CSU Day at the National Western Stock Show full of new milestones and old traditions

Photo Collage of CSU Day at the Stock Show

A composite image of CSU Day at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo. Photos by CSU Photography team

When a relationship has lasted 116 years, new milestones might be hard to come by … unless it’s 2022, and you’re Colorado State University and the National Western Stock Show. 

This year marked the grand opening of the first building at the new CSU Spur campus, which will serve as the educational centerpiece of the still under construction National Western Center. 

The public got a look at CSU Spur’s Vida building at its grand opening on Jan. 15, which was fitting since it also happened to be CSU Day at the National Western Stock Show. 

CSU has played a role in the stock show since its first days under a borrowed big-top circus tent in 1906 and has watched it grow into an event that brings 700,000 people to Denver every year for 16 days full of rodeos, agriculture education, cattle judging and more. 

Keep reading to meet some of the people who made CSU Day at the Stock Show another success.

The lowdown on CSU Spur

Read the winter 2022 issue of STATE Magazine for everything you need to know about the CSU Spur campus, from its history to what’s next at magazine.csusystem.edu.

New year, new yards

Stockyards sign

CSU’s Seedstock Merchandising program is 45 years old, and has been showing Hereford and Angus cattle at the stock show for just over 20 years. This year is special, though, thanks to their new digs in the revamped stockyards.

“It’s a good, new way to recruit prospective students because we’re front and center in the new yards,” said Samantha Cunningham, the adviser for the team and assistant professor in the Department of Animal Sciences.

But with a great location comes great responsibility. The six members of the team helped answer questions from numerous members of the public about what they do, and why it’s so important.

CSU Seedstock Merchandising Team
Taking care of a cow
Brushing Hereford cow

“Educating people who walk by is such a huge part of this, because so many people don’t know where their food comes from and all the work involved,” said Bailee Jones, a senior animal sciences major and member of the Seedstock Team.

Jones and her teammates showed their six heifers at the National Western Stock Show on Jan. 14, and offered a “buyer’s choice” of their pen show entry. During the stock show, the CSU students also had the opportunity to engage and network with industry leaders and fellow cattle breeders.

“It’s good to preserve the tradition of CSU showing livestock at the stock show,” said senior animal sciences major Kate Scott. “That’s one of the most enjoyable parts of this for me.”

Once the stock show is over, it doesn’t mean the work is done.

The team will go to Houston for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention and Trade Show in Houston Feb. 1-3. Next up is the 45th annual Bull and Female Sale at 11 a.m. on Feb. 19 at the Centennial Livestock Auction in Fort Collins.

Agriculture education for everyone

Ag Adventure exhibit
Ag Adventure exhibit kids

Each year, children and adults learn where their foods come from during the Ag Adventure exhibit at the National Western Stock Show.

What third-year animal sciences student Malei Tipton could only describe as “waves of people” kept her busy Saturday afternoon during her shift volunteering at the CSU Ag Adventure Exhibit. “We have young ones, older ones, everyone in between coming to check it out,” Tipton said during a brief reprieve.

She handed out scavenger hunts to children who visited the exhibit for a firsthand look at where their food really comes from. More than 20,000 people visit Ag Adventure each year, and are guided by College of Agricultural Sciences students serving as “ag tour guides.”

One of them is Kevin Snyder, a third-year agriculture education major who is originally from Oakdale, California.

“CSU is Colorado’s land-grant institution, and it’s a responsibility and a privilege to help educate the next generation about what the agriculture industry does,” he said.

Recruiting the next generation

Lady with Horns

Susan Brown shows off the most popular accessory at the National Western Stock Show.

Children in paper Ram’s horns are a common sight at the stock show, and that’s thanks to people like Susan Brown, a recruitment coordinator for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

During CSU Day, she helped work at the CSU booth that greets visitors on their way to Ag Adventure and the petting zoo on the third floor of the Hall of Education.

“It’s fun to see kids get excited about CSU,” she said. “It’s a fun tradition to give them their ram horns.”

Kids with horns
People wearing horns at CSU Spur

Ram pride from Miss Rodeo Colorado

Colorado native Ashley Baller did CSU proud on Saturday when she displayed the Ram flag for all to see while fulfilling her duties Saturday night as Miss Rodeo Colorado.

The 25-year-old grew up in Parker and graduated from CSU with a degree in equine science in May 2018. She is now the first predominantly Latina Miss Rodeo Colorado and said she wants to use her heritage to create stronger connections between English and Spanish speakers alike.

While she was at CSU, Baller participated in the American Quarter Horse Judging Team, Equine Science Stewards and Legends of Ranching program.

“In honor of CSU Day at the National Western Stock Show … I just want to take a moment to say that … I’M PROUD TO BE A CSU RAM!” Baller wrote on Instagram.

New exposure for CSU

The modern CSU Spur campus is right next to the historic brick buildings that previously made up the stock show complex that Coloradans have known and loved for decades.

It will be made up of three buildings: Vida, Terra and Hydro. Vida was the first to open and is home to everything from the Temple Grandin Equine Center to a water therapy facility for horses to a virtual reality simulation.

On Saturday, dozens of members of the public gathered outside of a window to watch live surgical procedures from veterinarians at the Denver Dumb Friends League, which has partnered with CSU to open a low-cost clinic in the facility.

The general public will be able to the Vida building and entire CSU Spur campus year-round.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said CSU alumna Linda Debell (’96) during her walk-through of the CSU Spur campus on Saturday. “It’s bringing us to a new generation.”

Alumnus Alan Vitello agreed.

“This will be a really cool thing for CSU,” he said. “It’s such a benefit that this is open to the public, and everyone can see the work the University does.”