Volume 25, Number 1 - Winter/Spring 2023

Page 44

Ferguson College of Agriculture Volume 25 Number 1 • Winter/Spring 2023


a century

rural OKlahoma for more than
HUGHES, 1994 KAREN EIFERT JONES, 1985 TAMMY LEE, 1995 PATSIANN NIX SMITH, 1965 and 1982 agriculture.okstate.edu/about/honors/
4 WINTER/SPRING 2023 MEET THE STAFF FEATURED STORIES Editors Krista Carroll Macy Shoulders Managing Editor Shelly Peper Legg, Ph.D. Assistant Managing Editors Dwayne Cartmell, Ph.D. Audrey King, Ph.D. Tyler Price, M.S. Lauren Quinlan, B.S. Angel Riggs, Ph.D. Quisto Settle, Ph.D. Assistant Editors Hunter Gibson Sierra Walter Graphic Coordinators Savannah Hopkins Sierra Walter Online Media Coordinators Hunter Gibson Michelle Noggle Photo Coordinator Natalie Battaglia Reagan Glass Sponsorship Coordinators Rylee Broadbent Julie Cullum Staff Jacey Bivin Camryn Bond Rachel Bucher Megan Fragasso Alyssa Hardaway Hannah Kay Kirby Aubrey Layton Charity Pulliam Jillian Remington Addison Spicer Drew Vogt 1044 82 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 eeo.okstate.edu. This publication is printed and issued by Oklahoma State University as authorized by the vice president for agricultural programs and has been prepared and distributed at no cost to the taxpayers of Oklahoma.

Writing, photography and design all began for us in 404 Agricultural Hall, so it is only fitting the endless, productive, latenight hours put into this issue took place in 404, too. Our magazine would not have been possible without the impeccable work ethic of our amazing staff, Braden Payne, Braeden Coon, Jami Mattox, Kristin Knight, Lauren Quinlan, Shelly Legg and Sydney Trainor. We also want to give a special thanks to Angel Riggs, Audrey King, Dwayne Cartmell, Kaylee Travis, Linnea Langusch and Quisto Settle as well as the Ferguson family who gave us the opportunity to share their stories. Our issue might represent the silver anniversary of Cowboy Journal, but to our 21-member staff, it is gold.

Forever loyal and true!

Providing fresh vegetables for those who stuggle with food insecurity means growing produce to share.

Photo by Reagan Glass.

Wings of Change
6 Riding for Hope
10 On Foreign Soil .......................13 A Humble Servant.................... 18 One Dam Project ..................... 22 Finding the Perfect Balance ........... 26 Beyond the Classroom.................31 Road to Ocala 34 A New Spin on Gardening 38 Preserving the Pronghorn 40 Fresh o the Vine 44 The Hour That Will Change Your Life 48 Bugs in the Big Apple 53 Small Town to Big Ranch 56 Family Traditions 60 Above the Influence 64 When Life is Ru 68 Lieu’s Legacy 72 From Classroom to Meat Case 75 Pokin’ Around Panama 78 Loyal and Brew 82
34 NULL SEED FARM 13919 N 2180 ROAD, HOBART, OKLAHOMA 73651 for registered and certified seed wheat, barley and other spring seeds since 1957 Your SEED source SCOTT 580-530-0283 BRIAN 580-530-2208 TOM 580-530-0279 colvin 580-530-2224 | LARRY 580-726-3220 | |


Strolling through the overturned earth in what soon would be Scissortail Park, Lance Swearengin attempted to decompress following his interview.

As he surveyed what he hoped would be his new office, he glanced up and spotted a scissortail flycatcher perched on a light post — a premonition of his adventure to come.

of Wings Change

Hired in 2019 as director of horticulture and grounds at Scissortail Park six months prior to its grand opening, Swearengin took an incredible role and opportunity to rebuild the downtown Oklahoma City ecosystem, he said.

“As soon as I read the job description, I knew this was the next step in my career,” Swearengin said. “It was a significant opportunity I knew I

needed to explore because you don’t get a chance to build a greenspace in a downtown area like this very often.”

While growing up in Midwest City, Oklahoma, Swearengin helped his mother in her rose garden, which sparked his lifelong interest in horticulture at a young age, he said.

“It’s in my DNA,” Swearengin said. “My mother is big into gardening, and

Lance Swearengin works to make Scissortail Park in Oklahoma City a special experience for visitors. Photo by Alyssa Hardaway.

my grandfather had a massive vegetable garden I helped with, so I knew agriculture was something I wanted to be involved in.”

Swearengin enrolled at Oklahoma State University in 2010 to study horticulture and public garden management and took advantage of opportunities early in his career, he said. In his first year of college, Swearengin was accepted into the Disney College Program in Orlando, Florida.

“When I applied for the program, I came in as a Disney College Program professional,” Swearengin said. “I had the opportunity to go to Disney World and work at the attractions on Spaceship Earth.

“I worked there for a season,” Swearengin said. “That allowed me to do professional development within the company and get accepted into Disney’s horticulture program.”

Interning at Walt Disney World for three consecutive summers,

Swearengin worked on attractions at EPCOT, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, he said.

“Disney has a really top-notch horticulture department and horticulture program,” Swearengin said. “I learned a lot about working in a professional atmosphere, being a leader in horticulture, and doing the grunt work necessary to move my career forward.”

To avoid the Florida summer heat and guest traffic, the staff often worked from midnight into the next morning to have a new landscape for guests to enjoy, Swearengin said.

“Working around guests in a large park is pretty significant,” Swearengin said. “I had some great experiences where I worked on large plant and animal topiaries.

“I grew animal browse, such as tree trimmings or green leaves, at Animal Kingdom, which kind of brought me back to the zoo in a special way,” Swearengin said.

When Swearengin was not working at his internship, he spent his time volunteering at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, he said.

“The opportunity with The Walt Disney Co. was a significant experience for me that tied into my work at the zoo and pushed me more into public horticulture,” he said.

After gaining knowledge through OSU’s horticulture program and other opportunities, Swearengin graduated in 2014.

He then was hired as a full-time employee at the zoo and decided to continue his education and earn a master’s degree in horticulture, he said.

In 2016, Swearengin earned the title as curator of the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden while conducting research under Bruce Dunn, a horticulture and landscape architecture professor at OSU.

“It takes someone who is very detail-oriented and dedicated to

Opened in 2019, Scissortail Park offers a unique view of the downtown Oklahoma City skyline. Photo by Alyssa Hardaway.

manage two different projects and succeed,” Dunn said. “Lance’s passion for horticulture made things flow naturally for him.”

Working at the zoo for a total of nine years gave Swearengin time to learn the procedures of operating an accredited garden, he said.

“The reason I got into public horticulture was my work at the zoo,” Swearengin said. “Going into that realm of conservation, public garden management and plant collections inspired me to take that further and brought me to this opportunity with the Scissortail Park Foundation.”

Hired to build a horticulture program from the ground up at Scissortail Park, Swearengin said his experience at the zoo and Walt Disney World helped set him apart as a candidate.

“All the little opportunities and experiences I had helped me to understand what a good horticulture program looks like,” Swearengin

Providing outdoor recreation to the Oklahoma City community, Scissortail Park is a 70-acre urban oasis that extends from the core of downtown Oklahoma City to the shore of the Oklahoma River.

Features such as wellness recreation areas, an outdoor roller-skating rink, and a café have helped make the park the “backyard of Oklahoma City,” said Lance Swearengin, director of horticulture and grounds.

With almost 2,000 trees planted, various Oklahoma native plants and several rain gardens, Scissortail Park is used as an educational tool through various programs.

In 2020, Swearengin applied for arboretum accreditation, a program to set professional standards for woody plant collections.

“Educating guests on the importance of planting trees and woody plants through programs, plant sales and interviews are what make an

arboretum,” he said. “A strong part of public horticulture is managing plant collections, landscapes, and programs and educating the public.”

Educating the public through wildlife conservation programs, plant conservation programs and more, Scissortail Park also provides free events to the community.

The most impactful program has been the farmers market, Swearengin said.

“This area downtown is formally a food desert,” Swearengin said. “The development of the farmers market has really opened up a vein to the community where people can come downtown and get locally grown, fresh produce through SNAP or senior benefits.

“Scissortail Park is something we didn’t know we needed until it opened,” he said. “It’s really great to see the community come out and use the park.”

said. “These helped set me up for greatness and to build a world-class program here, which is what we have at Scissortail Park.”

Before the opening of Scissortail Park, Swearengin had the opportunity to adjust the facility’s landscape plans, he said.

“Making different plant choices and tweaking the irrigation systems were small adjustments that were necessary to help us move forward,” he said.

Eager to share his kindness, knowledge and expertise, Swearengin has an inclusive and transparent leadership style, said Jill Johnson, chief operating officer of Scissortail Park.

“A lot of people have to work at including people in conversations and wanting to share their knowledge,” Johnson said, “but Lance does not.”

Starting her position in November 2021, Johnson said Swearengin was the first person to “show her the ropes” at Scissortail Park.

“Coming from a business and marketing background, I didn’t know a lot about plants and irrigation,” Johnson said. “Lance and his team are all about wanting to lift each other up, and that really helps the entire team.”

Often hosting educational programs for the employees, Swearengin likes to see harmony within his team, she said.

“When you step into a new position, it can be a nerve-racking experience — you never know what you are going to face,” Swearengin said. “However, the direction I had from professors at OSU really set me up for greatness.”



Imagine the feeling of climbing into a saddle, all your worries washing away as you focus on guiding the horse beneath you.

This feeling is what Oklahoma State University agricultural economics alumnus Darrell Shelton and his wife, Debbie, OSU elementary education alumna, wanted to share with others when they started Hope Ranch therapeutic riding center in 2005.

After listening to a radio broadcast about a rescue horse ranch helping troubled families, the idea for the Hope Ranch started coming together, Debbie Shelton said.

Hearing the broadcast on two different occasions seemed like a sign the ranch was meant to be, she added.

Located in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Hope Ranch offers riding lessons that often turn into life lessons for children and youth, teaching them not only to ride but also to care for the horses, Darrell Shelton said.

“We like to stay one-on-one with the riders,” Darrell Shelton said.

Hope Ranch co-owner Debbie Shelton prepares her horse Harley for an evening riding session. Photo by Jacey Bivin.

The Sheltons haved worked together since the beginning, he said, but they appreciate the help of volunteers.

During summer 2022, Hope Ranch had up to 12 riders per week and had two riders per hour-long session in the evenings, costing $35 each session, Darrell Shelton said.

“We teach them from the ground up,” Darrell Shelton said, “starting with safety, grooming, what tack they need, how to put it on properly, how to lead the horse and how to ride.”

The two horses used by students, Twink and Harley, are trained well enough to help students gain core muscles, balance, confidence and self-esteem as they ride, Darrell Shelton said. Originally, the students were mainly children with disabilities, but over time, interest in the ranch grew by word of mouth and the gates were opened for all students ages 5 or older, Debbie Shelton said.

“I was thinking about myself and how good it makes me feel when I ride, and I am an able-bodied person,”


Debbie Shelton said. “Everybody has their own special needs.”

One student at Hope Ranch was unable to walk without crutches before she began riding bareback.

At first, she was barely able to sit on the horse, but the heat from the horse warmed her muscles, relaxing them so she could walk with more ease after riding, Debbie Shelton said.

“We’ve had non-verbal riders who after a few sessions would talk to us or the horses,” Darrell Shelton said.

“One of the parents was at the fence crying so we walked over to ask why,” he said. “She replied, ‘My daughter doesn’t talk. This is the most we’ve seen her talk in days.’”

Hope Ranch is a safe place for students to learn and to grow not only in their physical riding journeys but also in their journeys to overall joy and positive self-esteem, said Hayley Tarr, a 15-year-old rider at Hope Ranch.

Getting to ride at Hope Ranch and learning from the Sheltons helps relieve stress, Hayley said.


Looking for a therapeutic riding center in your area?

Oklahoma has therapeutic riding centers across the state, many specializing in riders with disabilities and providing individuals with special treatment.

The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, a non–profit organization, focuses on helping individuals find the therapeutic riding center best suited for them.

The PATH website allows you to search for therapeutic riding centers in your area.

Source: pathintl.org.

“She is happier on the weeks she rides,” said Yvonne Tarr, Hayley’s mother. “The amount of time they give up for these kids is just amazing.”

The students are not the only ones to benefit from lessons at Hope Ranch, Debbie Shelton said. The riders often teach lessons of their own in patience and faith, she added.

The Hope Ranch’s mission is to give hope and renewal to those who need it, whether that be the riders, parents or instructors, Debbie Shelton said.

“Some people think they don’t have any hope at all,” Debbie Shelton said.

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On Foreign Soil


As the sun rises in Oklahoma, halfway around the world Kelsey Walters is wrapping up her workday with tea and a video chat with family back home.

Walters, a western Oklahoma native and Oklahoma State University alumna, resides in Chisinau, Moldova. The former Soviet Union country is nestled between Romania and war-stricken Ukraine. Since Moldova is a place so unlike home, Walters searched for anything similar when she first arrived, she said.

“Everything is different,” Walters said. “Everything is dark, dreary, cold and muddy.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from OSU in 2007, Walters was unsure of her next move, like many college graduates, she said.

Walters said she began looking at many options post-graduation, but ultimately decided to apply for the Peace Corps. While waiting for a response, she started her master’s degree in international agriculture through OSU, she said. As she worked toward her master’s, Walters received word the Peace Corps had an immediate opening for her.

