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Blinn ag science students gain valuable experience through volunteer work

Students learn on-the-job training at Texas stock shows

March 27, 2014

It takes a long moment for Bryn Behnke to even begin calculating the hours his students have volunteered this spring.

With students volunteering at stock shows across the state—from San Antonio to Belton to Houston—it’s hard for the Blinn College Agricultural Sciences instructor to keep up. Conservative estimates place that number near 500 hours, though it’s likely more than 800.

“Volunteering at these events puts our students face-to-face with the people who are making a difference in the industry,” Behnke said. “It doesn’t matter what aspect they’re participating in, they’re getting valuable experience.”

This spring, Blinn students have volunteered at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and the National Swine Registry in Belton, as well as numerous agricultural mechanics shows across Texas.

Most of the student volunteers are freshmen working to gain the knowledge and experience to gain a position on Blinn’s judging team as a sophomore. In addition to helping out in the pens and handling cattle, students observe as professional judges grade livestock and interact with the biggest names in the livestock industry.

“As they’re down there, they’re figuring out what the industry wants and that’s only going to help them in their careers,” Behnke said.

Freshman Dakota Crissman said the experience is invaluable.

“It’s nice to meet the big names in the industry, getting to know them and learning from them,” said Crissman, who volunteered in San Antonio.

Students weren’t the only Blinn volunteers active at the recently-concluded Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Agricultural Sciences Professor Doug Pierce was one of three judges to head the open cattle Brahman show, and Agricultural Sciences Professor Joseph Rathmann judged the open angus breeding cattle show. President of Brazos County campuses Sylvia McMullen and speech and debate team coaches Kathryn Kelly and Elizabeth Stoltz each served as judges for the public speaking contest, and Agricultural Sciences Instructor Johnnie Schroeder recently judged the agricultural mechanics show at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

The Division of Agricultural Sciences is one of the fastest-growing divisions at Blinn College with almost 800 students currently enrolled – roughly four times the size of any other two-year agricultural program in the state. Blinn offers agriculture classes on all of its campuses, with the W.J. “Bill” Rankin Agricultural Complex serving as the program’s hub.

In addition to its excellence in the classroom, Blinn offers extracurricular educational activities in the areas of livestock judging, agriculture club, wildlife, agriculture mechanics, horticulture and agriculture sciences. For more information on Blinn’s ag science program, visit: