Supported by the
Commissioner Ken Clark Working For You Foundation

The Longhorn Project's History

The Longhorn Project's Center for Agriculture, Science, and Engineering (CASE), a unique hands-on educational program was created in 1996 as a joint venture between The Longhorn Project (LHP), the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), the Houston Livestock and RodeoTM (HLS&R), Clear Creek Independent School District (CCISD), and the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America (TLBAA). JSC Director George W. S. Abbey had been searching for ways to make resources of our center available to the educational community, in order to fulfill NASA's goal of taking a more proactive role in community affairs. A faded photograph on the wall of his office of cattle coming home to feed provided him with inspiration. That inspiration has culminated in Center for Agriculture, Science, and Engineering (CASE) / The Longhorn Project at Johnson Space Center. The Longhorn Project was funded and managed by the CCISD until 2015 when CCISD transferred the program to The Longhorn Project Advisory Board, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which was formed to expand the program to additional school districts and private- and home-based schools and opportunities for funding. Today, 'The Longhorn Project', is funded by the revenue generated from the educational field trip program, donations, fundraisers, and occasional grants. 

That photograph taken in 1960 showed cattle grazing at the 20,000-acre West Ranch, then owned by the heirs of James Marion West, Sr., co-founder, and chairman of Humble Oil & Refining Company (the predecessor of Exxon Corporation). A 1,600-acre portion of the West Ranch, adjacent to Clear Lake, is home today of Johnson Space Center. Cattle still graze on the few undeveloped acres that compromise the balance of the once giant ranch, which now contains homes, shopping centers, and petrochemical complexes. Abbey recognized the need for the school district to have a large tract of land in which to develop a “hands-on” agricultural education facility. Subsequent discussions between Mr. Abbey, Dr. John E. Wilson, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools for the Clear Creek Independent School District, Mr. Dan Gattis, Past General Manager of the Houston Livestock Show and RodeoTM, and the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America resulted in these four entities joining forces to develop the first of its kind facility for furthering agricultural education and providing the basis of international cooperation in agriculture-related studies and scientific efforts. Dr. Sandra Mossman, Superintendent of Schools for the Clear Creek Independent School District (2003 - 2008), championed the initiative to incorporate a agriculture and STEM lesson curriculum for the Clear Creek ISD 3rd and 7th graders. Since 2004, the Longhorn Project has provided science lesson to thousands of students each year where the students participated in a “hands-on” genetics lesson utilizing the Texas Longhorns for data and visual evaluation. In addition, students learn about animal husbandry, fruit and vegetable cultivation, aquaculture, soil research and recycling technologies. They also discover how that knowledge relates to the future of human spaceflight. 

In 2016 and for the first time in the 20-year history of The Longhorn Project, the educational field trips became accessible to all public, private, and home-based schools and youth and adult organizations. The Longhorn Project, also known as the Center for Agriculture, Science, and Engineering (CASE), is located at NASA's Johnson Space Center on a 27-acre tract of land. This land features a 20-acre pasture for grazing and a large cattle barn, and 7-acre "garden" area which consists of the garden plots, greenhouses, orchards, aquaculture ponds, a paved patio with a waterfall and pond, and the Western Heritage Pavilion. Today, there is herd of registered Texas longhorns that have made The Longhorn Project at Johnson Space Center their home, and a herd of 'show' longhorns, on loan from members of the TLBAA. A selected team of FFA students help raise and exhibit the Longhorns at state, local and national longhorn shows per year, including the Houston Livestock and RodeoTM. Through this unique program, the FFA students can have the opportunity to learn about ranch management, animal husbandry and the rich history of our Texas heritage to promote the preservation and legacy of the cattle native to our state.

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