Lubbock ISD’s new building on Texas Tech’s campus is an investment in students and the future of West Texas.
There is nothing unusual about Texas Tech University investing in the future of West Texas. Since its inception, that's been a primary focus for the university.
But a new collaboration with Lubbock ISD is a shining example of exactly how much impact a tier-one research institution can have on a city.
On Tuesday, LISD cut the ribbon on the new Agri-STEM complex for LISD students, part of a $130 million bond package approved by voters in 2018.
Built on Quaker Avenue, just north of Fourth Street, the Agri-STEM complex will serve students from all five LISD high schools and help prepare them to further their education or build careers within the agriculture industry.
“We can get students from all five high schools here in an efficient manner,” said LISD Board of Trustees President Zach Brady. “Secondly, because of our location on the campus, we can get students from the college here in an efficient manner to participate. The centers of excellence that the college of ag brings to the table – everything from ag-com to the dominance of our legendary meat science program, and lots of spots in between – are going to create some fabulous opportunities for the students that come through this building.
“And let me tell you why I think that's so important: We're going to have the opportunity here to prepare students for careers in agriculture. And that doesn't mean working in a field or a barn. It means working in a science-based, vital business that's providing for people's most basic needs.”
With Texas Tech research fields and rangelands all around, the Agri-STEM complex will offer LISD students the chance to see the high-level research being done by Texas Tech students and professors.
Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources Dean Clint Krehbiel believes the opportunity to engage with high school students will prove valuable to everybody involved.
“The need and the opportunity to engage students is more critical now than ever,” he said. “The number of our traditional students is dwindling as the number of actual producers living and residing on farms and ranches is less than 2% of the population. So, the opportunity to engage communities and other urban centers like Lubbock will be more and more important to us.
“This is the kind of facility that gets students excited about agricultural programs and then Texas Tech Davis College. Even if they don't end up coming to Texas Tech – of course we want them to come to Davis College, be part of our program – we can help them understand what those career opportunities are and help them make connections to the industry.”
Krehbiel also wants to build on the already existing partnership and find ways for the program to be even more beneficial for LISD and Texas Tech.
“We're thinking about a partnership already in terms of what that might look like,” Krehbiel said, “to give graduate students and student teachers the opportunity to come to this facility and get their feet wet doing lectures on agriculture, or even if it's more one-on-one building mentorship relationships.
“The LISD students may be from urban backgrounds and not really understand what agriculture is all about. Our Davis College students can help make that connection or be that bridge to those career opportunities.”