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COWBOY OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Volume 21 Number 2 • Summer/Fall 2019


Investing In

We are proud to continue our long-standing tradition of helping tomorrow’s leaders find success today. FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA. AFRYouth /AFRYouth @AFRYouth

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: 405.218.5400 www.afrcoop.org


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Animal science teams take home three national champion titles Oklahoma State University animal and food sciences judging teams have developed a winning tradition on a national level. In 2018, they made OSU history. Within a three-day span, the OSU livestock, meat and horse judging teams won their respective national championship contests. Although each team has won national championship titles in the past, 2018

4 | COWBOY JOURNAL

marked the first time all three teams won in the same year. The teams were coached by Blake Bloomberg, livestock judging; Steven Cooper, horse judging; and Gretchen Mafi, meat judging. The livestock judging team has garnered 19 national championships, has had 14 high individual contestants win at Louisville, and has had 31 All-Americans.

The horse judging team has brought home nine AQHA World Championships, four AQHA Reserve World Championships, and has had 32 All-Americans. The meat judging team has won 19 national championships, seven reserve national Championships, and has had 16 All-Americans. Congratulations to CASNR competitive teams on their successes.


COWBOY JOURNAL Volume 21 Number 2 Leadership & Staff EDITORS

Catherine Appling Cristin Shepard

MANAGING EDITOR Shelly Peper Sitton, Ph.D.

ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITORS Samantha Blackwell, M.S. Dwayne Cartmell, Ph.D. Ruth Inman, Ph.D. Angel Riggs, Ph.D. Quisto Settle, Ph.D. Erica Summerfield, M.S.

GRAPHIC & PHOTO COORDINATOR Megan Silveira

SPONSORSHIP COORDINATOR

FROM THE EDITORS Coming into this semester, we could not imagine our appreciation and love for our major growing any more, but knowing we will walk out of Room 404 for the final time this semester made us realize just how great it is to be an agricultural communicator from Oklahoma State University. This semester we witnessed 18 voices come together to create a magazine that embodies the essence of CASNR. From dairy judging coaches, wheat research and aggie princesses to stem cell research, prescribed fires and conservation, this issue shows the breadth of CASNR as well as the involvement our students, faculty, staff and alumni have in so many areas. To our CJ staff, thank you for the hard work and effort you dedicated to this publication. Without your unwavering pursuit of excellence, this publication could not be what it is. To Melissa Mourer, Samanatha Siler, Jackson Mayberry, Kate Miller and

Kaitlynn Sebo

SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATORS

Jacob Sitton, thank you for your attention to detail and contribution. To Ruth Inman, Samantha Blackwell, Quisto Settle, Angel Riggs and Dwayne Cartmell, thank you for your help in producing this publication. More importantly, thank you for preparing us for the real world by teaching us the skills and work ethic needed to carry us through our careers. To Erica Summerfield, thank you for always reminding us to smile and lifting us up when the work got tough. We could not have done this without you. To Shelly Sitton, no amount of thank yous in the world can express our gratitude for the countless hours and energy you dedicate to students, but thank you for always reminding us of rule No. 1: Don’t panic. To you, the reader, thank you for taking the time to take a small look at the incredible people and events that happen inside of CASNR. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have. — Catherine and Cristin

COWBOY OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Volume 21 Number 2 • Summer/Fall 2019

Mason Martin Hannah Young

FACT CHECKER Kiera Leddy

STAFF

Maggie Base, Rachel Booth, Brooklyn Brown, Jackalyn Elliott, Peyton Haley, Haley Stark, Karlie Wade, Michelle Wagar, Kristen Walters, Mikayln White, Laura Wood and Hannah Young

ON THE COVER

Landowners in Oklahoma work with agencies and local fire departments to use prescribed fires. Photo by Cristin Shepard. Oklahoma State University, as an equal opportunity employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action. Oklahoma State University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all individuals and does not discriminate based on race, religion, age, sex, color, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, or veteran status with regard to employment, educational programs and activities, and/or admissions. For more information, visit https:///eeo.okstate.edu. This publication, issued by Oklahoma State University as authorized by the Vice President of the Division of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, was printed at no cost to the taxpayers of Oklahoma. This publication is printed and issued by Oklahoma State University as authorized by the Vice President of the Division of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources and has been prepared and distributed at no cost to the taxpayers of Oklahoma.

VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 5


CONTE Taking the Reins Keeping up with Kudzu High Flyer

Authentic Roots

Royal Lineage

Meet Mr. Wheat Silver Data Streak Wise Beyond Her Years Veterinarians in Progress 6 | COWBOY JOURNAL


TENTS Madam Secretary of Agriculture Dairy Dedication

Fun by the Gallon Fighting Fire with Fire

Going Against the Grain

Farm Fresh Family Conservation Through Connections Her Global Identity From Small Town to Orange Gown VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 7


OSU donor’s heart of gold withstands test of time s the morning sun rises, shining light across the town of Haskell, Oklahoma, two mares stand with their ears pricked forward, anticipating the arrival of their owner. Bundled up against the weather, a lone figure makes her way toward the barn to start the day’s work and care for her horses. Almost every morning since 1994, Elizabeth Logan has cared for her horses, which she said are her biggest passion in life. The 92-year-old’s love for horses stems from her late husband, George W. Logan, a man she said lived for the animals. “My husband always, from a baby, loved horses,” Logan said. “We raised them together. He picked them, and I showed them.” Despite the champion buckles and ribbons now adorning her home, Logan said she was not always as comfortable around horses as she is today. She said she was introduced to agriculture when she married George W. and they invested in their first stallion in 1961. Only after George W.’s openheart surgery in 1995, however, did Logan’s passion for the animals ignite, she said. 8 | COWBOY JOURNAL

“He was supposed to stay inside but had a barn full of studs,” she said. Logan said it became her job to handle the everyday chores associated with the ownership of the large animals. In the time spent cleaning stalls and feeding, Logan said she became accustomed to being around horses. After developing a special bond with Scotty’s Nurse, the only filly in her husband’s barn, Logan said she became determined to try her hand at showing. “I came in one night and told my husband I was going to show Scotty’s Nurse,” Logan said. “I was 68 years old, and I told him I was going to make her High Point Palomino. And I did.” Logan said Scotty’s Nurse activated her addiction to showing, and she now proudly claims a long list of achievements with several horses. From titles at several world shows to champion horses in multiple breed associations, Logan made her mark on the show industry. Since George W.’s death in 2011, Logan said she has scaled back their operation. Logan continued to breed horses for as long as possible but said goodbye to the show ring in 2015 and made the difficult decision to host a dispersal sale in 2017, she said.


Elizabeth Logan’s age does not prevent her from spending a majority of her time working outside with her horses. Photo by Megan Silveira. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 9


Elizabeth Logan shares a special bond with her mare, Chicken. Photo by Megan Silveira. 10 | COWBOY JOURNAL

While she might have sold the show horses, nowadays Logan is trying her hand at breeding racehorses. Logan said her veterinarian and friend, Jay Ross, “just kept talking racehorses” after her husband passed until one day, she said she took the bait. Her first horse, Batter Up, did well on the track, and Logan said she once again found herself back in the horse industry. Her original gelding won four races, and Ross easily convinced her to add a few horses to the herd, she said. Logan now has three horses in training and two mares at home. She said she enjoys watching her horses run and recently her first colt with a racing bloodline was born. Even with the excitement of having a new colt, Logan said her age has become a real concern. “Age is just a number, but it’s a high number,” Logan said. “I feel real fortunate that I’ve still got the ranch, and I am able to live by myself. I feel blessed.” Logan has called her property home since 1970, when she and George W. purchased the 320-acre ranch. With no children to carry on the legacy, Logan said she and her husband always wondered what would happen to their property after they were both gone. Their answer came in 1983, when George W. found their 6-month-old champion Palomino mare down in her stall. After receiving no answers regarding the mare’s health from local veterinarians, Logan said she and her husband traveled to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to take their horse, Bandy, to the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. “When we left her up there, we left her as a dead horse,” Logan said. Both Logan and her husband were shocked, she said, when CVHS staff identified the problem and helped the horse. Logan said Bandy was double positive for hyperkalemic periodic paralysis disease, an inherited muscular genetic disease the equine industry was not familiar with at the time. Throughout Bandy’s life, Logan said,


OSU helped care for the horse. With the veterinary advice from OSU, she said Bandy proceeded to raise several champion offspring and win several world titles. Through this experience, Logan and her husband decided to donate their estate, including their ranch, to the OSU Foundation to use for research after Logan’s passing. Keith Owens, associate vice president of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, said Logan’s property will be an amazing location for students to learn. “Students in agriculture need to leave the classroom behind and work in larger pastures,” Owens said. “It’s different than working in the laboratory or feed lot. So, having the types of grasses that grow in eastern Oklahoma and being able to graze them in different management scenarios and systems is great.” Owens said with the facilities on the property, a potential for equine research exists, as well. Whether the foundation uses the land for pasture or equine research, Owens said OSU will benefit from receiving the Logan property.

The research planned for the Logan property will reach individuals outside the boundaries of the OSU campus, said Thomas Coon, vice president of agricultural programs at OSU. “It’s a place where we can learn,” Coon said. “Sometimes it is our undergraduate students, sometimes it is our graduate students and faculty who are learning. Sometimes, it’s even extension educators who are learning.” Beyond the donation, Coon said he values the personal connection Logan has made with the Cowboy family. He said the Logans witnessed the love OSU students and faculty have for the land around them, which helped the pair make their decision. “Someone who gives a gift like this becomes one of those key people who have contributed to the building of this institution,” Coon said. “They are giving of themselves in a very concrete way in order to make sure that the big idea behind this place continues.” In addition to donating the property, Logan said she and George W. started a scholarship fund for students preparing to enter OSU’s veterinary program.

“OSU was so good to us,” she said. “We just decided that maybe we could help somebody who wanted an education or wanted to better themselves.” While Logan said others might have thought she and her husband were crazy for their decision to donate all the land, she said she could not be happier to leave everything to charity. Until the time comes for the property to be passed to the next set of caring hands, however, Logan said she plans to continue taking the reins and making the most of her time. She said she will spend the rest of her life doing the one thing she believed her husband lived for ­— raising horses. “I’d love to go back a few years,” she said, “but you just got to pretend like you’re going to live forever.”

MEGAN SILVEIRA

Denair, California

Awards from years in the show ring adorn Elizabeth Logan’s home in Haskell, Oklahoma. Photo by Megan Silveira. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 11


KEEPING UP WITH Undergraduate researchers analyze invasive species issues fast-growing, non-native vine, kudzu, was first identified in Oklahoma in the 1970s. More than 40 years later, two Oklahoma State University students are researching the ecological and economic effects of kudzu in Oklahoma. Alyssa Whiteman, a rangeland ecology and management junior, and Paulina Harron, a natural resource ecology and management master’s student, have researched the sociological and technical sides of this invasive species. “Kudzu is cold sensitive,” Whiteman said. “In Oklahoma, where we have cold winters, this perennial vine usually does not survive. However, our cold winters are getting warmer now, and because of that, populations of kudzu have started to persist in Oklahoma.” Currently, kudzu is most prevalent in the southeastern part of the state, Harron said. Kudzu has a long growing season from early April until the first frost of the year in late October. In one growing season, kudzu can grow nearly 100 feet in one area, Harron said. “The above-ground vines typically 12 | COWBOY JOURNAL

die off due to frost,” Harron said. “However, the below ground vines are still viable and will be the first to come up the following spring.” Kudzu affects the environment by changing an ecosystem's processes and vegetation composition, destroying forested areas, and carrying pests and pathogens, Harron said. “Kudzu will push out other vegetation, whether it be shrubs, trees or rangeland,” Harron said. “It is going to create this monoculture of just kudzu, so you will not see a diversity of different plant species.” Kudzu also has an economic effect on Oklahoma because of the costs associated with environmental damage and management programs, she added. Karen Hickman, assistant dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources academic programs and a professor of natural resource ecology and management, conducted research on the locations of kudzu across the state. She provided Whiteman and Harron a foundation for their research. Harron researched the current distribution of kudzu under different climate

scenarios in the south central U.S., which includes six states: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas. “The second component of my research was focused on Oklahoma, calculating the short-term future costs for soybean farmers and timber production affected by kudzu,” Harron said. Harron found some areas, such as northern Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas, will see an increase in kudzu suitability because of warmer winter temperatures and increased precipitation, she said. Alternatively, states in the southern region, like south Texas, will see a possible decrease in the population of kudzu, she said. Harron found kudzu can increase soybean production costs because if kudzu is present, it can carry kudzu bugs and soybean rust. The kudzu bug is an associated pest that will feed on both kudzu and soybeans, Whiteman said. If located in the same area, kudzu bugs can reduce soybean production by 50% in a single year, she said.


Kudzu is referred to as “the vine that ate the South” because it grows rapidly and can grow almost anywhere. Photo by Paulina Herron.

