When Vance Christie came to Weatherford College in the fall of 2016 he had three goals for the agriculture department: to develop its transfer curriculum, improve the college farm facility and create competitive teams.
One year later, he has made great strides in accomplishing each of the goals and has nearly doubled the number of students in the program.
From fall 2016 to fall 2017, the ag program has increased from 20 to 41 students and the equine program has grown from 15 to 24.
“I think our increase in student enrollment is proof we are continuing to move the program in a positive direction,” Christie said.
That process began with educating students on the job opportunities available in the agriculture and equine industries. Adjunct equine instructor Melinda Mayes has contributed to this endeavor by arranging for guest speakers to make presentations to students about agriculture careers.
“The students enjoy the practical, real-world view of what’s happening in the ag industry,” Christie said.
As the program transitions to include more transfer credits, one of Christie’s main goals, he said it’s imperative to improve facilities like the college farm on FM 51 South to provide the ability to house cattle, sheep and goats.
“There’s a lot of brush clearing and fence work and that sort of thing we’ve been working on to get to that point,” he said. “Historically, we had a registered Angus cow herd out at the farm. I’d like to re-establish that and look at working in some rotational grazing with sheep and goats.”
Christie’s third goal was to host competitions to support what his students are learning in the classroom and to use as a recruiting and retention tool. To this end, WC has hosted two ag leadership contests, one career development contest and a 4-H public speaking contest attracting hundreds of high school students from across the state to the WC campus.
Long term, Christie hopes to continue to grow enrollment in the program and expand competition opportunities.
“As our student population continues to grow we may look at livestock judging teams or horse judging teams and other areas of competition,” he said. “That’s going to take a lot of scholarship money and travel funds. We’ll see how that goes.”