It’s good to be married to someone like my father because they get along and share common interests, and they are able to bounce ideas off each other, as well.”

National Champion Wins as of 2009

Testimony Cade Wilson, livestock judging coach at South Plains College and member of the 2004 National Champion team at Texas A&M, said Ryan

30 | the agriculturist









Texas Tech and Texas A&M

Kansas State

Ohio State

Oklahoma State

Kansas State

Kansas State


Living the american am erican dream The Brashears family is one you could call the All-American family that leaves many wondering how they do it all. Story and Photos by Rae Buchanan


etween juggling family time, research, and teaching, this family’s accomplishments exceed many expectations, and some would think their life story is a fairy tale. From the early days of showing market lambs at the Houston Livestock Show, the story of Mindy and Todd was destined to be. After dating and getting married early in their careers, Mindy and Todd introduced their first addition to the family, Bailey, when Mindy began working on her doctorate at Oklahoma State University. The second addition to the Brashears family, Reagan, was born three years later in Nebraska, and finally, the third daughter Presley, came five years down the road in Texas.

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Bailey is currently a freshman in high school, Reagan is in middle school, and Presley began kindergarten in the fall. All three girls are actively involved in afterschool activities such as the marching band, science fair, dance, twirling, soccer, church youth group, and showing market lambs. Landi Campbell, who obtained her Master of Science in Agricultural Communications under the supervision of Dr. Todd Brashears, spent valuable time with Mindy and Todd as well as their three daughters. “They adore their girls. They absolutely love them,” she said. While balancing their family’s time and activities, Todd and Mindy are both extremely busy with their own careers and research. Mindy is currently involved in working on pre-and post-harvest food safety research. “In the pre-harvest area, we are looking at interventions and how we can prevent E-Coli or Salmonella from getting into the product starting at the feedlot level,” Mindy said. The post-harvest side of Mindy’s research focuses on interventions and experimenting with different ways to kill the bacteria once it is in the food as well as several ways to prevent the bacteria from getting in the food from the beginning. Many of the grants provided to Mindy and Todd are now what they call integrated, requiring not only the research component, but also an educational outreach component to complete the project. “The way we work together is Mindy and her team of scientists develop those techniques or those interventions to reduce E-Coli in the feedlot, and then, it really falls on me to impart that to the feedlot workers and management,” Todd said. Though both Mindy and Todd are extremely involved with their research, they

are both faculty on the Tech campus. Mindy “Communication is the biggest thing, is a professor in the Department of Animal and we have a daily conversation of, and Food Sciences and is the director of ‘What’s going on today?’ ‘Who is picking the International Center for Food Indusup the girls?’ ‘What time are you going to try Excellence. She is teaching the food be home?’, and we have that conversation safety undergraduate course and a graduate every single day,” Todd said. course in grant writing. One enjoyable hobby the Brashears “Grant writing is fun because it is offamily enjoys is traveling. fered to everyone in the college, and I get “I think that is our favorite hobby, and to hear different ideas,” Mindy said. “It’s fun we couldn’t keep up our work schedule to watch the students try to put together that we do if we didn’t enjoy traveling,” and come up with Todd said. “We their own ideas on enjoy traveling and how to manage.” we enjoy the opporTodd is curtunities that we get rently an associate through the univerprofessor in the Desity, and our kids do partment of Agriculas well.” tural Education and In the Communications. Brashears’ home, He is also involved evenings with the in the International family together beCenter of Food gin earlier than the Industry Excelusual 5 o’clock quitTodd and Mindy Brashears with their three lence and oversees ting time, but Mindy daughters Reagan (left), Presley (middle), and the education and and Todd tend to Bailey (right). Photo provided. outreach areas. go to bed later than He is teaching most, as well. organizational leadership and contempoWhen the girls wind down around 9 rary issues in leadership, which are both p.m. for bedtime, Mindy and Todd often undergraduate courses. He also oversees a stay up late to finish work such as gradsection of internships that his undergradu- ing papers, working on the computer, or ate students are completing this fall. answering frequent e-mails. “The organizational leadership course “I don’t know that we work more than is one that I’ve always wanted to teach, but anybody else,” Todd said, “but we prioritize I’ve just never been able to due to time and our kids before our work, and we take a other issues,” Todd said. “I’m really enjoying break in the middle and spend time with teaching that class.” them while we can.” A G Many might ask how this couple can keep such high-profile careers and still have time for family and entertainment. The Brashears’ key to success is schedule, schedule, schedule, plan and be flexible, they said. spring 2010 |



red raider families

Go Get Lost...

...In the Corn


(Left) Jack and Patti Simpson enjoy preparing the corn maze for Lubbock and the surrounding area.

