Texas Tech University

Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center Opens at Texas Tech's NRHC

Glenys Young

October 12, 2023

Business of Ranching

A ribbon-cutting ceremony today (Oct. 12) marked the grand opening for the new facility, which features Hank the Cowdog.

Red Truck
A Hank the Cowdog bronze statue, created by artist Raul Ruiz, welcomes visitors to the outdoor exhibit area next to his iconic red pickup truck.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center featuring Hank the Cowdog took place this afternoon (Oct. 12) at the National Ranching Heritage Center (NRHC) at Texas Tech University

“The ribbon cutting signifies the grand opening of this new, state-of-the-art facility, bringing the ranching experience to visitors from all walks of life,” said Jim Bret Campbell, NRHC executive director. “The inspiration, development and execution of the Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center has taken a team of dedicated, passionate folks to bring the dream to reality.” 

The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center provides an immersive indoor and outdoor ranching experience for all ages guided by the famous character of Hank the Cowdog. 

Prairie Ecology
Frenship Crestview Elementary students tested their knowledge on taking care of and creating a healthy prairie for their ranch.

“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 will be an incredible local- and national-level attraction.” 

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

Indoor exhibits 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.  

Sally May Ranch House
Sally May's Ranch House Kitchen

Outdoor exhibits bring Hank's fictional ranch to life, including Sally May and Loper's ranch house, the machine shed, horse barn and cake house. Visitors can explore a half-acre of exhibits focused on natural resources, wildlife, range nutrition, grassland, horses, cowboys, ranch equipment and more.

“With fewer people connected to agriculture than in the past, it's part of our job moving forward to educate the public on where our food comes from,” Campbell said. “The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center provides a fun and immersive way to bridge the connection between ranching today and its impact on their daily lives.”

Cake House
Cake House

In 2016, the NRHC worked with Hank the Cowdog author John R. 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 brings those lessons to life in a hands-on way for NRHC patrons of all ages. 

A grand opening week celebrating the new facility will take place Friday (Oct. 13) through Oct. 21. The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center is free to the public and open during normal operating hours at the National Ranching Heritage Center at Texas Tech University. To learn more, visit ranchlifelearning.com.

Photo Gallery

About the National Ranching Heritage Center

Supported by Texas Tech University and the Ranching Heritage Association, the NRHC is a 27-acre museum and historical park that offers educational programs and exhibits about ranching history and contemporary ranching issues. The center is located at 3121 Fourth St. and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. The historical park is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible. For more information, visit ranchingheritage.org or call (806) 742-0498.