Happenings at the RAS in 2021: Dr. Bonnie Warnock
Faculty and Staff
This past year we have seen many changes in the faculty and staff at the RAS. We said farewell to two icons of the RAS this past December, Raul Ramos and Ted Yadon. Ted worked as the ranch manager for over 30 years and for most of that time Raul was his right-hand man, also working over 30 years. They really helped lay the foundation for all of the RAS outdoor areas and kept livestock and labs running smoothly, influencing hundreds of students who majored in ag programs.
Dr. Scott Ericsson, who taught repro physiology in animal science retired in August. His career spanned over 30 years, and his commitment to hands on learning introduced many students to cattle work including pen work, AI and palpation. Dr. Perse McRae, who taught equine science, and Dr. Dexter Wakefield, who taught ag education, both left after teaching at the RAS for two years for opportunities that will help build their careers. We currently have the positions posted and are actively looking for new faculty to fill these vacancies.
Dr. Hugo da Costa Santos started this January as our newest faculty member. He grew up in Brazil with a desire to get out of the city and learn about livestock production and ranching. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Animal Science from Colorado State and also has an MS in Animal Science and an MBA. He will be teaching animal science and ag business classes, bringing a global perspective to the program and really showing our students with an urban background that it is possible to have a career in animal science, even if you didn’t grow up in the industry.
Rod DeVoll started as the ranch manager this past January and has made real improvements in our rodeo livestock program, working with Coach C.J. Aragon, to create a herd of Corrientes to support the rodeo program. He has also been working with our horse herd to train current horses and expand the herd for teaching.
Many of the infrastructure improvements that were made this past year aren’t visible at the RAS. We have been focusing on the SRSU Ranch at Sierra Blanca. We have built 2 miles of exterior fence and made improvements to the wells and water system. The ranch supports our growing herd of Corrientes, our beef cattle herd, and lets our rodeo rough stock have “vacation” time during breaks. The bucking horses love their time out at the ranch, and always come back to town with a little more buck! We have also nearly completed two miles of fence at the leased Sid Pasture at the O2. This lease helps support the ranch management program and we will be moving part of the beef cattle herd back out to the O2 once the fence is complete.
Faculty and staff are active in recruiting opportunities including meeting with prospective students individually, hosting the FFA Greenhand event, hosting our FFA invitational CDE competition, and working actively to develop articulation agreements with junior colleges. The Avenzando en la Frontera USDA grant is in its second year with a focus on increasing transfer students in agriculture at Sul Ross. A new articulation agreement with Dallas College is in process and should be completed by May. The articulation pathways with SWTJC and Frank Phillips are being updated. Covid has had an impact of higher education and hit our ag programs particularly hard. For programs that market and are designed for hands on education the year of remote learning impacted enrollment. In 2019 the B.S. in Animal Science and B.S. in Natural Resource Management had nearly 100 majors each and in the Fall of 2020 they had dropped to the low 80s. We did maintain that level of enrollment going into Fall of 2021 and hope to be able to increase enrollment this Fall. The enrollment in all of our grad programs has remained strong and we have seen no decrease.
The Farrier program will be back at SRSU starting in Fall of 2022! We will start with a concentration in the B.S. in Animal Science and then will add a 1 year certificate program. We should be posting the faculty position in mid-spring for someone to start in the fall.
Experiential Educational Opportunities
Faculty transitioned back to in-person labs this spring with small group experiences in the feed-lot, horse barn, O2 lease and Sierra Blanca Ranch. Students are engaged in ranch planning and improvement for the Sierra Blanca ranch, engaging with both faculty and staff. Students attended and presented at the virtual Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society and the national Society for Range Management meeting. Students worked with faculty on undergraduate research in the McNair program and BRI BUMP program. Eight student workers were hired in positions that give them experience in their field of professional interest including: meat lab, ranch, feed lot, and equine barn. Animal Science received a grant to support equipment purchases so Dr. DeMetris Reed, our meat science faculty, and Rosemary Ketring, our meat lab manager, are hard at work getting estimates for upgrading some of the equipment in the meat lab, which will enhance our ability to harvest and process.
The rodeo team, led by Coach C.J. Aragon, is excelling on the field and in the classroom. The 2021-22 fall season ended well both in the arena and in the classroom. The Men’s team is currently ranked 2nd in the region and ranked 22rd nationally, and the Women’s team is ranked 11th in the region. Tristen Hutchings won the All Around Men’s title at the Sul Ross and Texas Tech Rodeos. He is also ranked 1st in the Bull Riding and 7th in the steer wrestling. Brandon Lansford is ranked 3rd in the Saddle-Bronc riding and won the event at the Sul Ross, Eastern New Mexico, and Vernon Rodeos. Zach Hamar is ranked 3rd in the steer wrestling. Lane Cooper is ranked 1st in team roping (header). Blake Bentley is ranked 1st in team roping (heeler). Timmi Hutchings is ranked 5th in goat tying. Retention rates for students from Fall to Spring was 97%. Only 1 team member is not eligible to ride in the Spring. Six of the team had a GPA of 4.0 and 20 more had GPAs above 3.0.
Borderlands Research Institute
BRI had a successful year with multiple donations to support students and research in wildlife and habitat management. John L. Nau III has committed $1 million over the next 5 years to support BRI’s Habitat Enhancement Project. The Partners for Habitat program is helping provide cost-share to local ranchers for projects to improve pronghorn habitat. The West Texas Safari Club and Houston Safari Club have donated funds for wildlife research and scholarships supporting multiple graduate students. The Borderlands Undergraduate Mentorship Program, supported by Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo continues to create opportunities to get undergraduates field experience in range and wildlife research. The Respect Big Bend Coalition is increasing awareness of the beauty and value of the open land in our region.
A Word from the Coach: CJ Aragon
A big congratulations goes out to the Sul Ross Rodeo Team for their work in the classroom this fall. Twenty-Six members of the rodeo team finished with a 3.0 or higher and not a single student was lost to eligibility this fall.
Six students had a 4.0 GPA—Blake Bentley, Will Eddleman, Hadley Anne Kibbe, Whit Kitchens, Nichole Lake and Mason Pitts.
Twelve students had a 3.5 or higher—LaKayla Bell, Cali Ryan Sorace, Bailey Cunningham, DeLani Cunningham, McKenzie Frizzell, Mckenna Hickson, Timmi Full Throttle Hutchings, Tristen Hutchings, Morgan Kessler, Tanner Skene, Kade Smith and Colton Valenta
Eight others finished with a 3.0 or higher—Cody Barragan, Zach Hamar, Cole Hollen, Mason Howard, Samantha Kuhlman Fowlkes, Brandon Lansford, Kathi Norell and Ryli Sorace
Over 2/3 of our team finished with a 3.0 or higher. Good Job Lobos! Winning starts in the classroom.
Exciting news for this fall: The S.A.L.E. Arena will host a Texas High School Rodeo Association Region 2 rodeo September 10-11, 2022. Then two weeks later the S.A.L.E arena will host the Sul Ross State University College Rodeo September 22-24, 2022. We will have sponsorship packages available at the beginning of July for both events.
After 13 years as serving as the timed event chute boss at the College National Finals Rodeo, Sul Ross Rodeo Coach C.J. Aragon has been selected as the Arena Director for the College National Finals Rodeo. Coach Aragon will replace long time arena director Jim Dewey Brown who was selected as the new College Rodeo Commissioner last June.
Tristen Hutchings the 2021 College National Champion Bull Rider has cracked into the to 20 of the 2022 PRCA World Standings in the bull riding.