The Peace Corps was a natural and constant option for Walters, she

said. Her cousin was a Peace Corps volunteer, as were several of her OSU professors and her adviser.

Walters said the Peace Corps placement process moved quickly. At the time she was accepted, she was living in Pueblo, New Mexico, working on a project for graduate school. Within the next two months, Walters needed to move back to Oklahoma, pay bills, and somehow prepare to leave the U.S. and her family for two years, she said.

“I don’t think my parents believed I was going,” Walters said. “When I showed them the one-way plane ticket to Washington, D.C., they realized I was serious.”

Sunflower harvest occurs at dusk in Moldova. Photo by Kelsey Walters.

Walters left for Washington, D.C., in September 2007 for training.

“It was like she was going to save the world,” said Wayne Walters, Kelsey Walters’ father.

His then 23-year-old daughter packed heavily for Moldova, he said. She took a large plastic tote on wheels filled with tools she probably did not use, Wayne Walters said.

In late September 2007, Kelsey Walters first arrived in Moldova, only 15 years after the retreat of the Soviet Union presence. The country was facing a depression, she said. The lack of smiles on the Moldavian faces was so unusual compared to home, she added.

“As a Peace Corps volunteer, you are just trying to find anything that feels like home,” Walters said, “at least until you can develop some appreciation for the new culture.”

On a cold, snow-covered November night, only two months after Walters arrived in Moldova, she met her future husband for the first time, she said.

Once settled at her permanent station, Walters’ host family took her to the local disco, she said. The long, fun night turned into cold, wee morning hours, Walters said. The people she was with planned to sleep where they were — an outdoor bus stop.

While stranded at the bus stop, a car belonging to a family friend, Yuri Sumleanschi, pulled up, Walters said.

“Everyone murmured ‘Oh, that’s Yuri,’ and they straightened up,’” Walters said. “He rolled his window down to ask what we were doing, and my host family said, ‘We have an American! We are showing her around town. This is Kelsey.’

“Yuri comically asked, ‘Does she like the bus stop?’” Walters said.

Sumleanschi gave Walters a ride home that night. They talked about why Walters was in Moldova and how Sumleanschi worked in agriculture, she said. They exchanged numbers at the end of the night.

Six months later, the two went to dinner to talk about Sumleanschi’s harvest and Walters’ projects, she said. It turned out to be a date.

Kelsey Walters takes a break from videography work at a vineyard in Moldova and captures a self-portrait with her drone. Photo by Kelsey Walters.

“It was weird, but it all worked out,” Walters said as Samantha, her 3-yearold daughter, climbed into her lap. “He saved me from certain frostbite.”

After the couple married and Walters finished her time in the Peace Corps, she returned to OSU to complete her master’s degree in 2011.

Sumleanschi came with her and took English lessons for three months until he had to return to Moldova to plant sunflowers and corn on the small share of a farm he owned in Moldova at the time.

“We did the distance thing while figuring out what to do,” Walters said.

Sumleanschi and Walters decided staying in Moldova to make farming a full-time job was the best idea for them at that time, she added.

“Starting to farm in the U.S. is difficult,” Walters said. “Unless you have a family with land that is ready to transition to the next generation, it can be tough and expensive.”

Once settled back in Moldova in 2012, Walters and Sumleanschi further expanded their farming operation near the Ukrainian border, she said.

The farm Sumleanschi and Walters bought had greenhouses that were previously used for tobacco production, she said.

They decided to grow organic specialty vegetables in the greenhouses and keep the employees who worked in them, Walters said.

There, Walters implemented the plan for community-shared agriculture she worked on during her master’s program, she said.

The CSA plan allowed people to purchase small shares of farms in return for a box of the farm’s products, Walters said. At first, only a few people were interested, she said, but as time went on, nearly 70 people became involved in the CSA.

While still growing specialty vegetables, Walters was hired by

Keller-Bliesner Engineering, an American company, as a consultant.

“The company was rehabilitating an irrigation system on a 14,000-acre former Soviet Union farm,” said Mike Isaacson, an agricultural engineer with Keller-Bliesner Engineering.

“Walters did primarily administrative things,” Isaacson said. “She coordinated communications and facilitated travel, but she also was our economic voice.”

Walters co-wrote an implementation guide on how to design irrigation layouts for different types of farming operations in Moldova during this project, Isaacson said.

“This was a large accomplishment,” Isaacson said. “I thought it was a phenomenal product.”

After two years of managing the CSA’s greenhouses, packaging, delivery and invoices, Walters closed the CSA in the fall of 2014 to focus on economic consulting, which would allow her

A few days after returning from Oklahoma in 2022, Kelsey Walters (left), Evelina Sumleanschi, and Samantha Sumleanschi spend time with Yuri Sumleanschi in their Moldovian sunflower field. Photo by Kelsey Walters.

to be closer to her infant daughter Evelina, Walters said.

After wrapping up the KellerBliesner Engineering project in 2014, Walters and Isaacson started a business together, KB-Walkoma LLC, Isaacson said.

The firm’s offices in Farmington, New Mexico, and in Chisinau, Moldova, housed multiple engineering and technical staff, Isaacson said.

The company provides conceptual design services, economic feasibility studies, water systems engineering and construction supervision services for rural development projects involving building water infrastructure like pump stations, canals or pipelines.

“We felt like giving people in impoverished areas a job was an important part of our company,” Isaacson said.

A crucial part of KB-Walkoma’s work was transferring data onto maps to make information more accessible, Walters said. At first, KB-Walkoma had two employees on staff who specialized in mapmaking, but each ended up leaving the company, Walters said.

“I realized a map was just a spreadsheet or an infographic,” Walters said.

In 2018, Walters received an online certificate in geospatial technology from the University of CaliforniaDavis. Shortly after, KB-Walkoma’s daughter company in Moldova began the liquidation process, Walters said.

“Working with Kelsey has been the highlight of my career thus far,” Isaacson said.

Until the Russian invasion of Ukraine forced them to leave Moldova for Oklahoma, Walters was an economic development consultant for the U.S. Embassy in Moldova, she said.

When the Russia-Ukraine War began, Walters and her daughters moved to her hometown of Canute, Oklahoma. Sumleanschi stayed behind to plant 3,000 acres of sunflowers and corn.

“We weren’t sure what was going to happen in Moldova,” Walters said. “Western Oklahoma is just more stable and safe.”

While in Oklahoma, Walters worked on numerous projects for communities around the area, she said.

In August 2022, the family moved back to Moldova in time for Walters’

9-year-old daughter, Evelina, to start school, she said. Since returning to Moldova, the family has lived in an apartment in Chisinau.

They spend their weekends at the farm, which is an hour-and-ahalf drive from their apartment and Evelina’s school, Walters said.

Walters works in consulting as a data analyst and cartographer in Moldova as well as works on projects based in western Oklahoma through KB-Walkoma, Walters said.

Walters hopes to return to western Oklahoma at some point and continue to advocate for rural agriculturists close to home and abroad, she said.

“It is rewarding to be able to give back and help in western Oklahoma, even if I am an ocean away,” she said.

“I decided to learn the technology and fill the role myself.”
Kelsey Walters and Yuri Sumleanschi harvest corn on their farm in Moldova. Their farm’s average yield during the 2022 corn harvest was 20 bushels/acre. Photo by Kelsey Walters. CAMRYN BOND BURNS FLAT, OKLAHOMA
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A Humble

Home to hundreds of species of wildlife and picturesque scenes of the prairie, the historic Osage Nation is nestled between the rolling hills and grassy plains of northeastern Oklahoma.

However, more than wildlife call the bluestem-covered plains home.

Jann Hayman, Osage Nation secretary of natural resources and a native of Skiatook, Oklahoma, has spent the majority of her life in the heart of the Osage Nation.

“I grew up involved in agriculture,” Hayman said. “Showing calves and being involved in FFA, I saw how important those relationships in the agricultural industry were.”

Now a two-time Oklahoma State University Ferguson College of Agriculture alumna, Hayman intended to become a veterinarian when she first began attending OSU in 2001.

However, she realized she had a passion for people and building relationships but felt she lacked in leadership-based areas such as public speaking, she said.

With this realization came a desire to step out of her comfort zone to include those skills, Hayman said.

Her leadership experiences then led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education.

After completing her bachelor’s degree with an agricultural leadership option in 2005, Hayman obtained her Master of Agriculture degree from OSU in 2007 and a doctorate in educational leadership in 2021 from Kansas State University.

Jann Hayman, agricultural education alumna, began serving as the secretary of natural resources of the Osage Nation in 2012. Photo by Aubrey Layton.

Humble Servant



“I actually felt like my path was going to be in extension,” Hayman said.

As an undergraduate at OSU, Hayman worked as an intern at the OSU Extension office in Osage County, which she said helped her develop a strong foundation with the work being done in OSU Extension.

Knowing she wanted to return to her home upon graduation, Hayman searched for OSU Extension positions near the area. Neither Osage nor the surrounding counties were hiring for any positions in their OSU Extension offices, so Hayman began looking for other opportunities, she said.

Her original position as the natural resources specialist of the Osage Nation was one she never saw coming, she said.

“The position just kind of fell into my lap,” Hayman said. “I didn’t even know at the time the Osage Nation had a natural resources program. I just happened to come across the job.”

When Hayman was hired in 2006, the position of natural resources specialist was relatively new to the program. This allowed her an opportunity to tailor the position to what she believed it could be, she said.

“When I started working with the Osage Nation, I felt like that was the tribal version of OSU Extension,” Hayman said. “I was doing the same things I had prepared to do with OSU Extension, just on the tribal side.”

Using her experiences and her leadership training, she worked to become a resource for Osage landowners. She served as a contact within the tribe to


connect them to programs such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service, Hayman said.

“Jann is just so passionate about providing resources to our community members,” said Harleigh Moore, Osage Nation food sovereignty coordinator.

According to her employees, Hayman’s passion for leadership and helping others does not end there.

“She’s just incredible,” Moore said.

With the help of her work ethic, her role in her “unexpected” position began to grow, she said.

In 2012, she was promoted to director of the Department of Natural Resources, where she worked on initiatives benefiting even more Osage tribal members. In her role as director, Hayman helped facilitate all the

food sovereignty programs the Osage Nation has now, she said.

These programs include Harvest Land, a working farm containing a greenhouse, aquaponics system and food processing area in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and Butcher House Meats, a meat processing facility located in Hominy, Oklahoma, which Hayman helped open.

“Jann truly cares about the work we’re doing,” said Ronald Gilley, assistant director of Butcher House Meats. “She’s one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever known. She’s such a hard worker and always leads by example.”

The initial idea for these facilities came in 2020 when food production and meat processing plants across the U.S. shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hayman said.

“Nobody could get their meat processed,” Hayman said. “There were all these breakdowns in the food system.”

The Osage Nation owns approximately 43,000 acres where it raises cattle and bison.

However, during the pandemic, even though the nation had the livestock, meat processing was unavailable, Hayman said.

This led to issues within the Osage Nation’s elder and childcare nutrition programs. With no meat being processed, none was available for those programs, Hayman said.

Hayman said her team needed to create a solution to this issue.

“I had a conversation with our chief about the issue,” Hayman said. “He agreed with me. We needed to do


something. We had the animals, but we couldn’t get the meat to our people. We needed to fill that void. That’s what really started the meat facility.”

The tribe’s solution was Butcher House Meats, a 19,000-square-foot state and federally inspected facility capable of custom processing for both cattle and bison.

Open to Osage tribal members and the general public, the facility also houses a storefront and processes an

average of 30,000 pounds of meat each month, Gilley said.

“I knew that project was probably going to be one of the most challenging things I’d ever done — and might ever do — in my career,” Hayman said.

With such a passion for her work and a desire to help those around her, she is not one to shy away from a challenge, she said.

“It has been challenging, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding,” Hayman

continued. “We’re providing food for


The change in agriculture today is just a glimpse of what lies ahead. It’s why, more than ever, we are committed to being the partner you can trust, who understands your needs and delivers value to help you achieve your goals.

Wherever agriculture goes, we’ll be there, alongside you, as you lead the way.


At Harvest Land, Osage Nation tribal members grow fresh produce to aid Osage food sovereignty efforts. Photo by Aubrey Layton. WELCH, OKLAHOMA AUBREY LAYTON
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Dam OneProject


Nearly 90% of Oklahomans live within 20 miles of an earthen dam that affects their daily lives. As these U.S. Department of Agriculture-constructed structures near the end of their engineered lifespans, the time to take action is now.

The Dam Analysis Modernization of Tools, Applications, Guidance and Standardization, or DAMTAGS, project is underway to take preventive measures to help dam safety.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the Midwest experienced significant flooding. Oklahoma was emerging from the Dust Bowl era, which left the soil vulnerable and susceptible to erosion. However, no dams existed at the time to hold back floodwaters.

“During that time, people began to see headlines about flood-related deaths in local newspapers,” said Sherry Hunt, research leader and acting location coordinator for the USDA-Agricultural Research Service agroclimate and hydraulic engineering research unit. “The headlines captured


the attention of the Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C.”

In 1944 and 1954, Congress passed two acts to create the USDA Small Watershed Program, which led to the construction of nearly 12,000 flood-control, earthen dams across the country, including in Oklahoma.

“When people think of dams, they tend to think of the Hoover Dam, but these are small, earthen dams with an average height of 36 feet and a 50-year lifespan,” Hunt said.

