Adam Torres and Dr. Lyda G. Garcia discuss Lyda’s book.
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The Texas FFA grows young talent into thriving and productive adults. In this episode, Adam Torres interviewed Dr. Lyda G. Garcia, Associate Professor of Meat Science / Extension Meat Specialist at The Ohio State University. Explore Lyda’s experience with the Texas FFA and her new book, Mission Matters: Mission-Based Leaders Share Inspiring Stories on Leadership and Success (Texas Leaders Edition Vol. 1).
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About Dr. Lyda G. Garcia
Dr. Lyda G. Garcia joined the Department of Animal Sciences in February 2015. Raised in a rural south Texas town (Hebbronville, TX) just 40 miles east of the Texas-Mexico border and ninety miles from the Gulf of Mexico, she was constantly involved in various areas of livestock. Raised by a cowboy and a public school teacher, Dr. Garcia developed a technique to relay her passion for agriculture and higher education inside and outside of the classroom.
Prior to joining the Buckeye Family, Dr. Garcia was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) at Texas Tech University where she taught an undergraduate meat science course, traveled to Central America and Mexico as a food safety team member to collect and process samples for E. coli and Salmonella in beef and pork processing plants and markets, and assisted the dean’s college in increasing diversity for CASNR.
Currently, Dr. Garcia is responsible for teaching undergraduate courses in meat science (introduction to meat science, harvest and fabrication, processed meats, and meat carcass evaluation) and advises undergraduate Meat Science students.
Dr. Garcia is highly involved in presenting at workshops, clinics, and conferences on meat science, specifically targeting youth and livestock producers in the state of Ohio. In addition, Dr. Garcia serves as a carcass judge for county Carcass Shows in the state. She has participated in the Ohio State Fair skillathon and has partnered with the Ohio Beef Council demonstrating beef cuts and palatability in a culinary setting. Dr. Garcia has gone as far as breaking down a side of beef for local beef producers, explaining quality and yield grade evaluation and explaining where meat cuts originate followed with proper cooking methods. Through her Extension work, Dr. Garcia assists in recruitment efforts into agriculture, specifically animal and meat science. Finally, Dr. Garcia offers assistance to agriculture in Ohio as a Spanish interpreter. Dr. Garcia believes it is critical to provide a Spanish speaker equal opportunities in cases involving a workforce who speaks Spanish.
Dr. Garcia also serves as faculty advisor for the Meat Science Club and supervises the Meat Judging Team.
One of the largest universities in the United States, The Ohio State University is a leading research university and the model for Ohio’s public higher education institutes. Founded in 1870 as a land-grant university, it consistently ranks as one of the top public universities in the United States. The main campus is located in Columbus, and regional campuses are located in Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark and Wooster.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to be a part of our community, head over to our website, missionmatters. com forward slash community to join. All right. So today is a very special episode. It’s a celebration. We have Dr. Lida Garcia on the line and she is an associate professor of meat science extension, meat specialists at the Ohio.
State University, and I’m proud to announce our most recent author in our Texas leaders edition, volume one. Here’s the book. We made it. Come on, light up. Are you feeling great? I’ve got mine as well. This is exciting. All right, Lida. So we have so, so much to talk about today. We’re we’ll go into the book content.
Of course. I’d also like to know more about your experience with FFA, of course. And and, and, and we’ll get into your background, but before we do all of that, we’ll start this episode, the way that we start them all with what we like to call our mission matters minute. So Lida, we at mission matters, we amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives, and experts.
That’s our mission. Lida, what mission matters to you? Well, it’s a very interesting question, Adam because I, I consider myself a servant leader and in, you know, since I was very young I’ve always felt that I’ve, I’ve been on a mission and my mission has been to serve, to serve those who need whatever it is that I can help with to help make this a better world.
It’s great. Love bringing mission based individuals on the line to share, you know, why they do what they do, how they do it, and really what we can all learn from that. So we all, you know, grow together. So again, great having you on the show. So just to get us kicked off here. I mean, where did all of this start for you?
Like, how did you get on this journey to becoming, you know, a doctor, you know, higher education, you have a lot going on, like, like, how’d all that begin for you? Well it, it, it started at home, to be very honest, you know, I, my parents were one of the one of my strongest influencers in my life, you know, and my father is what I would consider would have considered a Texas cowboy, you know, with a third grade level education, maybe that far, and my mother was a public school teacher with a master’s degree, and so little did my sister and I know that as we were growing up, a lot of their strengths, And, and knowledge and experiences were being sprinkled on us.
