CHEYENNE – Temple Grandin has pioneered research in animal science, consulted livestock operations across the country and even had an HBO movie made about her life. Now, her next big task is helping bring Laramie County Community College’s Agriculture and Equine Master Plan to fruition.
Grandin, a professor at Colorado State University and renowned autism advocate, toured LCCC’s facilities Monday to provide suggestions and her planning expertise.
“Students like having nice facilities,” Grandin said. “When you have good facilities, it attracts students.”
According to Agriculture Program Director Bruce Nisley, LCCC has the largest agriculture and equestrian program in the state. The current facilities, however, are limiting the scope of the school’s operation.
“Our goals are program- and activity-oriented. We really want to be able to expand our equine facility so that we can expand our equine classes to meet the demand we think is out there,” Nisley said. “We’re basically using our arena from 7 o’clock in the morning until 9 o’clock at night.”
Currently, about 150 students are enrolled in the program and can join equestrian and livestock judging teams to gain practical experience in the field. The master plan outlines the potential for new classes like horticulture and meat judging.
For the revamped facilities, Grandin said to shoot for “a nice, solid, high-end Chevrolet,” as opposed to a “Rolls-Royce.” She said part of the reason she hopped on board the project was so that a contractor didn’t rip the school off.
Jill Koslosky, dean of the School of Business, Agriculture and Technical Studies, stressed the importance of having industry experts on board throughout the process.
“You really have to have ag-based people looking at these facilities,” Koslosky said. “So to bring in experts like Temple Grandin and Jerome Robinson (a professional rodeo hall-of-famer), that’s how you get a facility that’s built right.”
Grandin stressed the importance of building versatile pens to hold a variety of animals, especially because LCCC has more livestock events than most other schools, and commended the school’s sturdy structures.
“[Grandin] sees what is working and what the potential is,” Koslosky said.
The next step in the revitalization process involves drafting more specific designs with the help of architect Laura Dougherty to get back to Grandin for review.
LCCC produces a campus-wide master plan to outline how the school will increase enrollment and improve its operations and facilities. But the plan has failed to address the agriculture and equine program in detail, Koslosky said.
“Anything ag related was summed up in about one or two sentences in the campus master plan,” said Kassidy Woody, who is 19 and majoring in equine science.
But with a program-specific master plan, Koslosky said she hopes LCCC will become the “premier, go-to” place for agriculture and equine studies.
“Right now, I think you can’t really find anything like this, which is why I came here,” Woody said. “The fact that they’re trying to make it better is really awesome.”