RIO HONDO — For Ty Rhyner, agriculture is a family tradition that’s helped make him a state champ.
As a little boy, he began showing prized livestock across Texas.
For the past three years, he and his little brother Jake have run a cotton-picking business that’s made them state champions.
Now, the 18-year-old Rio Hondo High School senior represents South Texas’ FFA chapters.
A starting lineman for the Bobcats, he’s won a scholarship to play football at McMurry University in Abilene.
By the time he was 8, Ty was raising a calf at his home outside San Benito.
That year, he won Grand Champion Heifer at the Cameron County Livestock Show.
For Ty, it’s part of a long family tradition.
When they were in high school, his parents Buck and Stephanie Rhyner showed livestock.
By his freshman year, Ty began competing in FFA Career Development Events and Leadership Development Events, showing cattle, hogs, goats and sheep.
“It’s taught me about teamwork, how to be a leader by leading by example, how to be a good speaker and how to do a job interview,” Ty said.
So far, he and Jake have won more than 150 championship belt buckles in livestock competitions across Texas.
In his freshman year, he and his brother launched Rhyner Brothers Custom Harvesting, a cotton-picking business with about five employees operating across the Rio Grande Valley.
“We’re trying to make money for college savings,” he said. “It’s going very, very well.”
But harvest time means long days and nights.
“It’s lots of hard work,” he said. “My brother and I are out there every day, from daybreak to midnight.”
Their father, who ran his own cotton-picking business to raise money for college, helps out.
“I get a lot of advice from my dad,” he said. “He grew up on a farm picking cotton so he knows a lot about it.”
Every year, the brothers reinvest their profits to build up their business, buying bigger and better cotton-pickers.
“We wanted to increase production and make more money,” he said.
For the past three years, the brothers’ business has won state Grand Champion awards.
Now, Ty holds office as the FFA’s Area 10 representative, serving the region stretching across South Texas.
“It’s an honor. It’s an incredible feeling,” he said. “My goal is to meet as many people as possible. If anyone needs to contact me, I’m here. I always try to change people’s lives for the better.”