And and without planning, I actually combined both of their worlds into one Wow. Into that production, agriculture, and the education. Right. And and my hometown was very, very monumental to where I am today because it started with those agricultural classes in high school that just opened doors.
Did you always know that you wanted to be in agriculture or were you an agricultural family? Like how’d all that begin? I knew that I wanted to be in agriculture, although I didn’t know of the, of the various pathways available now in South Texas where I grew up. You know, we, we know of the, the veterinarian world, no doubt.
We know the vet tech, but then we also know about being the rancher. So, so growing up, I, I was very limited of what I knew, but it was a matter of me just taking chances as, as I took a step and then been a step after another. And and then by the time I knew it, I was, I’m here in Ohio, right, a South Texas native, and now in Ohio, been here eight and a half years, getting back to the world of what was given to me.
I want to stick in those, in those in those early years a little bit longer. So when did like FFA, Texas FFA, like how did, how were you introduced to that process? Well, it’s a very funny, funny story. And actually I, I was reminded when I was visiting with Aaron Alejandro not too long ago, you know I didn’t always know about high schools offering agriculture.
Growing up, I was really big into sports. I loved softball. I loved volleyball and basketball. And as I went into junior high, you know, I was very engulfed in sports and or not, I was in the band as well. And I was actually pretty good at it. I was always first, second, or third seat, right? And so, when our freshman year came, I decided to roll into band.
And, but then when I, I experienced my first two weeks of, of Classes and in band and so forth. I I realized that that’s not really what I wanted to do So in visiting with our high school counselor, she said well at this point of the game, you know You have a choice either stay in band or enroll into an agricultural class And I said ag that’s interesting.
And so That’s when I decided to leave band and enroll in our first introduction to animal science class with Mr. Juan Flores and others. And and the rest is history. That’s how it started. How do you think that Texas FFA or just FFA. How do you think it prepares its future leaders? Because I can tell you, like I, so I went to the most recent convention and we did this big book signing and we did all this stuff for your book.
And and I tell you, it’s my second convention. I’m already looking forward to my, to my third. I think it’s going to be in Houston next year. I’m already planning. I’m like, Aaron, I’m going to Houston. And man, this year was in Dallas. Last year I think was in Fort Worth off the top of my head.
But like, I’m a fan, like when I get into that convention feel, when I get to see these, these the members and I get to see their plans and their, it energizes me literally for the year, Lida. How did you, like, how do you feel that those early years kind of, kind of prepared you or what, what do they do?
What kind of effect do they have on the members? Well, you know, it, it all. The one thing that we need to keep in mind is that all these opportunities of CDEs, right, like these leadership type opportunities, the competition for someone like me who came from a small South Texas town, 40 miles east of the Texas, Mexico border.
We knew of things outside of our town, maybe beyond the city limits of San Antonio, right, because we, at the time the internet was not wasn’t available to us but watching movies, you know, we knew that There was a different world out there, but at least for me personally, it was because I competed.
I took advantage of these opportunities of competition in the form of at the time it was land judging and then I did livestock judging and we were very good at at these, at these events that our ag teachers would travel, especially with livestock judging where he, he’s the one who opened the door for me to see beyond the limits of San Antonio, Texas.
And, and I experienced West Texas, North Texas, East Texas, Central, talk about just one state. And I couldn’t get enough. And then let’s not forget that a lot of these practices that we experienced at Angelo state university, Texas university, Clarendon college, Charlton state, you know, Sam Houston.
Yeah. That was, Eye opener for someone like me, because in Texas, we knew of certain universities and of course the big ones like Texas A& M University, University of Texas, but there was, it was because of FFA, I realized there was, there was a bigger world and I took advantage. Let me tell you, I took, I, I, I, at the time I think back and I think I took risks.
Right. But I also trusted that it was always going to work out. I didn’t know how. Yeah. But it did. And, and let me tell you, Adam, to date, I still follow that practice. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, right? I have faith that the process is going to take care of it. Yeah, and and I’m told and I’ve seen it like that and I’ve heard it in Aaron’s story.
I’ve heard it and now, I mean it started with Aaron’s story, but now I’ve heard it literally from hundreds of kids, is that, you know, that, that, that blue and gold jacket, like that’s a, that’s an equalizer. That’s a level playing field. That’s a matter of belonging, whether you’re from, you know, South Texas or, you know, it doesn’t matter where you’re from really, it’s just saying that Like if you’re wearing that jacket, like it’s kind of understood that you’re all, you’re all part of that same family.