More than 2,000 of these federally sponsored dams are located in Oklahoma, where they provide benefits for agriculture, energy production, recreation, urban areas, drinking

water, healthy ecosystems and so much more, Hunt said. Oklahoma has more of these dams than any other state.

“It’s estimated these dams and reservoirs provide $2.4 billion in annual benefits,” Hunt said. “For example, people like to go out and enjoy the trails at Lake McMurtry. But, they don’t even realize all of the other benefits these structures are providing to the community.”

Sierra Schupp, who serves as the Oklahoma Water Resources Center outreach and communications specialist, said while the structures are safe, measures to preserve the aging structures can benefit entire communities in the future.

DAMTAGS researchers use sensors to measure thermotic pressure, rainfall and soil moisture at the dam sites. Photo by Reagan Glass.

Shelton, agricultural engineer with the USDA-ARS agroclimate and hydraulic engineering research unit, uses “Goose,” an unmanned aerial vehicle, to collect useful dam performance data faster and with more accuracy than previous equipment at Lake Carl Blackwell, one of the three dams being researched in Oklahoma.

Todd Johnson.

OWRC, an agency partner with OSU Agriculture housed in the Noble Research Center, empowers decision-making and spreads understanding through research, extension and outreach.

“Dams affect everyone,” Schupp said. “The interesting part about these dams is many people don’t know about them. How would they unless they see that dam daily?”

Many upstream flood control dams originally were built to protect cropland, but with population growth and urbanization, they now also protect homes and communities in their areas, Schupp said.

“I’ve heard others refer to these dams as ‘silent sentinels’ because most people don’t realize they exist until they are needed,” Hunt said.

So far, researchers have focused on three dams near Oklahoma State University: Lake McMurtry, Boomer Lake and Lake Carl Blackwell.

“These dams are rather safe and provide a purpose, but they are aging just like buildings, roads and bridges,” Hunt said. “We just need to be more vigilant in making sure they are operating as intended.”

This preventive mindset is the premise behind DAMTAGS, Hunt said.

OWRC has partnered with the USDA-ARS and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop DAMTAGS. This five-year project combines research with cutting-edge technology.

DAMTAGS is in its second year, and researchers collect real-time data to get a better understanding of what is happening at these structures and in the water reservoirs to prevent future issues, Hunt said.

“One of our notable achievements right now is developing low-cost sensors that measure rainfall, wind speed, humidity, barometric pressure and soil moisture,” Hunt said.

Off the shelf, these sensors cost approximately $30,000, but USDA-ARS and other partners created a comparable sensor for $250, Hunt said. OWRC will help deploy and test the new sensors to compare their performance to the higher-priced sensor station, she added.

“Hopefully, other agency personnel, watershed management groups and conservation districts will be able to take advantage of the new cost-efficient sensors to better monitor across entire watersheds,” said Tim Propst, OWRC scientific coordinator and technical writer.

Other technology has been a major success for the project, Hunt said.

“Our research unit scientists in collaboration with the USDA-ARS Partnerships for Data Innovations are testing a scientific unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, named ‘Goose,’” Hunt said.

The drone is being used to take images and collect data about how a dam is performing to prevent future damage, Hunt added.

“Older methods may take an entire team several weeks to do the same kind of imagery and scanning the drone can do in hours,” Schupp said.

Schupp said using the drone to analyze dams helps researchers find weak points faster.

“It’s early on in the project, but we’ve brought the team together,

Kade Photo by

established lines of communication, and done a lot of the groundwork,” Propst said. “What remains to be done is gathering the actual data.”

The DAMTAGS team is organizing all the data to make it accessible to various agencies, engineers and scientific technicians.

“It’ll be an important resource that can be used by multiple agencies,” Propst said. “NRCS engineers and technicians will be able to utilize the information to help determine if they need to upgrade or modernize dams.”

Propst said DAMTAGS is still pioneering how the data will be organized and what the infrastructure of the data uptake and analysis will look like.

“The more data you collect, the more applicable your results are,” Propst said.

The team is trying to stay on the cutting edge of technology and analysis to make the project as efficient as possible, Propst added.

“It’s been a steep learning curve at times,” Propst said. “A lot of this is engineering, and I’m not an engineer.”

Propst said the whole idea is to get information at the fingertips of decision makers. The OWRC has more work to do because time is critical as the dams age, he added.

“We have a responsibility to protect and steward our natural resources,” Propst said. “Water is arguably our most precious resource, and this project has a definite impact on water availability and allows us to take care of what has been given to us.”

The public needs to know the work is being done, Propst said, and they


Simply put, an earthen dam is earth, composed of dirt, sand, gravel or other earthen materials. For centuries, humans have successfully used these basic materials to help control the flow of water. In fact, some earthen dams constructed by the Romans in the first and second centuries remain in use.

Although the materials and techniques are now more refined, the concept of layering and compacting these components to produce an embankment capable of retaining water is used today. These earthen dams include the vast majority of the structures produced in response to U.S. flood control legislation in the mid1900s, which are the focus of the Dam Analysis Modernization of Tools, Applications, Guidance and Standardization project.

need to stay informed because whether you live on 10,000 acres or in an apartment, you live in a watershed.

“It’s kind of this bigger picture holistic approach where we can’t be experts in everything, so we have built a diversified team to work for a common cause so generations to come will continue to benefit from what these dams and impounded reservoirs

Source: Oklahoma Water Resources Center



For a business to operate well, a plan is necessary. Every basic business plan includes the same three things: good employees, a product people want and a person to lead the business to success. A research lab follows the same model.

Andrea Jilling, an assistant professor in the Oklahoma State University Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, found this to be true while trying to balance maternity leave and continuing her research on soil dynamics.

“Leading up to my maternity leave, I was trying to figure how to keep my lab productive and support the research in my absence,” Jilling said. “Assistant professors are expected to build a productive and active research program.”

When people in academia need to take personal leave, they are not always aware of the resources available to assist in keeping their research going, Jilling said.

“A vulnerable time for women in academia to have maternity leave is during their assistant professorships,” she added.

An assistant professor is an early-career faculty member, said Tyson Ochsner, a plant and soil sciences professor. Assistant professors are “young professionals” who are learning fast and adjusting to their new environment, he said.

“Assistant professors sometimes move from across the country and this

is difficult when working in natural resources,” Ochsner said. “This time can be stressful.”

While being proactive about her situation, Jilling applied for a Career-Life Balance Supplement grant through the National Science Foundation. This grant provided Jilling with financial support that would allow resources and personnel to be put into place to keep the lab running efficiently while she was on maternity leave, she said.

“Research can’t stop,” Jilling said. “Agencies like the National Science Foundation are creating new resources like this grant to help working parents not have such a hard interruption in their research.”

Jilling, an NSF research fellow, used the Career-Life Balance Supplement grant to support her research project.

Jilling’s project about soil nitrogen dynamics includes research involving the different ways plants and microbes access nitrogen.

“Not all nitrogen in soil is created equally,” Jilling said. “Some nitrogen compounds move around freely, which is what the plants take up.

“Other forms of nitrogen in soil can remain there for decades if stuck to clay and silt particles,” she added. “Week to week and season to season, the amount of nitrogen available in the soil changes.”

The end goal of Jilling’s research, she said, is to provide scientists and

food producers with a better insight into nitrogen availability.

In her faculty role, Jilling teaches one class, but the majority of her workload is research-oriented. Therefore, she has more than one research project at a time.

The Career-Life Balance Supplement grant assistance only applied to one of her projects.

“It’s like having a boss for a small business and the owner is just gone,” Jilling said. “The lab really feels like a small business with the staff, budget and the way things are run.”

Jilling was proactive in ensuring her students, whether in the classroom or conducting research in the lab, were well taken care of, she said.

Andrea Jilling (left) and her husband, Matthew Bean (right), had their first child, Ilona, in 2021. Photo by Addison Spicer.

Jilling leaned on her network of colleagues to fill in during her absence, she said.

“The department is organized in a way that we run our own independent programs,” said Shiping Deng, a plant and soil sciences professor. “It can be challenging to take time off.”

Each professor manages his or her own research program, including the lab and lab equipment.

One of the most challenging parts of maintaining a lab program is keeping its equipment functioning and having trained personnel to continue the research.

Many professors look to hire students to work in their labs, Deng said. But, hiring students requires in-depth training programs.

“The thing with students is that once they are hired and put through training they graduate and you have to start all over again,” Deng said.

Jilling had to put a lot of thought early into her research and received an NSF grant — an outstanding accomplishment, Deng added. She used these resources to ensure the staff in the lab had the proper training and knew what to do, Deng said.

“I luckily had an awesome technician, postdoc and students,” Jilling said. “My staff did an awesome job, but they admit it was hard in my absence.”

Jilling’s postdoc taught her class, and the students working in the lab were second-year graduate students who had knowledge on how to run the lab, Jilling said.

No one within the department or the university thinks exactly like anyone else, Jilling said. Therefore, the specific questions that arose were difficult for the students and staff to answer, she added.

“Leave is leave, and we had to deal with the issues that came up,”

said. “Every little piece adds up, but you just have to understand that and move forward.”

Successful assistant professors and researchers build their network and build friendships, Jilling said. Jilling learned the importance of making connections and leaning on your colleagues and the relationships established within academia, she said.

“People will always help and provide the extra support where it is needed,” Jilling said. “However, don’t wait for that help to come — be proactive.”

Andrea Jilling (left) prioritizes work and family by including daughter, Ilona, and husband, Matthew Bean, in her professional role. Photo by Addison Spicer. ADDISON SPICER FAIRVIEW, OKLAHOMA
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Beyond the Classroom


Collegiate teaching is not a simple task. Educating means more than preparing a lesson plan and standing at the front of a lecture hall. The administrative team within the Oklahoma State University Ferguson College of Agriculture recognizes the importance of empowering, supporting, and celebrating educators to best reach students in and out of the classroom, said Cynda Clary, associate dean for academic programs.

Creating a community of teaching scholars is a crucial piece in the mission of developing teachers, Clary said. The implementation of teaching workshops, peer coaching and educator recognition allows educators to participate in continual professional growth and learning, she said.

Teaching workshops occur before each semester begins, Clary said.

Workshop contributors range from outside lecturers or professors from

other universities to faculty within the college. The workshops provide an opportunity for faculty to learn and to connect with one another, she said.

“We have many speakers and contributors within our own college teaching one another about the things they are doing in the classroom and the way they are coaching their teams and mentoring graduate students,” Clary said. “They explain what works for them in their situations.”

Although John Long (left) from the OSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and Bo Zhang from the OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture teach in different disciplines, each teaching workshop encourages them and other Ferguson College of Agriculture faculty and graduate students to network. Photo by Hunter Gibson.

Workshop attendees vary from those with majority teaching appointments to those who have majority research appointments — faculty early in their careers and experienced professors as well as graduate students, Clary said.

“I really liked how our administrators got people from within the college to share their experience of teaching,” said Brittany Lippy, graduate research assistant and animal science doctoral student. “They also had younger professors who were able to share their newer ideas, especially right off the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Kathrin Dunlap, Fall 2022 teaching workshop presenter from Texas A&M University, focused on the importance of scholarly teaching, Lippy said.

“The mindset is realizing there is a science to teaching and some things work and some things don’t,” Lippy said. “It isn’t just teaching to teach.

“You are teaching for a reason,” she added. “You are not teaching at the

students, you are teaching for them, which is something the Ferguson College of Agriculture stresses, too.”

By attending the teaching workshops, Lippy said she has learned so much about connecting with students. Beatrix Haggard, associate professor in the plant and soil sciences department, left a lasting impact on Lippy’s teaching style, she said.

“Dr. Haggard’s ability to meet her students where they are and to connect with each individual student is absolutely incredible,” Lippy said. “The way she genuinely cares about teaching is evident.”

From a doctoral student perspective, workshop attendance by graduate students across disciplines has increased, Lippy said.

“More graduate students are realizing the workshops are valuable and can give a really cool method or experience of how to teach,” Lippy said.

At least 10 graduate students from the animal science department

attended the Fall 2022 teaching workshop, Lippy said, and graduate students from the other disciplines attended, as well.

“In 2022, we had our largest enrollment ever, which was more than 100 for the teaching workshop,” Clary said. “That is incredibly impressive because it sends a message that professors value that aspect of their work.”

In addition to workshops, peer coaching empowers teachers through mentorship within the Ferguson College of Agriculture, Clary said. Participation in this mentorship program reinforces faculty can learn from one another, she said.

Pairing professors from different disciplines offers each participant a chance to see a different teaching style and methodology, said Deb VanOverbeke, assistant dean of academic programs.

“This allows them to focus on the mechanisms of teaching rather than the content,” VanOverbeke said. “We are purposeful in our pairings.”

Pairings are made based on what each individual wants to gain from the program and the styles of classes they teach, she said.

For example, some teachers may be paired with someone who also teaches

Karen Hickman, director of environmental science programs, explains the importance of continually learning and growing as a professor. Photo by Kristin Knight.

smaller classes or large introductory classes, she added.

As a previous participant herself, VanOverbeke was paired with a natural resource ecology and management professor who researched fisheries. Although she knew little about the class subject, she watched his teaching structure and provided recommendations to improve his lecture.

“Peer coaching gives you another set of eyes from your peers, allowing them to come in and give you feedback on your teaching and facilitating of a specific class,” said Nathan Smith, a peer mentorship participant and an instructor in the OSU Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership.