Story and Photos by Brittni Drennan


he golden rays glisten off the crisp, dry leaves as the sun begins to show over the top of the horizon, the fall breeze begins to gently turn the windmill blades, and the chickens in the coop start pecking the ground for food as Patti Simpson takes in a cool, deep breath of the fresh morning air knowing it is going to be a busy day. James and Patti Simpson’s corn field maze at At’l Do Farms located approximately eight miles northwest of Lubbock attracts more than 30,000 inquisitive visitors from the surrounding area each fall. People of all ages travel many miles to explore the beaten paths in the midst of 12 acres of rustling corn stalks. “Some of our favorite memories are watching families bond and making memories as they navigate their way to the exit,” Patti said. Each year James and Patti, with help from their three children, create a fun-filled adventure for all who visit the corn maze from September through November. The idea for this unique operation evolved from the need for something different in their own lives and the desire to get people out of the city limits and to the quiet, wide-open spaces. James and Patti’s paths crossed while they both were students at Texas Tech University. James was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agronomy at the time, and he received his master’s in entomology in 1986. Patti obtained a bachelor’s degree in human development

36 | the agriculturist

and family studies in 1990. The pair married in 1987, and James began farming while Patti took care of their three children and taught dance lessons. The couple was praying for a change from the typical life on a farm when they noticed an article about how to start a corn maze in The Progressive Farmer magazine. They contacted Brett Herbst, founder of The Maize Company in American Fork, Utah, and after several long visits, the Simpson’s thought the idea was worth a try. After farming for 12 years, the husband and wife team transformed their farmland to create their first maze in 2001. “We already had the land. We already had the equipment, so the transition into doing a maze wasn’t that big of a deal,” James added. The maze is not a solitary operation. It helps create an enjoyable environment in which the entire family must work together. Eric Simpson, James and Patti’s son, is a freshman studio art major at Tech and contributes his drawing talents to the family business. This past fall, he drew a picture of Raider Red, which the maze took form of this season. Emilee and Allison, the family’s 15-year-old twins, help wherever they are needed whether it is serving drinks to customers or handing tokens to anxious visitors at the entrance booth. Simply developing the corn maze to accommodate thousands of curious puzzle-solvers involves the whole family

red raider families


and many hours of preparation. The Simpson’s devote 10 weeks out of the year and almost 80 hours each week solely to operating the corn maze. A picture or drawing of what the field will look like is sent to Brett Herbst and his team. Then the design is returned on graphing paper in the form of a maze. Squares containing each line, circle or mark are turned into coordinates that comprise the design of the maze. The family then goes out together with flags and marks where the paths in the maze should go. The next day, the marked paths are sprayed with chemicals that kill the corn plants, forming the paths in the maze people walk through. Holly Hunnicutt, a junior agricultural communications major from Aubrey, Texas, said she had heard her friends talking about the maze and how much fun it was, but she wasn’t sure what to expect Tech students enjoy a fun-filled day exploring the corn maze. until she visited the maze for herself. “When you are in the maze, you really can’t see where you are going because of the tall corn stalks, and it’s a real challenge to figure out which path will lead you in the right direction,” Hunnicutt said. “There are a lot of dead ends and turns and circles, but the trivia questions along the way and a map help you find your way through.” At’l Do Farms also provides activities and entertainment other than just the corn maze. Hay rides take visitors to a pumpkin patch to pick their very own pumpkins. Children can ride the cow train and see farm animals such as sheep, goats, chickens, a pig and a donkey. Visitors can also take aim and shoot ears of corn at signs from Tech’s rival universities at varying distances with the corn canon. “It’s a fun, inexpensive place to go, get out of town, and do something different with your friends or family,” Hunnicutt said. The most challenging obstacle the Simpson’s said they face is marketing, advertising and working with the public. However, the Simpsons agree working with the public is also the most rewarding. “It is challenging, but that’s what we love about it so much,” Patti said. “That’s why after that first year we said, ‘Hey! People like this,’ and we like working with the people. Everybody is just so cordial and fun to work with and very encouraging.” “I think more than anything that’s what keeps us going is the people that continue to come out here as a tradition and encourage us and tell us what a neat place this is,” James agreed. “We are out here every day sweating in it and seeing the problems and things that need fixing, and people are just very encouraging.” After the corn maze closes, the corn is harvested and taken to the Tech agriculture farm and used for livestock feed. During the off-season, the Simpsons live a normal family life. James works for Bayer CropScience and Patti is a substitute teacher in Shallowater. They said it never seems too long before it is time to start preparations again for the next season. A