“When we looked at kudzu’s effect on timber resources and production,” Harron said, “it influenced 761 jobs that could be lost and decreased production values of $160 million.” Whiteman’s research investigated what stakeholders’ perceptions were about managing kudzu in Oklahoma. Whiteman used a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats questionnaire to compare the participants’ views on controlling kudzu. “I served as a networker on Whiteman’s research project,” Hickman said. “I got to introduce her to different agencies, non-governmental organizations and individuals who could answer her questionnaire.” Through administering the questionnaire, Whiteman learned landowners’ concerns about kudzu were different than agency and non-agency professional concerns. “Landowners were concerned that the use of management practices would not be conducted properly,” Whiteman said. “They fear people will receive guidelines on how to control kudzu, but they will not control it according

to the guidelines, causing either more environmental detriment or the kudzu population to increase.” Because kudzu is a perennial plant, improper management will allow it to come back stronger in the future, which is a big concern for landowners, Whiteman said. However, representatives of government and non-governmental agencies said they wanted to focus on controlling and eliminating kudzu populations in Oklahoma entirely. “The study told us we need to educate landowners more about the proper ways to manage kudzu, the benefits of managing it, and what happens if we do not manage it,” Whiteman said. Human perceptions are important in determining why species are wanted and where they are wanted, Hickman said. That human component is essential for ecologists to manage ecosystems properly, she said. “Without Paulina’s technical research, there is no way to provide extension and education to the public about the importance of the issue,” Whiteman said. “If they do not have

any frame of reference for how kudzu actually impacts Oklahoma, then it makes it difficult for the public to come to an opinion.” Whiteman said having technical research to support sociological research is extremely important. Through this research, Whiteman has brought the facts to the public’s attention and let them form their own opinions, she said. Moving forward, both Whiteman and Harron said the next step is educating landowners and managers of what kudzu is and what the effects are. Whiteman said eradicating kudzu now would prevent economical loss to the state. “We could completely eradicate kudzu if it is brought to public attention and we start actually managing it,” Whiteman said.

HANNAH YOUNG

Los Banos, California

VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 13


FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.


STEVEN ADAMS OKC PRO BALLER


OSU alumnus provides a legacy for years to come aised on a dairy near smalltown Snyder, Oklahoma, Bob Westerman developed a passion for agriculture in his youth. When he graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education, his career took another direction. “I initially wanted to be a vocational agriculture teacher,” Westerman said. “Then, I got offered a part-time job working in the soil fertility research

program, which is how I really got interested in agronomy. “Also, during my undergrad program at OSU, I was trained as a fixed-wing pilot through the Army ROTC aviation program,” Westerman said. “When I went into the military, I got transferred into the helicopter flight program.” During his time in the Army, Westerman was a test pilot for recently repaired helicopters. At this time, helicopters were new to the military

Bob Westerman, OSU alumnus and emeritus faculty member, dedicated 37 years to wheat development at OSU. Photo by Kaitlynn Sebo. 16 | COWBOY JOURNAL

force and the Army was learning how to equip them with weapons, he said. “The guys said Bob was the best pilot in their class,” said Sharon Westerman, Bob Westerman’s wife. “They gave him the nickname ‘Tiger’ because he was not afraid to try anything.” After three years in the military, Bob Westerman furthered his education at the University of Illinois, where he earned a doctoral degree in soil science in 1969. He was at his first higher education job as a soil scientist at the University of Arizona from 1969 to 1976. With so many flight hours in various aircraft under his belt, Bob Westerman completed the requirements to get his commercial pilot’s license, which he used in his position. Sharon Westerman said her husband used his expertise in aviation to fly from place to place, which allowed him to be more efficient with time and money so he could conduct more research than he could traveling by car. “When we were living in Tucson, Arizona, we had a research station in Yuma, Arizona, which was probably a six-hour drive,” Bob Westerman said. “So, I would get my colleagues and fly there in two hours, do a day’s work, and fly back in the same day instead of taking three days to do it.” In 1976, Bob Westerman joined the agronomy faculty at OSU as an associate professor for soil fertility. He was promoted to professor, then Regents professor, then department head throughout the course of 25 years on the plant and soil sciences faculty.


Brian Arnall (left), Bob Westerman and Bill Raun have led the research at the Magruder wheat plots, which are the oldest continuous fertility research plots in the Great Plains. Photo courtesy of OSU Agricultural Communications Services.

“One of the best times of my career was the interaction with graduate students as they pursued advanced degrees, being able to work with them and teach them how to conduct research and present their materials to professional societies,” Bob Westerman said. “I enjoyed being able to teach at the graduate level. I had great major advisers who helped guide me through education and research. Hopefully, I was able to transmit that to my students, as well.” The faculty chose to change the department name from agronomy to plant and soil sciences while Bob Westerman was serving as department head. Bob Westerman was a successful faculty member and researcher, said Bill Raun, Bob Westerman’s friend, former student and former co-worker, who added his colleague was well-loved by his students and co-workers. “Bob Westerman has received a lot of awards, but I would say his greatest award is his students,” Raun said.

“He has many students who are doing incredibly well because of him. Teaching is the most important thing we do.” Through his research at OSU, Bob Westerman said he led the efforts to develop the best soil fertility management practices for crops in Oklahoma. He also was instrumental in passage of legislation to create sustainable funding for soil fertility research, education and graduate student training, he added. Bob Westerman was the researcher in charge of the Magruder wheat plots from 1977 to 1991. These plots are the oldest continuous fertility wheat research plots in the Great Plains and the third oldest in the United States. During his time as a tenured research faculty member, he received a Fellow Award from the Soil Science Society of America and the Agronomic Achievement Award from the American Society of Agronomy. Bob Westerman served as assistant director of the Oklahoma Agricultural

Experiment Station for five years until he became assistant vice president of agricultural programs at OSU in 2006. Retiring in 2013, he said the highlight of his career was receiving the Distinguished Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Alumni Award from OSU in 2015. “Bob Westerman would be the first pick on your team,” Raun said. “You want him on your side. He’s one of those iconic people in your life. Some people forget to thank others, but Dr. Westerman is one of those people I never forget to thank. “He took a big chance on me,” Raun added. “What a gift it was for me.”

KAITLYNN SEBO

Spiro, Oklahoma VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 17


Hughbanks shares his agricultural passion through National FFA or Ridge Hughbanks, agriculture is both a passion and a way of life. Hughbanks, 2018-19 National FFA Central Region Vice President and an Oklahoma State University agribusiness junior, grew up as a fifth-generation agriculturist near Alva, Oklahoma. “I learned about life from a 4430 John Deere tractor and a 12-foot disk,” he said. His grandparents were the reason he chose to further invest time in his agricultural education, he said. “I could not think of a better way and place to grow up because I had both sets of grandparents living very close to me,” Hughbanks said. “Not only that, but my parents understood the value of hard work and a hard-earned dollar.” Grandfathers, Galen Hughbanks and Glen Piper, were invested in Hughbanks’ life in numerous capacities, he said. “Most of my agricultural experience came from the Hughbanks side,” he said. “But then on the Piper side, I have some incredible memories, like riding in the tractor and learning

18 | COWBOY JOURNAL


OSU junior Ridge Hughbanks credits his success with National FFA to his community and agricultural roots. Photo by Laura Wood. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 19


how to drive before my feet could reach the pedals.” Hughbanks said his Grandpa Hughbanks taught him how to drive a manual transmission in his old Chevy Scottsdale pickup when he turned 13 years old. In high school, Hughbanks enrolled in agricultural education classes and joined FFA. Searching for his place within the organization was a challenge, he said. Then, Courtney Mapes, a former Alva FFA officer, encouraged Hughbanks to audition for the state FFA chorus, and he found his first FFA niche, he said. “The chorus was a unique part of the FFA that allowed me to attend state and national conventions,” Hughbanks said. “The experiences opened the door for all the organization had to offer.” Another of the events impacting Hughbanks’ FFA career occurred when he was a high school junior and serving as Alva FFA president. Agricultural education instructor Sierra Walker joined veteran instructor Randy Nation to advise the Alva FFA Chapter in 2014, changing the chapter dynamics and increasing member involvement, Hughbanks said. “Ridge wanted to make his home chapter better,” Walker said. “He began getting involved with his fellow officers and chapter members to promote overall participation.” By Hughbanks’ senior year, the chapter was earning state and national chapter awards. “We wanted to create a foundation that would involve more students into the program,” Hughbanks said. “We just started rolling with it. Our membership nearly doubled within a year and a half.” Although Hughbanks had some challenges along the way, he wanted to earn his State FFA Degree and run for a state officer position, Walker said. The night before state officer applications were due, Grant Wilber, a member of the Cherokee, Oklahoma, 20 | COWBOY JOURNAL

FFA chapter, called Hughbanks. Wilber encouraged Hughbanks to pursue a state FFA officer position, even though Wilbur was withdrawing his own application from the candidate pool, Hughbanks said. “He told me, ‘Ridge, I think you are the guy to do it. You need to run for northwest district vice president,’” Hughbanks said. “I have never forgotten that. Afterward, it became something so much bigger than just me running for state office. I ran for both of us.” Hughbanks said the 2016 Oklahoma FFA Convention was one he would never forget as he was elected as northwest district vice president. “I did not even hear my name called,” Hughbanks said. “I heard that ‘A’ of Alva, Oklahoma, announced, and I just about passed out.” Reflecting on his journey, Hughbanks said he recalled the overwhelming feeling when everything started to unfold. “I still get chills thinking about it,” he said. “There is no way to recreate the feeling of getting elected that first time. “The experience was so new, and truth be told, I had no idea what would happen next,” he added. Hughbanks said his first term as a state officer showed him how exceptional Oklahoma FFA and its members are. “I knew northwest Oklahoma,” he said. “I knew I loved agriculture and wanted to serve to the best of my ability, but I found a greater purpose in a diverse organization. “My appreciation for Oklahoma FFA grew immensely from what I understood at the beginning of my officer experience,” he said. Hughbanks cares deeply for people in FFA and those involved in the agricultural industry, said Adrienne Blakey, 2016-17 Oklahoma FFA Reporter and a plant and soil science and agricultural communications junior. “That first state officer year was so defining for him, and he flourished as a leader and speaker,” Blakey said. “He understood agriculture and policy, but during his presidency in 2017-18, he

really grew to appreciate the structure and the family of FFA.” Hughbanks said he was uncertain about national FFA officer candidacy. “The people who had invested in me throughout my FFA experience gave me the confidence to pursue a national officer position,” he said. Hughbanks was more than talented enough for the position, Walker said. “I remember telling him that he was going to go all the way,” Walker said. “I knew he could be a national FFA officer if that is what he put his mind to and committed to.” Hughbanks was easy to look to as an example when it came to leading FFA members, said Garrett Saunders, 2016-17 southwest district vice president and agricultural education junior. “He was determined from the beginning to be the same Ridge nationally as he was from Northwest Oklahoma,” Saunders said. “Honestly, he is the kind of guy you hear about in country songs. He is just so authentic.” Kelly Barnes, 2003-04 Oklahoma FFA President, who served as one of Hughbanks’ personal development mentors, said he could always count on Hughbanks to be real. “He is the same guy in whatever scenario you put him in,” Barnes said. “He serves as a terrific ambassador for FFA and the agricultural industry.” Hughbanks is everything anyone could ask for as a leader and friend and then some, Barnes said, and he has a fundamental desire for and appreciation of community. “Too often, there are people who are ashamed to be from a small town or to be from somewhere that is not on a map, that is not super noteworthy,” Hughbanks said. “The support that I had from my community was absolutely second to none. Anything that I had ambitions to do and was willing to put the work in for, I had people who were behind me to support me.” Hughbanks’ community played a major part in shaping him, Blakey said. “He loves his hometown and where


he comes from,” she said. “So much so, he even gets the Alva newspaper delivered to him in Stillwater.” The small town of Alva is so much a part of who he is and what he is thankful for, she said. “I have every intention of ending up right back there,” Hughbanks said. “I want to raise a family there. I want to use my roots there to continue to build off of what I have been given.” Hughbanks attributes who he is and

the lessons he learned early on to growing up around individuals who make their living in agriculture, he said. “I love where I come from because of the people, because of the experiences and because of the support,” he said. Hughbanks’ community made his FFA journey possible and influenced his passion for giving back, he said. “When you serve people, you enjoy it and you do it with other passionate individuals, you better stick to that as

long as you can,” Hughbanks said. “We will always have things we enjoy, but when we serve a bigger purpose while enjoying them, that’s pretty special.”

