Agriculture seems to run through Butler Community College livestock coach Marcus Arnold’s blood. So does winning.
Arnold, agriculture department head and assistant professor, came to Butler in 2013 with a resume chalk full of agriculture and success. His father was a high school agriculture teacher in Texas, where Arnold grew up. Arnold was a junior college livestock judging All-American at Clarendon College in Texas and went on to be a member of the national championship livestock judging team at Texas Tech.
So as far as livestock judging goes, Arnold has set the bar high.
“I hold the kids in my program to a higher standard probably than most coaches do,” Arnold said. “I know there are opportunities out there for them after junior college.”
Arnold isn’t just talking about winning. His team’s cumulative GPA over the last four years is a 3.75.
“No. 1, I want my students to get a good education,” he said.
But the students also win. The Butler livestock judging team experienced many successes in Arnold’s first three years as head coach, but the beginning of this fourth season has been the most impressive. The team won its first three national contests in 2016, and Arnold is hopeful they can continue to beat the competition in their final four national contests of the academic year.
“It was a big chip off my shoulder to get (a national contest) won,” Arnold said.
Butler students had not won a national livestock judging contest in six years. However, Butler has a history of livestock judging excellence, being a top-ranked team for the past 25 years.
Arnold attributes the team’s recent successes partially to the way he recruits students, bringing them in to interview from all over the country and narrowing a group of 50 students down to 10. While at Butler, agriculture students have a choice of seven programs of study. The agriculture building, which sits on a plot of land south of Butler Community College’s main El Dorado campus, provides the space needed for a great deal of hands-on learning.
“The ag program, in terms of our degree and our coursework, we have a lot to offer students,” Arnold said.
Arnold said 100 percent of his judging students leave Butler after two years to transfer to a four-year university.
“I realize this is going to be a stepping stone for students to go on to bigger things,” he said.
Arnold himself is in the process of completing a phD at Oklahoma State University. This, along with many weekends of travel with the livestock judging team, keeps him busy. He said when he does have a chance to spend time in the El Dorado community, he has enjoyed his time there.
“The people in the community who I have gotten to know have been great to my students and me,” he said. “Butler has been extremely supportive of all the things we have been trying to do.”