Zach Hoelscher ’25, a senior in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Animal Science, left the rural outskirts of Lorena for the university’s bustling campus in 2021.

Head and shoulder photo of Zach Hoelscher wearing a maroon coat with a gold tie and a white shirt. There is a maroon background behind him.
Zachary Hoelscher’s upbringing was steeped in agriculture and his parents’ involvement in ranching fostered his appreciation for agriculture. (Katie Perkins/Texas A&M AgriLife)

Hoelscher’s upbringing was steeped in agriculture. He grew up raising cattle, was involved in the Texas 4-H program within the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, as well as the national FFA organization during high school.

His parents’ involvement in ranching fostered his appreciation for agriculture and, as former students, they influenced his decision to attend the university. A breakfast with Jeffery W. Savell, Ph.D., vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences, set him on the path toward his dream job as a veterinarian.

Hoelscher has forged his own path since joining the College, blending a passion for rural communities, medicine and agriculture.

To make his college experience his own, Hoelscher dove into involvement with a variety of campus organizations. He started as a member of the Wool Judging Team before joining the Meat Judging Team and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student, C.O.A.L.S., Council. He then served as an ambassador for the Department of Animal Science and became involved in the Meat Science and Technology Association.

Hoelscher recently sat down with us to share his journey as a student in the Department of Animal Science, his experience in campus organizations and his overall passion for agriculture.

Why did you decide to attend Texas A&M?

I looked at other places and different schools, but I wanted to go to Texas A&M.

I applied to the university as a biomedical sciences major because I planned on becoming a medical doctor. But funny enough, my mom was taught by Dr. Savell, and they stayed close throughout the years. When he found out I was pursuing a different academic path, he called my mom and insisted we meet to discuss opportunities in the College.

I always knew I wanted to focus on rural communities and their human health needs because I came from a community that lacked those services. After breakfast with Dr. Savell, I considered the impact I could have on health and community through agriculture and changed my major to animal science. It just feels like the right fit for me.

Why did you become interested in veterinary medicine?

I thought the biomedical sciences route was for me, and I generally liked the idea of rural practice. Growing up, my mom was a dietitian, specifically focused on diabetes education, where she worked with many Type 2 diabetics, mostly in our rural area. She contributed to my understanding of and interest in rural medicine.

Agriculture and medicine fit my background and are interesting to me. Nothing necessarily turned me away from human medicine, but the more I saw happening in the animal agriculture industry, the more I wanted to take that same focus on rural health and apply it to agriculture.

Tell us about your involvement as a C.O.A.L.S. Council member.

I joined the C.O.A.L.S. Council during my sophomore year. Now, entering my senior year as part of the council, I can say we have helped kick-start some excellent programs on campus and new service projects that I am beyond grateful to be a part of.

Every Friday morning, I give tours of our College and tell prospective students about the greatness and community we offer, all thanks to my involvement in the program.

Which organization on campus has impacted you the most?

Being a part of the Meat Judging Team has been important to my college experience because it gave me the opportunity to learn so much outside of the classroom. From starting practice on New Year’s Day to traveling through the Panhandle and up to Denver on a 16-day trip, it took a lot of work. All of it was more than worth it for the amount of industry knowledge we gained and the people we met.

What opportunities has attending Texas A&M provided for you?

Zach Holescher standing with a group of people with a sign in the background that reads "College of Agriculture and Life Sciences."
Hoelscher thanks the Aggie network that surrounds him every day for supporting and helping him pursue many of the opportunities he’s had during his time as a student. (Michael Miller/Texas A&M AgriLife)

Our College’s career fair is one of the significant opportunities I’ve enjoyed. I have gone every year whether I was seeking an internship or not. Attending the career fair is not always about landing a job but instead is a chance to build new relationships and expand my network through friends and professionals.

Along with my career fair connections, I cannot say enough about the opportunity the Aggie network provides me as a current student. Everyone in this great network of people and friends I’ve met on campus is so willing to help. Through my Aggie network and mutual friends, I landed two great internship opportunities within the industry, and I am looking forward to a third this summer with Cactus Feeders where I plan to gain feed yard experience.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Keep an open mind. If you think you know what you want to do coming into college, there’s a good chance it’s going to change. Don’t be afraid to change your path because any challenge thrown your way can become an opportunity.

Prioritizing relationships with the people around you is so important. It’s easy to get lost in the business of classes and organizational involvements and forget about the people supporting you. Prioritize supporting them and maintaining those relationships.

Zach Hoelscher and three other standing together while holding up an academic quadrathlon.
Hoelscher ’25 and his three other academic quadrathlon teammates are two months away from competing in their next national competition. (Texas A&M AgriLife)

What is one of your favorite memories of attending Texas A&M?

I was recently given the opportunity to participate in an academic quadrathlon through our department. This competition included a quiz bowl, skills practicum, written exam and oral presentation. Our team of four competed against teams from 17 schools at the regional contest in Louisville, Kentucky. We ended up winning first place in all four categories, which was an exciting accomplishment for all of us. In July, we are going to Calgary, Canada, to compete at the national contest, which I cannot wait for.

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