The Angelo State University Department of Agriculture is proud to announce that this year’s outstanding alumnus is Mr. Barry Cooper. Mr. Cooper comes from the small Texas hill country town of Llano, roughly two hours southeast of San Angelo. Currently Mr. Cooper is the Co-Owner and President of a company called GoQue, which is the company that oversees the operations of Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, Fort Worth, New Braunfels, and Austin, Texas. Prior to that, he was an Agricultural Extension Agent from 1986-88, and from 1988-2005, he worked for Cargill Inc. out of Minneapolis, MN. He graduated from Angelo State University with a Bachelor of Science in 1984, and in received his Master’s degree in 1992.
As an undergraduate, Mr. Cooper was involved in many different student organizations including, Block and Bridle, was a member of the livestock and wool judging teams, and participated in numerous intramural sports. Angelo State University was his school of choice because of the school’s reputation and its proximity to the hill country. In our time with Mr. Cooper, he mentioned several different reasons why he chose the different career paths he has taken.
In what he considers his first career, working for Cargill, he refers to both Dr. Gil Engdahl (former Agriculture Department Chair) as well as Dr. Brian May (former Animal Science Professor and current ASU President) as his inspirations. He and Dr. May had a close relationship even before he decided to attend ASU and his first year, Dr. May was a graduate teaching assistant. For his second career, Mr. Cooper lives out his family legacy working and co-owning GoQue. Outside of the workplace, he is involved in charity work, local politics, Quarter Horse racing, sports events and all kinds of outdoor activities.
In the coming years, Mr. Cooper sees the agriculture industry becoming more global, with the continuing evolution of plant and livestock genetics with an emphasis on food production in both volume, efficiency and safety. He believes that Angelo State University prepared him for his career because of the small class sizes, the ability to work hands-on at the Management, Instruction, and Research Center, and the common sense approach. He values the friends and lifelong relationships created during his time at ASU, and secondly, he values the ability he had to see and experience the world because of the judging teams he participated on.
Mr. Cooper advises students to learn Spanish and broaden their horizons. He states Agribusiness in general is resistant to change and slow to adapting; however, world consumers are speeding up. Therefore, as agriculturists, we must embrace change, which is not an easy thing for the industry to do. Mr. Cooper puts an emphasis on food production and food safety becoming a focal point for agriculture around the world. Lastly, he says some of the best advice he ever got when it came to careers was: “figure out what kind of problems that you enjoy solving and pursue a career in that field, because that’s what you’re gonna be doing whatever job you choose…and just pursue your passion”.