“Another fruit of mentorship is being able to sit down together after your peer comes and watches you teach to reflect in a safe, nonjudgmental environment,” he said.

After observing each other’s classes, the faculty members meet to provide suggestions to create more engaging and cohesive classes for students, Smith said.

From the perspective of a faculty member preparing teachers to enter the field of education, Smith said, participating in the peer mentorship program allows him to bring back new information to his own classroom for his students, as well.

Not all faculty members receive training in how to teach in a collegiate classroom, he said. Through peer mentorship, the methods used to better engage students are learned organically by faculty members who lack a teaching background, he added.

“I can then bring my peer’s style back to agricultural education students and reinforce the skills we are teaching,” Smith said.

Teaching always has been valued in the Ferguson College of Agriculture, Clary said, but including peer mentorship provided another avenue to support teachers and their commitment to students.

“I truly appreciate the energy and effort Dr. Clary and Dr. VanOverbeke

put into creating a community of teaching scholars,” Smith said. “It shows they truly value what and how we go about teaching. They invest in the experiences the students are getting from the college’s instructors and professors. They are paying it forward and pouring into us as professionals to ensure we are getting the professional development we need.”

The peer mentorship program meets the land-grant mission because teaching is one of the crucial legs of the mission, Smith said. More importantly, the program enhances the college’s family model, he added.

“We are building up our family members and that starts at the teaching level,” Smith said.

Prior to Clary’s arrival 10 years ago, only one teaching award was presented each year. To empower teachers and recognize their hard work, this needed to be changed, Clary said.

In 2015, the Ferguson College of Agriculture administration implemented four awards for teachers in different stages of their careers with varying responsibilities, she added. Increasing the number of teaching awards simultaneously increased the number of applications submitted, she

said. Some of those winners have gone on to earn national teaching awards or help their graduate students to do so, Clary added.

Lippy received a North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Graduate Student Teaching Award in 2021 and credited portions of her application to professional development and teaching philosophies gained from the college’s teaching workshops.

“As a community in this college, it is clear the faculty are committed to students, their own learning, and helping others succeed,” Clary said.

Supporting and strengthening faculty across departments is an important pillar for the Ferguson College of Agriculture, Clary said, and implementing teaching workshops, peer mentorship and educator recognition fits the Cowboy mission.

Courtney Brown, assistant professor in agricultural leadership, participates in the Fall 2022 teaching workshop for educators. Photo by Kristin Knight. KRISTA CARROLL TISHOMINGO, OKLAHOMA


The Atherton Family Arena is the main practice arena where the equestrian student-athletes spend their days working. Photo by Rylee Broadbent.

to RoadOcala


After years of long practices, 6 a.m. workouts, fighting back tears after a loss, and working tirelessly to keep their horses in tiptop shape, the Cowgirl equestrian team members locked arms and waited in anxious anticipation.

As the final score was posted, their tense faces turned to wide smiles and their arms wrapped around each other with excitement. They were, in fact, the 2022 national champions.

The 42-woman team won the first overall team National Collegiate Equestrian Association national championship in Oklahoma State University Equestrian Team history.

“Winning a national title is not an easy feat,” said Larry Sanchez, head coach of the OSU Equestrian Team.

“Whatever it took, whatever we needed to do to make sure the team propelled forward, we did it.”

Equestrian student-athletes compete horseback. The NCEA is unique because the collegiate athletes compete on unfamiliar horses, unless they host the meet, Sanchez said.

“When we travel, we are riding the opposing team’s horses,” Sanchez said. “The idea is to put the emphasis on the quality and effectiveness of the rider and not the horse.

“No one rides their own horses at the Big 12 or the NCEA National Championship,” he added.

The women’s collegiate sport has two disciplines: western and jumping seat. Those two disciplines each consist of two events: reining and

horsemanship for western and flat and fences for jumping seat.

“A rider from each team rides one particular horse, and whoever scored higher in that specific event on that horse scores a point for their team,” Sanchez said.

Typically, each team has around 20 starters, five for each event.

Stephanie Helsen, a double bachelor’s alumna in agricultural education and agricultural leadership competed in reining for the OSU Equestrian Team and was afraid she would not be one of those 20.

“I came in as a freshman not knowing anyone,” Helsen said. “I was introduced to the team and already knew these girls were going to be my best friends.”


Helsen was chosen to start her freshman year and competed throughout her career until the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season in 2020. She competed in the 2020-21 season and stayed an additional year.

“OSU gave us the opportunity to attend a fifth year and extend our scholarship for our sports,” Helsen said. “During my spring semester, I was a student coach for the team after I had spent the fall semester student-teaching for my degree.”

During the postseason and the Big 12 Championship, Helsen continued to student coach and not compete. Then, the unexpected happened.

“The week after winning the Big 12, our western discipline coach, Laura Brainard, called me into her office,” she said. “She asked me how I felt about competing in nationals.”

Helsen accepted the offer from Brainard humbly, she said, and competed in the national championship.

“It was such an honor and a privilege to be there competing,” Helsen said. “In that unique situation, I was

unimaginably overwhelmed by the support of my teammates.”

As a five-year team member, Helsen competed in many meets and to her surprise, her national championship run in Ocala, Florida, was one of the calmest she ever felt during her career, she said.

The mental preparation and support from her team helped her stay collected during her final meet, she said.

“In the competition ring, it was one maneuver at a time, one stride at a time, and I felt completely in the moment,” Helsen said. “It takes a really special team to have a teammate step in who hasn’t really been there and still be so excited. For that, they deserve the world.”

Josie Elliott, an agribusiness senior, said she knew the impact their team would have on the present and future of the OSU Equestrian Team.

“OSU equestrian coaches picked me, and I knew that if they were willing to take a chance on me, I was more than willing to give them everything I had to make it work,” Elliott said.

The team went into the national championship ranked No. 1, but the pressure during their final three days was high, she said.

“Once we got there, the excitement was intense,” Elliott said. “The pressure was also there.

“We competed against a team on the first day we had beaten before, but we couldn’t count them out, especially at this level,” she added.

After winning day one and day two of competition, the Cowgirls knew day three — championship day — was going to be hard, Elliott said.

“We had to have faith that we had worked the entire year putting all the effort into this one big moment,” she said. “That was what got us through.”

Elliott stood by her team members as the final event began on the biggest stage of the year.

“Having the whole team there rallying each other on and watching some of my best friends in the ring that day — knowing they could get the job done for us — had to be one of the best feelings ever,” Elliott said.

Abby Budd, OSU Equestrian Team reining competitor, shows the team’s horse Ben some love before practice. Photo by Rylee Broadbent.

Support and encouragement are important aspects within any sport, said Quincee Clark, an agribusiness sophomore who competes in the reining event. She receives an overwhelming amount of love from her teammates, she added.

“I loved having the support at nationals during the highs and lows of competing,” Clark said. “I had people to talk through it with and teammates pushing me to get back up after a hard day in the ring.”

Clark was the only freshman starter in the western discipline last year and won the national championship alongside all her friends.

“Nationals, as a whole, was crazy,” she said. “The facility was nuts, and the fact we were there for a bigger purpose made it super surreal.”

Sanchez said the team led each other into the Big 12 Championship and nationals, which set them apart from other teams.

“When your team leads in the direction that you are wanting to go, that is when big things can happen,” he said.

The NCEA National Championship title did not come easy, Sanchez said. These student-athletes had to work in school before they could really thrive in the ring, he said.

“We look for girls who not only succeed in the ring but also the girls who succeed academically,” he added.

The team members take their academics seriously, Elliott said, and

professors in the Ferguson College of Agriculture have given them not only the flexibility to compete as athletes but also the expectation to succeed in class as students.

“My professors and advisers were so good about making sure when we were gone for the Big 12 and national championship we had all of our work done ahead of time,” Elliott said.

“People have the misconception that we take our sport more seriously than we do our academics, but our coaches make sure we know school comes first,” she said. “We are students before we are athletes.”

The family aspect of the Cowgirl equestrian team has made the program successful and is one of the reasons they succeeded at such a high level,Sanchez said.

“Every single athlete on last year’s team had family at the core of everything we did,” Sanchez added. “It is that unconditional love — no matter what — and being there for each other, just like we do with our family.”


1Coach Larry Sanchez, who came to OSU in 1999, is the first and only OSU Equestrian coach in Cowgirl history.

2Stephanie Helsen, a double bachelor’s alumna in agricultural education and agricultural leadership, was named the 2022 OSU Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She competed in reining for the Cowgirls and was a part of the national championship team.

3Nine Ferguson College of Agriculture students were members of the 2022 NCEA National Champion

OSU Equestrian Team:

• Stephanie Helsen, Washington

• Calley Huston, Texas

• Josie Elliott, Virginia

• Stephanie Gripp, Illinois

• Hannah Dodd, Missouri

• Kelly Harper, Florida

• Lydia Bell, Oklahoma

• Quincee Clark, Mississippi

• Lindsey Porteous, Massachusetts

4Four new Ferguson College of Agriculture freshmen joined the OSU Equestrian Team for the 2022-2023 season:

• Rylee Ridgley, Delaware

• Tristan Bagby, Kentucky

• Abby Budd, Colorado

• Emma Quigley, New Jersey

The OSU Equestrian Team arrives at the Stillwater Regional Airport to greet fans and hoist up the NCEA National Championship trophy. Photo by Mary Elizabeth Cordia/OSU Athletics. RYLEE BROADBENT CASHION, OKLAHOMA

On the outskirts of the Choctaw Nation in Hughes County, Oklahoma, you will find students at public schools and members of tribal senior citizen centers practicing three different “R’s” — reduce, reuse and recycle — with modular and easy-access bed gardens constructed with used tires.

When Jim Shrefler, southeast district horticulture specialist, retired in 2021, Shelley Mitchell, associate extension specialist of youth programs in the Oklahoma State University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, inherited a Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The total amount awarded to OSU through the four-year FRTEP grant was $360,000. The grant was then extended by one year at no cost. This


extra year allowed the department to continue working on the projects covered by the original grant for a fifth year, Mitchell said.

“The grant was originally only meant to be valid for four years, but the government extended it a fifth year,” Mitchell said. “Jim asked if I would take it over.

“The grant specified it had to stay within the Choctaw Nation,” Mitchell added. “Because I am the youth horticulture specialist, I knew exactly what project I wanted the grant money to go toward the fifth year.”

The Choctaw Nation Reservation is 10,864 square miles located in southeastern Oklahoma and spans across 11 counties: Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Hughes, Latimer, Leflore, McCurtain, Pittsburg and Pushmataha. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is the largest of the three

federally recognized bands of Choctaw Indians and is the third largest federally recognized tribe in the U.S.

Previously, Mitchell worked on OSU Extension projects at Choctaw Nation educational day camps. She was referred to Scott Robinson, community health director at Wewoka Indian Health Center. Mitchell said Robinson had completed projects at schools in Wetumka and Holdenville as well as the Holdenville Creek Indian Community Center and Wetumka Senior Nutrition Center, so they chose to build tire gardens at these locations.

The designs for these tire gardens were created by Steve Upson, a retired horticulture consultant with the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore, Oklahoma. After working with the institute for 34 years, this grant allowed Upson to keep busy during retirement, Mitchell said.



“Part of my job with Noble was developing new techniques for growing produce,” Upson said. “Using repurposed tires to create growing platforms was one of the projects that I worked on for many years.”

Upson said the idea for tire gardens and “lumber” made of rubber came about after concerns arose about the potential adverse health effects associated with the use of pressure-treated, arsenic-infused wooden lumber.

“People were looking for other options, and the alternative I came up with was tires,” Upson said. “Used tires are more affordable than traditional lumber because they are often free.”

Upson said easy-access beds are garden beds lifted off the ground by stacking a row of tires. Modular style gardens are constructed by hollowing three identical tires and stacking them. Both of these garden bed styles



The different tire garden models used in this project can be seen in The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University as part of the Backyard Garden Project. Step-by-step instructions on how to construct different tire gardens can be found at oklahomagardening.okstate.edu/ backyard-demo-gardens.

Source: “Oklahoma Gardening”

Top Left: Holdenville High School’s modular garden provides vegetables for students. Bottom Left: Volunteers build an easy-access garden at Thomas Intermediate Elementary School. Right: Steve Upson (kneeling) helps students at Thomas Intermediate Elementary School in assembling an easy-access garden. Photos courtesy of Shelley Mitchell.


are easier to use for those who cannot bend down or perform the physical tasks required for traditional gardening, Upson said.

With student help from OSU and local high schools, volunteers built 20 modular gardens at Thomas Intermediate Elementary School and Wetumka High School. They also built an easy-access bed and five modular gardens at the Holdenville Creek Indian Community Center and Wetumka Senior Nutrition Center.

Mitchell said the gardens can teach Choctaw Nation citizens to grow and market culturally relevant crops.

Donna McGee, Wetumka Public Schools superintendent, said the positive impact of tire gardens can be seen throughout the entire school.

“The tire gardens have been so popular among the students,” McGee added. “They are so excited to see the

growth and have the opportunity to eat the produce growing in the gardens.”

McGee said the enthusiasm in staff and students is present for the vegetable gardens to continue to be successful for years to come.

“The biggest benefit has been the collaboration between the high school botany class and the elementary science classes,” McGee said. “It has been fantastic seeing the older students mentoring the younger students when working in the gardens.”


A mother pronghorn scouts the land in the Panhandle.



Photo by Levi Heffelfinger.

