In 2011, many Texans faced significant challenges during an extreme drought that impacted businesses and landowners across the state. Residing in Stamford, Andy Holloway and his family were no different. As a proud family man, landowner and business owner, Holloway faced extreme uncertainty when his business — ASH Marketing where they sold registered Angus cattle — came under duress due to the drought.

After experiencing the highs and lows of his journey, Holloway eventually found his home in the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Hemphill County office as the agriculture and natural resources agent.

Four people posing for a picture after Andy Holloway received his award.
Andy Holloway (second from left) being named the 2023 County Agent of the Year at the Texas County Agents Agricultural Association annual conference. (Photo courtesy of Andy Holloway)

A life based on agriculture

Holloway was born and raised in the Texas Panhandle, where he attended elementary school in Vega and spent his high school years at Dumas Independent School District. He was surrounded by agriculture and spent countless hours studying cattle, swine and equine alongside his father, who served many years as an AgriLife Extension agent.

After graduating from high school and being among the first to receive a Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarship, Holloway moved to College Station to attend Texas A&M University. He spent his first semester studying in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and serving in the Corps of Cadets.

“While in the corps, my grades weren’t the best,” he said with a laugh. “So, when I received a letter from Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, I thought they were taking away my scholarship, but instead, they were sending me more assistance due to my hard work and generosity to others.”

During college, he took every opportunity to stay active in the agriculture and livestock industries. Holloway was a member of the 1979 International Champion collegiate meats judging team, coached by Gary Smith, Ph.D., and Glen Dolezal, Ph.D., and the 1980 Texas A&M collegiate livestock judging team, coached by L.D. Wythe, Ph.D.

“Dr. Wythe was a legend in the livestock judging world,” Holloway said. “Under his coaching, I was blessed enough to be named the third high individual in the Carload contest at the National Western Livestock Show in Denver, Colorado, as well as fourth high individual at the international in Louisville, Kentucky.”

“I had a wonderful college career because of the people I met at Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” Holloway said. “I didn’t realize the connections I made would help so much in the future.”

Creating success in his early career

Andy Holloway shaking hands with Sonny Perdue.
Andy Holloway (left) standing with United States Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, at the National 4-H Conference in November 2017. (Photo courtesy of Andy Holloway)

After graduating in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in animal science, Holloway was offered the livestock judging coach position at West Texas A&M University but declined the offer to pursue a different opportunity.

“I took a position with the Brangus Breeders Association in College Station as the executive secretary,” Holloway said. “Little did I know the experiences and relationships I built through that job would lead to even more opportunities.”

While working for the Texas Brangus Breeders Association, Holloway built a relationship with Jim Riley, owner of the Sillon Ranch in Brenham. Riley sought his help in finding a ranch manager for his Brangus operation. Despite Holloway’s diligent search and recommendation of several promising candidates, Riley extended the offer to Holloway.

“While working for Mr. Riley, I acted as the sales manager as a part of my duties,” Holloway said. “After building a herd that resulted in an extremely successful sale season, he dispersed the company. However, I had built my reputation and was known throughout the Brangus breed as a master marketer.”

After finalizing the dispersal of Riley’s herd, Holloway started his family business, ASH Marketing Services, where he spent 32 years assisting ranches in 29 different states with their commercial and registered female and bull sales.

While owning and operating ASH Marketing, Holloway, his wife, Tanya, and son, Tarlton, decided to pursue a lifelong dream: owning registered Angus. Within five years, the Holloway family bought and raised more than 500 registered females and sold 200 Angus bulls annually.

“Through all of the accomplishments over the years, I began letting too much pride enter into my life,” Holloway said. “As a religious man, I believe God sent me a needed correction when he saw my pride take over.”

Impactful connections creating new opportunities

During the drought of 2011, Holloway’s life took a quick and unexpected turn for the worse. Within two years, the area he lived in only received 5 inches of rain, devastating the area that usually receives 24 inches of rain annually. “My fat cows became thin, and I was buying hay from all over the nation to keep them alive,” Holloway said.

