College gets grant for equine programs

Mesalands Community College received a $10,000 donation from the Working Ranch Cowboys Foundation to aid the continued growth and expansion of the Equine and Rodeo programs.

Pat Fitzgerald, director of the WRCF, visited Mesalands on June 27 along with other foundation members to present them with the donation, which will be used to install 20 new horse stalls.

"I have worked with Mesalands for about 15 to 20 years. I thought it would be a good idea for this donation to help Mesalands and the young cowboys and cowgirls in this area with the supplies needed to further their education," Fitzgerlad said.

Fitzgerald said the WRCF, based in Amarillo, has been providing assistance to ranch families for 14 years. She said that assistance includes; providing scholarships for working ranch cowboys and their family members and crisis assistance to injured or ill ranch cowboys or their families.

Fitzgerald said the foundation is always happy to help colleges like Mesalands, that promote the further education of students who have come from the cowboy way of life.

"We are growing so much we were running out of space, the need to expand was always there, this donation came at a good time," said C. J. Aragon, Intercollegiate Rodeo Coach at Mesalands.

Aragon said even before this year's successful season there was an increase of students interested in attending Mesalands for the rodeo program.

Mesalands rodeo team had seven freshmen and three sophomores compete on June 10-16 at the 2012 College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, Wyo. The women's team placed sixth overall and freshman Macy Fuller won the 2012 CNFR Rookie of the Year Title.

Aragon said if they had the funding and a large facility the program could attract 70 to 80 students to Mesalands, double what is currently enrolled.

"We are grateful for this donation from the Working Ranch Cowboys Foundation," said Mildred Lovato, president of Mesalands. "We are excited about expanding our academic programs, which promote all that is important to our history, including ranch management and equine studies. These heritage programs will provide students with the necessary skills to work in this competitive industry."

Lovato said these academic programs provide high quality education and training for students interested in career opportunities within the horse industry and related agri-business enterprises.

In addition, Mesalands will offer equine career training, life-long learning, and sustainable education through hands-on practice, promoting quality community service and responding to the diverse equine needs of the region, she said.

Equine Studies courses will be offered in the Fall Semester.

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