The orange sun sets over the horizon as a mother pronghorn antelope and her fawn seek shelter for the night across the plains of northwestern Oklahoma. Their future is unknown as they trudge forward, just trying to survive.

With a sudden decrease in pronghorn population, Oklahoma State University Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management faculty and graduate students conducted pronghorn mother and fawn research. This past spring, the researchers partnered with Texas A&M-Kingsville and East Central University of Oklahoma.

“This project originated because the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation was starting to see a trend toward potential population decline of pronghorn in the Panhandle,” said Colter Chitwood, an assistant professor in the OSU NREM department. “They wanted to double check to see if this decline was as accurate as they perceived and what the reasons for the decline were.”

This project was made possible through the $1.7 million ODWCfunded grant called “Movements and Population Demography of Pronghorn in Western Oklahoma.”

The grant for this project is across four pronghorn capture years, beginning in January 2022 and ending in summer 2026. The project will tag adults in the winter and then fawns in May and June, Chitwood said.

After the implementation of the grant in January 2022, 81 females and 20 males were captured using a helicopter in February 2022.

The process to capture pronghorn for tracking is out of the ordinary, as a small helicopter flies above a herd and a net is fired over them to trap them, Chitwood said.

“There is a pilot, a mugger and a gunner,” said Derek Hahn, an NREM master’s student. “The gunner hangs outside the aircraft with a long-barrel pistol and a cone with a weighted net on the back. Then, they fly over the herd of pronghorn, shoot the net, and try to capture one animal at a time.

After being captured, each animal receives a GPS collar.”

This process continues until all pronghorn females and males have received tracking collars. For fawns, capture is done on foot by waiting until a fawn is spotted and placing a long-handled net over them.

“It’s almost like a cradle-to-grave assessment,” said Matthew Turnley, an NREM doctoral student. “We try and put tracking collars on as many newborns as possible.

“We also put tracking collars on adults,” he said. “We can use that information to follow them throughout their lives and to see how they are surviving, if they are dying, what the cause of the mortality is, and where and when they are moving.”

The project’s focus is on population parameters with varying ages. Older pronghorn sometimes move out of the state, often into New Mexico, Chitwood said.

“With changing agricultural practices and land ownership as well as potential increases with things like


wind energy, Oklahoma and other states are really interested in how pronghorn respond,” Turnley said. “The GPS collars give us all kinds of movement and survival information.”

Research is centered on survival rate and if a possibility exists to keep numbers stable or increase, Chitwood said. With lots of variability in the western plains system, a drought, rain, a temperature swing and more can affect fawn survival.

The beginning steps of this project involve energetics and nutrient levels, moving toward population modeling during the next three years to result in a better species management program, Hahn said.

With this project recently starting, researchers have a lot of hope and excitement moving forward because this is the first time pronghorn have been collared in Oklahoma, Hahn said.

With the continuous movement of pronghorn, private landowner communication has become a priority with this project, Hahn said.

Their contribution has been a positive thing for the research, as staff for this project are respectful of private

property rights and make sure to work with these landowners, he said.

“An important thing to realize is that there is not a lot of public land in Oklahoma and none of the research would be possible without help from private landowners,” Hahn said.

Researchers work with these landowners to cover more land for tracking and more exposure to pronghorn. With little public land, a need for access to private land exists, Hahn said, and landowners have been supportive of the research and of OSU.

“Wildlife are everywhere and belong to everyone,” Chitwood said. “With private land, when an agency is trying to better manage something like pronghorn, which matter to hunters because they want to harvest them, it is certainly in everyone’s best interest. At the end of the day, neither the hunters nor wildlife watchers want them to leave the Panhandle.”

Research is conducted in Texas and Cimarron counties. Moving farther east across the Panhandle, pronghorn are spotted less often, Hahn said.

“I just want to see people enjoy the pronghorn and their fawns as much as

I do,” Hahn said. “Western Oklahoma is a good destination for them. Everyone goes out there for the Black Mesa State Park.

“There is great wildlife viewing out there,” he added. “It offers a good chance to get away.”

Oklahomans from the Panhandle have a sense of pride when talking about pronghorn, Hahn said. The public needs information about this species to see how impactful they are to Oklahoma terrain.

“We look at this Great Plains ecosystem, which has seen so much change over time,” Turnley said. “Pronghorn have survived an Ice Age and so much before that. They are this last remnant of the American Great Plains and that is beneficial.”

Pronghorn are captured for tracking using a helicopter and weighted net. Photo by Levi Heffelfinger. MEGAN FRAGASSO BIGFORK, MONTANA

National Livestock

Master Gardener Dave Davis grows his knowledge of horticulture through tending crops at the Seed to Supper Farm. Photo by Sierra Walter.

Fresh Vine off the

As the morning sun rises, light cascades across the horizon and through rows of crops peeking above the soil. On a small farm outside Tulsa, Oklahoma, agriculturalists begin work early — picking, harvesting and tending crops. This may look similar to many farms in Oklahoma, but this operation offers more than meets the eye.

An hour later across town, a food pantry receives produce the farm harvested that morning to serve a community in need. The produce — fresh, safe and nutritious — is grown through a new program called the Seed to Supper Farm.

Housed within Oklahoma State University Extension, the Seed to Supper Farm serves as an educational tool for Tulsa Master Gardeners.

These Master Gardeners, educated by OSU Extension staff, serve Tulsa County in educational and volunteer roles. Through the Seed to Supper Farm, Tulsa Master Gardeners furthered their reach.

“We are learning and helping people in the process,” said Tom Ingram, horticulture program assistant.

The Seed to Supper Farm provided training for Master Gardeners and allowed the donation of 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of fresh produce the past crop season. Nonetheless, starting the farm was no easy task, Ingram said.

In early 2022, Ingram said he began brainstorming ideas to start a farm with Brian Jervis, Tulsa County horticulture educator. The group had the vision to add an additional learning experience to enrich the educational work the OSU Extension already offered, Ingram said.

“The driving force was for Master Gardeners to learn more about growing vegetables,” Ingram said. “What better place to do it than hands-on and with 80 tomato plants rather than your two tomato plants at home?”

The team quickly faced roadblocks as the building process began for the Seed to Supper Farm, Ingram said.

Finding land, irrigation and funding all posed challenges to overcome, Ingram said. However, the team was not short of support from the OSU family, he added.

“Brian Jervis had the idea to use the Bixby Research Station, which had a couple hundred acres,” Ingram said.

The duo sent a proposal to Chris Richards, director and professor for the field and research services unit, who was quick to grant them use of 2 acres for the farm, Ingram said.

Using this land allowed Tulsa Master Gardeners to share resources with the station, including irrigation and equipment.

Tulsa Master Gardener Rhonda Weaver said Ingram contacted her and


other Master Gardeners to help get the farm started.

“It was such a simple, obvious thing to do,” Weaver said. “We have the land, we have the skills, and we have the manpower. Everybody who helped said they thought it was one of the best things we’ve ever done.”

Tulsa Master Gardener Laura Koval said the farm served as an opportunity to teach Master Gardeners about growing crops on a larger scale.

“We have a beautiful demonstration garden at the OSU Extension offices

in Tulsa, but we only had one tiny bed and didn’t have any space for actual vegetables there,” Koval said. “This farm gave us the space to learn more from a larger operation.”

Once the farm was established, the work began.

“We started by defining the space, and then figuring out what crops could be easier to grow and what would be most enjoyable and educational to grow,” Koval said.

The work began with tilling the ground, installing irrigation, and

planting seeds, Koval added. The team planted potatoes, tomatoes, squash, zucchini and corn in addition to herbs and other vegetables, Ingram said. Master Gardeners came to the farm every Tuesday morning to work the farm throughout the summer, Weaver said.

“It was so hot,” Weaver said. “We had about 10 to 12 people out every week to help.”

After all the hard work, the Master Gardeners began to reap what they sowed, Ingram said.

“When we first started actually getting sizable harvests, I was like, ‘Wow, this really is working,’” Ingram said.

Following the farm’s first harvest, the time came to start distributing produce to food pantries. Weaver said they delivered fresh produce to food pantries weekly.

“People were so excited to get produce because they don’t have access to fresh vegetables,” Weaver said. “As Master Gardeners, our whole purpose is to serve the community, and usually that focuses on education. But, this was a very hands-on way to give back to the community.”

Vegetables serve as one of the main nutritious food groups for a healthy diet but are the hardest for food pantries to acquire, Weaver said.

Giving away fresh food was the most rewarding part, Ingram said.

“Unless you come out here and eat it off the vine, it’s not going to get much fresher than what we donate to the food pantries,” Ingram said. “The reports I heard back were people saying ‘Wow, this is awesome. Fresh tomatoes? Are you kidding me?’”

Weaver said Master Gardeners concentrated on serving smaller food pantries in the Bixby and Tulsa area.

As a foster parent, Koval said she saw firsthand how food insecurity can impact lower-income families.

“It’s a pretty profound impact you can have just by providing people with the resources to eat better,” Koval said.

In addition to giving back to the community, Master Gardeners grew their knowledge on raising vegetables. Finishing the first crop season, Koval


said some crops were successful and others were not.

Fighting weeds and the summer heat were obstacles. However, those obstacles allowed them to gain

experience in growing crops in those conditions, Koval said.

“Growing a tomato is one of the most humbling experiences you can have because everything wants to eat your stuff,” Koval said. “And everything is trying to kill it. That really makes you appreciate farmers and what they do for all of us because it’s hard.”

Moving forward, Ingram and the Master Gardeners plan to grow the educational efforts at the farm. This includes hosting tours at the farm to inform the public about growing nutritious food, Koval said.

“There are lots of opportunities in the future,” Koval said. “I don’t think anyone knows at this point how it’s going to play out, but we want to bring the public in or use it as a tool to help educate people on growing vegetables.”

As the Seed to Supper Farm finished its first crop season, Ingram said he was proud of what the Tulsa County Master Gardeners accomplished in the

first year. The farm is bigger than just growing crops and fully embodies the OSU land-grant mission, he added.

Weaver said working at the Seed to Supper Farm served as her most rewarding involvement with the Master Gardeners program.

“We are reaching out to the public on a very local, hands-on, personal basis and teaching other people how to benefit from growing vegetables,” Weaver said. “I can’t think of a better way to fulfill the OSU mission.”

Tom Ingram (second from left) and Master Gardeners Tonia Brown (left), Mary Lee Stephens, Danielle Adkins, Dave Davis and Rhonda Weaver ensure produce is fresh and prepped to distribute to food pantries. Photo by Sierra Walter.

Poverty simulation materials, developed by Missouri Community Action, are given to participants as they complete assigned tasks throughout the simulation.

Photo by Hannah Kay Kirby.


Imagine yourself a recently unemployed parent of two with student and car loans to pay and no health insurance. Your unemployment compensation has run out, and you cannot find a job. You had no choice but to spend the maximum amount allowed on your credit card, and you don’t know how you will afford groceries this month.

This situation is real for more than one in seven Oklahomans. For them, poverty is a reality and difficult decisions are part of daily life, said Sonya McDaniel, Pottawatomie County family and consumer sciences educator.

The rest of the state has little idea what they face, she added.

Poverty simulations, offered by a team of trained Oklahoma State University Extension family and consumer sciences educators, help to raise awareness and challenge false perceptions of individuals living below the poverty level, McDaniel said.

“Most people who come to the simulations work with those living in poverty,” McDaniel said. “Many leave the simulation with a much deeper understanding of how to empathize and serve their communities well.

“The poverty simulation puts them in an environment where they’re truly walking the walk of their peers,” McDaniel added. “Participants are in a position where they must make

decisions based on a limited income and very few resources.”

Upon arrival for the simulation, attendees are assigned a role within a family, such as a mother or grandfather. They gather in mock homes, which are represented by clusters of chairs in the middle of the room, to plan how to pay bills on time, balance work and family, and budget for food, McDaniel said.

Volunteers set up various businesses and agencies represented at booths for attendees to visit throughout the simulation experience.

These businesses include a grocery store from which attendees buy food as well as an interfaith service center and a community action agency where attendees may apply for assistance, McDaniel said.



In the simulation, family members face unexpected challenges like school closures and illnesses that quickly change the family’s status or ability to survive, McDaniel said.

During the four 15-minute-long “weeks,” attendees make decisions to survive the “month.” A “mom” may have to carry a baby doll around to represent a small child because she cannot afford childcare, or a “grandfather” may need to sell his refrigerator for extra cash to help cover medical expenses, McDaniel said.

Joyce Pool, outreach coordinator for Birthright Stillwater, attended a simulation as a participant where she was assigned a role she sees often at her job serving women facing unplanned pregnancies, she said.

“I see a lot of young, first-time parents trying their best to make it on their own, but they still often end up in an unfortunate situation where they have to choose between groceries and keeping the lights on,” Pool said.

Pool grew up in poverty and was impressed with how well the simulation demonstrated how fast small complications can affect a family, she said.

“We came back to our ‘home’ at one point to our chairs being overturned — meaning we forgot to pay an important bill or we were robbed,” she said. “There was even someone roaming around discreetly as ‘criminal activity’


that would randomly select different families to affect,” she added.

“My job requires me to help people with needs such as diapers, clothing, and small baby essentials, and I may have to find clients resources beyond what we can provide them through Birthright,” Pool said. “I found that the simulation renewed my compassion toward certain situations.

“It’s truly hard for individuals to remove themselves from a generational cycle of poverty,” she added.