Talk to me about, you know, kind of the, the South Texas culture, maybe how that helped make you, you know, who you are today. Well, there’s a lot of pride in South Texas. I’ll, I’ll, I’ll be honest, but with that pride comes a lot of, you know, a heavy work ethic when I was growing up, you know that was, that was.
to work hard, and my parents were older than the rest of the parents in my grade. They had expectations, and the expectations were, you’re gonna work hard, you’re gonna put in the right effort, you’re not gonna complain, and if it doesn’t work out, figure it out, right? They didn’t, I don’t think they had time.
For as old as they were, that they didn’t have time for me to be a kid, sometimes, which I think was great for someone like me and my type A personality, like I, that was ideal for me. There’s a lot of pride in our culture, you know, we’re, we’re a mixed… of the Mexican traditions, a mix of the American traditions, and then there’s some German influence down there, and let’s not forget the Native Americans, right?
There’s a, there was a big, a big group of, of, of the Apaches down there along with others, so we’re just a mixture. And we, we prided ourselves on our families and our family roots. And… Well, let’s not, let’s not forget about the food, right? I mean, we pride ourselves with the food as well. And so, at the time, when you’re growing up, you don’t really appreciate it.
And I didn’t, I didn’t realize how strong I really was because of my culture until I left. When, when I left South Texas, when, you know, where I, where I was a part of the majority being a Hispanic um, we grew up very strict Catholics. And I left eleven or nine hours away north. Where I then suddenly became a part of the minority, and Catholicism was not the predominant religion.
You talk about an eye opener. Hmm. It was because of our firm roots, our strong roots, that, that I, I would say is the foundation of who I am. Especially if, if you believe in something and you know it’s for the greater good and it’s right, you fight for it. Yeah, it’s great. So in the book, I mean, there’s a lot of different things that you could have written about, and I found it pretty unique that it goes to, you know, maybe your, your, your style or your, your journey, and that’s trust the process.
And as I was kind of reading through the chapter and I’m thinking about things, I’ve never quite put it that way and I guess we’re all in our own, you know, God’s working with us all in, in our own processes, in our own journeys. But, you know, kind of the way you propose to trust the process, why this angle?
Like, why now? Why do you feel this was important to share with the readers? Well, you know, I, I feel that we’ve evolved since I was young, which is a great thing to admit, right? Because that’s the whole point in life. Yeah. In just working with the students today and from yesterday and going to work with the students of tomorrow, they come with so, with so many strengths.
I have, I, strengths that a lot of my generation didn’t have, but I also see that they’re There are fears of, of the what if, right? And, and I appreciate this, the students caring. I mean, we have to acknowledge that. But, they’re so afraid of what if it doesn’t work out. What if, right? And, and in And continuously working with these students with what I do every day I, for some reason, you know, when I meditated, that’s what came to mind, talk about process, right?
Trusting the process and, and I, and I mean it because that’s really what has, what I’ve relied on since I was Very young. And and I only wanted to maybe plant a seed with our readers and and our listeners, right? Mm hmm. Of, it’s gonna be okay, right? Mm hmm. That was the purpose of, of, of why I chose that topic.
Yeah. And so, kind of digging a little bit deeper into the book, so understand your audience. Start with the end in mind, learn from the best. So I, for all, for all the audience, by the way, watching this we’re going to, we’re going to dive into a couple of these, but we’re not going to do them all.
Why? Cause I want you to buy the book still. Right. Like go, go grab a copy that there’ll be a, there’ll be a link in the, in the show notes, so you can just click on it and pick up a copy. But just starting with understanding your audience tell us a little bit more about that. Well, that actually started when I was in junior high with my mother.
And my mother, who was a public school teacher also taught in the evenings. GED. Yeah. And then was also a part of the amnesty program with the Laredo Community College to help those from Mexico who wanted to obtain citizenship, right? Their way of obtaining credit and going through the process.
Well, I, I was fortunate. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I was fortunate to teach at night with mom. And if there was one thing my mother, wow, was. You have to understand your audience. You can’t teach them the way they teach you in school. You have to understand them. And if you want to be effective, that’s, that’s also part of the, of the deal here.
And I, and of course, I’m what, 14? 13 maybe? And then when I was a freshman, I also, I continued to help mom. Yeah. I realized that when I understood them, maybe learned about their families, you know, going back to the culture, understanding their struggles, their fam, you know, whatever it was, that helped me shape my thoughts and then polish my delivery, but with that educational message.
