Wyman Meinzer graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife management. Mr. Meinzer was named the official photographer of Texas in 1997 by the Texas Legislature and then Gov. George W. Bush. Meinzer has received many awards, including several from the university: the 1987 Outstanding Alumnus Award for the Department of Range and Wildlife Management, the college 1995 Distinguished Alumni Award, after being an instructor for 12 years, the 2005 Agricultural Communications Teacher of the Year, and the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus award from the university. He has also received various award through organizations across the state, including the John Ben Sheppard Jr. Award from the Texas State Historical Foundation, the 1997 Literary Award, the San Antonio Conservation Award, and the 2003 Star of Texas Award.
Michael Gilbert graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics in 1980 from Texas Tech University. In 1986 he completed his Master of Science degree from West Texas A&M and received his doctoral degree in Agronomy in 1989 from Texas Tech. Dr. Gilbert has served the seed industry for almost thirty years. He was previously the General Manager of FiberMax Cottonseed and President of Bayer Cotton Seed International. In 1998, he began as the Vice President of Global Breeding and Trait Development at Bayer Crop Science and continues to hold this title.
Todd Gregory & Mackenzie Gregory Allison
Todd Gregory graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education in 1985 and a Master of Science in the same field just two years later. His daughter, Mackenzie Gregory Allison continued in his footsteps to attend Texas Tech and received her Bachelor and Master of Science in Agricultural Communications in 2010 and 2012. The duo are now working together at Klondike High School as Agricultural Science teachers. At Klondike, Gregory has led teams to 14 state championships, eight national qualifications and two runner-up finishes at nationals. These two complement each other in their teaching styles and excel in different areas that are equally important to agricultural education, from raising livestock to leadership training and communication.
Faith Jurek Smith
Faith Jurek Smith graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications from Texas Tech University. She then continued on at Texas Tech to receive her Master of Science Degree in Agricultural Communications in 2014, during which she was a Graduate Communications Assistant. In her final year at Texas Tech, she was chosen as the president of the National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (NACT) organization. National ACT is a collegiate organization that emphasizes the development of agricultural communication students. Students are given opportunities in professional situations and educational programs. After graduating, she began working for United Sorghum Checkoff Program where she began as the Communications Director. In January 2016, she was repositioned as the Consumer Communications Strategist, which positions her in charge of implementing communication plans and developing and coordinating events and programs for Sorghum Checkoff.
Matthew Schertz graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Applied Economics. While at Tech, he competed on and help coach livestock judging and meat animal evaluation teams. He was accepted to the government internship program through the college, through which he interned with then Chairman Larry Combest. He now serves as the Policy Director at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture where he oversees the legislative team and operations. Schertz has held various positions with the House Agricultural Committee and even took a position in government relations at Combest, Sell & Associates before his position now, which he began in 2011. His work has put him in contact with various legislative proposals and bills that have a large impact on American agriculture, including the 2002, 2008, and 2014 Farm Bills.
Ginger Light graduated from the Department of Plant and Soil Science with her Ph.D. in Agronomy and a minor in Biology in 1999. She received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Wayland Baptist University in 1995. She began at Texas Tech in the School of Law before deciding to focus on her graduate studies. She began as an instructor and researcher in the Plant and Soil Science department after graduation. She was hired by Bayer CropScience in 2009 and worked as their Global Cotton Quality Management System Manager. In this position, she was responsible for quality assurance within the organization and traveled to over 10 countries during the three years before being promoted to her current position in 2011. She served as the Herbicide Tolerance and Physical Traits Development Manager for Bayer CropScience until 2015 and is currently the TD Trait Introgression and Greenhouse Manager at Bayer CropScience. Ginger has received numerous awards and recognitions over the years. In 2012, she was honored as a College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Outstanding Young Alumna. She has also received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award, and the Outstanding Plant and Soil Science Student for Gamma Sigma Delta, and many others.
Mary Jane Buerkle
Mary Jane Buerkle graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications. She then received her Master of Science in Agricultural Education in 2004 In 2011, she began as the Director of Communications and Public Affairs with Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. after working for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal for two years and then the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce as Vice President of Business Development and was later the Vice President of Communications. She currently serves as chairperson of the Leadership Advisory Board for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Lubbock County and as president of the Texas Tech Agricultural Education and Communications Alumni Association. She has received numerous awards over the years, including Graduate of Distinction for the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, Distinguished Alumna Award for the National Agricultural Communications of Tomorrow, and was recognized as one of Lubbock’s Top 20 Under 40 by the Young Professionals of Greater Lubbock organization.
Drew DeBerry graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Applied Economics in 2000. While at Texas Tech, he participated in the Government Internship Program through the college and was the Student Fellow for Texas State Senator Robert Duncan during the 76th Legislative Session. He continued to assist Senator Duncan after the internship and later served as the National Director of the Farm and Ranch Coalition for the 2000 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign. He worked as the White House Liaison for the United States Department of Agriculture for four years before being promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff for the agency in 2005. In 2007, he was appointed Texas Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture by Commissioner Todd Staples in 2007 and served in that role through 2014. In January of 2015, Drew was appointed Policy Director by Texas Governor Greg Abbot. He continues to hold this position. Drew is an active volunteer locally and statewide. He sits on the board of director for Austin’s Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo.
Larry Butler graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management in 1974. His interests have always centered on land stewardship and education. From 1974 to 2007, he worked for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service). After starting in an entry-level position in San Angelo, Butler was later named the federal agency’s Texas State Conservationist and one of 26 top NRCS executives. In 2013, he decided to take his interests a different route. Butler is the creator, executive producer and host of the 30-minute television program “Out on the Land” shown weekly on RFD-TV. Since the pilot aired on Jan. 1, 2013, Butler has completed five seasons totaling 65 episodes. The show explores the American landscapes and highlights best land practices of ranchers, farmers and other landowners. He has received various awards, including the 2005 Society for Range Management’s Outstanding Achievement Award and Department of Natural Resources' Outstanding Alumnus Award, the 2006 USDA Senior Executive Service Performance Award, the 2007 College Distinguished Alumnus Award, and the 2014 Outstanding Contribution to Range Management, Texas Section Society for Rangeland Management.
Shawn Benge graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Texas Tech University in 1989. Over the past thirty years, he has been employed by the National Park Service and held various positions across the nation. His current appointment is as the Associate Director of Park Planning, Facilities, and Lands. He provides leadership over volunteers, partners, and over 22,000 staff members. He is in charge of policy development, program accountability, budget formulation for development planning, land acquisition, facility operations, and design/construction activities across the national park system. Prior to his current position, he has also been the Southwest Region Deputy Regional Director/Chief of Staff, the Superintendent for Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the Chief, Facility Management, Construction, and Professional Services Division, the Landscape Architect for Big Bend National Park, and the Project Supervisor for Denver Service Center. He has been an integral part of the National Park Service over his career and continues to provide exceptional guidance and service.