Filed Under Gibbs Ranch

Gibbs Ranch and SHSU

Gibbs Ranch is a large well-known ranch in the Walker County area that was owned by Mr. W.S. Gibbs prior to being given to Sam Houston State University. After Mr. Gibbs passed away the land was leased out until 1993 when Mrs. Ruth Farrington, Mr. Gibbs’ wife, decided to deed the “home place” of 124.94 acres to Sam Houston State University. The 1459.95 acres would be deeded to Sam Houston State University later that year by the Sam Houston Foundation. The Department of Agricultural Sciences would then acquire access to the ranch. Prior to receiving Gibbs Ranch, the Department was running out of the country Campus and the Agriculture Center Farm. [1]

Upon acquiring the ranch, the Agricultural Department went to work out at the ranch to get it fixed up well enough for their use. Many of the fences, roads, and facilities were no longer useable, so everything had to be redone and rebuilt. New classrooms and barns were built for student learning and hands-on experience. Pastures for hay production were renovated and improved, along with establishing pastures for cattle and other livestock. Once the improvements were made, a herd of cattle was purchased for the university to use as a learning tool and a way to create revenue for the ranch to continue to make improvements. [2]

Acquiring Gibbs Ranch has made a huge impact on the Agricultural Sciences at Sam Houston State University. In my interview with Dr. Doug Ullrich, he discusses the increasing number of students within the Department of Agricultural Sciences over the past 30 years, and even more so in the last 10 years. Dr. Ullrich discussed how many parents want to see their children going to universities that have newer facilities and are becoming more innovative. Dr. Ullrich talked about how students want more hands-on experience and the option of a variety of experiences. Dr. Ullrich hopes that with the plans for the future and the new facilities that will be built at Gibbs Ranch, the Agricultural Sciences program at Sam Houston State University will continue to grow and more incoming students will be excited to come to Sam Houston State University and be a part of the growing agricultural industry. [3]

Throughout the years of the Agricultural Sciences Department obtaining the Gibbs Ranch, many improvements haves been made along the way and new additions have continued to expand. Gibbs Ranch is home to many species of livestock and many organizations through Sam Houston State University and The Department of Agricultural Sciences. The Department of Agricultural Sciences was graciously donated a herd of about 30 head of purebred Angus cattle. Through this herd, students and faculty have been able to create both a commercial herd and a show herd. Through the commercial herd, faculty can teach many classes and many different lessons. Classes of student from Sam Houston State University Agricultural Sciences can learn about breeding and genetics, reproduction, marketing, cattle management, and what it takes to care for cattle on a day to day basis. Through the show cattle herd, students can become a part of the Sam Houston State University Beef Show Cattle Team. Through this team students will learn how to care for show cattle daily, including hair care and feed rations. Students will also learn how to pick out the best quality cattle to take to the shows to compete. [4]

Another large factor at Gibbs Ranch are the show goats that are raised. The purpose of this program is to raise and sell show quality goats at an annual goat sale held at Gibbs Ranch. Students will learn how to care for breeding and show goats, how to prepare for a sale, and the process of a sale. Classes from the Agricultural Sciences Department at Sam Houston State University also get involved with the goats at Gibbs Ranch, by learning about daily care and feed rations. This program is expected to grow to larger numbers in the years to come as new additions are added to the Gibbs Ranch in the future.

On a portion of Gibbs Ranch, the Sam Houston State University Rodeo Team and their livestock can be found. On the southern section of the ranch nearest to the road, a pasture of horses and an arena with stands is visible. This section is dedicated to the Rodeo Team at Sam Houston State University. A small outdoor rodeo arena and several pastures are what the facility consists of. In these pastures are the herds of bucking broncos, bucking bulls, and roping steers. Students who are a part of the Rodeo Team come here during the week to get practice in for the larger competitions. Clinics and scrimmage rodeos are also a part of the types of practice the rodeo team gets at Gibbs Ranch. Other events are held in the outdoor arena, such as the annual steer saddling event put on by the Sam Houston State University Collegiate FFA. These facilities are expected to expand in the coming years to allow for better and safer practice facilities. [5]

