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Valenti students learn the ropes at Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Valenti School of Communication selects first class of students for paid internship program at 2015 rodeo

Isabel Carrero wants to be a wildlife videographer and spend her workdays shooting videos of animals in their natural habitat.

The broadcast journalism major got a step closer to her career goal this spring – as an intern at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR).

The wilderness, it wasn’t.  But it is a man-made habitat for animals and human beings with a distinct cultural milieu.

“Being at the rodeo has really made me see the importance that animals have in our lives and I would like to help out in the only way I know how – through a camera,” Carrero said. “Eventually, I would like to do animal conservation and rehabilitation work - and work with Disney on their nature documentaries.”

Carrero and 14 of her classmates were student workers in the HLSR video internship program this spring thanks to the persistence of Craig Crowe, instructional assistant professor in the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication.

In the past, the rodeo only used students from Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University and Alvin Community College to assist the HLSR’s broadcast team. Crowe spent nearly four years networking with professionals in the broadcast industry through his own freelance work with local television stations – all with a goal of getting UH students opportunities to be part of the broadcast team at the rodeo.

Earlier this year, Crowe had a chance meeting with UH alumnus Mark Kennedy, a freelance sports director in the Houston area who served as a director and scheduler in the broadcast department of the 2015 rodeo.

“Mark was able to get me a meeting with the rodeo’s director of broadcasting in early February,” Crowe said. “I spent two hours telling the director how great our students are, how well we educate them, and that they just needed a chance.”

Crowe’s persistence, in addition to President and Chancellor Renu Khator’s efforts to increase UH’s national profile, resulted in rodeo officials asking Crowe to select 15 Valenti students to work at the rodeo in paid positions starting on February 25.

Crowe had to work fast. The greenlight for the UH internship program came in early February when students’ course schedules were established. He selected several students who were taking his producing/directing capstone course, a few students from his electronic field production class, and asked for recommendations from other Valenti faculty to fill the remaining positions.

“Fifteen Valenti students worked within the five arenas that are part of NRG Park. They covered events for 20 different feeds, which were broadcast around the country, as well as internationally,” Crowe said.

While working at the rodeo, students gained experience in all aspects of broadcasting, including working cameras, directing, graphics, and running audio boards.

The majority of UH students worked on Stampede-TV, the rodeo’s live, in-house television program that was aired throughout the venue. The broadcasting they did as part of Stampede-TV will become a part of their demo reel when it is time for the students to seek professional employment.

Crowe wants to build on the students’ experience this year by selecting more students to help with next year’s rodeo – and possibly to help with other major events taking place at NRG Park in the future – including the 2017 Super Bowl.

Carrero, who is a senior scheduled to graduate in May 2015, is thankful for the experience and believes it will have a direct impact on her future career.

 “This position has really allowed me to see what a high pressure studio is like,” says Carrero. “It has given me the opportunity to really understand the level of skill I must have in order to do a good job and the chance to put my skills to use for an actual live event.”

-       by Monica Byars