The Longhorn Project at Johnson Space Center

May 2nd, 2019

Proud mentors with the 2018-19 Show Team, LHP’s accomplished youth & leaders of tomorrow. (Back row L-R): Andrea Wilson, Board Chairman; Henry Wilson, Project Manager. (Front row L-R): Brandon Couvillion, Libby Butterfield, Emma Lucas, Quinton Cherry. Photo: Matt Lucas

No place in the galaxy like it. Texas longhorns meet manned space exploration.

Come be a part of the legendary Longhorn Project at Johnson Space Center (LHP). The organization has blended an award-winning Texas longhorn herd with STEM educational and environmental programs with a noteworthy record of achievement for nearly a quarter century. Hundreds of local FFA students have been awarded scholarships on “Show Teams,” raising and exhibiting longhorns across Texas and in bordering states.

In collaboration with NASA scientists, the LHP works with master naturalists, environmental professionals and volunteers to champion sustainability projects, connecting countless high school students with experts on everything from maintaining a 7-acre garden to Aquaculture, inventive landscaping and Agronomy.

The LHP also engaged more than 60,000 local elementary and middle-school students through its STEM-based curriculum.

Founded in 1996 by JSC Center Director George W. S. Abbey, the LHP began with a commitment to making the Center’s resources available to the educational community.
“In his office, Mr. Abbey had a cattle photograph that served as his inspiration in bringing the world-famous longhorns to JSC,” said Andrea Wilson, chairman of the LHP Board of Directors. “In fact, the cattle in that 1960 photo grazed on land owned by the family of James Marion West Sr., co-founder of Humble Oil & Refining Company, that would eventually become the home for NASA JSC.”

“He thought bringing the cattle, native to the state of Texas, to NASA JSC bridged Texas’ past to NASA’s present and America’s future,” she added.

The next step was to dedicate 53 acres of NASA-JSC’s tract of land, adjacent to NASA’s Rocket Park, for the development of a “hands on” agricultural education facility. Subsequent discussions among Abbey, Dr. John E. Wilson, then Superintendent of Clear Creek ISD, the Houston Livestock Show and RodeoTM and the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America resulted in a partnership, developing the first of its kind facility for furthering agricultural education linked to America’s space exploration.

Dr. Sandra Mossman, past Superintendent of Clear Creek ISD, inspired the initiative to incorporate a science curriculum for the district’s third and seventh graders. Lessons include the history, genetics and characteristics of the Texas longhorn, fruit and vegetable cultivation, Aquaculture, recycling technologies and space exploration.

Initially supported by Clear Creek ISD, in 2017 the LHP transitioned to a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, governed by a board of directors overseeing the management and fundraising programs.

Because of the rich educational program developed by Clear Creek ISD and close ties with NASA JSC, the LHP works closely with the school district to ensure its educational program meets Texas state academic standards and is provided to its 3,100 third grade students each year.

“As an independent nonprofit, we’re now able to seek essential funding from sources that may not be available to a school district and extend the educational programs to area school districts and private and home-school organizations,” Wilson said. “Consequently, over the past three years, an additional 2,500 students have participated in the educational programs annually.”

With thanks to a grant provided by the Moody Foundation, more than 1,700 students from Galveston, Dickinson and Santa Fe school districts, and the Odyssey Charter School in Seabrook, attended the field trip program. The AT&T Aspiring Fund allowed 350 high school students from Houston, Pearland and Clear Creek school districts to attend the program as well. The Houston Livestock Show and RodeoTM, one of the founding partners, has provided grants and support to renovate the barn facilities to ensure a safe as well as aesthetically-pleasing educational environment for the students.

“Today, there’s a longhorn trophy steer herd that have made Johnson Space Center their home for the duration of their lives,” Wilson said. “And a show herd of 25 longhorns on loan from members of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America.”

Under the direction of project manager, Henry Wilson, a selected team of FFA students care for the trophy steer herd, raising and exhibiting 25 longhorns at numerous livestock and longhorn shows. Through this worthwhile program, the show team students learn about ranch management, animal husbandry and to promote the preservation and legacy of the cattle native to Texas. They also earn scholarship funds by competing in exhibition shows, speech, art, livestock judging, showmanship, photography and Ag Mechanics contests.
Andrea Wilson initiated the Garden, Agriculture, Sustainability and Arts (GASA) program so high school students could earn volunteer hours and connect with nature. For the past three years, students from Clear Horizons Early College High School have assumed GASA’s leadership and self-initiated projects that contribute to the overall educational program.

Bay Area Houston Magazine and Gulf Coast Mariner Magazine are proud to sponsor and support The Longhorn Project at Johnson Space Center. There is “No place in the galaxy like it.”

The Longhorn Project is offering unique sponsorship and advertising opportunities. Your investment would help support the growth and development of these educational programs. Like any classroom, we need to replace and renovate end-life equipment and facilities to ensure the safety of the students and ‘lock-in’ the program’s future for generations to come.You, your company, or organization can support or sponsor a longhorn, or The Longhorn Project, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, by contacting Rick Clapp at 281-474-5875 or r.clapp@baygroupmedia.com.

Roll em, roll em, roll em!