LD Robinson Pavilion
Long before setting foot in Katy, L.D.Robinson was a successful
principal and educator. And it was that success, leadership and devotion which
drove J.A. Marshall, former director of Vocational Agriculture for the Texas
Education Agency, to contact Robinson about the flailing agricultural program
that was about to be discontinued in a little Texas town just west of Houston.
Marshall pushed Robinson to consider what he could do to rebuild
the fledgling program. Robinson’s greatest joy was instilling strong values, a
winning spirit and leadership skills into his students, while developing
self-esteem. His character and vision aligned exactly with what the original
Future Farmers of America organization was all about. So he dreamed of big
plans to build one of the best FFA chapters and agricultural education programs
in the state. With Marshall’s recruitment and connections, L.D. Robinson was
hired to do just that in Katy ISD.
In 1942, L.D. and Ruby Robinson moved their family to Katy,
which had just one school that housed all grade levels. He knew he had to act
fast to implement his dream: an FFA chapter like no other. One that would
include a science farm, livestock show and rodeo, complete with a lighted rodeo
arena, and more. All of it would be a self-sustaining program that would not
cost the district any money.
Some thought Robinson was “an impossible dreamer,” but that did
not deter the visionary educator. Katy already had an FFA chapter. But with
only 18 members and $57 in the chapter treasury, he knew he needed to raise
money to support and grow the program. In 1943, with just $45, Robinson bought
nine pigs to raise and auction. They were housed in the old PTA shack he bought
for $12.50, creating a hands- on learning experience for the Ag students.
To gather a crowd for the auction, Robinson had the ingenuity to
organize a “Cowboy Sports Rally Rodeo” as entertainment to coincide with the
pig sale. Thus marked the very first Katy ISD FFA Livestock Show and Rodeo. He
used the event not only as an opportunity to raise funds for the program, but
also as a way to bring the community together through a common bond. The
establishment of the parade encouraged even further community involvement. The
event developed into the first full-service K-12 program of its kind in the
Facilities were needed to house the program. Using a model of
his own plans built by himself and his wife, he garnered support at the first
Katy High School Father-and-Son FFA Banquet and then with the Katy ISD School
Board. It became a total community effort. Everyone would show up to help build
each phase of the project. In 1947, a farm complex, barns, bleachers and an
arena were completed just south of Katy High School.
News quickly spread and students became excited to participate
as evidence by the rapid receipt of various state and national recognitions. It
became a model program for others to follow, and for years, Robinson held the
record for having the most students to receive the State Lone Star Farmers
Degree – all under the leadership of one teacher.
The educational value of the program for the students involved
far surpassed expectations and to this day is highly supported by the Katy ISD
Robinson’s contributions in the 76-year-old program are far too
many to list, and the impact he had on students, families and community is far
too much to put into words.
Before he retired, he received the National Honorary American
Farmers Degree, the highest honor that can be bestowed to an agriculture
science teacher and was selected as the outstanding agriculture science teacher
in the nation. Robinson retired after teaching almost 29 years at Katy High
Because of Robinson’s dream and vision, Katy ISD’s FFA programs
now exist in every comprehensive high school and more than 3,200 students
benefit from the lessons, mission and education offered. He is a legacy that
has truly built a foundation of educational excellence for Katy that is carried