In mind, right? And, and I, and I understood it when I was only, what, 14, like I said, and I had this 60 some year old man who didn’t appreciate this kid teaching him mathematics. I didn’t appreciate it. My mother was the one who said, get to know him, understand him a little bit, but with boundaries, of course.
And then, then you fast forward to now I’m an undergraduate student at Texas Tech University. I’m doing an intern, I’m working an internship. At Cargill, it’s a beef plant in Freona, Texas. And that was the summer that you know, things were, were breaking. Things were just out of control. There were the employees were asked to work overtime.
And then, suddenly now, this intern, 21 year old, Yeah. asked to step up. And, and, and now from an intern, I’m now having to Serving the role as a supervisor. And now I have 65 employees to lead and Talk about them not liking having to answer to a 21 year old. Oh, yeah So I called my father and I said what do I do here?
Because he was such a people person my good I wish I had and he’s the one who reminded me Get to know them, know where they are, and be able to then send your message, right? I mean, in his own words, and that was, that was the final straw for me as, as an educator, if I really wanted to be impactful and make change, because I, I, I would say that I am, I try to be a positive catalyst for change.
Yeah, that’s what I’ve done. I and anytime I’m asked to speak wherever it is or a demonstration I always ask who’s my audience? Adult learners, are they families? Are they officials? Whoever it is. But still keep the objectives and the concepts of whatever topic I’m talking about at the forefront. And, and it matters.
It matters. Yes, it does. So, Lida, I’m, I’m curious because you, that, that, that, That explanation and being, you know, that 20 some year old in this, in this, I would argue kind of male dominated world of meat, right? Like in general, that what is it like, or what was it like being a, you know, female Hispanic in that kind of like male dominated world, like in going through the, in the meat world, I should say, like, what is that like for you?
Well if, if you remember in the book Aaron, I do mention that my biggest challenge was my mother. Let’s start there. She grew up in a time where women did not work in a man’s field. It was unheard of and it, it was a battle in trying to convince her to allow me to go to college and study agriculture.
And of course, it goes back to my ag teacher, Mr. Juan Flores, who convinced her and showed her. How the world was changing all by, just simply by taking her with us on these judging practices and competitions where she would sit in the stands and we were down in the arena, right, the floor level, all these livestock classes, market classes, and breeding classes set up.
And she’s the one who comes to the realization that there are more females. Oh, she was not happy. She was not happy. But, I was able to convince her to let me go to college because I had received a full right scholarship to judge livestock at Clarendon College up in Clarendon, Texas. And So, that was probably the beginning.
Then, as, as I, as I progressed, or as my college journey progressed you know, there weren’t very many me’s out there, you know. I can remember even at Clarendon College I was, we were probably three out of, What? 500 or 1000 students. When I when I transitioned to Texas Tech University, it transferred at least in animal science and food science.
I may have been one of five students. Right. And then graduate school was the same way. But the one thing that I do have to say is that I don’t know if it was a challenge for me because I had such great mentors. Wow. And I don’t know if they just saw something in me or they wanted me to stand out. I don’t know.
But the fact that I am bilingual helped me help them with research at feedlots or a packing plant. or out at the ranch or whatever it was, right? But for some reason, you know, I was blessed to have such great mentors. The challenge for me though, as being a female truly came in addition to my mother was when I went into the industry, as I had just explained that just example of now having to serve in a supervisor role, the industry was tough.
I, I have to admit and I had to figure out how I was going to maneuver that. Not only was I a female, but I was an educated female, right? And then let’s not forget I’m from South Texas. I mean, we’re not Mexican, but we’re not white. We’re, we’re in our own class. And so even with me speaking Spanish, in some cases, it still wasn’t enough to be accepted by some of the employees.
So, but there were so many lessons learned and, you know, and to date, when I go to Texas, I will take my meet judging teams to practice as we’re preparing for a competition in Texas. And sometimes I still see these employees. And, and all we do is grin at each other. That’s amazing. All those years later, right?
And so it, I don’t want to portray that it’s been a delight this whole time. I mean, I’ve, I’ve had to get serious and really think through the, the, the human behavior side of, of some of the people that I’ve encountered because I was a female, because I was an educated female and a Hispanic. But But I will tell you though, I am very big on being personable you know, I try to find the commonality between me and the individual and then capitalize on that to help build trust.
That, that, because, you know, we all have something in common. That is one thing I have learned over the years, is we may look different, but I bet I can find something in common that you and I are just gonna catch onto, and then just take off from there. Yeah. But now today, Adam, there’s so many Hispanics students out there that, you know, we were in a conference at St.
