CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – West Texas A&M University announced that its live mascot, Thunder XIV the buffalo, will make multiple appearances on the First United Field at Bain-Schaeffer Buffalo Stadium during the WT Buffs football team’s upcoming home games.

Thunder and his handlers, the Herdsmen, will hit the field first with the home-season opener against Adams State University at 7 p.m. on Saturday, said WT.

WT also introduced the Herdsmen members for the upcoming season, a team comprised of eight men and women including:

  • Mia Encinias, a senior animal science major from Edgewood, N.M.;
  • George Graybill, a senior animal science major from Keenesburg, Colo.;
  • Hayden Howick, a sophomore animal science/pre-vet major from McLean;
  • Kaden Husband, a junior animal science/pre-vet major from Childress;
  • Makenzie Norden, a senior animal science/pre-vet major from Sugar Land;
  • Jett Mizer, a junior agribusiness major from Amarillo;
  • Rebecca Tracy, a senior animal science/pre-vet major from Borger; and
  • Jaden Vititow, a sophomore animal science major from Sulphur Springs.

The Herdsmen will be led by a new faculty advisor, according to WT. Dr. Kelly Jones, clinical assistant professor of agriculture, who earned his Ph.D. in agriculture from WT while working as manager of WT’s Nance Ranch, a working ranch and research facility east of Canyon. This will be Jones’ first year as a full-time instructor at WT after working as a high school agricultural science teacher and spending time in the ag industry.

“I met Thunder just a couple of weeks ago,” Jones said. “He was raised as a bottle baby, so he’s very gentle, very smart and knows when he’s fixing to go to work. The Herdsmen are doing a great job with him. I’m very impressed with how they work as a team.”

WT said that Jones will be joined by Dalton Keener, a graduate student in animal science from Fredericksburg, who serves as the graduate assistant for the program. The team serves as a group of ambassadors for WT and its Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences.

WT noted that it is believed to be one of only two universities in the US with a live buffalo mascot. The first were introduced at WT after being purchased in 1922 from Col. Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight, and the program was revived in the 1970s. The Herdsmen were also started in the 1970s, and are tasked with Thunder XIV’s safety as well as his pen, known as the “Thunder Lodge.”

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