LAURA WOOD

Vinita, Oklahoma

From chapter to state to national FFA office, Ridge Hughbanks has continued to serve in a blue corduroy jacket. Photo by Laura Wood. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 21


Three CASNR alumnae remember their royal moments certain magic and polished esteem accompanies royalty — most formal and diplomatic. However, at Oklahoma State University, a few “royals” have milked cows on the Edmon Low Library lawn. Dating back to the 1920s, the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources had its own unique version of royalty. The Aggie Princess event, although no longer a CASNR tradition, was once a friendly, anticipated competition, said 101-year-old Verda Cox Church of Fairview, Oklahoma, who competed in the 1930s. The competition holds a place in CASNR and OSU history, beginning when OSU was known as the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. “It was 1937,” Church said. “That’s been a long time ago, in fact, about 82 years ago.” During her freshman year at Oklahoma A&M, Church said she was sitting in her room on the third floor of Murray Hall when her friends came to surprise her with some news. “I never thought anything about it,” Church said. “Someone asked me if I would run to be Aggie Princess. I said ‘Oh, no, get somebody else.’” Church said her friends informed her 22 | COWBOY JOURNAL

she did not have a choice since they had already signed her up for the competition. She was lucky they did because it worked in her favor, Church said. “I said ‘Can’t you take my name off?’” Church said. “They said ‘No.’ Well, I finally accepted it.” Church then was selected and served as the 1937 Aggie Princess. According to the Daily O’Collegian archives, the Aggie Princess title changed to Miss Oklahoma Agriculture in the mid 1970s. In addition to the name changes, the contestants were nominated by individual clubs within CASNR to represent their clubs in the competition, said Natalie James Church, 1991 Miss Oklahoma Agriculture runner-up and Verda Church’s granddaughter-in-law. “I was the representative for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow,” Natalie Church said. “I was quite honored to be selected by our club to compete.” Natalie Church said the competition has remained memorable for her as a former contestant because of the competition’s unique activities, such as milking a cow on the Edmon Low Library lawn. “I had been around cattle my whole

life, but I had never really milked a cow until then,” Natalie Church said. “So, it was quite embarrassing to try and do that in front of everybody who stopped on the library lawn to watch.” Verda Church said the Oklahoma A&M campus was different in 1937, and she was taken to barns off campus for her Aggie Princess activities. “I had to go and milk the cows, pet the bulls, and pet the sheep,” Verda Church said. “They took me to different barns, and I showed them I could milk a cow, but my opponent would not do it because she did not know how.” Natalie Church said being part of the event was something she bonded with Verda Church about when she first met her husband’s grandmother. “I thought it was funny when I first met Verda and she said she was the Aggie Princess in 1937,” Natalie Church said. “I asked her what she had to do, and she said ‘I had to milk a cow.’ I said ‘No way! I had to, too.’” The competition was modified throughout the years so contestants participated in other activities, said Dixie Shaw Thomas, 1971 Aggie Princess winner, who now lives in Wichita, Kansas. “We were right on the cusp of the women’s movement, and the


Left: Verda Cox Church poses in front of Murray Hall on the OSU campus wearing her Aggie Princess flower crown. Photo courtesy of Verda Cox Church. Right: Verda Cox Church (left) and granddaughter-in-law Natalie James Church visit Theta Pond together. Photo by Amy Church Haney. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 23


David Bowen (right) crowns Dixie Shaw Thomas (center), who receives a dozen roses from outgoing 1970 Block & Bridle Queen Shirley Welch. Thomas later was chosen as the 1971 Aggie Princess. Photo courtesy of the OSU Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

competition was during the Vietnam War,” Thomas said. “We would not have and did not milk cows.” Thomas said she was the Block and Bridle queen and represented the organization for the Aggie Princess competition. Even though no one milked a cow during Thomas’ year, the contestants did participate in an interview. “There was an interview with a panel,” Thomas said. “I mainly remember agricultural faculty members on that panel because it was intimidating.” Thomas said the panel questions focused on her agricultural background, her OSU experience and what representing the College of Agriculture* would mean to her. “I was proud of my background in agriculture,” Thomas said. “I remember in the interview that was the part I enjoyed telling about. So, I was thrilled when I was announced as the winner.” Another difference in the

competition during Thomas’ year was the duties the princess fulfilled after the competition, she said. “As far as I know, it only occurred once,” Thomas said, “but that year, the OSU Homecoming Steering Committee decided instead of having one Homecoming queen there should be eight Homecoming queens, one representing each college.” Thomas said she was the Homecoming queen for CASNR because she was the previous Aggie Princess winner. “The agriculture college said ‘Well, we already have our Aggie Princess, so you get to be Homecoming queen,’” Thomas said. “It was a double bonus.” Verda Church said her duties following winning Aggie Princess were not extensive, but one particular obligation sticks out in her mind. “The boys who supported me had to carry boiled eggs, and I had to sign

them,” Verda Church said. “I did not really have to do a whole lot, but I do remember that.” For Verda Church, the Aggie Princess competition serves as a fond memory when thinking back on OSU, she said. “It was important to me,” Verda Church said. “I had a lot of good times, and I enjoyed it. I met so many encouraging people.” Thomas said the competition took place during Ag Week, and the winner was announced at the Ag Banquet at the end of the week. “It was very cool at that time to be in the competition,” Thomas said. “Coming from a little town — Burlington, Oklahoma ­— with a background in agriculture, I was excited when they announced the winner at the Ag Banquet.” Thomas said being Aggie Princess not only gave her fun memories and opportunities but also led her to meet her husband, Greg Thomas. “I went to have my picture taken with the Block and Bridle members for the yearbook,” Thomas said. “There, one of the young men asked me out and, a few years later, I married him.” In the mid-1990s, as CASNR enrollment and the roles of women in agriculture changed, the title of Miss Oklahoma Agriculture was changed to Agricultural Student Spokesperson, which included both male and female students. Today, a CASNR student spokesperson is selected during CASNR Week each March. “The whole experience was fun,” Thomas said. “I felt it was an honor to represent the College of Agriculture.” *In 1991, the name was changed to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

KARLIE WADE

Perry, Oklahoma

24 | COWBOY JOURNAL

Verda Church wears her Aggie Princess flower cr


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Meet

Mr. Wheat OSU professor plays a role in fighting wheat diseases

hile Oklahoma wheat farmers prepare their yearly crop, one member of the Oklahoma State University Wheat Improvement Team devotes his time in labs, greenhouses and fields to conduct research for potential wheat diseases. Robert “Bob” Hunger, an OSU professor and extension plant pathologist, said his interest in biology started when his high school biology teacher allowed him to be an assistant in the classroom. This interest led him to Colorado State University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in plant pathology in 1976. “On the day of my undergraduate graduation, I was having breakfast with my parents and Dr. Gary McIntyre, the department head at Colorado State,” Hunger said. “He asked me what I was going to do after graduation. I told him I was unsure, but I could tell he was thinking about something. The next week he called and asked if I wanted to be one of his graduate students.” Hunger continued his education at CSU and obtained his master’s degree in plant pathology in 1978. “I grew up a lot in graduate school, and the department head got me focused more on what graduate degrees 26 | COWBOY JOURNAL

were like in regard to the research and science,” Hunger said. “He was a huge influence during that time, and I still talk to him today.” After earning his master’s, Hunger went back to graduate school to work toward his doctorate. In 1982, Hunger earned his doctorate at Oregon State University, and shortly after, he accepted a job at Oklahoma State University to teach and conduct research. “It turned out what they were looking for here at Oklahoma State was a person to not only teach a little bit but also work with the wheat breeding program to develop disease-resistant wheat varieties,” Hunger said. In the late ’90s, he took the wheat extension pathologist role. Since then he has divided his workload among research, extension and teaching, he said. “I have enjoyed splitting the workload,” Hunger said. “It has given me more opportunity to interact with producers, growers and county educators.” Hunger interacts with producers by attending field days featuring wheat variety demonstrations, he said. Each spring, more than 20 field days take place across the state. Field

days give the producers in the area an opportunity to view the different wheat varieties available, Hunger added. “Bob has always been willing to work with producers in Oklahoma,” said Mike Schulte, Oklahoma Wheat Commission director. “He has an outstanding rapport with the farmers across the state, and you certainly see that when you see him at a field day.” Hunger said he discusses the diseases occurring during the crop year and how important they are to the producers. He also answers any questions the producers have. “I definitely enjoy the interaction with the wheat growers,” he said. “That is where you really feel and see the practicality of what you are doing.” Hunger has a significant impact on the development of the different wheat varieties OSU produces, said Brett Carver, Regents professor and Wheat Genetics Chair in Agriculture Wheat Breeding and Genetics. Carver said roughly 350,000 data points occur during the development of each wheat variety. “Of those data points, 40% relate back to diseases, and that is because we have so many diseases,” he said. “So in


Robert “Bob” Hunger develops fact sheets and videos to help educate producers about wheat diseases across the state. Photo by Maggie Base. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 27


a way, Bob has his hands on 40% of the making of each variety. No other person other than the farmer of the crop is going to have that deep of a connection to the variety.” The wheat breeding program looks in-depth at six different diseases, Hunger said. These include viral and fungal diseases, which are tested in the greenhouse and in the field, he said. One wheat variety, Duster, was created in 2006 by the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station. “We thought we were ready to release Duster, but then decided it needed to be purified,” Carver said. This variety took 16 years and three different iterations to produce, Carver said. On average, a wheat variety takes 10 years and only one iteration to produce, he said. Duster’s production success comes

from its ability to adapt to the different strains of leaf rust, he said. Carver described leaf rust like the common cold ­— always there and always changing. “I give Bob a lot of credit for Duster’s success in this state,” Carver said. “It has been very important for other wheat varieties developed by breeding programs outside of Oklahoma. Bob was the star of the show when it came to releasing Duster.” Several wheat varieties, such as Gallagher, Smith’s Gold and Iba, were developed as part of the Duster lineage, Carver said. “Bob came up with the name Smith’s Gold,” Carver said. “He wanted to continue that heritage and connection to Gallagher, and what better way than using the Smith name after OSU wrestling coach John Smith?” For Hunger’s years of dedication

to the Oklahoma wheat industry, the Oklahoma Wheat Growers’ Association named him Mr. Wheat in 2017. “Dr. Hunger’s contributions have allowed the OSU public wheat research program to flourish,” Schulte said, “keeping us competitive in the marketplace by offering wheat varieties with exclusive qualities and leading yields. “His life’s work in wheat research has not only benefited the OSU wheat program today but will for many years to come,” Schulte added.

MAGGIE BASE

Geary, Oklahoma

Delivering More Than a Meal When it comes to helping other people, Robert “Bob” Hunger, an Oklahoma State University professor and extension pathologist, has always had a heart for giving back to the community, said Carolyn Hunger, director of Stillwater Mobile Meals and the scientist’s wife. The Stillwater Mobile Meals deliveries occur five days a week, 52 weeks a year, excluding major holidays, with the help of 80 volunteer drivers each week. Bob Hunger has driven weekly for Stillwater Mobile Meals since 1985, she said. “The service brings a healthy, nutritious meal to somebody who really needs it in the sense they can’t make a meal themselves,” she said. Volunteers pick up coolers with meals prepared by Stillwater Medical Center every Monday through Friday around 11:30 a.m. and deliver meals based on a provided route. Each route takes about an hour to complete, Bob Hunger said.

28 | COWBOY JOURNAL

When he delivers the meals, he always stops and has lunch with one of the clients, Carolyn Hunger said. “You get to know the history of the town a little bit more when you are involved in a program like this,” Bob Hunger said. Bob Hunger has served as a chairman on the Stillwater Mobile Meals board of directors more than a dozen times, Carolyn Hunger said.

“Volunteers are able to create bonds with the clients,” she said. “One of the things Bob is known for is the compassion and care he shows for his clients.” Those interested in becoming a volunteer can contact Carolyn Hunger at 405-742-5765.

Robert “Bob” Hunger began driving for Mobile Meals 34 years ago. Photo by Maggie Base.


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Silver

Data Streak

Mesonet celebrates 25 years of serving Oklahoma

pproximately 25 years ago, Oklahomans had limited access to real-time weather data. Since then, the Oklahoma Mesonet has provided reliable weather data anytime and now, almost anywhere. The Mesonet is a joint program governed by six steering committee members from Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. The committee meets quarterly to receive reports on activities and approve budgets. With its headquarters in Norman, Oklahoma, the Mesonet was commissioned by Gov. Henry Bellmon on Jan. 1, 1994. Ron Elliott, an OSU emeritus professor and Oklahoma Mesonet co-founder, said scientists started developing the idea of the Mesonet in the mid-1980s. “It was a collaborative effort from the beginning,” Elliott said. “I was involved in irrigation research, and I had a need for weather data to help in my modeling work for irrigation.” Elliott and other faculty in the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources who shared similar interests began discussing ways to obtain more complete and timely weather data, he said. “We would have to wait until the end of the month to get the data from the 30 | COWBOY JOURNAL

federal government,” Elliott said. “It was not real-time where you could get current data.” After Elliott began brainstorming with his colleagues, they heard about OU and the National Weather Service sharing a similar interest about getting real-time weather data, Elliott said. “We started visiting with OU personnel in 1987 and started to develop our thoughts and explore possibilities,” Elliott said. After some discussion and brainstorming, a team was formed, Elliott said. During the next three years, the team worked to get the network installed and operational. In late 1990, the Mesonet received funding from the state of Oklahoma. “There were a lot of planning and design decisions that needed to be made over that time period,” Elliott said. “We had a lot of people involved on subcommittees helping us.” Some decisions included finding sites to install weather stations, said Wes Lee, Mesonet’s agricultural coordinator. He said before coming to work at the Mesonet in March 2018, he worked for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in southwest Oklahoma where he ran scouting services and educational programs for producers. “I have used the Mesonet extensively

in my career as an educator in the county and as an area specialist,” Lee said. “I was involved with the Mesonet all the way back to 1992, helping locate potential sites for a station.” The first stations were installed in Norman, Stillwater and Perkins in 1992, and gradually, the Mesonet built stations in every county across Oklahoma, Elliott said. “We use Jan. 1, 1994, as our official kickoff date when we had the network completed, even though some stations were gathering data before that time,” Elliott said. All of the stations were installed, tested, and operating by January, he added. “I report to the steering committee on all the activities,” said Chris Fiebrich, meteorologist and Oklahoma Mesonet executive director. “As executive director, they are like my official board of directors.” Elliott serves as a co-chairman of the steering committee. Elliott said the steering committee has contributed to the success of the network. “The membership has changed over the years,” Elliott said, “but those individuals were charged with representing the two universities in planning, designing, and installing the network. Now, we have oversight on all operations and maintenance of the network.”