During the same simulation, Noah Drew, an elementary education sophomore, served as a “grocery store clerk” and said he learned how poverty can affect individuals over time.

“Participants initially came up, dignified, saying they wanted $100 worth of groceries because they felt empowered to make that choice, but by the end I heard their desperation,” Drew said. “They seemed stretched thin. They knew if they didn’t get $100 worth of groceries they were simply not eating.”

After three “weeks,” attendees who failed to pay rent were evicted. At this point in the simulation, a hopelessness hung in the room, Drew said.

“One of the cool things about the poverty simulation is seeing how easily someone can be in poverty,” he added. “One second, they’re fine. They’ve got a house, a job and a family — then disaster starts.

“The simulation opens your eyes that this could happen to anybody,” Drew said. “It doesn’t in any way remove your dignity or make you somehow less human.”

Drew’s time at the poverty simulation provided him with a deeper understanding of how he can better help people, he said. Outside of the simulation, he serves with a group of students from his church on Fridays by walking the streets of downtown Tulsa and spending time with those experiencing homelessness.

“So often, individuals without homes don’t get treated like people,” Drew said. “When I say I’m trying to understand them, it’s not like I’m

getting into the head of some other creature, thinking that they’re somehow removed from me. They’re still people just like we are.”

Jan Maples, Okfuskee County family and consumer sciences educator, said following the simulation, facilitators host a debrief for attendees and volunteers to share what they have learned or noticed.

The attendees gain vital perspectives for ways they could serve their communities, she added.

“I would like more people to go through the simulation so they can understand others’ feelings and actions better,” Maples said.

Individuals, businesses, agencies or organizations interested in hosting

a simulation can contact their respective OSU Extension offices to assemble a facilitation team for their area, Maples said.

“We have to continually remind the participants this is not a game,” she said. “This is what people have to go through just to get from day to day and month to month.”

A female participant (left) applies for a “job” with “employer” Mark Phelps during a recent simulation in Pontotoc County. Photo by Hannah Kay Kirby. HANNAH KAY KIRBY ABILENE, TEXAS

Three Generations

of pu ing great food on the table.

Blue and Gold Sausage Co. has been family owned and operated in Jones, Oklahoma, since 1970, helping groups raise funds for the supplies they need to serve their communities. www.blueandgoldsausage.com


36 campers 1,687 campers 1973 2022 @OKFFA

Bugs Big Apple in the


The museum is quiet on Mondays. In the absence of the usual commotion from children on class field trips and visitors’ audio-guided tours, one can be fully immersed in the displays.

Lauren Osborn, an English doctoral student, said the dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History seemed to come to life in the still moments of a Monday afternoon.

“It almost feels like you’re a ghost — haunting the halls and quietly observing,” Osborn said.

Osborn was one of four Oklahoma State University students invited to travel more than 1,400 miles from Stillwater, Oklahoma, this summer to visit the AMNH in New York City.

Jessica Ware, an associate curator at AMNH, connected with Wyatt Hoback, a professor in the OSU Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, at an Entomological Society of America meeting earlier this year.

Ware said she knew of the department’s reputation and was intrigued by the diverse backgrounds of the department’s students. She invited Hoback to bring students to AMNH in hopes they would share their experiences and encourage their peers to apply for the museum’s summer research and internship programs.

“I wanted the students to see the things in the museum that fit their interests and career goals,” Ware said. “Some of the students are pursuing

careers in science and research while the others are working toward more art and humanities-focused professions within entomology.”

Samantha Hittson, an entomology master’s student, said her favorite part of the visit was the hands-on research in which the group participated.

The students were introduced to using gel electrophoresis in DNA analysis as a part of Ware’s ongoing genetic research of dragonflies belonging to genus Orthetrum

“We took the legs off of the dragonflies and put them in a mixture of chemicals,” Hittson said. “Once only the DNA was left in the bottom of the container, we spun it down, mixed it with more chemicals, and put the

ENTOMOLOGY STUDENTS VISIT AMERICAN MUSEUM Left: Jessica Ware (center) explains gel electrophoresis to Samantha Hittson (left) and Melissa Reed. Photo by Wyatt Hoback. Right: Exhibits in the American Museum of Natural History include a 75-million-year-old Placenticeras intercalare fossil. Photo by Lauren Osborn.

samples in a polymerase chain reaction machine to replicate the DNA.

“From there, we performed gel electrophoresis — a process that uses electrical current to separate different parts of the DNA for further examination,” Hittson said.

Of the eight specimens the students extracted DNA from, six generated usable results for the larger study.

While DNA analysis is not what Osborn envisions for her career, she still valued the experience, she said.

“You have a greater appreciation for science when you see it in person and all the ways it can go wrong before you find the answer,” Osborn said. “It’s a delicate operation you don’t often see.”

Osborn may not be a traditional entomology student, but she said she has always had an affinity for arthropods.

“They were an interest for me growing up,” Osborn said. “I was interested in insect behavior when I was studying

behavioral psychology in undergrad. When I came to OSU, my adviser introduced me to Dr. Hoback. Having him on my doctoral committee was an instant fit.”

Osborn integrates her passion for entomology into her writing and storytelling, she said.

“My ultimate goal is to use literary fiction as a way to grow the public’s interest in entomology,” Osborn said.

During the visit, Osborn and the other students attended a live reading by Daisy Hernández, author of “The Kissing Bug.” They also toured artist Peter Kuper’s exhibit, “INterSECTS: Where Arthropods and Homo Sapiens Meet,” at the New York Public Library.

“It was surreal to see firsthand that writers and creatives can succeed in such an impactful way,” Osborn said.

In addition to having the OSU students conduct genetic research and visit with entomology-focused authors,

Ware guided the group on a tour of the museum’s seemingly endless archives, exhibits, studios and more.

“Collaboration is an integral part of science,” Ware said. “Everyone can and should participate in it.

“People have a broad interest in working with insects, whether as entomologists, museum curators, art historians or writers,” she said.

Melissa Reed, an entomology doctoral student, said she enjoyed the time spent outside the lab just as much as she enjoyed the time in it.

“I never realized just how many opportunities there are to work in museums,” Reed said. “There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes — everything from artists sculpting dioramas to the people responsible for maintaining specimen collections.”

Yasmine Abusaleh, an entomology junior, said she had a limited understanding of the various career paths


available in entomology prior to visiting AMNH.

“I thought my main options would be research or field work,” Abusaleh said. “Now, it feels like a whole new world has opened up on what I can do with my degree in entomology.

“Seeing how passionate everyone was about their work makes me want to work harder and prioritize getting an internship and conducting research while I’m an undergraduate student,” Abusaleh added.

Hoback said he looks forward to continuing the partnership cultivated with AMNH this summer.

“This was an amazing opportunity for our students to not only get some hands-on experiences but also to see where they can fit in the field of entomology despite their varied personal interests and goals,” Hoback said.

Ware said watching the OSU students connect with AMNH’s doctoral

students and with visitors from a local high school was rewarding for her.

“It’s always encouraging to see young people from across the country and across the globe who are passionate about entomology coming together to learn from each other,” Ware said. “The best part for me was learning from the students’ diverse perspectives and lived experiences.”

Hoback is grateful for the relationships his students developed with Ware and how she provided them with new opportunities in and out of the museum, he said.

Osborn said she is beyond thankful for her time with Ware.

“Dr. Ware is so intelligent and was so generous with her time,” Osborn said. “She made sure we saw everything we wanted to see, and she answered every question we had in a way you could tell she was invested in our learning.

Left: Lauren Osborn (left), Samantha Hittson and Yasmine Abusaleh collect samples from dragonflies in genus Orthetrum for DNA analysis. Photo by Wyatt Hoback. Second from Left: Yasmine Abusaleh befriends a butterfly while outside the museum. Photo by Wyatt Hoback. Second from Top Right: Protoceratops andrewsi skeletons are on display at AMNH. Photo by Lauren Osborn. Top Right: Daisy Hernández (left) and Jessica Ware discuss how literature can be used to promote science. Photo by Lauren Osborn. Second from Bottom Right: The group visited Peter Kuper’s exhibition, “INterSECTS: Where Arthropods and Homo Sapiens Meet,” at the New York Public Library. Photo by Lauren Osborn. Bottom Right: The Spectrum of Life exhibit offers AMNH guests a glimpse of 1,500 specimens. Photo by Lauren Osborn.

“She even made us tea and took us to her favorite ice cream shop,” Osborn continued. “Dr. Ware is just one of those people who feels like a long-time friend, even if you’ve just met.”

While roaming the empty hallways of the museum, Osborn said she couldn’t help but be in awe of how expansive the field of entomology is, especially within museums.

“Pretty much anything you’re interested in or have talent in, you can find a job there,” Osborn said.

Robert Hodgen, a 1997 OSU animal science alumnus, serves as president and CEO of King Ranch Inc. where Santa Gertrudis cattle were developed. Photo by Belton Kleberg McMurrey.

small town to BIG RANCH


Even in a small town of 800 people, kids can have big dreams.

Robert Hodgen, president and CEO of King Ranch Inc., grew up on his family’s grain and beef cattle farm in Roachdale, Indiana. The farm, started by his grandfather in the 1940s and continued by his parents, now is operated by his brother and his family.

In the summer of 1992, Hodgen met Mark Johnson, an animal and food sciences professor and former Oklahoma State University Livestock Judging Team coach. Johnson judged a cattle show in Indiana where Hodgen exhibited a steer.

Coincidentally, one week later, Hodgen was at OSU to enroll as a pre-veterinary animal science student. From then on, Johnson served as a professor, adviser, livestock judging coach, and mentor to Hodgen.

“He was a great student,” Johnson said. “Robert was extremely curious and highly motivated.”

On campus, Hodgen was involved in the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, the Alpha Zeta Honor Society and the 1996 livestock judging team.

Johnson said Hodgen was always ambitious and seemed to seek opportunities to find leadership roles, like the judging team.

Hodgen joined the 1995-96 team with less experience in oral reasons than many of his teammates, Johnson said. Hodgen did not make the cut to compete in the livestock judging contest at the National Western Livestock Show in Denver, but once Johnson returned, he said he discovered just how dedicated Hodgen was.

“Never in my years of coaching have I seen a change in reasons from Denver to Fort Worth like I did with Robert,” Johnson said. “He went from marginally good to exceptional in a matter of a few weeks.

“Robert ended up placing in the top 10 high individual in oral reasons at Louisville in the national championship contest,” Johnson added.

Hodgen said although he was accepted into veterinary school, he chose a different path and started enrolling in business-related courses.

“I had an affinity for business, and finance made sense to me,” Hodgen said. “I was really inspired by the classes in the business school that thought differently than I did.”

After graduation in 1997, Hodgen accepted a position at Cargill. He spent four years with Cargill, traveling and gaining experience within a major agricultural business, he said.

“I have marveled at all the things Robert has accomplished,” Johnson said. “When he called and said ‘I’m going to get an MBA,’ I was not surprised. That is who Robert is. It is in his nature to be successful and pursue his goals.”

Hodgen pursued his Master of Business Administration through the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 2003.

Following graduation, Hodgen advanced his career in agribusiness as vice president for J.D. Heiskell & Co. Hodgen lived in Visalia, California, for more than eight years and Fort Collins, Colorado, for three years while working for J.D. Heiskell. This endeavor gained him experience in a family-owned grain and commodity trading enterprise, he said. During his time in Visalia, Hodgen met his wife, Kari, and the two were married in 2007.

The Hodgens moved to New York City in 2015 where he pursued a career as a private equity investor. Kari Hodgen said her husband cares about getting people in the right place so they can be successful. She said he wants to work with people who are in their perfect roles.

Robert Hodgen was selected as CEO of King Ranch in August 2021. King


Ranch is a privately held for-profit corporation owned by the descendants of Capt. Richard King and his wife, Henrietta King.

King Ranch is best known for developing Santa Gertrudis cattle, partnering with Ford Motor Co. trucks, and being a top citrus producer in the U.S., he said.

In his role, Robert Hodgen leads a team of 1,250 employees daily, promotes a culture of excellence that aligns with King Ranch values, and allocates resources to ensure the business executes its strategy, he said.

His role as CEO is a combination of leadership, finance and agriculture for a family-owned business Robert

Hodgen has spent his career getting to know, Kari Hodgen said. She said he sees things clearly through the lens of his experience in food and agribusiness. Because of his family’s farm, he understands what it’s like to work for a family business, she added.

“I get energy from investing into the team and developing leaders in the organization,” Robert Hodgen said.

King Ranch is an agribusiness, real estate, energy and resource management company with operations in Texas, Florida and California.

Robert Hodgen spends most of his time in Houston where King Ranch has a small corporate office. He also spends time on the road visiting the

different operations throughout the country, he said.

“I bring a multi-faceted background to the role with experiences throughout agribusiness, real estate and investing while understanding the nuances of working for a family-owned business,” Robert Hodgen said. “I also have a genuine passion for the business and enjoy spending time with our employees, vendors and shareholders.”

In his downtime, Robert Hodgen finds time for things he enjoys, like spending time outdoors and shooting sporting clays. The Hodgens also have a love for traveling, having visited all 50 states and more than 45 countries.

Closer to home, Robert Hodgen loves OSU and is diverse in his involvement as an alumnus. He returns for various alumni events as well as football games. He even owns and wears Pistol Pete orange cowboy boots.

Kari Hodgen said her husband is always looking for ways to support the Ferguson College of Agriculture. The two of them are especially excited to be closer to Oklahoma since moving to Houston and to be part of agricultural experiences with students.