Paul, Minnesota, in June, and I was walking around with some colleague friends of mine, and I did notice there were more Hispanic, more Latinos which, it’s good. It’s good, right? So, Lida, a lot of things that you wrote about in the book, and I mean, I know there’s a lot of takeaways, but if you, if somebody was to walk away with, let’s just say one big takeaway or theme or thought, like what are some of the things that you’d want your, your readers to know when they, when they walk away from reading your work?
That’s a good question. I would say, believe in yourself because this is your journey and you have to trust the process as, as I mentioned in the book. But it, it starts here and Have a, have a vision of where you want to go, and stay focused on that vision, but take chances, take risks, because you never know when that, that one door that closes suddenly makes you turn right, and now this, this new door leads you down, something as it did with me, I mean that, I will tell ya, I have 11 years of education starting from the third, or the three year old program.
Twenty five years in total and 11 years of college. And the risks that I have taken, some have been nice and some have not, but it always led me to something else. Maybe with, you know, some of the time left here, I do want to to kind of bring it present day and maybe tell us a little bit about the work that you’re doing over at the Ohio State University, please.
Okay. So here at Ohio State I’m an associate professor of meat science, where I predominantly teach undergraduate meat science classes. I also oversee the meat judging team. I serve as a coordinator, but I’m currently serving as the coach right now. But I’m also one of two extension meat specialists for the whole state of Ohio.
So what does that mean? That means that my job is to serve community needs, stakeholder needs. whoever needs my help, you know I’m, I’m, I’m to serve. A lot of my work, a lot of my research, we’ll start with research, is really applicable. It’s very basic science. So if a meat processor comes to me with a problem and I think that it is worthy of using as an undergraduate research project or even a master project, I’ll finagle a way to make it the project but still serve the processor.
I work a lot or I work towards, or I tend to focus on workforce development. That has always been a major focus of mine, even as a, as a, as a graduate student in Texas. And if you know, today, you know, our workforce labor is. hurting. And at least in the meat industry, you know here at Ohio, in Ohio, I see it even with a smaller processor.
So I work, I work with our Ohio Department of Agriculture a lot. I work with Jobs Ohio, I work with whomever, is interested in the field of workforce development, but in the, in the realm of the meat industry. But then again, I also focus on higher education. I mean, as, as I tell people, I want to corrupt everybody with meat science, right?
But if you also have to start young, so the higher education piece, I offer a lot of extension programs for our youth, like Ohio 4 H and FFA, and even adult learners, because the parents are part of the equation. I mean, Think back to what I just said about my mother, you know, she wasn’t you know, she was a part of the decision making.
Oh, yeah And so I I always keep that in mind. So So higher education workforce development. I I would say Puts me in a nutshell. Well, Lida, first off. It’s been I mean great having you on the show today learning more about you your background, of course celebrating the book release. Yes we finally made it.
Well, I just have to ask I mean what’s next what’s next for you? What’s next for your career? Well I have two more years before i’m up for a full full professor. And I aspire to be a college administrator someday so I don’t know, we’ll see where, where my road takes me, but at least once I’m, I’m full professor, that’s where I’d like to go is into administration.
I think that’s the immediate level. And we’ll, and we’ll all trust the process if there’s one thing we learned here today, right? That’s right. I love it. Well again, it’s been great having you on the show and and, and if somebody wants to, you know, follow your journey in general, I mean, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Well, you know, I would say Well, first of all, I’m always open to conversations. You know, I’m not hard to find here at Ohio State and the Department of Animal Sciences but talk to your, talk to your agri science teachers. A lot of them are, are connected to, you know, we’re a small world, but we’re a big world at the same time.
Call some universities. Right? I mean, especially your land grant institutions. That’s what we’re here for is to serve community needs. And so don’t hesitate to do a little homework and email people or call them. But because you have to remember that this is your journey. Not ours, but it is our it’s our job to help awesome.
All right Well, again really appreciate you coming on and to the audience as always. Thank you for tuning in I hope you got a lot of value out of this. Hope you learned a lot Hey, don’t forget pick up a copy of that book We the link will be in the show notes and if you haven’t already and this is your first time with mission matters We’re all about bringing on business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, and experts and having them share their mission, the reason behind their mission, you know, what gets them fired up and motivated to go out there in the world and make a difference.
If that’s the type of content that sounds interesting or fun or exciting to you, we welcome you hit that subscribe button. We have many more mission based individuals coming up on the line and we don’t want you to miss a thing. Lida again, it’s been so much fun and I look forward to continuing to promote this book with you.
Thank you so much. Thank you.