Texas Tech University

Construction Begins on The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center

Adrian Hawkins

October 14, 2022

The National Ranching Heritage Center hosted a groundbreaking ceremony today.

Cash Family with President Schovanec
Cash Family with President Schovanec

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Ranch Life Learning Center featuring Hank the Cowdog took place this morning (Oct. 14) at Texas Tech University's National Ranching Heritage Center (NRHC). 

Envisioned as an indoor and outdoor comprehensive learning experience for the public, The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center will provide all ages an immersive ranching experience, guided by the famous character, Hank the Cowdog. 

“Hank the Cowdog author John R. Erickson has captured the complexities of the ranching industry in a format that is so natural for children to enjoy while learning through the character of Hank,” said Julie Hodges, NRHC Helen DeVitt Jones Endowed Director of Education. “Hank's influence has touched audiences across the country and beyond. With Hank as the guide, The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center is expected to be an incredible local and national-level attraction.” 

President Schovanec
President Lawrence Schovanec

The overall experience will artfully meld the latest in high-tech exhibit technology – such as holograms, video projection and simulation tables – with authentic, hands-on ranching exploration including activities with cowboy gear, water resources and livestock feeds. 

Indoor exhibits will cover many aspects of modern ranching. Visitors will walk away with a greater knowledge of the ranching industry and its impact on their daily lives. Each exhibit will emphasize the science, technology, values and grit it takes to be a modern-day rancher.  

Outdoor exhibits will bring Hank's fictional ranch to life. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore a half-acre of exhibits and natural areas focused on natural resources, wildlife, range nutrition, grassland, horses, cowboys, ranch equipment and roles of a ranch family. 

“We want to tell our story of heritage and history, but we also have to make agriculture relatable to a large majority of people who didn't grow up around horses, livestock and land,” said Jim Bret Campbell, NRHC Executive Director.

Hank the Cowdog

In 2016, the NRHC worked with Erickson to publish a series of books and establish a classroom curriculum called Ranch Life Learning. The books and educator resources help students learn science and social studies through Hank the Cowdog and his ranch. The Ranch Life Learning series has become a classroom staple due to its relatability and real-world application. Now, The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center will bring those lessons to life in a hands-on way for NRHC patrons of all ages. 

The groundbreaking signifies the beginning of the construction phase of The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center. Construction is anticipated to be completed in summer 2023. 

While construction has started, there is still an opportunity to reach a fundraising goal to support this transformative facility for years to come. For more information on The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center and how to contribute to the project, visit ranchingheritage.org.

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