At each Mesonet site, a standard 10-meter tower provides data back to the headquarters in Norman. Graphic courtesy of Oklahoma Mesonet. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 31


Slapout, Oklahoma, Fire Chief Charlie Starbuck uses the Mesonet mobile app to track windspeed. Photo courtesy of OSU Agricultural Communications Services.

The Oklahoma Mesonet system gathers real-time weather data to share via the internet and now through a mobile app, Lee said. “We have 120 locations across the state that are open to the public,” Lee said. “Anyone with internet access can access the weather data from those 120 stations through the website or through a mobile device anytime for free.” All Oklahoma counties have at least one station and many have two or three, Lee said. The Mesonet stations have a standard 10-meter tower, Lee said. The tower collects everything from wind speed and wind direction to solar radiation, air temperature, humidity, and soil moisture, he added. The Mesonet is not unique to Oklahoma, Lee said. Several states have their own network, but Oklahoma has the largest. “Oklahoma is referred to as the 32 | COWBOY JOURNAL

Cadillac Mesonet program,” Lee said. “We have more sensors, and we have this 25-year history of gathering data, storing it, and developing products based on that database.” Fiebrich said he was a student employee during the first year of operation. Since 1994, the Mesonet has had about 125 student employees with several of the students becoming full-time employees, he added. “People love working here because of the weather diversity we have,” Fiebrich said. “Every day, Oklahoma weather is different, and it is really exciting for us to see how it is going to impact the network and what kind of observations we are going to make.” The Mesonet offers several different programs, ranging from agriculture outreach to public safety, fire management outreach, field operations and research teams, Fiebrich said. The data gathered is referred to as

raw data, and from the raw data, programs are developed for producers and consumers to use, Lee said. “You can refer to them as either decision-making tools or value-added programs that take raw data and package it in a way to help producers make decisions on the farm,” Lee said. Experts in specific fields can find value in the data collected, Fiebrich said. “It can help an alfalfa grower pinpoint when they should scout for weevil larvae based on temperature trends,” Fiebrich said. “It might be able to help track influenza because of certain moisture conditions. I am not an expert in health and agriculture, but people who are experts in those fields can make use of our data to really fine-tune how they understand their fields.” The Mesonet assists emergency responders, such as firefighters, to make informed decisions based on the weather data it collects, Fiebrich said. “Our data can help predict how high flames will be on a given day or how fast a fire will spread if it were to break out,” Fiebrich said. “We help firefighters pre-position equipment based on what the threat might be.” Before meteorologists can begin asking certain research questions, such as the regional impacts of global warming, data needs to be collected over a substantial amount of time, Fiebrich said. “Weather changes day to day and week to week, but climate is long term,” Fiebrich said. “The next chapter of discoveries we make for the Mesonet will look at the trends, now that we have 25 to 30 years of data, such as understanding how some of the climate variability is impacting Oklahoma.”

BROOKLYN BROWN Cleveland, Oklahoma


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WISE BEYOND HER YEARS Biochemistry student turns a love of family into her passion

or many people, summer camp provides a time to make memories and new friends. Saibra Journey, an Oklahoma State University biochemistry and molecular biology senior, spent her time at camp watching her little brother enjoy new life experiences and have great adventures. Journey’s 19-year-old brother, Damon Journey, was diagnosed with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy and high functioning autism at age 6. Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy is a hereditary genetic disorder, which causes the progressive degrading and loss of functional smooth and skeletal muscle, Journey said. “When I decided to go to school at OSU, we decided it would be best if we all moved to Stillwater from Oklahoma City,” Journey said. Living with her family allowed the 23-year-old to attend college and keep the cost of living down while being able to care for her family when needed, Journey said. Taking care of her brother often fell on Journey because her mom was a single parent, Journey said. “I never saw taking care of my brother as a chore or felt like I was going out of my way to do things for him,” Journey said. “I know in my heart it is what I am here for.” Although Journey always said she planned to care for her brother, she realized that she was meant to do even more when she attended Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp with him. “Working as a counselor at MDA camp inspired me to open my eyes and know how to help people better with different types of muscular dystrophy,” Journey said. “It helps me to understand Damon better.” 34 | COWBOY JOURNAL

The summer camp modifies activities to provide inclusion for its campers ages 7 to 17, Journey said. This allows campers to participate in activities such as swimming, archery and softball, Journey said. According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, thousands of children across the U.S. attend MDA summer camp every year at no cost to them because of generous donations. “Saibra inspired me,” said John Gustafson, an OSU biochemistry and molecular biology department head. “In fact, I was hoping to attend one of these summer camps because it seems like something that is really worth participating in.” Gustafson said Journey is an “enthusiastic and energetic fountain of positivity.” He said her passion for helping other people, specifically her experiences with taking care of her brother and the struggles he has experienced, laid out her future in a way that will lead her into the healthcare field. “I want to do everything in my power to make kids’ lives better,” Journey said. “I just know I am meant to work with kids.” Leah Felter, Journey’s mother, said Journey has a compassionate heart and offers the world more than she lets people see. “Saibra’s dream is to have her own business to provide genetic counseling and diagnosis services,” Felter said. Journey plans to provide resources for parents with children with disorders and anomalies, Felter said. She wants her facility to be a place where families can receive the help, guidance and support they need, Felter added. After graduating in May 2019, Journey plans to travel with her brother

for two years before attending medical school to eventually conduct research on the genetics of neuromuscular disorders, Journey said. “I have the rest of my life to put myself first,” she said. “This is his time.” Although Journey is a member of the Biochemistry Club and Omega Phi Alpha National Service Sorority, Felter said her daughter chose to forgo some life experiences to help her family. “Medical school will always be there for me, but the time I have with my brother is unknown,” Journey said. “I want to give him the opportunity to live life to the fullest.” Journey never lets her brother’s wheelchair use be an excuse to avoid new places or activities, Felter said. “She brought her brother into the martial arts course I am in, and he was thrilled to watch us practice martial arts,” Gustafson said. “That was a really wonderful experience.” Journey has a genuine care and concern for everyone, Felter said. “Saibra is definitely one of those individuals I hope students from this department are inspired to become or to watch and follow in her footsteps,” Gustafson said. “Her experiences make her wise beyond her years. “It would put humanity in a better light if people would take the time to help people the way she does,” Gustafson said.

MICHELLE WAGAR

Nash, Oklahoma


Saibra (right) and Damon Journey have a close relationship and love to make each other laugh. Photo by Michelle Wagar. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 35


or more than a quarter of a century, the Oklahoma State University Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital has provided undergraduate students the opportunity to explore the veterinary profession before starting veterinary school. The OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is one of 30 veterinary colleges in the U.S. accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education. Through the pre-veterinary hospital

internship, students enhance their undergraduate education in a unique way, said Karen Hickman, OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources assistant dean of academic programs, who serves as the pre-veterinary hospital internship coordinator. “I looked at this internship as a VIP pass into the hospital,” said Taylor Gilbert, an animal science senior. Having access to the veterinary school helps with familiarity and takes some of the unknown out of veterinary

Wyatt Catron (left), Taylor Gilbert and Emily Nunan enjoy taking care of Zoe, OSU Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital dog. The three students served as pre-veterinary hospital interns in 2018. Photo by Kiera Leddy. 36 | COWBOY JOURNAL

school, said Dr. Erik Clary, an associate professor of surgery and bioethics. “This program gives undergraduate students a picture of what veterinary school is like, in particular, their final year,” Clary said. “Many pre-veterinary students may have done volunteering at local practices, but in veterinary school, the environment in which these students will learn is very different from a general practice setting.” Interns gain access to the hospital as well as to the discussions of veterinary students and veterinarians, said Emily Nunan, a biochemistry and molecular biology senior. “The value of this internship is something that can never be exchanged or replaced,” Nunan said. “You receive so much insight into a busy hospital setting with some of the best board-certified veterinarians.” Clary said he hopes the students feel a sense of openness from the beginning of the internship. “The faculty and fourth-year students were so welcoming,” said Wyatt Catron, an animal science senior. “They would recognize you after the first or second visit and gesture you over to look at what was going on in the case study. They were happy to explain what was going on because for them it was extra practice.” Ten interns are chosen each semester, with priority given to sophomores or juniors, Hickman said. To be selected, students must have a competitive GPA and be on track to be a veterinary school applicant, she added. During the first eight weeks, internship rotations are assigned. However, for the last eight weeks, students choose


Pre-veterinary internship provides pass into OSU Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital their rotations to better tailor the internship to their interests, Hickman said. The eight rotations include small animal surgery, small animal medicine, radiology, anesthesia, equine medicine, equine surgery, food animal medicine and small animal community practice, she said. Interns must write case studies about the procedures they watch and use the correct scientific terminology, said Adam Naff, veterinary clinical sciences administrative support specialist. Naff said the reports include a general background of the illness or injury, history of the patient and specific diagnosis. Nunan said she observed unusual case studies at the hospital. “People bring their animals here, recommended by their veterinarians, to seek help with special cases and unique surgeries,” Nunan said. Nunan recalls a cat coming into the hospital because of eye trauma, she said. Eye trauma can lead to cancer, which can travel into the brain, she added. “I enjoyed learning about the different aspects of each case,” Nunan said. “There is so much to learn from all the veterinarians, residents and fourth-year students. They have so much knowledge, and you learn something new every time you go to the hospital.” The undergraduate students are required to put in 40 hours of observation at the hospital during the semester of the internship, Hickman said. “This internship is what you make of it,” Gilbert said. “There is always something going on in the hospital, and if there was not a case study in the rotation you were assigned, you could go observe a different rotation.”

Catron said matching scientific terminologies to jargon he was familiar with was his greatest challenge. “Working in a mixed practice here in Stillwater, a lot of terminologies have jargon associated with them,” Catron said. “Whenever the veterinarians would say something in the scientific terminology, I would go back and look up the terminology later.” Dr. Lyndi Gilliam, an associate professor of equine internal medicine, said becoming involved with the internship program renewed her passion for why she became a veterinarian. “It is easy to get caught up in the stress of the profession, but it is nice to see people who are excited to be at the veterinary hospital,” Gilliam said. “It is a blessing to me and reminds me of when I was a student and how excited I was to become a veterinarian.” For Catron, he sees the next four years of veterinary school as daunting, but he found reassurance through the internship, he said. “Being at the veterinary school and interacting with the fourth-year veterinary students, I realized you are still human at the end of veterinary school,” Catron said. “You talk to them, and they tell you how rough the first two years of school are, but then the third and fourth years it gets better. You realize it is going to be fine.” Exit interviews are conducted to evaluate the interns’ experiences. The information gathered is used to improve the internship, Hickman said. “I have had a few, less than a handful, of students who have gone through this internship and realized veterinary school is not for them,” Hickman said.

“They were excellent students, but they realized this was not the career path for them, which is as valuable as anything.” Other students are reassured by their experience. Nunan said she contemplated going to medical school, but she believes she can make a greater impact through veterinary medicine after completing the internship. “So many people care so much about their animals,” Nunan said. “When you save an animal’s life, you may be saving another person’s life, as well. Through this internship, I learned this is the career for me.” At a college, education should be the first priority, Clary said, and veterinary school education begins at the undergraduate level. “I like the idea of having interaction between the veterinary school and the rest of campus,” Clary said. “I like the notion of working together and enhancing the students’ education.” Clary said he hopes this experience allows interns to see the bigger vision of a career in veterinary medicine. “Being there and being around veterinary medicine, I left the hospital energized and excited,” Gilbert said. “It solidified that I am making the right career choice.”

KIERA LEDDY

Stockholm, South Dakota VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 37


Oklahoma Secretary of Agricu

layne Arthur is no stranger to an early morning, hazy sunrise commute into Oklahoma City, but this year, she makes her commute as the first female secretary of agriculture for the State of Oklahoma. The 37-year-old Arthur grew up in Chickasha, Oklahoma, on her family’s wheat, soybean, cattle and equine operation. Her childhood experiences 38 | COWBOY JOURNAL

allowed her agricultural roots to develop at a young age, she said. “Growing up, 4-H and FFA programs had a strong influence on me,” Arthur said. “The people I like working with the most are folks with an agricultural background, and being involved in the agricultural industry is a natural fit for me.” After graduating from Chickasha

High School, she attended Oklahoma State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. “OSU was a great place for me to go to school, especially with the family feel CASNR has,” Arthur said. Through involvement in campus activities, Arthur gained the tools to


etary of Agriculture, Blayne Arthur, represents the state of Oklahoma at various agricultural events, including the Oklahoma Youth Expo. Photo by Rachel Booth.

