Students at Mesalands Community College, located in Tucumcari, New Mexico, will now be able to pursue an associate’s degree program in Cowboy Arts.
The program started around eight years ago as one class, a spur making class, and recently evolved into an associates of applied science degree, Cowboy Arts lead instructor Eddy Mardis told ABC7 Amarillo.
“There’s a huge need for blue collar workers in the United States today. So, when a student graduates, they can pretty much get along in any kind of fabrication shop,” said Mardis.
A Mesalands Cowboy Arts student at work.
In the new program, students are learning important blue collar skills such as how to engrave, silversmith and manufacture. Mesalands students can pursue either an Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Arts, Applied Science Certificate or Occupational Certificate in Cowboy Arts/Western Silversmithing and Fabrication.
“I always saw things that I would like to have but I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford, so if I could just build it myself, it would help,” said Wyatt Bishop, a Cowboy Arts student.
The program falls under traditional western culture arts, which includes the custom designing, fabricating, and engraving of bits, spurs, buckles, bracelets, and pendants worn and used in traditional western culture, according to the community college’s website.
Mardis, an internationally known engraver, started the degree program after seeing a shortage of blue collar workers.
“It’s the skills they acquire to make a belt buckle, or to make a pair spurs, or make a pair of bits that really help them out in the blue collar world,” he said.