Gibbs Ranch is also the home of many species of wildlife. Graduate students and undergraduate students come out to the Gibbs Ranch for wildlife courses offered at Sam Houston State University to learn about species of wildlife, fishing and pond management, and wildlife crops. Through these courses, students gain hands-on experience and can assist in the improvement of the wildlife at the Gibbs Ranch. Graduate students can also choose to conduct their research projects at Gibbs Ranch in any field. Research is often conducted on wildlife management, cattle management, goat management, pasture management, pond management, and crop management. Graduate students have the ability to create research topics and carry them out in their own way. Undergraduate students can be recruited by graduate students to help assist with the research, get hands-on experience, use it as a resume builder, and gain connections. [6]

Along with other groups from Sam Houston State University Agricultural Sciences, the Block and Bridle group holds their monthly meeting at Gibbs Ranch in the ranch classroom. After their monthly meeting, the Block and Bridle club and its member hold a trash pick-up along the stretch of the highway in front of Gibbs Ranch. Students have the opportunity to keep the roads clean and see what throwing trash out can mean, while gaining volunteer hours in the process. The Block and Bridle club keeps up the appearance of Gibbs Ranch and Sam Houston State University by cleaning up the trash once a month.

Sam Houston State University plans to continue to grow and expand Gibbs Ranch to become a more innovative and modern facility for learning. A new equine facility, new laboratories, new classrooms, and new livestock barns are just a few of the improvements to be made at Gibbs Ranch in the future and years to come. Gibbs Ranch has ben able to stay solvent from a financial standpoint since Sam Houston State University Agricultural Sciences has been running the ranch. The Agricultural Sciences Departments has been able to make a profit on timber sales, the annual goat sale, and leasing out small pastures for grazing. Throughout this time period, Gibbs Ranch has been able to remain a successful teaching and research facility for the Agricultural Sciences students of Sam Houston State University. Through private and public financial support, the Agricultural Sciences faculty hope to be able to carry out the improvement plans in a timely manner to continue to grow the Agricultural Sciences program at Sam Houston State University and become a leading university for agriculture in the United States. [7]

Audio

Interview with Dr. Doug Ullrich, Department Head of Agricultural Sciences at Sam Houston State University In this interview, I talk with Dr. Ullrich about his thoughts on Gibbs Ranch and the impact it has made for the Agricultural Sciences at Sam Houston State University. He then discusses the future plans for Gibbs Ranch and the improvements to be made. Date: November 1, 2019

Images

The Goats of Gibbs Ranch This is a photo of just a few of the many goats raised and sold at Gibbs Ranch. Source: https://www.shsu.edu/academics/agricultural-sciences-and-engineering-technology/images/gibbs-ranch-goats.html
The Gibbs Ranch Sign This is a sign at Gibbs Ranch that can be found on the southern side of the Ranch where the Sam Houston State University Rodeo Team resides. Source: https://www.shsu.edu/academics/agricultural-sciences-and-engineering-technology/gibbs/index.html
The Future Equine Center at Gibbs Ranch This is the design for the future equine center for Sam Houston State University and the Agricultural Sciences. This facility is in the plans to be built at Gibbs Ranch in the near future to allow the equine program to expand and grow. Source: https://gh2.com/portfolio/Equine/VeterinaryEducation/SamHouston/SamHouston.html
Gibbs Ranch Plot This is an aerial photograph of Gibbs Ranch. It shows where the ranch is located and the plot that the ranch sits on. Source: https://www.shsu.edu/academics/agricultural-sciences-and-engineering-technology/images/gibbs-ranch.html
Facilities at Gibbs Ranch This is a photograph of one of the facilities that used to be located at Gibbs Ranch. This building no longer stands as new construction has taken its place recently in the past year. Source: https://www.shsu.edu/academics/agricultural-sciences-and-engineering-technology/images/gibbs-ranch-facilities.html
Sam Houston State University Beef Show Cattle Team This is a photograph of a past Sam Houston State University Beef Show Cattle Team. In the photograph, the team is holding many of the ribbons and awards won in a particular show season at the major stock shows. Source: https://www.shsu.edu/academics/agricultural-sciences-and-engineering-technology/images/gibbs-ranch-cattle.html

Location

Metadata

Cassady B. West, “Gibbs Ranch and SHSU,” East Texas History, accessed December 4, 2022, https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/301.