Freshman / Department of Agricultural Education & Communications
DAN PATTERSON HAS PARLAYED his love for public speaking and writing into an undergraduate career path in agricultural communications. Rather than slipping into the background of university life, today the outgoing Texas Tech University freshman and 2006-2007 State 4-H Council president is working toward a life in public.
“I like people,” he said with a smile. “I like to talk to people. One of my most comfortable positions is to be up on a stage in front of a number of people with a microphone in my hand.”
Natural Affinity. Growing up in the rural farming community of Farwell, 90 miles northwest of Lubbock, Patterson developed a natural affinity toward Red Raider life from attending footballs games to participating in numerous agricultural contests in 4-H and FFA across the region.
“Texas Tech did a tremendous job in terms of recruiting me,” he said. “Anytime I went to speak somewhere, they were always there. I made up my mind that this is where I wanted to be.”
Leadership Posts. Patterson has been involved in agricultural competitions since he was a child. His father, Gary, was previously an Extension agent in Parmer County and helped his son down the contest path starting with pigs in the third grade. Later the younger Patterson added lambs and horses to his repertoire.
Over the years the Texas Tech student has held numerous 4-H leadership posts, including being named State 4-H Council president during his senior year at Farwell High School in 2006. “One of the best things that my parents ever did for me was to have high expectations,” he said. “They never expected me not to be my best.”
Agricultural Life. 4-H has been a critical part of agricultural life in Texas for a century. A county Extension agent in Jack County organized the first boys’ “corn club” in 1908. Four years later the first girls’ “tomato club” was founded in Milam County. By the 1920s, those two clubs and others like them evolved into the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program as it is today.
Since that first corn club with its original 25 members, participation in 4-H activities has grown tremendously. More than 65,000 Texas youth are enrolled members of 4-H community clubs in Texas. Another 850,000 get involved in 4-H through special educational opportunities at school, in after school programs or at neighborhood or youth centers. 4-H is open to all youth between the ages of 9 (or 8 and in the 3rd grade) to 18.
Looking ahead, Patterson said that once he completes his bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications he’d like to attend law school. “I’d like to eventually practice corporate or agricultural law,” he said. “But there’s always the possibility of politics.”
Written by Norman Martin