Bush Library Legacy of Ranching exhibit features Texas’ legendary ranches

Texas A&M department of animal science history on display

Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, b-fannin@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – The Legacy of Ranching, a comprehensive exhibit covering some of Texas’ most historic ranching operations and featuring a historical perspective of the Texas A&M University animal science department, is on display at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum through Jan. 7.

The exhibit showcases the rich history of beef cattle production in Texas, which contributes $11 billion annually to the state’s economy and is the second-leading commodity behind oil and gas, said exhibit organizers.

“This is a chance to give a very public view of life in Texas ranching,” said Dr. Penny Riggs, who along with Dr. Russell Cross, both Texas A&M animal science professors, led efforts to assemble the many exhibits that depict the department’s long history.

“(This department) has an incredibly rich history,” she said. “It also demonstrates the challenges and issues ranchers have faced through many decades such as drought and disease. Horse, goat, sheep and wildlife operations are important on many ranches and are also included in the exhibit.”

Riggs said the information and interviews gathered will also be used for educational programs within the department of animal science.

“This is an incredible educational tool for the college,” she said.

Riggs said she and Cross have captured video interviews with a number of families that have been part of Texas ranching for many generations. The idea for the exhibit came about more than a year ago when Riggs helped lead a major genome exhibit featured at the Bush Library.

“We really enjoyed that opportunity and the relationships that were developed,” she said. “The Bush Library does an outstanding job of developing exhibits and is a wonderful partner for Texas A&M.”

“This Legacy of Ranching exhibit is about people and relationships, through generations of families,” Riggs said. “If you look across Texas, you can think about the King Ranch and how incredibly hospitable and generous families like the Kings, Klebergs and Armstrongs have been for generations. So many ranching legacies helped build our state – from the Spanish land-grant settlers to the storied ranches of West Texas – it’s difficult to single out only a few.”

Riggs said she and Cross conducted several interviews with families that have deep ties to Texas ranching to record their accounts of family operations and challenges they faced.

“It’s been really a lot of fun,” Riggs said. “The things we have learned put into perspective the incredible legacy of these families. The collecting of data, taking care of the land and the livestock, development of new breeds. Of course, some of these families discovered oil and that helped them, but they have been true leaders in different sectors.”

Various branding irons, including former Texas A&M president Gen. Earl Rudder, part of the department of animal science collection, are on display, Riggs said.

“The exhibit was made possible thanks to generous contributions by Capital Farm Credit, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and H-E-B,” she said.

More information about the exhibit is available at http://texasranching.org/ and at https://www.bush41.org/exhibit/39 .

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