February 14, 2023

As a young College Station native, Dr. Chris Boleman ’96 ’00 ’03 didn’t know there was anything else to be besides an Aggie. After growing up on a ranch surrounded by cattle and livestock and attending Aggie football games with his Aggie parents, Boleman had little doubt about his passions or college choice.  

After earning his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University and joining the university's faculty, Boleman is now the president and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Throughout his life and career, he has preserved and applied his Aggie core values.  

"Texas A&M’s traditions and values created a culture that stayed with me and helped me understand the potential of people and the importance of agriculture," Boleman said. "I try to apply that in my work daily."  

The Seeds of Success 

"We make sure our staff, volunteers and committees are working together so that we can do what we need to do in March," Boleman said. "That includes fundraising events, operational meetings, schedule changes and accommodations, or things we need to improve. There's plenty of work to do, and it's my job to ensure people work together to put our best foot forward. It is amazing to collaborate with our volunteer leadership, the committee chairs and our staff and see them improve and hit their goals. There are some really good people here, and having the opportunity to work with folks is my favorite part."

Amidst the chaos of organizing an event so dear to Texans, Boleman and his team always remember their true mission of providing an outlet for people to have fun while learning about agriculture. Whether greeting school children on field trips or assisting little cowboys and cowgirls on pony rides, Boleman and his team always focus on delivering the best experience for everyone.

Every year, 2.4 million people flock to Houston to experience the sights and sounds of the livestock show and rodeo. (Photos provided by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo)

The organization also shows its dedication to people through its scholarships. In 2022 alone, the rodeo awarded over 800 scholarships totaling more than $14.1 million. The organization provides scholarships for Texas students from Houston and surrounding areas and those participating in programs like 4-H and FFA. More than 6,000 Aggies have attended Texas A&M thanks to the support of a rodeo scholarship. "Providing that avenue for a young person to have an opportunity they otherwise wouldn't—that makes the experience truly meaningful to me," Boleman shared.

Riding Into the Future

The rodeo has become a part of Houston's culture, and during COVID, the surrounding community felt its loss. With no rodeo to host, Boleman and his team began planning bigger and better things for its return, such as featuring women’s breakaway roping all 20 nights. Most importantly, it gave them time to consider the rodeo's future and values.

"You can never settle," Boleman said. "You have to keep pushing and seeing what people are interested in and how they want to be part of the show. A diverse urban community like Houston allows us many opportunities for partnerships and growth."

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will endure within the minds of Texans and people across the globe as an event that provides community. Boleman will continue to innovate and improve the rodeo, but his primary focus will always be the people.

"When you establish those types of relationships and work together to accomplish a goal, there is nothing else like it," Boleman said. "We get caught up sometimes in all the noise and opinions, but seeing these folks giving up their time, talent and treasures as they work towards a common goal is astonishing."

Interested in supporting students who will bring their Aggie values to the agriculture industry? Contact Jennifer Ann Scasta ’11 below to learn more.