AGEC alumna set to make an impact on Oklahoma agriculture develop her network and learned how to work and interact with others, she said. “While at OSU, I always felt like I was surrounded by people who wanted me to be successful, whether it be faculty, staff or peers,” Arthur said. “College is an excellent place to learn, grow, and develop your skill set, and OSU is a great foundation for students’ success.” After graduating from OSU, Arthur

took a job as a loan officer for Rural Enterprises Inc. In her position, she traveled across Oklahoma to put together financial packages for small businesses, she said. “This was a unique learning experience for me, as small businesses face challenges similar to those agricultural producers face,” Arthur said. In 2009, Arthur switched roles and

became executive assistant and social media coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry under past Secretary of Agriculture Terry Peach. During her time in this position, Arthur worked with commodity groups and completed various projects, giving her the opportunity to learn how the department’s divisions worked, she said. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 39


Arthur said early during her time at the Oklahoma Capitol she learned how ODAFF interacts with the public and the legislature as well as the way agricultural policy is developed. “As soon as Blayne got the position at ODAFF, I realized she was a team player,” Peach said. “As she became more involved, she went from being a team player to a team leader.” Peach said he as well as leaders from various Oklahoma commodity groups realized Arthur grasped the challenges of rural Oklahoma versus urban Oklahoma. They trusted her as an individual, he added. “You can take Blayne’s word and bet money on it,” said Morgan Vance, public information officer for ODAFF. “As an advocate for agriculture, anything she says you can guarantee that is the way it is. You never have to second guess what she tells you.” Arthur said her first ODAFF position motivated her to find a career where she could have a positive impact on agriculture. She said this passion led her from ODAFF to the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation as the executive director and now back to ODAFF as the secretary of agriculture. “Now more than ever, consumers care where their food comes from and how it is produced,” Arthur said. “Some people may see this as a challenge. “However, I see it as an opportunity for us to engage with consumers and show them what a great job we are doing within production agriculture,” she said. To bring a new, youthful perspective of how consumers perceive production agriculture, Arthur created the Agriculture Youth Council, a youth advisory group for the agency. Selected in early May, these 20 students will provide the agency with a younger viewpoint, she said. This council will be selected from high school seniors each year through an application and interview process. “We want the council to be a 40 | COWBOY JOURNAL

leadership development opportunity for youth as well as a career immersion opportunity,” Arthur said. “I look forward to the students’ fresh perspectives to address some of the challenges we have in agriculture.” As the Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, Arthur said she also plans to spend time talking to producers on their farms and ranches. Arthur said she always learns something new when touring agricultural facilities and believes visiting an operation is the best way to understand the dynamics of agriculture. “We can do a much better job being promoters of agricultural products or solving challenges in agriculture by helping producers access resources,” Arthur said. Visiting agricultural operations will give Arthur an opportunity to see producers’ challenges and give producers a face to put with ODAFF, she said. “Agriculture is very diverse across Oklahoma,” Arthur said. “There are different challenges for each producer, and the way regulations impact each producer differs. “We want to ensure we are having good dialogue with them so we can do a great job at what we do,” she added. Arthur said she wants ODAFF to be a resource for agricultural producers by identifying industry-wide challenges and then providing solutions to some of those challenges. “Blayne has always been a good listener, and she hears what people are saying,” Peach said.“She comes to good decisions based upon the information that she gathers.” In addition to serving as the first female secretary of agriculture for Oklahoma, Arthur balances the roles of wife and mother. Arthur and her husband, Jerrod, have two children, Kelton, 10, and Kennedy, 6. Together, the family owns and operates Lucky Strike Cattle Co. in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Arthur said she and her husband are flexible and understand each others’

demanding schedules, but their ultimate priority is their family. “We usually take things 24 hours at a time,” Arthur said. “I do not think there is a magic solution, but we try to be very flexible with one another in what we do. Many things are unanticipated in our world, and we have learned to make it work.”


Blayne Arthur (back right) and her husband, Jerrod, join children Kennedy (front left) and Kelton at the OKC stockyards. Photo by Morgan Vance.

Arthur is nothing less than the product of working hard and taking opportunities that have come her way, Vance said. “If you are involved in agriculture and you have been raised in agriculture, you know how to work hard,” Arthur said. “That goes a long way no matter the career path you decide to pursue.

“The opportunities to be successful are endless in the agricultural industry,” she added. Oklahoma agriculture has a bright future with Arthur leading ODAFF, Vance said. “Agriculture has been a part of Arthur’s past, provides her present, and is definitely in her future,” Vance said.

“The future of Oklahoma agriculture is in good hands.”

RACHEL BOOTH

Miami, Oklahoma VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 41


David Jones makes it a priority to incorporate oral reasons into practice for the OSU Dairy Judging Team. Photo by Kristen Walters. 42 | COWBOY JOURNAL


Dairy Dedication CASNR alumnus devotes life to developing youth

or the past 22 years, David Jones’ Friday afternoons have included coaching the Oklahoma State University Dairy Judging Team. Jones grew up in Tuttle, Oklahoma, on a Jersey dairy farm started by his father, and at an early age his passion for the dairy industry began. In the fall of 1972, he journeyed to OSU as a student studying agricultural education. After graduating in 1976, Jones spent one year teaching in Yale, Oklahoma, and five years teaching in Cushing, Oklahoma. However, he said he left teaching to pursue his passion for the dairy industry. “If I got frustrated with life, it was time to go get in the tractor or work with cattle,” Jones said. For 15 years he operated his own dairy with the help of his two now-adult children, Travis and Jaree. Later, his love for the dairy industry brought him back to OSU, he said. When Jones returned to OSU in 1995 as the dairy herd manager, he also served as the dairy judging team coach, assisted in research, worked as an interim extension specialist and was the Dairy Science Club adviser. “David has been very helpful and willing to pick up the slack wherever and whenever needed,” said Leon Spicer, an animal and food sciences professor and dairy facility supervisor. Although Jones had many roles, he

said his favorite part of working at OSU was the students. Kelli Payne, an OSU alumna and member of Jones’ first dairy judging team, said when Jones was hired he was enthusiastic about starting a judging team and reached out to Payne — although she had a beef industry background — to create a team. “He was so helpful and patient,” Payne said. “He changed things for me. He was a mentor to us with a lifetime of knowledge in the dairy industry.” During his time at OSU, Jones helped establish a national dairy show and a national dairy judging contest in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Hosting these national events helped OSU recruit more out-of-state students interested in the dairy industry, Jones said. “We have made huge progress at the dairy center over recent years,” he said. Today, OSU’s Ferguson Family Dairy Center continues to grow because of donations from the Larry Ferguson family, Jones said. The upgraded facilities are another way to recruit talented dairy students, Jones said. He begins each new judging team by discussing desired dairy characteristics with students before they judge live animals and work on oral reasons at his practices, he said. “Oral reasons were a weak spot, but then we won oral reasons at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo,” he said.

Jones’ goal before his retirement in October 2018 was to have the dairy judging team be endowed, Payne said. The endowment would help recruit judging students and fund travel to contests. Payne, with the help of others, developed the David Jones Dairy Judging Team Endowed Fund. The initial endowment fund goal was $25,000. Although this goal was met, people can continue to donate. “It was a proud moment,” Payne said. “I know the impact David Jones had on my life. He has had this impact across the nation.” After 23 years working as the herd manager, Jones said his retirement plans include raising his dairy show cattle, working part time in the dairy industry, and helping at the Southern National Show in Stillwater. Jones still will continue to be a familiar face around the OSU Dairy Center because, even in retirement, he plans to serve as the dairy judging coach as long as he is needed, he said.

KRISTEN WALTERS Guthrie, Oklahoma VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 43


Fun by the ow much water does a city need? Besides bathing, cooking and cleaning, residents use water for recreation, landscaping, manufacturing and more. For a city the size of Edmond, Oklahoma, the total water needed is approximately 20 million gallons of water per day during the summer. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service researchers and City of Edmond officials are working together to reduce water use and maximize efficiency to keep the city a “Great Place to Grow.” “For the next five, 25 and 50 years, access to water will become a key factor in developing communities, building industry, and choosing what kind of crops we are going to grow and where,” said Kevin Moore, an extension associate

with ThinkWater. “Water is going to be the thing that limits growth. We are going to have to work out how we solve these issues.” ThinkWater, an extension program geared toward responsible outdoor water use, has partnerships with Oklahoma City, Edmond, the Oklahoma Water Resource Board and the Oklahoma Irrigation Association. Through these partnerships, ThinkWater has helped local governments curb excessive outdoor water use while maintaining greenspace. Common issues with outdoor water use, such as broken sprinkler heads, improperly installed irrigation systems, and overwatering, can easily go unnoticed, Moore said. “People do not realize there are problems and inefficiencies in their systems

because they are set to run while most people are still asleep,” Moore said. “You do not notice an issue until you begin seeing brown spots, mudholes or any other variety of issues.” Water use issues like these are what ThinkWater partners work to solve. “Outdoor water use is something difficult to educate about,” said Justin Moss, an associate professor of turfgrass science in the OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. “We have made a lot of strides in reducing indoor water use, but outdoor use is something people often do not realize is a problem until we are feeling the squeeze of a drought.” Moore said times of water stress help connect people to ThinkWater research. “It is important these extension

The Barnett Field Splash Pad is one of the newest outdoor recreation projects in Edmond. Photo Courtesy of Edmond Parks and Recreation. 44 | COWBOY JOURNAL


e Gallon

ThinkWater keeps outdoor water use fun to the last drop

programs impact both rural and urban populations,” Moore said. “We are making decisions in how to balance our water usage between booming urban populations and thriving agricultural and rural communities.” Moss said balancing these needs is important when looking at conservation options. In urban populations, this balancing act means looking at the neighborhood level to identify waste and opportunity. “If we are able to look and see a certain subdivision is well above average monthly water use, we can develop educational programs tailored to fit their needs,” Moss said. Moss said the crucial factor in making changes is having the support of the local city government. “If city governments do not make a change, they cannot expect citizens to change,” Moss said. Phil Jones, Edmond’s sustainability planner, said he wholeheartedly agreed. “We are always looking for ways to improve,” Jones said. “There are many ways our city is making strides toward a conservation mindset. Our parks staff, urban foresters, water management team, marketing team and city planners are instrumental in that effort.” Jones said Edmond’s water use is reduced to nearly 8 million gallons per day in the winter months. He said the summer uptick is tied to lawn irrigation and recreation. “We want to do the best we can to be green,” Jones said. “Sustainability is

all about where we allocate funds and decide to be better.” Edmond has made strides toward environmental responsibility, Jones said. Some of their projects include transitioning medians on main roadways from sprinklers to drip irrigation, offering free energy audits, and creating a city rain barrel program. Jones said Edmond officials are investigating pumping water used at the Barnett Field Splash Pad to irrigate the city soccer fields, reducing overall gallons needed and increasing the utility of gallons produced. Jones said he hopes the educational programming developed through the ThinkWater partnership will empower Edmond residents to conserve water. The city will use its marketing department to encourage year-round conservation practices, he said. Moss said the goal of ThinkWater is to promote innovative ideas and educate consumers about their options. “Through showing them ways to lower use, offering alternative landscaping options, and giving free irrigation system checkups, we are able to impact a community’s water use without changing the enjoyment of their outdoor space,” Moss said.

MASON MARTIN

Save Water Outdoor water conservation practices are easy to begin and make a tremendous impact, according to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. Researchers have discovered a homeowner can conserve thousands of gallons of water — and their financial resources — ­ by conducting regular irrigation system checks. For example, one broken sprinkler head can waste 25,000 gallons of water in six months. A leak in irrigation piping the size of a pen tip can waste 6,300 gallons of water in a single month. When you consider redesigning your landscape, use drought-tolerant plants to reduce water usage. Each year, the OCES updates a list of plants proven to be successful in the state, which is then shared through fact sheets and online resources. These resources highlight native plant selections to create more sustainable landscapes. To learn more about opportunities to reduce your water use, optimize your resource utilization, and develop a water-smart landscape, visit thinkwater.okstate. edu. At this website, you can find resources about plant selections, proper lawn and turf maintenance, and how to best care for your irrigation system.

Terral, Oklahoma VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 45


I

By performing prescribed value burns, landowners can remove debris and and help combat wildfires in Oklahoma. Photo by Michelle Helm. 46 | COWBOY JOURNAL


Answering the burning questions about prescribed burns n 2018, more than 1,000 wildfires burned approximately 467,000 acres in Oklahoma alone. Of those, 120 acres near Woodward, Oklahoma belonged to the Comstock family. “Being affected by a wildfire is always shocking because it is always something that is going to happen to the other guy, not you,” said western Oklahoma landowner, Jo Ann Comstock. Comstock said she and her family have chased fires threatening their home, property and livestock since 2012. In 2018, they lost the acreage as well as eight cows and eight calves because a wildfire, she added. “It’s very aggravating to think something cannot be done to stop the wildfires and to correct the situation so we do not have to lose grassland and stock,” Comstock said. John Weir, an Oklahoma State University natural resource ecology and management prescribed fire associate extension specialist, said the wildfires in western Oklahoma have not largely increased in number, but they have increased in size in the past few years.

