National Ranching Heritage Center Announces Largest Single Gift in its History

For more than six decades, the National Ranching Heritage Center (NRHC) at Texas Tech University has provided educational experiences to the public on the history and evolution of ranching. Now, it has the chance to build a dedicated area focused on the present and future of ranching with the help of a lead gift to the Ranch Life Learning Center.

This afternoon (June 30), the NRHC announced a $3.5 million gift and its intent to create the Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center. The Cash Foundation is among 21 supporters of the project thus far – a group that also includes the Helen Jones Foundation Inc., The CH Foundation and others.

“Understanding that ranching, farming and the entire agriculture industry play a vital role in the economic development of this region requires that we educate our students and our community about this work,” said Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec. “The Cash Family has a long history at Texas Tech, and their engagement and financial contributions have made a difference in our ongoing efforts to excel both athletically and academically. It is investments like these that elevate Texas Tech and the National Ranching Heritage Center and validate the work we’re doing.”

The proposed Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center, an indoor/outdoor educational center to be built at the NRHC, includes interactive exhibits on animal and plant agriculture, range management, the role of cowboys and more alongside an immersive version of the ranch from the “Hank the Cowdog” book series. The center seeks to teach the public about what is involved with ranching and how it contributes to the care of livestock and land.

“People talk to us about ranching, and really, they think it’s about cows, horses and cowboys,” said Clay Cash of The Cash Foundation. “There are so many other things that go into explaining what a ranch is beyond just cowboys, horses and cows, and this gift affords us the opportunity to tell the whole story. Doing so with Hank the Cowdog allows us to grab hold of young people and give them at least a rudimentary understanding of how ranching works.”

In 2016, the NRHC worked with “Hank the Cowdog” author John Erickson to publish a special series of books and establish a classroom curriculum to educate students on ranching as told through the eyes of Hank on his ranch. The Ranch Life Learning series has become a classroom staple for teaching science and social studies, and The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center would bring those lessons to life for NRHC patrons of all ages.

“Many people picking up a steak in a grocery store don’t even know where it came from,” said Ashley Cash of The Cash Foundation, a longtime rancher. “They don’t even realize how much they truly depend on farmers and ranchers just to eat, let alone for so many other things. We want to do whatever we can to try to educate people about the necessity of ranching and the amazing people involved in it, just so the average person can have food on their table.”

“We want to continue telling our story of heritage and history,” added Jim Bret Campbell, NRHC executive director, “but how do we tell our story to a public that is largely detached from agriculture? History may not be the only story we need to tell when so many people have a real disconnect with agriculture.”

While funding for The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center is nearing completion, more support is needed to ensure the ambitious project can be built. For more information on contributing to the project, contact the NRHC at (806) 834-4120 or

About the NRHC
The NRHC is a 27-acre museum and historical park that offers educational programs and exhibits about ranching history and contemporary ranching issues. The center is located at 3121 Fourth St. in Lubbock and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The historical park is wheelchair and stroller accessible.