Within months, Holloway lost not only his registered Angus herd and his business, but also his dream. “I went from being able to buy a town of 3,000 people a $5 cheeseburger to not being able to buy a meal for my family,” Holloway said. “We were very fortunate that my wife kept us together with her teaching job, and that’s how we survived for a year and a half.”

Eventually, Holloway had no choice but to reach out to Larry Boleman, Ph.D., former state beef cattle specialist and then-associate vice chancellor of agriculture at Texas A&M, whom Holloway had known for most of his life.

“I called Larry and asked if he knew of any jobs that would make sense for me,” Holloway said. “We spoke for nearly two hours as I shared my story. He said, ‘Andy, please don’t quit. Your experiences, knowledge and relationships are more valuable than you realize.’”

Within minutes of the phone call ending, Boleman had sent Holloway open positions at AgriLife Extension and encouraged him to get in contact with Daryl Dromgoole, Ph.D., who was the associate director of county operations at the time.  

In turn, the AgriLife Extension family showed up and showed out for Holloway. He was contacted by district administrators about positions in three counties, Stonewall, Bexar and Hemphill, asking if he would be interested in interviewing.

“When I received a phone call from Brandon Dukes, the District 1 administrator, asking if I would be interested in interviewing for the county agent position in Hemphill County, I was excited because I knew the area well,” Holloway said. “I met with Brandon, interviewed for the job, and I took it once it was offered to me.”

Beginning with the youth to build a county program

Andy and Tanya Holloway posing for a picture while holding their 2017 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Superior Service Awards.
Andy Holloway and his wife, Tanya, receiving the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Superior Service Award in 2018 for their teamwork regarding the 2017 Perryton Complex Wildfire. (Photo courtesy of Andy Holloway)

When Holloway started with the Hemphill County office, its local 4-H club was on a provisional basis due to the absence of an agricultural resources agent position for over a year.

On Jan. 7, 2014, Holloway held a meeting for the Hemphill County 4-H Club. After being told he wouldn’t have 10 people show up, Holloway became determined to raise club membership and participation. He reached out to every family on the list, which resulted in 65 people showing up for the meeting.

“That was the beginning of my career as an agent,” explained Holloway. “Eventually, Tanya joined the team as our family and community health agent and our county programming took off.”

Setting and achieving goals with AgriLife Extension

During 2014, Holloway’s mission was to explore what ongoing adult education Hemphill County needed to offer.

“I met with George Bryant, the Hemphill County judge, and convinced him to join my new agriculture committee,” Holloway said. “He offered suggestions on who else to recruit, then we had our first meeting after I met my member quota. During our meeting, I asked the members to tell me one word on their mind that I should work toward. Judge Bryant shared the word results, and that stuck with me.”

Holloway was determined to bring results by building a program to draw in the cow/calf producers who were hungry to learn more about pasture management, genomics, genetic development, marketing, soil health and improved stocking rates. To meet these knowledge needs, Holloway established the Texas A&M AgriLife Hemphill County Beef Conference.

Just a year later, in April 2015, the inaugural Hemphill County Beef Conference took place. The meeting was held in the exhibition hall, which had a capacity of 85-90 people.

“I put an agenda out and brought in the best speakers I could find,” Holloway said. “I charged each person $100 to attend, and people showed up. The need in the county was apparent.”

Since the first conference, Holloway, along with his team and volunteers from his 4-H club, have built a nationally recognized event. The conference serves as a pivotal platform for the beef cattle industry, advancing education and strategies that have an impact on the entire country.

Holloway has expanded and enhanced the event each year by opening sponsorship positions, establishing two scholarship opportunities, starting a trade show and bringing in a range of keynote speakers such as now Governor of Arkansas Sarah Huckabee Sanders and CEO of Duck Commander Willie Robertson to draw in more attendees who are searching for agricultural resources, education and motivation.

“I am extremely excited for this year’s conference and the future of AgriLife Extension outreach in Hemphill County,” Holloway said. “I never dreamed of it being something of this caliber, and I am so very thankful to my supportive colleagues and AgriLife Extension for helping me move forward”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email