“Part of this issue has been the influence of the drought we had in 2012 and 2013 as well as the drier winters we have had,” he said. “In the last few years, we have seen a larger amount of acres burn in the state with wildfires.” Various methods are available to protect homes and structures from wildfires before they happen, Weir said. Prescribed fires are one of the methods used to help combat wildfires from damaging property, he said. Weir said prescribed fires are used to meet specific land objectives and are conducted under certain conditions. The fires are managed under conditions chosen to ignite the fire, he said. Multiple factors can be managed with a prescribed fire, such as the time, the amount of smoke, size of flame and the direction the smoke is going to go as well as other varying factors, he added. To protect property from wildfires before they happen, landowners can start by walking and looking around outside, Weir said. Weir said homeowners should prepare for a wildfire as if they would VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 47


By working with agencies and local fire departments, landowners can find value in prescribed burns. Photo by Michelle Helm.

not be there to protect their homes. Landowners cannot rely on the fire department to protect a home every time, he said. Preparing buildings and structures to stand alone against a fire is the prime objective, he added. “When looking at a landowner’s property, I always ask myself ‘What do you have around here that will ignite?’ ‘How tall is the grass right now?’ ‘Where are the firewood piles?’” said Carl Bunch, North Central Range Improvement Association president. Through his position, Bunch helps producers and landowners protect their property from wildfires before they occur and helps them conduct prescribed burns, he said. Bunch said he was first introduced to the NCRIA as a landowner himself when he was trying to clear his father’s land of eastern red cedar. “After serving in the military and moving around, I came home and was faced with trying to clean up my dad’s property,” he said. “I went to my first prescribed burn association meeting to 48 | COWBOY JOURNAL

try and find help. At my first meeting, I was roped into being the recording secretary, and here I am.” Part of educating landowners is differentiating between wildfires from prescribed fires,” Bunch said. Weir said not all fires behave in the same way. “Unlike prescribed fires, wildfires are at the mercy of the day’s environmental conditions,” Weir said. Prescribed fires can be used to improve wildlife habitats, to reduce wildfire impact, to control cedars, and for livestock production, Weir said. “Prescribed fires can do a whole lot and go a long ways in protecting people and mitigating the impact of wildfires,” Weir said. By changing the fuel structure of a wildfire, fire departments, agencies and landowners can prevent or mitigate wildfires before they happen, he said. Weir and Bunch both said they focus on safety first when teaching and instructing prescribed fires.

“We want to make sure people stay safe and remember their property and their livestock are not worth their lives,” Weir said. “To be out there in front of the wildfire to try and protect property or livestock is not the place to be." Bunch said wildfires move rapidly, especially with the typical conditions wildfires occur in. Wildfires cannot be outrun, so safety should always be kept in mind, he added. “Fighting a fire yourself is very dangerous, in my opinion,” Comstock said. “You have to be careful, and you have to know what you’re doing when dealing with wildfires.” The NCRIA as well as Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service specialists provide tools and training to help landowners know how to fight wildfires themselves through prescribed burn exercises, Bunch said. “We try to equip and empower landowners so they can work together and help each other perform prescribed burns,” Weir said. “We work with


many volunteer fire departments and Oklahoma agencies to get people more familiar with fire, to help them be more comfortable using fire, and to teach them how to use prescribed fire to help prevent and mitigate wildfires.” By educating and familiarizing landowners, firefighters and agencies with prescribed fires, the OCES can use prescribed burns more effectively, he said. “The biggest thing everybody gets into and the media goes back to is the headline that says land ‘devastated’ or ‘ruined,’” Weir said. “The land, native plants and native grasses are not ruined. They have adapted to fires, and they come right back.” The real damage is not caused to the land, native plants or native grasses but to the landowners, Comstock said. “It is those personal things you lose and cannot replace,” Comstock said. “Everybody always says ‘Well, it is just stuff,’ but there are still some things that have been with you for a long time and you hate to lose them.”

Comstock said her family’s house, along with photos that were precious to the couple, burned during one of the wildfires in 2017. “We have had our house rebuilt,” she said. “Fortunately, we had enough insurance to rebuild. We were probably luckier than others.” However, some good can come from the bad, Comstock said. “You realize there are a lot of people still out there with a good heart,” she said. “We hear all the bad news. We do not hear too much of the good news about the good people, but there are good people who have done a lot to help many individuals who have been impacted by the wildfires.”

CATHERINE APPLING Colleyville, Texas

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LENDER

VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 49


Entrepreneurial spirit leads farmer to online organic wheat business hile organic production was not always on the radar for fourth-generation wheat farmer and entrepreneur Bob Baker, his commitment to tradition and transparency was steadfast. Across the country, bakers and consumers alike are turning back to the basics and adopting the trend of organic food and source-verified ingredients, Baker said. “Consumers are demanding accountability on their food,” he said. This concept inspired Baker’s business idea to incorporate his family’s farming heritage into a brand and transition his wheat crop into an online storefront he calls 4 Generations Organic, he said. Growing up on a conventional wheat farm near Alva, Oklahoma, Baker said his knowledge of the organic industry was limited at first. “I was pretty oblivious to organic,” he said. “I knew of it, but that was about it.” Baker said he gained exposure to implementing organic practices and using natural ingredients through his

50 | COWBOY JOURNAL

experiences as an investor and board of directors chairman of Value Added Products, a dough manufacturer in Baker’s hometown. Transitioning 2,500 acres of his family farm to 100% organic was not an easy venture, Baker said. It nearly doubled input costs within a three-year span, but Baker was dedicated to his business vision, he added. To execute the details and technical requirements of Baker’s online wheat business, he turned to the advice of several experts at the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center at Oklahoma State University. Erin Johnson, FAPC business and marketing client coordinator, said FAPC helped Baker turn his business from an idea to a salable product. “The expertise FAPC can call upon at the university level ­­­— as well as from other colleagues throughout the nation we have interacted with at some point in our careers — is beneficial to those clients looking to expand their businesses or change their current businesses into something else,” Johnson said. To make 4 Generations Organic a

reality, FAPC experts assisted Baker with pest control, packaging, labeling and brand development. Baker later decided to add value to his product by marketing his organic wheat berries, which are the whole grain form of wheat, by the pound rather than by the bushel, he said. “Bob is not wanting to go the average farmer route of selling to the grain elevator,” Johnson said. “He wants to get that connection with consumers and those people who are looking for unique, organic wheat berries for their own milling production.” Baker said flour found in grocery stores is often bleached and stripped of the wheat’s bran and germ to preserve shelf life; however, Baker said shelf life is not a driving factor for consumers looking for fresher, natural flour. FAPC propelled Baker’s business forward by connecting him with artisan bakeries looking for a source of fresh, identity-preserved flour, Johnson said. One of those customers was Graison Gill, owner of Bellegarde Bakery in New Orleans, and an international leader in artisan bread and stone milling.


“Graison Gill is respected across the U.S.,” Baker said. “Other bakers across the country call him for advice.” At Bellegarde Bakery, Gill and his team bake 6,000 loaves of bread a week and mill thousands of pounds of flour for his bakery and local restaurants. Gill said he is one of Baker’s largest customers and plans to double or triple the use of Baker’s organic wheat varieties like Ruby Lee, which was developed by OSU’s wheat breeding program. “We like Bob’s wheat because it is a superior variety that has added a great complexity to our baking and milling portfolio,” Gill said. “Bob has been a great business partner to the bakery, delivering us a clean and well-packaged product, always in a timely manner.” Bellegarde Bakery prioritizes sourcing identity-preserved ingredients, meaning the majority of their ingredients come directly from the producers, Gill said. “People tend to go to the smaller companies today because they feel they get a safer product,” Baker said. While other organic, producer-to-consumer wheat berry businesses already exist online, Baker said his

Bob Baker sells his organic, hard red Ruby Lee wheat berries in three quantity options. Photo by Haley Stark. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 51


Denise Schieffer mills Bob Baker’s organic wheat berries into fresh flour and uses the flour to create her signature wholegrain sourdough loaves at her bakery, Rise & Pies, in Perry, Oklahoma. Photo by Haley Stark.

estate-grown wheat stands out because it is grown, packaged, and sold by the same entity on the same property. Baker is still in the early phases of launching and establishing his business, but his competitive spirit is driving the completion of his short-term and longterm goals, he said. He hopes to offer several OSU wheat varieties in the future to give his customers a customizable shopping experience, he added. “With our competitors, you just order wheat,” he said. “With us, you can order the variety of wheat based on the characteristics you are looking for in your baked products.” With a goal to sell 90% or more of his organic wheat through the online storefront, Baker travels to food and bakery trade shows and conventions across the country, he said. At these promotional food events, Baker expands his connections with other artisan bakeries, food suppliers, distributors and food brokers to grow his clientele base, he added. 52 | COWBOY JOURNAL

“We are going to hit this food market on several different fronts,” Baker said. While Baker said the quality of his product speaks for itself, Baker’s business partners continually point out his drive and mission as an added benefit. “We appreciate Bob’s business style and believe his priorities align with ours,” Gill said. “His devotion to growing and selling organic, high-quality wheat is what led us to 4 Generations Organic and is what keeps us happy to do business with Bob.” Denise Schieffer, owner of artisan bakery Rise & Pies in Perry, Oklahoma, is another of 4 Generations Organic’s biggest supporters and promoters. She said she still remembers her first conversation with Baker. “He was extremely approachable,” Schieffer said. “I felt like I could call him anytime and talk to him. When I toured his facility, I could just tell he wanted to do everything the right way.” With more than 40 years of bread-baking experience, Schieffer values the quality of Baker’s wheat berries

and his commitment to natural ingredients, she said. She promotes Baker’s wheat products to other artisan bakeries through online forums and collecting custom orders from her customers who want to start milling their own flour, she added. To promote transparency, Baker also is establishing an open-door policy with his customers, both local and national, by encouraging them to tour his facilities and walk through his wheat fields in the spring, he said. Ultimately, Baker wants his customers to be confident in the wheat derived from 4 Generations Organic, he said. “If you buy from us, you know we raised that wheat,” Baker said. “We are not only selling organic wheat. We are selling a lifestyle.”

HALEY STARK

Ormond Beach, Florida


The Blakleys — Rashele (left), Larahmy, Rae, Lyle and Reighly — host Creekside Plants and Produce open house. Photo by Mikayln White. 54 | COWBOY JOURNAL


Blakley family sells its best at Cherry Street Farmers Market ust outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, along Highway 169, lies a hidden gem for people looking to purchase farm-fresh plants, meats and produce — Creekside Plants and Produce. The Blakley family of Oologah, Oklahoma, produces locally sourced plants and vegetables to sell at the Cherry Street Farmers Market. Rae, her husband, Lyle, and their three children — Rashele, Reighly and Larahmy — have sold a variety of farm fresh agricultural products for more than 30 years. Rae and Lyle Blakley are Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources alumni. While attending OSU as an agricultural economics student, Rae Blakley crossed paths with Joe Schatzer, an OSU agricultural economics professor. “In agricultural economics at the time, we were talking about alternative agricultural products,” Rae Blakley said. “That is how we got started producing vegetables, which ultimately led us to build the greenhouses we use today.” What started with a single 1,500-square-foot greenhouse has expanded into multiple greenhouses totaling more than 13,000 square feet, she said. Caring for and tending to the

amount of plants and produce the greenhouses can hold quickly turned into a large-scale production operation, Rae Blakley said. “Growing up on the farm with my brother and sister, we were completely engaged with the everyday care and chores on the farm,” said Rashele Blakley, an OSU animal science and agricultural education alumna and the Blakleys’ oldest daughter. “Not only were we hands-on in our farming and ranching operation, but we helped my mom on a daily basis, as well. “It definitely shaped me into who I am today and taught me what hard work is,” she added. As the family’s cattle operation continued its success and the greenhouse business expanded, Rae Blakely said the family felt the need to make a distinction between the two operations. “When we first started the greenhouse, my husband worked full time on his family’s ranch, Diamonds in the Rough,” Rae Blakley said. “As the greenhouse business took off, I felt like we needed a more appropriate name, and the name Creekside Plants and Produce came to be.” The Blakleys still operate Diamonds in the Rough ranch, on which they raise Shorthorn-influenced and

Maine-Anjou-influenced cattle as well as manage cattle for others. In 2005, the family saw an opportunity to capitalize on the beef operation and started selling retail cuts of meat at the Cherry Street Farmers Market through a new venture — Blakley Family Farms Meat. “All of our cattle are run on grass,” Lyle Blakley said. “However, those selected for the retail meat business also are offered grain their last 180 days. “In the end, our meat products are grass and grain fed as well as hormone and antibiotic free,” he added. Every Saturday from April to October, the Cherry Street Farmers Market showcases a wide range of vendors from across Oklahoma, including the Blakleys, who offer a variety of locally grown products from herbs and spices to meats and cheeses. “We started selling vegetables at the Collinsville Farmers Market,” Rae Blakley said. “I heard a group of folks were looking to start a farmers market in Tulsa. From there, my husband and I attended the first meeting for the Cherry Street Farmers Market.” Having been Cherry Street Farmers Market members for 21 years, the family prides itself in offering as many different products as possible to their VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 55


customers, which gives consumers the option to pick what they really need, Rae Blakley said. “If you come to our stand at the farmers market, you will see everything from eggs to meat all season long as well as a variety of plants and vegetables in the summer,” Rashele Blakley said. Creekside Plants and Produce grows 100% of what they sell at the market, she said. 56 | COWBOY JOURNAL

“People come to Mom looking for specific herbs,” Rashele Blakley said. “She also grows seven varieties of basil and 80 varieties of tomato plants.” Spring 2019 marked 31 years in business for Creekside Plants and Produce. Just like the family has every second Saturday in April for the past 30 years, they held an annual open house April 13, 2019. “Each year, we smoke 170 pork butts

and give away more than 3,000 barbecue sandwiches,” Rashele Blakley said. “We have had free barbecue for years, and people know to come get a barbecue sandwich and a drink.” During the annual open house, customers can enjoy their food and explore the greenhouses, she said. Although the open house is before April 15, which is considered the first frost-free day in Oklahoma, the


Creekside Plants and Produce offers customers a way to grow their own produce through purchasing plants. Photo by Mikayln White.

family does sell plants during the event, Rashele Blakley said. “We catch early planters and encourage others to start planting,” she said. For Rashele Blakley, the farmers market was a fond part of her childhood and now serves as an integral part of her life, she said. “I have been going to the farmers market since I was little,” Rashele Blakley said. “As agriculturists, we have

the perfect opportunity to explain to consumers how we produce their food.” Rashele Blakley said the most rewarding and important part of attending the market is the chance to explain to consumers face-to-face why farmers produce food the way they do. She said her family strives to educate consumers one customer at a time. “We have to produce a safe and nutritious product because we are not just

feeding someone else’s family, we are feeding our own family, too,” Rashele Blakley said.

