More than 500 students have called Chris Skaggs, Ph.D., coach — and thousands of others have looked for his approval as a livestock judge and judging contest superintendent over the past 35-plus years.
While Skaggs is now the Texas A&M AgriLife associate vice chancellor for producer relations, he might be best known for his role as a longtime livestock judge and judging team mentor and coach in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Animal Science.
The Lastovica family
The Steven ’85 and Sandra ’85 Lastovica family, owners of Lastovica Cattle Company in Salado and the Milano Livestock Exchange in Milano, are ensuring people remember Skaggs and all he has done for the livestock judging teams by establishing the Dr. Chris Skaggs Excellence Endowment in Animal Science.
“We recognize the importance and responsibility of giving back to a university that has provided immeasurable opportunities to our family,” the Lastovicas jointly said. “A foundation in agriculture and in Texas A&M University is the best educational opportunity and legacy one can have.”
“I would like to recognize the Lastovica family for their friendship, generosity and support,” Skaggs said. “The endowment will be so impactful to the future of the livestock judging program at Texas A&M. Collegiate livestock judging makes a difference in the students’ lives through interaction with livestock industry professionals and the development of communication and decision-making skills.”
Skaggs said he has witnessed firsthand the benefits of the livestock judging team experience on the careers of former team members who have become industry leaders.
The Lastovica family gift
The Lastovicas have a rich history at Texas A&M as well as in the cattle business. In addition to both being graduates, their third-generation Aggies are daughter Stephanie Lastovica Marburger ’16 and son Stuart ’24.
Steven Lastovica was a member of the 1984 Texas A&M livestock judging team. He currently serves on the College’s Board of Directors for the Department of Animal Science, the Beef Cattle Development Council and is a former board member of the Board of Directors for the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications. He was selected as the 2016 Outstanding Alumni for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
A portion of their gift will be used to support undergraduate students who are members of the Livestock Judging Team, regardless of their major or residency, for scholarships or other high-priority needs of the students.
The other portion will be used to provide a scholarship for a graduate student pursuing a Master of Agriculture in Animal Science, with preference for a student focused on entering the
beef cattle industry. One or more graduate scholarships may be awarded annually.
Most importantly, the Lastovicas wanted this endowment “to be named after Dr. Chris Skaggs to honor his incredible legacy as well as the impact he has had on countless individuals over the years.”
Skaggs and the Livestock Judging Team at Texas A&M
The Livestock Judging Team at Texas A&M has a rich history, winning the National Collegiate Livestock Judging Team title 12 times, with five of those – 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 – under Skaggs’ direction. He coached three National Champion teams at three universities – Kansas State in 1983, Iowa State in 1986 and Texas A&M in 1999.
A Pampa native, Skaggs is a familiar face on the livestock judging circuit, having judged many national shows, including the National Western, North American International, San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo and Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He has judged cattle shows in 38 states and is also active with many associations and boards.
Skaggs joined the Department of Animal Science in 1992 and began coordinating the livestock judging team in 1993. He was selected as the holder of the San Antonio Livestock Exposition Endowed Chair in 2001. In 2008, he was named associate dean for undergraduate programs. He also served as an undergraduate student academic advisor and assisted in recruitment efforts for the department and the College.
Skaggs is also the associate dean for undergraduate programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, coordinating student development activities and serving as its liaison to the university organizations and associations.
Skaggs continues to serve as superintendent of the intercollegiate livestock judging contest and the steer show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He also is the assistant superintendent of the 4-H/FFA livestock judging contest, beef cattle skillathon and steer show at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo and superintendent of the steer show and beef cattle skillathon at the State Fair of Texas.
Building the endowment
Anyone interested in helping build the endowment to support students and the livestock judging program can contact Jansen Merrill ’18, Texas A&M Foundation assistant director of development, at 325-669-4334 or by email at email@example.com.
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that exists for the benefit of Texas A&M University. The Foundation works with former students, corporations and other Texas A&M supporters to match their charitable interests with the university’s priorities. Gifts create scholarships, advance faculty endeavors, enhance student programs and fund new buildings, ultimately creating a brighter future for Texas A&M, one relationship at a time.