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Lura Hayes: Top Hand

December 15, 2009

Whoever thinks ranching is just for the guys has never met Lura Hayes.

A senior animal science major in the ASU Department of Agriculture, Hayes defies type-casting and works as one of the “hands” at the 6,000-acre Management, Instruction and Research Center, better known as the ASU Ranch.

“I help maintain the lamb barn, check cattle, check pastures and mix feed, those kinds of things,” Hayes said. “I do all the basic ranch-hand work.”

As part of her ranch work, she also helps each year with the ASU Meat Goat Performance Test, the oldest and best-known test of its kind in the U.S.

A native of Kermit, Hayes grew up around animals and periodically helped out on ranches around her hometown. The love of animals and ranching pretty much runs in her family.

“My pawpaw had a big influence on me,” Hayes said. “He has always been around cattle and horses. I was also in 4-H ever since I was a little girl.”

And, Hayes does not just limit her activities to the ASU Ranch. She spent time on the award-winning Wool Judging Team as a sophomore, and is a three-year member of the Rambouillet Show Team that regularly brings home top prizes from stock shows around the state.

“We have done really well in the past and we are supposed to do well again this year, hopefully,” Hayes said. “We have had a bunch of reserve champions, but we haven’t had a grand champion in awhile. That is still really good, though.”

During the 2009 season, Hayes and her teammates showed the Reserve Champion Ram at the Fort Worth, San Antonio and San Angelo stock shows, as well as the Champion Flock in Fort Worth. They also racked up a total of seven first-place ribbons, four second-places and eight third-places overall.

“Out at the ranch, we have a big mound of ribbons,” she added. “Dr. (Gil) Engdahl also has a bunch of stuff that we have won. It’s usually hanging up in the Ag Department Office.”

On campus, Hayes sometimes raises eyebrows when she tells people that she is in the Agriculture Department, which is stereotyped by many people as a bunch of guys in boots and cowboy hats. But, apparently, times are changing.

“They are more surprised that I work on a ranch,” Hayes said. “They react like, ‘What? That’s a guy’s job.’ But, probably about half of the Agriculture Department is girls now, though I think a lot of that is because agriculture business is starting to become real big here.”

Set to graduate in May of 2010, Hayes already has her career path picked out as an animal medicine pharmaceutical rep, but first she is going to spend a little more time up close and personal with all the types of animals she loves.

“I’m going to work at a vet clinic first, for a little bit, to get a better grasp on all the medicines,” Hayes said. “I know the majority of them, but there are a lot more out there that I don’t know about.  So, I want to learn about those and help out with the animals.”