MIKAYLN WHITE

Washburn, Illinois VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 57


Wildlife extension specialist brings new perspectives to Oklahomans s soon as Dwayne Elmore could walk, his father taught him to fish and hunt. Elmore, state wildlife extension specialist for Oklahoma, was raised in the outdoors of Middle Tennessee near Nashville where he developed a great appreciation for the natural world around him. Near the age of 12, he first learned of careers in wildlife management from a local game warden, David Anderson, Elmore said. Elmore earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin in natural resource management in 1997. He earned his master’s degree from Mississippi State University in wildlife ecology in 2002 and his doctorate from Utah State University in wildlife biology in 2006. While Elmore was working on his bachelor’s degree, he was inspired by Ross “Skip” Shelton, a former wildlife extension specialist and professor, to make a career as an extension wildlife specialist, Elmore said. “That was the first time I had ever heard of such a position, and it sounded like the greatest thing in the world,” he said. “I thought that was something I might want to pursue, so when the opportunity came about years later, I jumped on it.” Elmore joined the Oklahoma State University Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management faculty in June 2006. Exposure to different 58 | COWBOY JOURNAL

regions during his college career allowed Elmore to discover his appreciation for the environmental diversity Oklahoma has to offer, he said. “I like that Oklahoma is a great crossroads of cultures, climate and species,” Elmore said. “I love the diversity of the U.S., and Oklahoma is in a real sweet spot. To be able to live in a state in a relatively small geographic area with that kind of diversity suits me. I might be in the arid west one afternoon and the next morning be in a swamp.” As Oklahoma’s only wildlife extension specialist, Elmore often works with land managers. These land managers are private landowners or managers for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and multiple agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior, he said. “Elmore’s job includes finding ways to make conservation meaningful through the connections with a variety of agencies, to discuss and inform policies, and to help landowners manage their resources in a way that serves multiple purposes,” said Damona Doye, associate vice president of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. “Wildlife can sometimes be in competition with farming and ranching, and I think he has a good understanding of how to blend those interests and develop land plans that will best serve their goals.” Terry Bidwell, emeritus OSU

professor and rangeland specialist, said Elmore has been identified by his colleagues as a strong source for information because of his impact on Oklahoma landowners. “I get a lot of technical questions about everything from prescribed fire to herbicides to managing timber resources,” Elmore said. “I spend a lot of time trying to synthesize the body of scientific knowledge into very concise practical answers when people come with questions.” In addition to his job, Elmore said he also serves as a mentor to graduate students and teaches them how to be scientists and gather data. In 2018, Elmore received the Southern Region Award for Excellence in Extension. Doye assisted in nominating Elmore for the award. “When we look at nominees, we review the strength of their portfolio of programs and their ability to show the impact of those programs,” Doye said. “He stood out in both of those areas. He is very well respected within his profession. Some would describe him as a rock star in the wildlife extension profession. My counterparts in other states would be delighted if they had someone who does the kinds of things he does.” Bidwell said when Elmore was first hired in the department, he was an independent worker who has since excelled in his position. “Early in his career, I always appreciated his input on things we were doing,”


When Dwayne Elmore is not working with land managers, he spends his free time hunting game birds and fly fishing. Photo by Cristin Shepard. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 59


Bidwell said. “He has understanding and could put things together and point out things we might miss. He is a real asset in the department.” Elmore is quick to credit the teamwork of NREM and the collaborative efforts of the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources for his accomplishments. “The nice thing about the land-grant system and why I am here is it epitomizes the best of education,” Elmore said. “We have this triangle of research, teaching and extension that is all supposed to be highly integrated. The thing I have really appreciated while working here is I see that happening. We have folks in different disciplines who work collaboratively with each other so the whole is better than the parts.” Having a career match his passion makes all the difference in his dedication to see conservation move forward, Elmore said. He is motivated to produce results and positive outcomes for land management, he added.

60 | COWBOY JOURNAL

“Aldo Leopold, who was considered the father of modern wildlife management, always said it was kind of interesting that we probably should not get paid for what we do because we like it so much,” Bidwell said. “It is just part of you. It is not a job you hate to go to. It is actually what you are about. Dwayne is certainly that way.” Elmore said he hopes his work in extension causes the people of Oklahoma to be more aware of their surroundings. “People are completely oblivious to most of the species that occur in Oklahoma,” he said. “One goal is to get them to be aware of how diverse the state is and how lucky we are to have this great diversity of life around us.” Elmore said he has seen positive results from wildlife conservation efforts through increased prairie chicken and quail populations. “When you spend a lot of time chasing birds or pursuing a fish with a fly, you really get to know the animal and it is hard not to appreciate the place it

occurs,” Elmore said. “It becomes really important to make sure the resources those species depend on persist. I am getting to enjoy them because the people before me left something.” When Elmore is asked a question, he said he sees the value in actively educating people rather than simply answering their question. “As people go about their daily lives, they do not always have time to stop and think about how complex everything is,” Elmore said. “One of the great satisfactions of being in natural resources is being able to show people these things and seeing them get excited about learning and seeing their home in a broader, more comprehensive way.”

CRISTIN SHEPARD

Caney, Kansas


Arakssi Arshakian grew up in Iraq and after moving to the U.S. has remained true to her Armenian heritage. Photo by Jackalyn Elliott.

OSU alumna overcomes hardships to move forward n 1915, a 5-year-old girl fled Armenia with the help of other genocide survivors. She grew up along the border between Turkey and Iraq, married another Armenian survivor, and moved to Iraq. Years later, her granddaughter Arakssi Arshakian, now the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics academic program coordinator, was born in Baghdad. Arshakian went to an Armenian school and was active in Armenian clubs while growing up in Iraq. “After the Armenian genocide, we see Armenians scattered all over the world,” Arshakian said. “Wherever we went, we lived the Armenian culture to make sure it continued for generations by building churches, schools and clubs.” While growing up in Iraq, Arshakian lived through two wars and an invasion.

“There were a lot of nights when we would not know if we would see the dawn,” Arshakian said. “Faith and prayers were what we clung to because there was nothing else that could help us. It is amazing how much our faith grew in those experiences.” She said she has vivid memories of living in Bagdad during the conflicts. “I remember, during the invasion, we would gather into a square with the fewest windows,” Arshakian said. “That way, if there was a blast, there would be as little shattered glass as possible. We brought our blankets and stayed in the square all night. We would sleep in the morning because the offense would start in the night. So, we would stay up all night with our Bibles and just pray and pray and pray.” Arshakian said the hardships she faced helped develop her as a person.

“We built a resilience living through wars and an invasion,” Arshakian said. “Despite the hardships, we could look at the bright side of things, focus on doing our best, and become better with the limited resources we had.” In 2008, Arshakian applied for a scholarship to get her master’s degree in the U.S. or England. She chose her major, but the scholarship program would choose the university she would attend. When she opened her acceptance notification, she said she was surprised to learn OSU was where she would spend the next few years. “I had no idea where Oklahoma was,” Arshakian said. “I had to go look it up on a map.” Arshakian graduated from OSU in 2011 with her master’s in international studies, focusing on international business and economic relations. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 61


“I loved every aspect of my academic and cultural experience at OSU,” Arshakian said. Arshakian had known she wanted to get her master’s degree since 2002. “When my sister graduated, my dad said, ‘I am happier today than if it was your wedding day,’” Arshakian said. “‘Any girl can get married, but not every girl can get her master’s degree.’ I didn’t have any plans to go to graduate school, but that day I decided to get my master’s degree.” Arshakian’s father, Zaven Arshakian, who died in 2011, was her primary role model and had a huge impact on her life, she said. “I would not be the person I am today if it was not for my mom and dad,” Arshakian said. “I remember when I got my first job, my dad and I had a conversation about how to be a professional.” Arshakian said she is close with her mother. However, because of safety reasons, she has not seen her mother since coming to the U.S. in 2009. “I lived through an invasion, but not being able to see my mom in 10 years has been one of the hardest things I have ever endured,” Arshakian said. Arshakian said she has two sisters and a brother with whom she is close. Arshakian’s closest geographic relatives are her sister Aida SulaimanArshakian and her family, which include her niece and nephew, Marina and Carlo Sulaiman, who live in Ireland. “I cannot tell you how much all my nieces and nephews mean to me,” Arshakian said. “They call me ‘frantie,’ a mix of friend and auntie. We even have a group chat called ‘Frantie’s Children.’” Arshakian has been able to visit this part of her family more frequently. “The last time we saw Frantie was Christmas 2018,” 11-year-old Marina said. “She is a lot more formal when she is not with us. When she is around us, she is fun and a little bit crazy. She is the best.” Marina and Carlo both said they hope to visit their Frantie in the U.S. in the next year. 62 | COWBOY JOURNAL

Arakssi Arshakian addresses CASNR colleagues and CAU students. Photo courtesy of OSU Agricultural Communications Services.

“Frantie is really sweet and funny,” 10-year-old Carlo said. “When Frantie gets really excited about OSU, she does a silly little dance. Then, we will chant ‘Orange Power’ together.” In 2015, Arshakian began working for the OSU Department of Agricultural Economics. “Being an international student herself, she has an appreciation and understanding for the challenges international students have when they come to OSU,” said Mike Woods, agricultural economics department head. Arshakian has taken a substantial role in developing the China Agricultural University program at OSU, which has grown considerably since it started in Fall 2015, said Joe Schatzer, agricultural economics professor. Although Arshakian’s position was created to do more than facilitate the CAU exchange program, she has played a significant role in its development, Woods said. “I see her greatest strength as helping the students develop,” Schatzer said. “She helps them become better outside of the classroom.” Arshakian works with a group of student mentors to ensure each CAU-OSU student feels welcome and has help overcoming challenges, Schatzer said. “The mentor program helps develop leadership skills in both the domestic and international students,” Woods said. “From the very beginning, we had two goals. We wanted to recruit students

from CAU who would experience success here at OSU. We also wanted the department to benefit from our relationship with CAU and become even better. Through a departmental effort, I feel we have achieved both goals.” Arshakian said she strives to make a difference in students’ lives. “I serve them by helping them succeed in their journey here at OSU academically, culturally and individually,” Arshakian said. Arshakian’s efforts have benefited OSU and she is an important part of the CASNR family, Schatzer said. “Arakssi is a great ambassador for OSU to the world and deeply embraces the Cowboy philosophy,” Woods said. Arshakian said she always wants to participate in international initiatives. “All the dots have been put together,” Arshakian said. “When I serve these students, I look back at how I was when I first came to OSU.” Arshakian said she is proud of her diverse background and how it has allowed her to help students at OSU. “I am more than one identity,” Arshakian said. “I am a product of Armenia, Iraq and America. I really embrace all three. ”

JACKALYN ELLIOTT Newcastle, Oklahoma


EXTENSION


As outstanding senior, Sage Becker wears the orange cap and gown at graduation to signify her CASNR accomplishments. Photo by Peyton Haley. 64 | COWBOY JOURNAL


