Todd Herring: Ag teacher turned rancher


The Herring family: Maeley, Jennifer, Todd, and Jack.

Todd Herring graduated from DHS in 1986 and went directly to Tarleton State University – known then as “the better part of the Texas A&M system” – when Tarleton was a school boasting only some 4500 students. (Today, Tarleton enrolls over 10,000 undergraduates!) Todd graduated with a degree in Ag Services and Development, and he returned to Devine as an Ag teacher in the fall of ’92.
Recalling some of his best experiences as a Devine Ag teacher, Todd says that his first year had to have been the most outstanding one. He had a group of freshman girls who all eventually graduated top in their class: Tanessa Saathoff, Hanna McGowen, Laura Kidd, and Rhonda Savage were among that group. Todd relates that Tanessa Saathoff came to him as a freshman and announced that her goal was to become State FFA President. He didn’t realize how committed and capable Tanessa would be, and sure enough, with the added guidance of Ag teacher Phil McAnelly, she did accomplish that feat.
Also, the girls “bugged me to death about getting married,” Todd recalls. “They were so afraid I wouldn’t find a wife,” he says, “and I kept telling them I would be married before they graduated.” He did, in fact, have a girlfriend at the time, but that relationship didn’t pan out. And then one of the girls came up with a legal-looking document stating that if Mr. Herring were not married by the time they graduated, they would shave his head. He gave little thought to the wager, yet he signed it “to get them off my back” and placed the “document” inside his desk drawer…. Along comes the State Convention, and that document – which Todd thought was lost somewhere in one of his desk drawers – somehow reappears. Neva Saathoff, Tanessa’s mother, had pulled it out along with a pair of clippers! Todd tried to wiggle out of it, claiming he had met his future wife and they were getting married that summer. That excuse didn’t fly, as the bet was that he would be married before they graduated.
So, the good sport that he is, Todd sat down on the floor at the convention, and the shaving began. But, when the lights went out about half way through the process, the whole group had to head back to the hotel. There, Todd showed up in the lobby with a half-shaved head. He saw the funny looks he was getting and just frankly stated, “I lost a bet.” Back to the room, the group reconvened and finished the job. The next weekend Todd had to go meet his fiancé’s parents for the first time and sporting a shaved head. He assured them that he was not normally a skin head.
Todd had met his fiancé, Jennifer Parkey, on a blind date. She was good friends with the couple getting married, and she was sister to David Parkey, a college friend who was married to Vanessa Runnels Parkey, sister to Vance Runnels, one of Todd’s high school friends. The blind date was to round out the couple groups, but Todd affirmed, “I’m through with women. All my friends are married, and I’m going to be a bachelor.” This was in the summer of ’95. The couple married in the summer of ‘97. It’s interesting that they had to choose that date to marry because it was between the State FFA Convention and the State Ag Teachers Convention. Todd had planned to attend both, and following their wedding, the two were going to return to Devine where he would continue teaching Ag, and Jennifer would finish college locally.
But, as it turned out, those plans changed dramatically. Jennifer’s father, Jack Parkey, offered the opportunity for the family to go in business together and operate one of the family ranches. So, Todd resigned in May and went to work for Jennifer’s dad until the ranch operation there in Archer County fell into place. Then, Jennifer and Todd and the two brothers, David and Robert Parkey, began the partnership and ran the ranch together until 2011. At that time, the partnership was dissolved, and Todd and Jennifer moved onto another Parkey family ranch which they lease from the family estate and operate today.
Meanwhile, Jennifer completed her degree and teaches first grade at Archer City ISD. The couple has two children: Maeley, born in 1999, and Jack in 2002. Maeley graduates this year as Salutatorian and will attend Texas Tech. Jack is a freshman. The two have been involved in showing Angus cattle statewide. They are active in Texas Junior Angus Association and have attended the State Junior shows and are active in leadership as well.
Maeley has played softball and volleyball on teams that have gone to State and have always been in the playoffs. Last year, she was one of the twelve girls selected from areas schools of all classifications for the Wichita Falls Times Record News sports writers “Diamond Dozen”. Jack is a member of FFA, is presently on the high school golf team, and has competed in 4-H trap shooting. Both Maeley and Jack are active in the Praise and Worship band in their church with Maeley singing and Jack playing the bass guitar.
Todd and Jennifer have been members of FBC Archer City since they settled in Archer County in July of ’97. Todd is a deacon there, and both he and Jennifer have been involved teaching Sunday school to young adults, junior high, and, at the present time, first – fifth-grade. Todd is a board member of Archer County Soil and Water Conservation District where he has served as Secretary for the last five years. And for some ten years he served as Chairman of Archer County Junior Livestock Show Association; now, he is just on the board.
Todd says that his “next big hurtle is to see the kids through college.” He is proud of their being good Christian teenagers. He adds that he enjoys getting back to Devine to see his mom, Twila Herring, and his brother, Scott, and the families. What he misses most is seeing all of his old friends. “There just never is enough time,” he laments.