Texas panhandle beef production tour, a high-impact compressed course in animal science. Academic Article uri icon


  • Many animal science students have little exposure to working livestock production systems prior to college. As such, they can lack insight into day-to-day challenges and rationale behind decision making in these systems, opening the door for the adoption of misconceptions frequently promoted in the popular press. In addition, students identify a lack of first-hand knowledge and experience in the industry as a challenge to their educational success. Field trips stimulate interest and motivation, provide context for learning, and influence long-term career goals, but are underutilized in higher education. The potential impact of such experiences prompted the creation of the Texas Panhandle Beef Production Tour, a 2-credit hour compressed course. Students on this tour visited beef production sites in the Texas Panhandle ranging from cow-calf operations, to feedlots and packing plants. To cement learning through reflection, students responded to a series of questions before, during, and after visiting these sites to probe preconceptions, observations, and outcomes of the experience. We performed a retroactive qualitative evaluation of these reflections (n = 22) to determine cogent themes. Emergent themes included surprise at the intensive systems of data collection and management and the level of technology used at each site. Cattle were calmer and more comfortable than expected at the feedlots and packing plants. Students expressed new appreciation and understanding of course material and a desire to share their insights with others after completing the tour. Finally, participants gained a broader view of industry opportunities and returned with renewed motivation to pursue additional hands-on opportunities. Participation in this course provided valuable insight into the livestock production industry and motivated students to explore new career options and address their own preconceptions of the industry through independent inquiry. The creation of similar courses may be useful to address misconceptions, create personal connections with course material, and broaden career interests in animal science students.

published proceedings

  • Transl Anim Sci

altmetric score

  • 2.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Bowhay, C. M., Wickersham, T. A., Richardson, R., & Dunlap, K. A.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Bowhay, Ciana M||Wickersham, Tryon A||Richardson, Ra'Sheedah||Dunlap, Kathrin A

publication date

  • April 2022