Robert Hodgen sees a continued career in the agribusiness sector in his future. He said he has the best job as leader of King Ranch and hopes to stay in the role for a long time.

Curiosity, work ethic and preparation for the task at hand are all things people can control, Robert Hodgen said, and will more likely than not overcome any inherent disadvantages in a given situation.

Regardless of where you come from, you can do big things, even as a smalltown farm kid, he said.

Robert Hodgen, a loyal and true cowboy, shows his OSU pride by wearing his Pistol Pete orange cowboy boots. Photo by Belton Kleberg McMurrey.
Nurture. Grow. Give. Repeat. 224 South Washington, Stillwater, OK 74074 OSUAGRS.COM | 405-377-5555 Alpha Gamma Rho
Turner (left), John and Jami Longacre spend their free time at their family ranch in Kellyville, Oklahoma. Photo by Savannah Hopkins.


Jami McAnulty was at her church youth group like any other Wednesday night when she saw a handsome boy from Jenks, Oklahoma, walk in.

“He was more of a city kid, and we were all just some young country kids,” she said.

The first time the then 12-yearold girl saw John Longacre, her now husband of 27 years, they were in the sanctuary at the Kellyville First Baptist Church.

“When I saw her, I just thought, ‘Whoa,’” John Longacre said.

At the time, he thought his future wife thought that about him, too, he said — and he was right.

“He was so handsome and cute,” Jami McAnulty Longacre said. “He was dressed so nice, and he was just different from the rest of us.”

Since those early years, the two have built a family, successful careers and a shared love for Oklahoma State University and the Ferguson College of Agriculture, Jami Longacre said.

The two come from hard-working families where they were taught if you want things in life, you have to work for them, Jami Longacre added.

After high school, the two attended OSU from 1988 to 1992: Jami Longacre majored in agricultural economics while John Longacre majored in animal science.

During Jami Longacre’s time at OSU, she served as the 1992

agricultural legislative intern, an experience that forever changed her life, she said.

“If I had not done the legislative internship and been exposed to policy and the capitol, I don’t know what I would be doing today,” said Jami Longacre, president of Longacre Inc., which is a legislative consulting firm.

“As soon as I finished up that internship, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to be.”

Family Traditions

John Longacre, president of Crown Auto World Bristow, said his time spent at OSU was the best four years of his life where he made friends and learned many life lessons.

The pair have been OSU fans and big supporters of the university and the Ferguson College of Agriculture ever since, said Heidi Williams, associate vice president of constituent development for the OSU Foundation.

“When I first came to the OSU Foundation, the Longacres were really engaged alumni,” Williams said. “I could just tell they were movers and shakers and knew everyone to know in the agricultural world.

“Through introductions, they opened doors to other alumni and donors,” she added.

The couple has supported OSU and the college through scholarships, organizations and volunteering. However, their most recent support has been to the New Frontiers campaign.

“They’re part of an overall campaign effort we had to raise $50 million for the new building for the college,” Williams said. “That was about half the cost at the time, so their support has really helped.”

The Longacres knew from the beginning they wanted to be a part of the New Frontiers project for many different reasons, Jami Longacre said.

“Obviously, we wanted to be a part of the entire project,” Jami Longacre said. “From our vantage point, when you look back at all the things OSU and the Ferguson College of Agriculture have done for us, it just felt extremely natural to be able to give back.”

Jami Longacre said they would not be where they are today if not for their experiences at OSU and what is now the Ferguson College of Agriculture.

Williams said the Longacres have named two spaces in the academic programs office in the new building to help students be successful.

“It’s a big deal,” John Longacre said, “but that wasn’t our motivation or even a consideration for us when deciding to donate.”

While the Ferguson College of Agriculture is getting a “much-needed” renewal, Williams said the upgrade is more than just a fancy new building.

“It’s really about designing these spaces that change the way we teach and how students learn,” Williams said. “There are going to be lots of flexible classrooms and gathering spaces that students can utilize.”

The Longacres are one of the youngest couples to donate and the only couple to have both given and have a child who will get to use the building as a student, Williams said.

Turner Longacre, the couple’s 18-year-old son, will graduate from Bristow High School in Spring 2023. He plans to join the Ferguson College of Agriculture family in Fall 2023 as an animal science student.

Turner Longacre (center) discusses his college plans with parents John (left) and Jami Longacre. Photo by Savannah Hopkins.

“After I get my bachelor’s from OSU, I plan to get my master’s in reproductive physiology, then attend the veterinary school at OSU,” Turner Longacre said. “When I get out of school, I want to be a reproductive specialist for cattle.”

Turner said he is excited to start at OSU in the fall. His parents could not be more excited about his decision, Jami Longacre said.

“I’m over the moon and cannot wait,” she said. “It was the best time of our lives, and the fact that he’s going to get to experience all the same things like we did — and experience all of the newness and innovations from the new building — just thrills us.”

The Longacres also have a long family tradition of graduates from OSU and the Ferguson College of Agriculture, Jami Longacre said.

“We all share the same orange tradition,” she said. “It’s a family thing for us to give to Oklahoma State, and it’s

more of a family thing for us to give to the Ferguson College of Agriculture.”

The Longacres hope to start another living family tradition for their son and many generations to come, Jami Longacre said.

“You need to invest in things that mean the most to you, have helped you the most in life, and you feel the most passionate about,” Jami Longacre added. “For our family, the passion has been Oklahoma State and the Ferguson College of Agriculture.”


The New Frontiers Agricultural Hall is set to be finished and ready for students in Fall 2024.

As of October 2022, construction workers poured the remainder of the concrete foundation for the entire first floor of the new building. They continue to work on building the three floors in sections.

The new building is designed to occupy 1,960 people in its three above-ground floors and includes a Dairy Bar, a dining option for students and a nod to the original Dairy Bar, which closed in 2006.


• three 32-seat classrooms

• three 48-seat classrooms

• one 72-seat classroom

• one 175-seat tiered lecture hall


• three curriculum-specific and shared teaching and computer labs

• four growth rooms

• seven growth chambers

• numerous shared freezers

• dedicated sample preparation and grinding spaces

• 25,855 sq. ft. of new research lab space


• 10 club and study rooms

• 11 conference rooms

• 19 huddle rooms


• 119 faculty offices

• five double postdoc offices

• 237 graduate student spaces


The CDC estimates the total economic burden of opioid misuse at $78.5 billion a year.

Photo by Julie Cullum.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., and nearly half of those overdoses involve prescription opioids, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In fact, overdose deaths in 2021 reached the highest on record, reaching nearly 108,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Individuals use opioids to manage pain from an injury, surgical or dental procedure, or joint damage, according to HHS.

Degenerative disease, autoimmune disease, cancer and infectious diseases also can trigger chronic pain requiring long-term pain management.

The most common types of opioids are oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, morphine and methadone, according to the CDC.

To reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental health illness on American communities, HHS created the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration in 1992.

Since September 2019, Oklahoma State University Extension has received $1 million in Rural Opioid Technical Assistance grants dispersed by SAMHSA.

“Southeastern Oklahoma, like so many rural communities, has a strong

ABOVE the Influence


belief their faith can overcome anything,” said Paul Thomas, project manager for ROTA in Oklahoma, “but when your body becomes addicted to something, a struggle between the medical side and the philosophical side are at war with one another.”

OSU Extension and the OSU Center for Health Sciences’ Center for Wellness and Recovery partnered with the Choctaw Nation to educate six counties about the dangers of opioids.

Haskell, Latimer, Pushmataha, Choctaw, McClain and LeFlore counties were within the top 15 in the state with the most pressing opioid problems, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed OSU Extension from hiring ROTA educators and staff positions until the summer of 2020. The staff included four ROTA educators who were each responsible for different counties.

The grant resources made it possible to open the selection process outside of OSU Extension to allow the best candidate to be selected from each respective county, Thomas said.

“We partnered with the Tri-County Opioid Response Project through the LIFT Community Action Agency,” said Kris Bailey, Choctaw County ROTA educator. “We shared facts about opioid overdose deaths in our counties with the first responders.

“The Tri-County Opioid Response Project staff taught these first responders the signs of an overdose and how to use NARCAN,” Bailey added.

Naloxone, also known as NARCAN, is an opioid reversal agent. Once used, naloxone sends signals to intercept the brain receptors, so people do not feel cravings for their substance of choice. Naloxone can be applied through a canister into the nose or an injection into the arm.

“Time is crucial for an overdose,” said Jessica Ferguson, McCurtain County ROTA educator.

The main objectives of the ROTA program in Oklahoma are to provide support, education and resources to three audiences: (1) providers, physicians, and pharmacists; (2) families; and (3) the community. The educators shared resources with the community


via Zoom conferences, seminars and informational booths.

They worked with first responders, students of all ages and other community members wanting to help positively impact the mental health stigma and opioid crisis, Thomas said.

“There is a stigma about mental health, especially in southeast Oklahoma,” Bailey said. “People aren’t seeking the help they need to deal with their mental health, so they self-medicate through substances like opioids.”

Many people are not aware of how easy one can become addicted to opioids, Bailey said.

Lifestyle changes and techniques within their control can help manage pain with fewer addictive substances or none at all, Bailey added.

“At some point, you will be presented with the opportunity to take opioids home,” said Hannah Rea, a ROTA educator in Latimer and Pushmataha counties. “Making the public more aware of safely handling opioids and looking for the signs of addiction is important.”

The SAMHSA grant was used for educational programs and resources, such as OK to HOPE, United We Can and Power to Decide. The classes

spread awareness about the opioid crisis, Ferguson said.

“United We Can is a four-week program designed to encourage positive thinking and healthy habits for families who have loved ones struggling with addiction,” Ferguson said.

With the help of SAMHSA and ROTA, people in the southeast area of Oklahoma have received the education and help they needed, Thomas said. Lots of work still needs to be done to help stop the opioid crisis, he said, but he hopes for the patience of people in the community and the health of those affected by substance abuse.

“This problem cannot be dealt with using guilt or shame,” he said. “People will come to understand substance abuse needs to be approached with compassion and accountability.”


• 12 Oklahomans die every week from an unintentional drug overdose.

• 40% of those individuals did not have a history of previous substance misuses.

• 100 Oklahomans are hospitalized each week for a drug overdose.

• Of every 100 hospitalizations each week, 25% involve opioids.

• Adults aged 45-64 have the highest rate of hospitalization.

• Methamphetamine is the most common substance involved in drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma.

Source: ROTA
Naloxone is an opioid reversal agent injected into an upper thigh or arm if signs of an overdose are evident. Photo by Julie Cullum. JULIE CULLUM
Pete’s Pet Posse dogs, like Minnie, serve Oklahoma State University students, faculty and staff. Photo by Drew Vogt.


From exams to extracurriculars, college is filled with feelings of stress and anxiety. Oklahoma State University faculty and staff members have taken the initiative to invest in their students’ mental health through the Pete’s Pet Posse program.

Ann Hargis, former OSU First Cowgirl, helped the Pete’s Pet Posse program come to life.

“A friend of mine in Oklahoma City had a standard poodle therapy dog named Rossie,” Hargis said. “I invited Rossie to campus, planned three different visits for her, and found Rossie could not get from visit to visit because of all the people squealing to see a dog on campus.”

Hargis said she watched the reactions of faculty, staff and students who saw the dog and noticed how their hearts melted.

“We thought, ‘We should have Rossie here two or three times a year because this is so special,’” Hargis said. “Then we thought, ‘Why don’t we create a program ourselves?’”

Pete’s Pet Posse started in 2013 with eight dogs and has now trained more than 120 owner-handler/dog teams.

Schooled by a specialized trainer, each dog has passed the Canine Good Citizens test of the American Kennel Club as well as received certification as an Alliance of Therapy Dog by the American Therapy Dog Association. This year, 44 teams serve OSU.

“We thought we would just have dogs on campus and everybody would squeal, which of course happens,” Hargis said. “But, what we have found is there are many more serious reasons to have the dogs on campus.”

Every single day, somebody somewhere on campus — a student, staff or faculty member — is under stress, Hargis said.

“Other schools have therapy dogs during finals week because they think the time is stressful,” Hargis said. “We need dogs every day on this campus.”

Courtney Bir, an agricultural economics assistant professor, joined Pete’s Pet Posse with her dog, Minnie, with hopes to support mental health awareness on campus, she said.

“Mental health is really important to me,” Bir said. “I know graduate school and undergraduate programs are really taxing, so I wanted to support the effort of mental health awareness and the overall wellness we value here at Oklahoma State.”

Minnie and other dogs in the program participate in a variety of events throughout the year within



the Ferguson College of Agriculture. Kicking off the semester, Pete’s Pet Posse hosted “Muffins with Minnie” on National Dog Day to help Ferguson College of Agriculture students destress, Bir said.

Pete’s Pet Posse owner-handlers provide students, faculty and staff with resources available on campus, Hargis said.

“Our owner-handlers and office staff know how to look for signs of students who are struggling and know what resources we can provide those students,” said Lucy Hodges, an agricultural education master’s student and graduate assistant for Pete’s Pet Posse. “The program makes you feel like you are seen as a whole person, not just a student.”

Bir said she has seen the impact dogs have on students by watching Minnie because she can tell who needs her dog the most.

“If five students come up to Minnie,” Bir said, “she will say hi to each student. Then, she will take a step back and pick one student and go to him or her.”

Nine times out of 10, the student Minnie chooses will express having had a tough week and needing this moment, Bir said.

