CSU, Chico

Lee Rincker, Agricultural Education Master's Program

Lee Rincker, Agricultural Education Master's Program

Lee Rincker, a recent graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, traveled 2,046 miles from Shelbyville, Illinois, to coach the only West Coast university livestock judging team that travels nationally. Rincker is one of the first students to enroll in CSU, Chico’s new online master’s program in agricultural education, and he is the first assistant livestock judging coach at Chico State.

Rincker comes to Chico State with a strong history of being on a livestock judging team, starting at Lake Land Junior College in Mattoon, Illinois. Rincker’s aspirations led him to join the livestock judging team when he transferred to the University of Illinois in 2010. He competed in several competitions and received numerous awards. Most notably he was the first student from the University of Illinois to earn the title of high individual overall at the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) in Denver, Colorado, in 2011. Rincker has grown up around cattle and has many family members who have also been on livestock judging teams.

Clay Carlson, College of Agriculture lecturer and livestock judging coach for 12 years, had been actively searching for an assistant coach since last spring, and Rincker first caught his attention at the NWSS. Later on in the season, Carlson contacted Dan Shike, former University of Illinois livestock judging coach, to learn more about Rincker. He fit the criteria and qualifications including someone who is going to graduate school and has plans to be a coach in the future.

His presence at Chico State will allow for the livestock judging team to compete for two consecutive years as opposed to every other year. “Lee has definitely proved that he was the right choice,” Carlson said. “What is unique about him, being an ag education major with a goal of becoming a livestock coach, is that he can take more responsibility in guiding the team.”

When Rincker was offered the assistant coaching position, he was excited about the opportunity to combine the two things he wanted to do—coach and go through the master’s program. “This experience has tremendous value that will help me with my career aspirations of teaching and coaching at a junior college,” Rincker said.

Every Wednesday, he holds a reasons practice and will be at each contest this season with the team. “I think because of Lee’s success at placing so high in contests, the team looks up to him for his accomplishments and wants to fulfill his expectations,” Carlson said. 

Rincker explained that he enjoys working with each individual on the team and watching them improve every practice. He also said that Carlson has quickly become a mentor to him. “Each individual is unique, and Clay has a knack for coaching to each person’s full potential,” Rincker added.    

“Being a coach has given me a new outlook on livestock judging and has presented new challenges,” Rincker stated. “With coaching, I have a broader perspective that winning is a goal, but the primary objective is seeing students succeed in the game of life, and all I need to do is supply them with the vehicle to get there.”

 After receiving his Master of Science in Agricultural Education, Rincker wants to teach agriculture at a community college, coach livestock judging, and continue with his beef operation. No matter where he teaches, he knows there is one thing that will remain constant—raising cattle and contributing to the beef industry, just as his family has done for generations before him.