Living the American Dream
Story and Photos by Rae Buchanan
The Brashears family is one you could call the All-American family that leaves many wondering how they do it all.
Between juggling family time, research, and teaching, this family’s accomplishments exceed many expectations, and some would think their life story is a fairy tale.
From the early days of showing market lambs at the Houston Livestock Show, the story of Mindy and Todd was destined to be.
After dating and getting married early in their careers, Mindy and Todd introduced their first addition to the family, Bailey, when Mindy began working on her doctorate at Oklahoma State University. The second addition to the Brashears family, Reagan, was born three years later in Nebraska, and finally, the third daughter Presley, came five years down the road in Texas.
Bailey is currently a freshman in high school, Reagan is in middle school, and Presley began kindergarten in the fall. All three girls are actively involved in after-school activities such as the marching band, science fair, dance, twirling, soccer, church youth group, and showing market lambs.
Landi Campbell, who obtained her Master of Science in Agricultural Communications under the supervision of Dr. Todd Brashears, spent valuable time with Mindy and Todd as well as their three daughters. “They adore their girls. They absolutely love them,” she said.
While balancing their family’s time and activities, Todd and Mindy are both extremely busy with their own careers and research. Mindy is currently involved in working on pre-and post-harvest food safety research.
“In the pre-harvest area, we are looking at interventions and how we can prevent E-Coli or Salmonella from getting into the product starting at the feedlot level,” Mindy said.
The post-harvest side of Mindy’s research focuses on interventions and experimenting with different ways to kill the bacteria once it is in the food as well as several ways to prevent the bacteria from getting in the food from the beginning.
Many of the grants provided to Mindy and Todd are now what they call integrated, requiring not only the research component, but also an educational outreach component to complete the project.
“The way we work together is Mindy and her team of scientists develop those techniques or those interventions to reduce E-Coli in the feedlot, and then, it really falls on me to impart that to the feedlot workers and management,” Todd said.
Though both Mindy and Todd are extremely involved with their research, they are both faculty on the Tech campus. Mindy is a professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and is the director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence. She is teaching the food safety undergraduate course and a graduate course in grant writing.
“Grant writing is fun because it is offered to everyone in the college, and I get to hear different ideas,” Mindy said. “It’s fun to watch the students try to put together and come up with their own ideas on how to manage.”
Todd is currently an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications. He is also involved in the International Center of Food Industry Excellence and oversees the education and outreach areas.
He is teaching organizational leadership and contemporary issues in leadership, which are both undergraduate courses. He also oversees a section of internships that his undergraduate students are completing this fall.
“The organizational leadership course is one that I’ve always wanted to teach, but I’ve just never been able to due to time and other issues,” Todd said. “I’m really enjoying teaching that class.”
Many might ask how this couple can keep such high-profile careers and still have time for family and entertainment. The Brashears’ key to success is schedule, schedule, schedule, plan and be flexible, they said.
“Communication is the biggest thing, and we have a daily conversation of, ‘What’s going on today?’ ‘Who is picking up the girls?’ ‘What time are you going to be home?’, and we have that conversation every single day,” Todd said.
One enjoyable hobby the Brashears family enjoys is traveling.
“I think that is our favorite hobby, and we couldn’t keep up our work schedule that we do if we didn’t enjoy traveling,” Todd said. “We enjoy traveling and we enjoy the opportunities that we get through the university, and our kids do as well.”
In the Brashears’ home, evenings with the family together begin earlier than the usual 5 o’clock quitting time, but Mindy and Todd tend to go to bed later than most, as well.
When the girls wind down around 9 p.m. for bedtime, Mindy and Todd often stay up late to finish work such as grading papers, working on the computer, or answering frequent e-mails.
“I don’t know that we work more than anybody else,” Todd said, “but we prioritize our kids before our work, and we take a break in the middle and spend time with them while we can.”