Program Launches with Farm and Ranch Expo, Red Dirt Soiree
After seeing a need in the community and surrounding areas, Western Texas College launched a new Career and Technical program: Farm and Ranch Management.
“We developed the Farm and Ranch Management program so that students can learn in an engaging, hands-on way,” says Dr. Barb Beebe, Western Texas College President. “We’re connecting agriculture students with exciting, new pathways, and West Texas farmers and ranchers with a new avenue to acquire great employees.”
WTC’s Title V Grant staff initiated the new program, spearheaded by Jeffrey Martin, WTC’s Title V Project Coordinator. The Grant staff concentrated on renovating the Agricultural Science Complex and agricultural classrooms on campus. They also updated the curriculum for agriculture programs. The Title V Grant staff consisted of Britt Canada, Title V Project Director, Christylee DeBlieck, Title V Administrative Assistant, and Martin.
To give the new program exposure, the Grant staff created two events. “We decided early on that we needed more than just a recruiting event,” says Jeffrey Martin, WTC’s Title V Project Coordinator who coordinated the event. “We wanted to raise scholarship funds for our Farm and Ranch Management Program while providing a learning event for our agricultural community,” added Martin.
The learning event transformed into the WTC Farm and Ranch Expo, held on March 24, 2022. The event was free for anyone who wanted to attend.
WTC engaged wildlife and agricultural experts to give live demonstrations and relevant talks for West Texas students, farmers, and ranchers. The lineup included Dr. Calvin Trostle, STEM in Agriculture/Small Grains: Sorghum and Wheat; Dr. Peter Dotray, Weed Control in Cotton; Dr. Ron Gill, Livestock Handling Demonstration; Dr. Ron Kendall, Disease in Wild Bobwhite Quail & Treatment Solutions; and Mike Valentine, Miller Ranch Black Angus Program through 44 Farms.
Attendees also had the option to tour the renovated facilities. Approximately 400 students from 10 high schools and 100+ farmers and ranchers attended the Expo. Numerous businesses and entities provided underwriting for the Expo that included breakfast and lunch for everyone.
The Grant staff also wanted to raise scholarship funds for the new program. With the help of several committees and dedicated community members, WTC hosted the Red Dirt Soirée, a ticketed steak and shrimp dinner, on April 14 at WTC Coliseum. Hargrove Crop Insurance generously underwrote the dinner. The Red Dirt Soirée Dinner Committee included Ms. Kathy McCombs Smartt (Chairperson), Ms. Brandyl Calley, Ms. Christylee DeBlieck, Ms. Amy Hargrove, Ms. Misty Hinton, Ms. Penny Perry, and Ms. Darla Wiggins.
WTC alum, 1988 World Champion All-Around Cowboy, and RFD-TV Rodeo color analyst Dave Appleton hosted the event. WTC welcomed famous photographer Wyman Meinzer as the special guest speaker. The evening ended with dancing and music from the ever-popular Jody Nix, another WTC Alum.
The event sold out and WTC raised over $30,000 for Farm and Ranch Management scholarship.