TCU ranch management students visit Texas A&M AgriLife center in Overton

OVERTON – Future ranchers and ranch managers enrolled in the Texas Christian University Ranch Management program recently visited the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton to talk with experts and learn about the resources available to them around the state.

Dr. Monte Rouquette, Texas A&M AgriLife Research forage physiologist, Overton, discusses winter pastures with students enrolled in the Texas Christian University Ranch Management program during a visit to the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Adam Russell)

Jason Faubion, the program’s assistant director, Fort Worth, said the program is a nine-month intensive course that prepares students for production-level management of beef production in the various regions around Texas. Students travel the state to visit facilities, specialists and producers specializing in various aspects of beef production to learn different production methods for the range of climates and conditions in the state.

“The field trips really allow students to see firsthand what we talk about in classrooms over the nine months,” Faubion said. “They get to talk to producers and experts who are doing the work in the field.”

Faubion said the 28 students enrolled in the class will receive a certificate of completion that is essentially a masters of business administration for ranchers.

The university’s ranch management program was established in 1956, Faubion said. Students learn about budgets and animal husbandry, forages and soils and are required to create six business plans that could be applied to a ranch in a certain location within the state.

Dr. Charles Long, center director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research at Overton, welcomed the students to the center for a tour of AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service programs and facilities. He talked to the students about the various disciplines represented by AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension and the concept behind having 13 centers in the various regions of the state.

Students have been visiting the Overton center for 33 years, said Dr. Monte Rouquette, AgriLife Research forage physiologist.

“Many of these students don’t know that Texas A&M AgriLife Research or AgriLife Extension is available to them,” he said. “They don’t know there are large amounts of data and research and best management recommendations online or a phone call away.”

The students heard presentations from Dr. Billy Higginbotham, AgriLife Extension wildlife and fisheries specialist; Dr. Jason Banta, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist; Dr. Vanessa Corriher-Olson, AgriLife Extension forage specialist; Dr. Ray Smith, AgriLife Research legume breeder; and Rouquette.

The discussions varied from managing wild hogs to long-term nutrient cycling in ryegrass pastures, weed control and supplemental minerals, Rouquette said. The students also toured AgriLife Research’s crossbred F1 Brahman program and discussed the breed’s production qualities and potential.

“These students are not novices,” Rouquette said. “You can tell by the questions and discussions they have had training and study and a lot of them have experience. But there was still a lot of information that was new to them.”

Chris Farley, assistant director of the TCU program, said visiting experts help provide facts and dispel fiction about ranching and beef cattle production.

“As faculty, we take experts for granted, but it’s great for us because it’s a privilege to have PhD experts available to the students,” Faubion said. “A lot of these students have said, ‘but I always heard it was this way or should be done that way.’ But they’re basing that on coffee shop talk rather than science. Having an expert stand in front of them and discuss these topics is invaluable for student development. And the students knowing they can reach out to AgriLife Research or AgriLife Extension experts around the state will help them with questions in the future.”


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