Spotlight Series: Palo Alto College Agriculture
February 16, 2022
The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo is in full swing. For the youth participating in the livestock show, it's the culmination of all the hard work to raise and care for their animals. For Palo Alto College agriculture students, it means that they get to put their knowledge to work while also giving back to their community.
"Our students are volunteering and helping run the stock show," said Ty Chumbley, lead instructor for the College's agriculture program. "But, this event also does so much for us because it serves as a lab for our classes. Our students get to compete and meet people in the industry. Plus, they get internships and real job experience. It's like the Super Bowl for us."
This year, the stock show and rodeo is being held from Feb. 10-27. Palo Alto College's agriculture program brings as many as 40-50 volunteers to work behind the scenes throughout all three weeks. PAC's agriculture students help host and judge a handful of events, including various skillathon contests and shows. They also compete in the Intercollegiate Livestock Judging Contest.
Arianna Jalynn Menchaca, a PAC agriculture student, said the stock show sets the standard for livestock and animal production, but it also teaches the impact of agriculture on everyday life.
"This event is setting the expectation of what an animal should look like, but it's also teaching the importance of agriculture," said Menchaca. "Some people don't realize just how important ag is. They go to the grocery store and don't realize where their meat comes from or the work that went into producing that animal."
Since she was in third grade, Miranda Jordan Coates, president of Palo Alto College's agriculture club, has attended the stock show, showing goats, lambs, pigs, and steers. She enjoys the opportunity to impart knowledge to up-and-coming agriculture students.
Left to right: PAC Agriculture students Arianna Jalynn Menchaca and Miranda Jordan Coates, and 2018 PAC graduate Agatha Scales
"It's a lot of responsibility and takes a lot of dedication, but it's a lot of fun," said Coates. "I love working with kids at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. It has been a big part of my life, and I would definitely like to come back and join a committee after I graduate."
Aside from getting the chance to be part of the action, Palo Alto College receives approximately $60,000 annually to fund scholarships for students pursuing a degree in agriculture. As the only ag college in Bexar County, Palo Alto has partnered with the stock show and rodeo for over five years.
As the most prominent agriculture event in San Antonio, Chumbley said the stock show presents a perfect opportunity for hands-on learning and networking.
"At Palo Alto, we want to not only get students to the university level but get them jobs," said Chumbley. "We want to make sure that they interact with people in the ag industry, and the rodeo brings in people from all over Texas in horticulture, agriculture, animal science, and meat science."
Alumni of the program have gone on to teach ag, have become owners of agriculture equipment stores, or are pursuing their graduate studies.
"It's cool seeing our students grow and seeing what they are doing once they leave Palo Alto," said Chumbley.
Agatha Scales, who graduated from the program in 2018, is currently working towards her master's at Texas A&M San Antonio. She, like many others, has thrived due to the smaller learning environment, hands-on experience, and ample networking opportunities.
"Education at its basis gives you the knowledge, but the things that I learned at Palo Alto College took that knowledge and added a layer of meaning," said Scales. "I feel like community colleges are sometimes perceived as not being on the same level as universities. But it's such a nice way to have a small, close-knit community where you're learning things, getting that one-on-one experience, and not paying a fortune for it."
Palo Alto College's agriculture program is committed to providing strong academic preparation for those seeking careers in the diverse agricultural and natural resources management area. To learn more, visit alamo.edu/pac/agriculture.
Rodeo raising millions for Texas students - WOAI, Feb. 10, 2022
- WOAI, Feb. 10, 2022