Other attractions at At’l Do Farms: • • • • • • •

Hay bale mini maze Hay rides Pumpkin patches Cow train rides Corn cannon Livestock Campfires


spring 2010 |



red raider families

Story and Photos by Samuel Petty


ince 1892, the Sageser family of more proud of the opportunities they have been given in this region. Cotton Center, Texas, has been Jack Sageser, 78, graduated from farming and running cattle as a Tech in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science in means of supporting their family. The SagAgricultural eser family has Education. a long history Seeing Tech of hard work through his and determinaeyes is nothing tion. They never more than a looked for a memory of big bloom on a time spent in short vine and a small comas a result, their munity that farm has thrived was driven by during the hardits agricultural est times. surroundings. Their work Three generations of the Sageser family carry on the cotton Today, ethic has led to Lubbock still success in farming farming tradition. has healthy agfor many years in ricultural roots. Jack has seen great develthe harsh west Texas climate. opment in his lifetime and has always been Being in the west Texas region for close to Tech physically and emotionally. more than 100 years, the Sageser’s have seen technologies develop, land change owners, and farmers leave the area to find other means of income. The Sageser family has seen many changes, even before Lubbock was an incorporated city and has tied the cotton industry and Texas Tech together. Jack, Chris and Jay Ray are three generations of Red Raiders that are proud of their farming heritage. All three agree it is the Tech Alum Jack Sageser farming. best life, and they could not be

38 | the agriculturist

“I was in the farming operation, and I had to come home twice week to see about the farm. I couldn’t do that with any other college, and besides, it’s the best college to go to.” While Jack had good years at Tech he is proud of, he is also proud of his son Chris, 50, who also attended Tech and earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education. Jack’s grandson Jay Ray, 20, currently attends Tech, majoring in agricultural education. Neither Chris or Jay Ray, felt obligated to go to Tech they said. “Basically, dad blazed the trail for me,” said Chris. “He always made it sound like a good deal, so it sounded good to us.” Jack not only taught his son everything he needed to know about farming, he also showed Chris the importance of higher education and making sure to always diversify himself. Although the value of the dollar has changed over the years, the cost of attending college has seen even greater fluctuations. “A dollar was worth so much back then,” Jack remarked. “You could take a few dollars and buy so much. My tuition was $50 a credit hour.” Jack explained when he was at Tech, there were only 4,000 students and not everyone had a car. It was uncommon to have a car then, but he said he always did for traveling between the farm and school.

red raider families Chris graduated from Tech in December of 1981 and his memories seemed to reflect the campus current students know today—congested, crowded and parking being hectic every day. On the other hand, Chris spoke about positive aspects he acquired from years spent at Tech including the development of specialized technologies in the cotton industry for tractors and in-depth studies done at Tech concerning soil and crop sciences. “We were always eager for whatever new technologies came along,” said Chris. “You know one of the bigger things that came along was sprinklers during my lifetime and that changed everything.” “Our family has seen it from the mule to tractors that drive themselves and sprinklers to drip. We’ve tried every technology that they’ve put out there,” said Chris. Although Jay Ray has a few years before his own graduation, his signs of benefiting the farm are promising as he is able to offer input on new, cutting edge technol-


ogy. Aside from school, Jay Ray competes on the competitive national champion Tech Ranch Horse team. “I went to Tech because it was close and they had the ranch horse team that was available to me, and that was a big thing to me,” said Jay Ray. “I’ve always been apart of horses and that lifestyle. Just everything worked to my benefit to go to Tech. There wasn’t any reason I’d go anywhere else. I had everything I needed right there.” During tough economic times, the Sageser family shows no signs of slowing down in the farming industry. They are dedicated to both farming and Tech and want to keep future generations involved with both. Although they are three different people, they share the same values and beliefs and keep a foundation of strong faith and character that makes their family proud while remaining humble. “Farming has been a good life,” Jack When Jay Ray isn’t practicing for the Ranch said, “Anyone who had the opportunity Horse team, he discusses business with his dad to would grab it in a minute. It’s the best.” A ensure the farm is operating efficiently.


spring 2010 |



also in this issue

I only regret not being prepared to manage homesickness, stress, and knowing which “I vividly remember packing 18 years decisions were not negotiable,” she said. The Student Counseling Center at of life, memories and tears into my SUV Texas Tech can give freshman the tools to and driving seven hours northwest to make the most of their freshman year. Texas Tech University. Once I arrived on Klinton Hobbs, a staff psychologist at campus, I realized nothing could prepare me for the uncertainty of what I was about the Texas Tech Student Counseling Center, gives three secrets to surviving your freshto experience,” said Cassie Graydon, a man year in college. sophomore agricultural communications After hearing Hobbs advice, Graydon major from Austin, Texas. “It was two years ago that I moved from said, “I think if I had been prepared for the stresses of college life, I would have been my parents’ home to the freshman dorms.