CASNR names animal science student the 2018-19 Outstanding Senior rom middle school science fairs to collegiate undergraduate research presentations, Oklahoma State University animal science senior Sage Becker has always been interested in the way things work. Becker is a Barry S. Goldwater and Lew Wentz research scholar working in an animal science research lab. Her research is focused on developing alternatives to antibiotics in the livestock industry by studying the cell lines of chickens, pigs and humans. Livestock producers use antibiotics to treat diseases, but routine use of those antibiotics has led to a growing resistance, Becker said. Researchers need to develop alternatives to counteract the resistance, she added, noting those alternatives must remain as effective as antibiotics once were. In 2000, Becker was diagnosed with a rare genetic bone marrow failure disorder, dyskeratosis congenita. As a result of the disease, her immune system is not as effective as it should be and her body does not produce as many or as effective blood cells and platelets as it should. “Being diagnosed with my disease is what sparked my interest in research and genetics,” Becker said. “That, combined with my background in the

livestock industry, inspired me to study animal science. “I have always been a curious person,” she added. “I remember having conversations with my mom at the dinner table and asking her, ‘What is this?’” Becker, a native of Keota, Iowa, is a fifth-generation agriculturist on both sides of her family. She grew up showing pigs, sheep and goats with her two sisters. She has attended the Iowa State Fair every year since she was born and began competing in 2005, she said. Those experiences made her competitive and gave her a desire to do well in everything she does, she added. “My competitive nature drives me to work harder than anyone else in the room,” Becker said. “That drive pushes me to achieve my goals in ways I was not sure were possible.” Becker’s passion for the livestock industry runs deep, said Bailey Baskin, natural resource ecology and management senior and fellow College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources undergraduate researcher. Baskin said Becker takes every chance to educate those outside of agriculture about why the industry matters to her. “Originally, I wanted to study human genetics,” Becker said. “I realized pretty quickly, though, the agricultural

industry was not one I was willing to leave behind.” Becker’s dedication and determination sets her apart from her peers, said Kelsy Robinson, doctoral candidate and Becker’s mentor. “Her sophomore year, Sage asked for her own set of keys to the Animal Science Building,” Robinson said. “We all shook our heads, laughed, and thought, ‘Sage would.’ She will do whatever it takes to be her best.” Before she had her own keys, Becker had to call Robinson for access to the Animal Science Building early on the weekends, Robinson said. As far as she knows, Becker is the first undergraduate to ask for keys to the building so she could come in both before and after hours, Robinson added. “Asking for the keys to the Animal Science Building is a good example of Sage’s broader interests and her desire to be constantly involved in the things she chooses to do,” Robinson said. Robinson believes Becker’s passion and drive makes her a stand-out student, she said. “Many people in our field do research because it may look good on a résumé, but Sage does it because it is her passion,” Robinson said. “She is eager to learn everything she can.” VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 65


In a lab setting, students tend to get caught up in following steps and protocol to get results, Robinson said. Becker cares most about the science behind the reasons to follow those steps, she said. This gives Becker an edge and insight as she looks ahead to different problems she may want to solve in the future, Robinson added. “Sage is a person who has always set herself up for success,” Baskin said. “No matter what she does, she always gives 100% of her effort.” Becker was invited to present her research at the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium at Rice University in Houston in October 2018. The invitation to present verifies the quality of Becker’s research, Robinson said. “Sage has pushed me to be more driven and intentional in all things that I do, not just my research,” Baskin said. “She has taught me that it’s really more about the big picture rather than our specific research projects.” Becker said the most rewarding part of her time at OSU has been working with current and future students. While in school she has worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant, undergraduate research ambassador, supplemental instruction leader, student academic tutor and CASNR student academic mentor, she said. Becker’s dedication to both research and service to CASNR was recognized at the 2018-19 CASNR Scholarship Banquet where she was presented the Louis and Betty Gardner Outstanding Senior award.

Poultry is a good model organism for humans. Studying their cell lines gives researchers the chance to serve both industries. Photo by Laura Wood.

After graduation, Becker plans to attend Iowa State University to pursue a doctoral degree in immunobiology, she said. Her ultimate career goal is to work as a researcher in animal immunology and genetics in either industry or academia, she said. “I love to make others excited about the things I am excited about,” she said. “I want to have an impact on those around me and the industry I grew up

in. Having the ability to ignite that spark in others helps me know I am doing what I am meant to be doing.”

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2019 SENIORS OF DISTINCTION Samantha Howe

Charley Rayfield

Samantha Howe, an animal science senior, grew up on a cattle ranch in Sulphur, Oklahoma. “I was nervous about leaving my hometown,” Howe said, “but if I could think of one word to describe my experience, specifically in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, it would be empowering.” During her time as an undergraduate, she uncovered a passion she did not know she had, she said, a passion that has become her purpose. “My professors helped me discover my passion for research,” Howe said. “Their help and encouragement gave me the strength to reach for my dreams.” Howe said she plans to pursue her doctorate in metagenomics.

Charley Rayfield is a food science senior from Blairsville, Georgia. “Agriculture has always been a part of my life, and I knew I wanted a degree that worked closely with agricultural industries,” Rayfield said. “When I discovered the food science degree, I instantly found my passion.” Rayfield said CASNR enabled her to grow, not only on a professional platform but also as an individual. Through her involvement, she pushed herself and stepped outside of her comfort zone, she said. “I have gained invaluable professional skills,” Rayfield said. Upon graduation, Rayfield plans to pursue a master’s degree in food science at OSU.

Victoria Pickens

Rachel Williams

Victoria Pickens, from Sand Springs, Oklahoma, is a senior pursuing a degree in entomology. When it came time for college, Pickens knew CASNR was the place for her after the first visit at OSU, she said. “When I reflect upon my time at OSU, I find my best decision was to pursue a degree in CASNR,” she said. Pickens has competed at regional and national conferences representing the OSU Honors College and CASNR, where she expanded her views in her own discipline, Pickens said. After graduation, she plans to study insect microbe interactions in graduate school and to continue conducting research in medical and veterinary entomology as a career.

Rachel Williams, a biochemistry and molecular biology senior, grew up in Grapevine, Texas. Williams applied to OSU to find her home away from home, she said. “The biochemistry and molecular biology department has always been a home for me,” Williams said. For three years, Williams was an executive member of the Biochemistry Club. She also was the secretary and a founding member of the Students of Osteopathic Rural Medicine Club within CASNR. “Through these roles, I increased my appreciation for the college I was in,” she said. Williams plans to attend University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.

68 | COWBOY JOURNAL

Haden Comstock ANSI Stillwater, Oklahoma

Jordan Cowger BIMB Kansas City, Missouri

Clay Daily

ANSI Fort Gratiot, Michigan

DaLacy Dockrey AGEC / ACCT Shawnee, Oklahoma

Kiera Leddy

AGCM Stockholm, South Dakota

Brittany Lippy

ANSI Manchester, Maryland

Jessie Payne FDSC De Soto, Kansas

Katelin Spradley AGCM / ANSI Cuba, New Mexico

Megan Trantham AGBU / AGCM Boise City, Oklahoma

Vanessa Wiebe AGBU / AGCM Hooker, Oklahoma


The 15 Seniors of Distinction were recognized at the college’s annual banquet: Victoria Pickens (front left); Katelin Spradley; Jessie Payne; DaLacy Dockrey; Kiera Leddy; Samantha Howe (middle left); Rachel Williams; Jordan Cowger; Vanessa Wiebe; Brittany Lippy; Sage Becker; Cynda Clary, CASNR associate dean; Tom Coon (back left), DASNR vice president; Clay Daily; Haden Comstock; Charley Rayfield and Megan Trantham. The top five also received Dean’s Award of Excellence recognition. Photo Courtesy of OSU Agricultural Communications Services.

2019 CASNR AWARDS Alpha Zeta Outstanding Teacher Sergio Abit | PASS Award for Excellence in Teaching Penny Weeks | AECL Excellence in Undergraduate Student Advising and Mentoring Jon Ramsey | AECL

Excellence in Graduate Student Advising and Mentoring Gail Wilson | NREM Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching John Michael Riley | AGEC

Outstanding CASNR Freshman Cathy Mapes | ANSI Student Success Leader Outstanding Adviser Rodney Jones | AGEC Student Success Leader Outstanding Professional Staff Kareta Casey | AGEC

VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 69


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CASNR Alumni News SUMMER/FALL 2019

ortney Cowley serves as an agricultural economist in the regional affairs department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in Omaha, Nebraska. Cowley is a two-time graduate of the Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biosystems engineering in 2009 and her master’s degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University in 2011. She earned her doctorate in agricultural economics at OSU in 2015. While at OSU, Cowley served as an agriscience ambassador and the Frank Lucas Agricultural Policy intern. She was named the 2009 outstanding engineering student, the Dean Fred LeCrone award recipient and a CASNR Senior of

Travis Bradshaw 72 | COWBOY JOURNAL

Distinction. She also received the 2007 Morris K. Udall Scholarship and 2009 the Harry S. Truman Fellowship. In her position, Cowley conducts research related to farm economy, agricultural finance and natural resources and is a contributor to the bank’s Economic Review research journal. She also writes for the 10th District’s Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions and accumulates the Federal Reserve System’s Agricultural Finance Databook. Since graduating from OSU, Cowley has been involved in the BAE department and serves on the BAE alumni and donor relations committee. She helps BAE students and donates to a scholarship. Cowley also mentors CASNR students who apply for national and international scholarships and awards. ravis Bradshaw will be the FFA adviser and agricultural education instructor for Elgin Public Schools in Elgin, Oklahoma, this fall. Beyond the classroom, he serves as the U.S. Department of Education representative on the National FFA Organization Board of Directors. Bradshaw also has served as president of the Oklahoma Agricultural Education Teachers Association as well as the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education. Bradshaw earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education in 2004 and 2018 from the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership.

Cortney Cowley

During his time at OSU, he was named the outstanding agricultural education senior in 2004 and served as a Freshmen in Transition Student Academic Mentor for the program’s inaugural year in 2000. For the past 15 years, while serving as an agricultural educator in Burlington, Oklahoma, he coached multiple state-winning teams and speakers. He taught 27 American FFA Degree recipients and 51 State FFA Degree recipients during his teaching career. Bradshaw continues to share his passion for CASNR with his students. Ten of Bradshaw’s former students received degrees from CASNR, four are enrolled and one has been accepted for the 20192020 academic year.


CASNR Alumni Board of Directors L ewis Cunning ha m Pre s i d e nt Ed m o n d , O k la h o m a At- la r ge M e m b e r

B ra ndon Cha ndle r V i c e Pre s i d e nt St ra t fo rd , O k la h o m a So u t h e a s t D i s t r i c t

A mbe r McNeil

Se c re t a r y Elg i n , O k la h o m a So u t hwe s t D i s t r i c t

Melissa Moure r

E xe c u t i ve Se c re t a r y Sti llwa t e r, O k la h o m a

Phillip Cowley

M o r r i s o n , O k la h o m a At- la r ge M e m b e r

casnr Homecoming

Please join us for the CASNR Alumni Homecoming Celebration, Oct. 18, 2019, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event will include door prizes, giveaways, games and activities for kids. Hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn and other refreshments will be provided. The CASNR Homecoming celebration will be held at the Charles and Linda Cline Equine Teaching Facility located at 2601 W. McElroy Road, just

GET INVOLVED Each year, the CASNR Alumni Board coordinates and is involved with several events, including CASNR Roundup, the CASNR Homecoming Celebration and annual CASNR Alumni meeting, and the Access Tour. You can show your support of CASNR by becoming a member of the OSU Alumni Association. A portion of all dues received are returned to the

Raylon Ea rls

east of the Totusek Arena. Parking will be available at the Totusek Arena. At 3:30 p.m. the 50-, 25- and 10year graduates of the college will be recognized. Following the graduate recognition, the CASNR Alumni Board will host a brief annual meeting, including the election of new board members and acknowledgment of the retiring members. For more information, visit casnr.okstate.edu/alumni.

G u y m o n , O k la h o m a No r thwe s t D i s t r i c t

Mechelle Ha mpton Tu ls a , O k la h o m a No r t h e a s t D i s t r i c t

Haley Nabors

En i d , O k la h o m a At- la r ge M e m b e r

Rick Reime r

Cla re m o re , O k la h o m a No r t h e a s t D i s t r i c t

Cha rle s Rohla

A rd m o re , O k la h o m a So u t h e a s t D i s t r i c t

college to support our alumni events and student programming. If you are interested in getting involved with these activities, consider becoming a board member. Visit casnr. okstate.edu/alumni to learn more and complete an application. Stay connected and support the college and OSU by becoming a member at orangeconnection.org/join.

Trav is Schnaithma n G a r b e r, O k la h o m a No r thwe s t D i s t r i c t

K ir by Smith

O k la h o m a Ci t y So u t hwe s t D i s t r i c t

Me g St a ngl

O ka rc h e , O k la h o m a At- la r ge M e m b e r VOLUME 21 NUMBER 2 | 73


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It’s our passion.

It’s our life’s work. Ask a farmer or rancher about their operation and you’re bound to start a conversation that will last a while. Working the land and caring for animals is a calling – it’s in their blood. Oklahoma Farm Bureau works tirelessly for our members as we help ensure our farm and ranch families can pass their dedication to the next generation. Oklahoma Farm Bureau is proud to share the passion for agriculture with our members – and share their passion with the world.

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We are rural Oklahoma. Featured: The Kriz family, Comanche County Farm Bureau members


Cowboy Journal Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership 448 Agricultural Hall Stillwater, OK 74078-6031

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