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Ag Department Featured in National Magazine

The ASU Department of Agriculture hit newsstands across the nation and at a variety of livestock events in July when it was prominently featured in the monthly issue of Purple Circle magazine.

July 2016 issue of Purple CircleBased in Canyon and self-proclaimed as “America’s Youth Livestock Magazine,” Purple Circle is targeted at junior livestock exhibitors nationwide. One of the magazine’s design editors, Kara Dorenkamp Crawford, contacted the ASU Agriculture Department in April about providing a feature story and photos to publish as part of the magazine’s monthly series highlighting top college agriculture programs. Other schools recently profiled include Kansas State, Colorado State, Oklahoma Panhandle State and the University of Wyoming. 

What follows here is the story written by Tom Nurre, ASU news and information specialist. The layout for the article in Purple Circle was done by ASU graphic designer Gabrielle Miller. Visit Purple Circle to view the entire issue.

View ASU’s Purple Circle Story

The ASU Ranch is home to the Agriculture Department's award-winning Angus cattle.The ASU Ranch is home to the Agriculture Department's award-winning Angus cattle.

Hands on

learning experiences, state-of-the-art facilities and degree plans tailored to prepare graduates for immediate employment are the hallmarks of Angelo State University’s Department of Agriculture. 

In addition to bachelor’s degree plans, there is also a range and wildlife management minor, food science minor, a pre-veterinary medicine track and an integrated Agribusiness/Master of Business Administration program. Graduate students can choose between Master of Science in animal science and Master of Agriculture degree programs.

Four bachelor’s degree plans available:

  • Animal Science
  • Agribusiness
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Agricultural Science and Leadership

In building the curriculum for each degree plan, ASU agriculture faculty have considered the projected employment opportunities within the different fields of the agriculture industry, as well as recommendations from industry professionals and agencies.

“Our major goal is to have our students prepared both educationally and socially so that they are ready to go to work when they graduate,” said Dr. Mike Salisbury, department chair. “We want them prepared to start a career, regardless of what agriculture field they choose. We also want them to have the needed technical skills to be marketable to an employer, and to show that they have the ability to learn and thrive in their field.”

Gain Practical Experience

Regardless of which degree plan they choose, ASU agriculture students spend significant time at ASU’s Management, Instruction and Research Center, more commonly called the ASU Ranch. The 6,000-acre working ranch is home to the university’s Angus cattle, Rambouillet, Suffolk and Hair sheep, and Boer goats. The building complex houses classrooms and labs dedicated to the Agriculture Department and also includes barns, stock pens, a feed mill, a maintenance shop, a 2,900-square-foot greenhouse and the G. Leon Holland Arena.

Our students work with Rambouillet sheep, as well as Angus cattle, Suffolk and Hair sheep, and Boer goats, at the ASU Ranch.Our students work with Rambouillet sheep, as well as Angus cattle, Suffolk and Hair sheep, and Boer goats, at the ASU Ranch.At the ASU Ranch, students participate in everything from building fences, working livestock and animal reproduction to mechanical brushwork and growing hay for feed. They also practice range and wildlife management techniques, including prescribed burns, animal species counts and guiding public deer hunts. The ranch is also the hub for student research, including:

  • Artificial insemination of cattle
  • Feedlot nutrition
  • Retail meat product development
  • Improving wool and mohair production
  • Improving range habitat quality
  • Wildlife management

Collaborative research efforts with the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center that neighbors the ASU Ranch provide students with even more learning opportunities. A mobile experimental economics lab allows students to explore and research economic and market theories learned in the classroom.

ASU animal science students get hands-on training in food safety and product development.ASU animal science students get hands-on training in food safety and product development.The USDA-inspected Food Safety and Product Development Lab at the ranch provides hands-on experience for students as they harvest animals, process them and produce a wide variety of beef, lamb, pork and goat products that are sold to the public in the ASU Meat Market.

The Mayer-Rousselot Agriculture Education Training Center at the ranch was opened in 2014 to support the agricultural science and leadership degree plan with its welding equipment, small-engine repair shop, building construction area and computerized metal-cutting table.

“There are a lot of good things to be said about a smaller school with the type of facilities we have,” Salisbury said. “Classroom instruction is essential, but when you can also offer real hands-on experience, it’s much better for the students.”

Prepare for Success

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has listed ASU as one of its top institutions for hiring employeesThe animal science degree is designed for students interested in production agriculture and animal husbandry and can lead to careers in everything from livestock, feed and ranch management to pharmaceutical sales and animal health care. Animal science majors can also have a concentration in agribusiness, range and wildlife management, or food science to prepare for jobs in those industries. ASU graduates currently work for J.B. Swift, Cargill Inc., Hillshire Farms, Labatt Foods, Tyson and other similar companies, as well as in food safety and inspection.

Agribusiness majors take courses in agricultural economics and animal science combined with courses in accounting and business law to build a strong foundation in agribusiness and management. Career options include agricultural economist, agricultural loan officer, marketing specialist, and agricultural merchandising and sales.

“Our major goal is to have our students prepared both educationally and socially so that they are ready to go to work when they graduate.”

Dr. Mike Salisbury, Department Chair

Students interested in becoming extension agents, range or forest managers, environmental scientists or wildlife biologists will be interested in the Natural Resource Management degree program. The curriculum is built on recommendations from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. and Texas Parks and Wildlife Departments, soil and water conservation organizations, and the Farm Service Agency. Many ASU graduates find careers as county extension agents, and the NRCS has listed ASU as one of its top institutions for hiring employees.

The Agricultural Science and Leadership degree gives students a broad understanding of agriculture to prepare them for careers ranging from high school agriculture teachers and farm services agents to outdoor recreation managers and extension agents. A teacher certification component is included for those planning careers in agricultural education.

Participate and Compete

The ASU Department of Agriculture also offers opportunities to participate on intercollegiate judging teams and to join various student organizations. The Wool Judging Team, Meat Judging Team and Undergraduate Range Management Team compete successfully against other top schools at contests all over the U.S. The Block and Bridle Club stays involved in the community and is in charge of the university’s Rambouillet Ram mascot, Dominic. The Meat and Food Science Association caters various local events and is hosting the American Meat Science Association’s 2016 Reciprocal Meats Conference this summer. The Undergraduate Meat Science Quiz Bowl Team won the 2015 National Championship.

“Our teams and organizations really give students the opportunity to get involved, hone their leadership skills and prepare to become leaders when they graduate,” Salisbury said. “They also gain insight into various aspects of the agriculture industry and get a feel for how the business world operates. That is important knowledge they need to learn outside the classroom.”

The Agriculture Department's Block & Bridle Club is in charge of ASU's Rambouillet Ram mascot, Dominic.The Agriculture Department's Block & Bridle Club is in charge of ASU's Rambouillet Ram mascot, Dominic.

Join the Ram Family

Whether students are preparing for careers in animal production, the pharmaceutical industry, agriculture education, feed development and sales, agricultural banking or marketing, the meat and food industry, veterinary medicine, natural resource or wildlife management, or any other aspect of agriculture, ASU has a program to fit their needs and interests.

“Our faculty continually tracks all areas of the agriculture industry to make sure we are keeping up with both the latest trends and what interests our students,” Salisbury said. “It’s all about students and it’s all about having a well-rounded program. You’ve got to have what students want.”

“If a student is interested in agriculture,” he added, “we would love to welcome him or her into our ASU Ram Family.” 

  • Tom Nurre

    Tom Nurre

    Tom Nurre is a news and information specialist at Angelo State University. 
    E-mail Tom at