Abigayle Houser may consider Middle Tennessee State University’s nationally recognized Horse Science program in about four years. At 15, the Bledsoe County High School freshman has plenty of time to ponder her future.
Houser, who lives with her family on the 275-acre Rock Solid Ranch featuring Simmental cattle and working farm near rural Pikeville, Tennessee, joined nearly 600 high school students recently at the annual MTSU School of Agriculture Raider Roundup, held at the Tennessee Livestock Center, Stark Agribusiness and Agriscience Center, Horticulture Center and Academic Classroom Building.
Used as a recruiting tool, Raider Roundup brought teenagers — most of them involved in FFA and 4-H — from East, Middle and West Tennessee to campus Wednesday, Sept. 27, for competitions in 17 agriculture-related events and to network with MTSU students and faculty. The event was hosted by MTSU Collegiate FFA.
Competition topics included land evaluation, pet care/veterinary science, milk quality, nursery/landscape, agronomy and more. Workshops also were held in agri-analytics, agricultural education, concrete and construction management and fermentation/distillation. MTSU mascot Lightning joined them during lunch.
In the horse judging skills assessment competition with several dozen of her peers, Houser — dressed in a blue-and-red paisley shirt, cowgirl hat, designer boots and jeans — said she was “really enjoying my time on campus and excited to learn the correct way to evaluate the discipline.”
Kailee Scott, a junior animal science and public relations double major from Lebanon, Tennessee, and MTSU Collegiate FFA president, attended Raider Roundup while in high school and said “it’s nice to be able to give back to the organization (School of Agriculture) that’s given me so much — leadership skills and a place to feel my voice is heard.”
Also addressing the group during the welcome session was Hannah Harrell, a sophomore majoring in plant and soil science and treasurer in the Tennessee FFA.
Chaney Mosley, assistant professor in Agricultural Education and associate director with the Tennessee STEM Education Center, praised the faculty, staff and students who volunteered.
“It’s outreach to these high school students and I appreciate the effort our students and faculty contributed to make Raider Roundup so successful,” Mosley said.
Data Science, the School of Concrete and Construction Management and the Tennessee STEM Education Center were also involved with Raider Roundup events.
Participating schools included McEwen, Clay County, Jo Byrns, Cannon County, Franklin County, Liberty Creek FFA, Greenbrier FFA, Glencliff, Macon County, Warren County, Giles County, Livingston, Hendersonville, Baxter, Station Camp and others.
Private schools included Christian Community in White House and Christ’s Legacy Academy. Rutherford County was represented by Eagleville, Rockvale, Blackman, La Vergne, Oakland, Siegel, Riverdale and Stewarts Creek high schools.
The School of Agriculture is one of 11 MTSU College of Basic and Applied Sciences departments. To learn more, call 615-898-2523.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)