Story by Kayln Pearson

SECRET # 1 It is ok to feel homesick “Homesickness is one of the most common adjustment problems experienced by students, particularly students who are moving away from home for the first time,” said Hobbs. “Some students experience homesickness within the first days or weeks, whereas others may find themselves feeling homesick for the first time late in the semester. Almost everyone experiences homesickness at some point in his or her life. So in a way, homesickness is a positive emotion that implies there is a place you find familiar and comforting.” “Students should acknowledge they are feeling homesick,” Hobbs said. “To cope with homesickness, put up some pictures of home, family and friends on a bulletin board. Then, mix in photos of new friends, your favorite buildings on campus, or activities you have participated in.” From Hobbs’ experience, making plans to travel home can also help cope with homesickness.

42 | the agriculturist

SECRET # 2 Learn to manage stress “College can be stressful when you don’t manage stress correctly,” Hobbs said. “The first step to managing stress is to know what stresses you. Notice if your stress is good or bad stress, what is causing it, and recognize if you can do something to change it. Second, make a plan that can help you manage your stress. To lower stress levels, try new hobbies or sports. Be sure to explore a variety of active and quiet activities.” “Keeping realistic goals and giving yourself rewards along the way can help you stay on track,” Hobbs said. “Eating healthy food, breaking a sweat several times a week, and figuring how much sleep your body needs is key to managing stress.” “Most students do not know their student fees pay for eight counseling sessions per semester at the Student Counseling Center,” Hobbs said. “We offer group or one on one consultations and teach stress-management classes.”

able to make better decisions. I don’t think I would have dropped nine of the 15 hours my parents paid for. I hope other freshman can use the advice Hobbs gives. Most importantly, know what goals are important, and don’t let the pressure of college change those goals.”

SECRET # 3 Know what is not negotiable “It’s ok to experiment and try new things, but also know what is not negotiable,” Hobbs said. “If academics are important, then manage your time efficiently. If you have a test tomorrow morning at 8, do you go out the night before when your friends go out? Make a plan so you will be able to say no in compromising situations.” “A lot of times students do not attend class or turn in their work because their parents are not hounding them to do their best,” Hobbs said. “If you are not doing your best because of the decisions you are making, then reevaluate what is important to you.”


also in this issue

Floral Design for Y U

Step 1: Take a piece of water soaked oasis and place it into the container. Use floral tape to tape the oasis to the container.

Story and Photos by Colleen Monroe

Step 2: Slice the corners off the oasis. Floral Design professor Judith Wilmington gives you the step-by-step process for creating a half round design worthy of the centerpiece for your dining room table.

Then, Place one flower directly in the center of the oasis and four more flowers in the center of the four sides.

Items needed: •


Step 3: Once you have the five flow-

Wire cutters

ers in the oasis, take four more flowers

Needle nose pliers

and place them on top of the oasis, at


the four corners.


Oasis (Styrofoam like material you use to place the flowers into)


Floral tape

Flowers and fern (Pick color coordinating flowers to help with the rhythm and flow of the design.)

Step 4: Once you have the flowers in their correct areas, stick pieces of fern on each side of the flowers. The design so should look like a half-circle shape at this time with the top rounded.

Step 5: Now that you have all of the flowers and ferns stuck in the oasis, you will need to use your judgment to fill in any empty appearing spaces with more fern or filler flowers.

44 | the agriculturist

also in this issue


Behind the Mask with the Masked Rider Story and Photos by Samuel Petty

Dressed in solid black with a scarlet cape, the Masked Rider has been an enduring symbol of the university since 1954.The current Masked Rider, Brianne Aucutt-Hight, is a senior animal science major from Clovis, N.M.This rider and horse exemplify the importance of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources as a lasting tradition in one of the first colleges instituted at Texas Tech University. How much does Midnight Matador mean to you?

Q: A: Q: A: Q: A:

I don’t know how you wouldn’t get attached to him. He’s got the most personality I’ve ever seen in an animal in my entire life. He’s just got his good days and bad days, but even on his bad days, you love him.

Do you enjoy traveling to away games? We hardly get to go to any away games because not everyone allows livestock on the field.

What’s the best part about being the masked rider? I’ve always been on the horse side of it. The public relations is a great part of it too, but when you feel your best is when you’re on that horse and he’s running. Here at the football games, that initial run into the stadium is what you’ve been dreaming for. It’s just amazing.

Q: A: Q: A:

Can you describe some emotions you have before a game? Walking down that tunnel onto the field, it’s like your heart just starts floating. I don’t think that there are any words that could explain it, but my heart starts floating and you have a smile on your face that you can’t wipe off!

What advice do you have for someone thinking about being the masked rider? I think the best advice to give them is to just get involved in the program, and get involved in field safety. Also, get involved with being the Masked Rider assistant because an outsider is at a huge disadvantage just coming in and trying for the program. Even if they are a great candidate, great rider, great public relations person, they’re going to have a big disadvantage. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that you don’t realize. And, he (Midnight Matador) is a huge responsibility.

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46 | the agriculturist

AGtheagriculturist Department of Agricultural Education & Communications Texas Tech University P.O. Box 42131 Lubbock, Texas 79409-2131