“Somehow, the dogs know who needs help,” Bir said. “I deal with data and hard science every day, but when you see this happen time and time again, there is something about the human-dog relationship this program really highlights.”

The impact therapy dogs have on students has been much higher than projected, Hodges said. YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE SEEN AS A WHOLE PERSON, NOT JUST A STUDENT. LUCY HODGES

“I knew those impacts existed, but I never realized it until I worked here and saw the number of visits we do,” Hodges said. “The number of people who come to our visits and by the center just to check if we have a dog shows the campus needs a program like this.”

Imunique Gilliam, an animal science sophomore, serves as a Ruff Rider for Pete’s Pet Posse. In this role, she engages with students and ensures they are aware they can approach the dogs, Gilliam said.

“For Mental Health Awareness Month, we were seated outside of the Student Union,” Gilliam said. “I enjoyed seeing how people’s faces lit up after they petted the dogs. It’s interesting to see how many people like dogs and how an animal can help a human relieve stress.”

Zoe Campbell, an animal science and agricultural education freshman, also serves as a Ruff Rider.

“You can see the relief on people’s faces when they are interacting with dogs and how excited they are,” Campbell said. “To be part of a program like this is really special.”

Pete’s Pet Posse has a trading card collection program with a rewards

system to increase student involvement and interaction with the dogs, Campbell said.

Pete’s Pet Posse has outgrown its current office in the span of less than a year, Hargis said.

“My dream is to expand our horizons into other therapy animals,” Hargis said. “This is why the program is called Pete’s Pet Posse.

“The other thing that’s interesting to me is how this program is good for the dogs, good for the owner-handlers, and good for the people we visit,” Hargis added. “Everybody wins.”

You can find more information about Pete’s Pet Posse by visiting hr.okstate.edu/pet-therapy.

“We are here to support everyone at OSU,” Bir said. “We are here for you. Come say, ‘Hi!’”


Pete’s Pet Posse is a self-funded program available to students, faculty and staff across campus and relies on donations to operate. Donations to the program help offset a variety of costs, including custom dog vests, custom collars, custom leashes and the unique trading cards people have come to love. A variety of sponsorship opportunities are available to assist with program expenses.

For information about how to donate, visit osugiving.com/ your-passion/pet-therapy or contact Courtney MacNelly, an associate director of development for the OSU Foundation, at cmacnelly@osugiving.com or call at 405-332-1469.

Minnie, an English setter known for her tricks, has her American Kennel Club novice trick dog title. Photo by Jordan Benson. DREW VOGT KINGSBURG, CALIFORNIA
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Lieu Smith (right) and Eddie Ursey celebrate his selection as a BAE Distinguished Alumnus during a student meet-and-greet held on campus. Photo by Tyler Tassi.

Lieus Legacy

Alot can happen in 91 years. Just ask Lieu Smith.

Born on Aug. 9, 1931, in Michigan City, Indiana, Smith moved to a wheat farm just 10 miles from Okeene, Oklahoma, and started school in a one-room country schoolhouse.

“It was the depths of the Great Depression, so life was tough,” said Smith, a 1954 and 1957 graduate of Oklahoma A&M College. “I was on the farm in the Dust Bowl days.”

When the area schools consolidated, Smith began attending a new school in Okeene.

“It was still a small school, but at least we had a different teacher for each class,” Smith said. “There were not any specialized classes like chemistry or advanced mathematics back then like students get to take today.”

Smith obtained his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering in 1954. He spent his junior and senior years in the college’s ROTC.

Upon graduation, he spent two years commissioned in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

After his commission ended, Smith returned to OAMC to earn a master’s degree in structural engineering, graduating in 1957.

“Going to Oklahoma State, which was then Oklahoma A&M, was a big challenge,” Smith said, “so, it took me a while to get adjusted.”

After graduation, Smith went to work for an engineering company in upstate New York. The firm began

work on the U.S. interstate highway system, he said.

“Construction was just getting started, and they were looking for structural engineers,” Smith said. “So, I went to work designing grade crossings and highway bridges. The job got me started, but after a few years, I got tired of designing the same thing over and over again.”

In 1961, Smith was called back to active duty during the Berlin Crisis.

“I was stationed in Granite City, Illinois, at the engineering depot there,” Smith said.

In 1962, Smith interviewed for Sverdrup Corp. in St. Louis, Missouri.

“Sverdrup Corp. had just gotten a contract to do the preliminary work for what is now the Stennis Space Center,” he said.

Sverdrup Corp. won the contract to do the final design of all the big rocket engine test stands. Extensive structural engineering was involved, Smith said, and the work later got him deeply involved in the NASA Space Program.

“I became familiar with rockets,” Smith said. “I was selected as a project manager for the same test stands in the space shuttle program.”

As a project manager, Smith learned he was talented at project organization, he said. Getting a team together, solving problems throughout a project, executing and completing the projects on schedule and on budget are all critical for a project manager, he added.

“I was finally selected to be the program manager for the space shuttle complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California,” Smith said. “This was probably the most complex job that I had ever been assigned to.”

For the Vandenberg project, Smith directed 162 engineers and technicians, he said. TIME Magazine even featured the project, labeling it as “the most sophisticated military complex ever built,” Smith added.

“We submitted that project for an award and won first place in 1985,” Smith said. “It was the Grand Conceptor Award for Excellence


in Engineering from the American Consulting Engineers Council.”

Smith said because of the prestige surrounding this prize he won several awards for himself and his company.

In 1993, Smith retired from Sverdrup Corp. where he was serving as the vice president of advanced technology projects.

Looking back, Smith remembers those who helped him along the way, one of those people having been a school teacher in Okeene, he said.

His freshman English teacher, Kathryn Lorene Whiteturkey, was a Cherokee Nation citizen.

“She was very kind to me,” Smith said. “She encouraged me to continue my education.”

This teacher inspired Smith to make a $1.1 million gift decades later in the form of a scholarship to the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine–Cherokee Nation, he said.

As Smith studied Oklahoma history growing up, he learned of various things the Native American people

experienced such as the Trail of Tears, he added.

“When I read about the program OSU has to teach people to become doctors of osteopathic medicine, I decided this was a way I could help pay back the Native Americans,” he said.

The scholarship is meant to support two Native American female students who attend the OSUCOM–CN, he said. The scholarship bears Whiteturkey’s name first to honor his former teacher, followed by his own.

Smith’s philanthropic efforts go beyond scholarships. Every Wednesday, Smith spends his time at the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank of the Ozarks in Berryville, Arkansas, he said.

“I go down and volunteer,” Smith said. “Every Wednesday we get a shipment of government commodities or food that we purchase. I’ll be there to help receive that shipment, put them on the floor, and get them ready to hand out.”

Smith helped design the food bank and fund the project, he said. Today, the food bank feeds about 600 to 700

families a month in Carroll County, Arkansas, he added.

“Smith wasn’t a founder of the food bank, but he was one that really took it to another level,” said Jason Tennant, a member of the board of directors for the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank. “He’s a tireless worker for the food bank and has done a tremendous job.”

Smith always looks for ways to continue to improve on the food bank, Tennant said. He never slows down and is very passionate about the food bank, Tennant added.

“Although the food bank would be there without him, it is so much more with him,” Tennant said. “In the 20 years or so that I’ve known him, I don’t know anyone in the area who doesn’t think the world of him.”

Others also attest to the character and drive Smith has as well as the positive impressions he leaves on them.

“He is a strong individual, very intelligent and extremely thoughtful,” said Mari Chinn, department head of the OSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. “He has a charismatic demeanor about him and even with all of his significant accomplishments is quite humble.”

Smith was selected to be a 2022 Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Distinguished Alumnus for his professional contributions. He also was inducted into the OSU College of Engineering and Architectural Technology Hall of Fame as well as received the Lohmann Medal, one of CEAT’s highest technical honors.

“My investment is all just part of my giving back to society for all of the blessings and benefits I’ve had from a lot of good people who have helped me,” Smith said.

Lieu Smith chats with BAE students at a meet-and-greet. Photo by Tyler Tassi. MICHELLE NOGGLE CASEY, ILLINOIS

Classroom to

From Meat Case


It’s Orange Friday on the Oklahoma State University campus.

As you walk down Farm Road between Agricultural Hall and the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center, the wind blows the smell of savory smoked sausage through the air.

The tasty aroma comes from the cooking samples of a new sausage at Cowboy Meats, OSU’s reopened meat retail store.

“We used to have a Cowboy Meats retail store,” said Chuck Willoughby, FAPC business and marketing relations manager. “The idea behind it was to help recover some of the costs of teaching and research programs.”

The original Cowboy Meats retail store opened in the old meat lab building in 1967, decades before FAPC existed, Willoughby said.

The building was demolished to build FAPC, he added.

FAPC initially reopened Cowboy Meats in 1998 and closed it in 2003. Willoughby said the second store closed because of the lack of public parking to access the store and an inability to operate in the black.

The cost and availability of employees needed to run Cowboy Meats efficiently also led to its closure,

said Joel Jackson, FAPC Meat Pilot Plant manager.

Marketing and advertising without the benefits of social media was another challenge faced by the first retail store in FAPC, Jackson added.

“Many university meat labs have retail counters across the country,” Jackson said. “There was definitely a need for the store.

“By bringing the store back, not only will we be able to sell products, but also people can support the university, various programs in animal and food sciences, livestock judging and meat judging,” he added. “It’s a full circle.”

Cowboy Meats sells the products used in animal science classes like livestock judging, meat judging and carcass evaluation, Jackson said.

The retail store is a fantastic way to keep freezer space available and give products a purpose beyond education, he added.

The proceeds from sales at Cowboy Meats go back to the department’s educational programs. By selling the products, the retail store can help pay for some of the cost incurred from running a processing facility on campus, Jackson said.

A big part of reopening Cowboy Meats was using digital platforms to

Tate Johnson (left) and Caleb Edens cut the carcasses in ANSI 3333 Meat Science. Photo by Rachel Bucher.

share information and promote the new store, Jackson said.

Willoughby’s marketing team — Andrea Graves, Erin Johnson and Kirsten Hollansworth — all contributed to the promotion of the reopened retail store.

The first thing the team did was promote Cowboy Meats at OSU Staff Celebration Day in May 2022 to let the community know about the reopening, Willoughby said.

“One of the things we did early to help with branding is acquiring the phone number 405-744-MEAT,” Willoughby said. “We discovered a professor in another department had the number. We asked him if he would be willing to trade, and he was fine with that.”

Beyond marketing, Cowboy Meats is operated by students throughout the entire process, he added.

Students participate in the harvest, fabrication and processing of various meats, Jackson said.

“It’s all about the students,” Jackson said. “That’s the major component in the program.”

When the student workers graduate, they have one to four years of experience going into the industry.

“Students don’t just get experience on the processing side or the packaging side,” Jackson said. “They are introduced in every aspect from start to finish.

“Whenever they jump into the job market, they know what to expect, and





they’re several steps ahead of a lot of entry-level applicants,” he added.

The program helps students gain real-world experience, said Cole McKinney, a Cowboy Meats student worker and graduate student.

Students learn about sanitation and risk prevention programs, such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, McKinney said.

“Students get to slowly learn these processes instead of just being thrown into the industry,” McKinney said.

“It allows them to better understand the reason behind these processes, so when they are in the industry they have a foundation of knowledge.”

Learning the retail side of the meat industry has been eye-opening and educational, McKinney said.

“A lot of people in the Stillwater community like to support the university and students,” Willoughby said. “When they know Cowboy Meats

is here, they like the idea of buying their meat here.”

While Cowboy Meats focuses on selling ready-to-go inventory, Willoughby said they offer custom slaughter and processing for customers as well as sides and quarters of beef, pork and lamb.

Customers can choose from steaks, ground beef, bacon, sausage, boudin and more. The store also offers meats such as beef heart and tongue for the culinary explorers, Jackson said.

Cowboy Meats is open Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in FAPC’s Dock 4. Customers can walk into the retail store to see the new inventory and purchase local meat from the freezer, Jackson said.

Retail store staff see a lot of the local community coming to purchase meat because of the good press and social media coverage, he said.

Willoughby said the store could be open more, but the future of Cowboy Meats relies on data from the current operation with the hope to expand the store and its offerings.

RACHEL BUCHER FORT WORTH, TEXAS Animal and food science students cut, process, and package the meats sold at the retail store. Photo by Rachel Bucher.
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Picture yourself in the middle of a Panamanian jungle so dark you cannot see your hands in front of your face.

Your tour guide asks your group to be quiet to enjoy the sounds of nature surrounding you in the darkness. For those few minutes, all you can hear are the hums of bugs and echoes of howler monkeys in the near distance.

For 12 Oklahoma State University students and three Ferguson College of Agriculture faculty, this memory is one they will never forget from their studyabroad trip to Panama.

In May 2022, these OSU students received an opportunity to study abroad in Panama, home to the only facility in the world with equipment to control a deadly, invasive pest known as the screwworm. Justin Talley, head of the OSU Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, and Karen Hickman, director of environmental science programs, led the trip.

“We planned this trip to introduce students to advanced biotechniques as a way to control an invasive pest,” Talley said. “Panama was also an ideal destination for a collaborative trip because of the diverse experiences available in the country.”

The 12 students who attended the trip represented various OSU Ferguson College of Agriculture disciplines, including animal and food sciences, entomology, environmental science, plant and soil sciences as well as integrative biology, Hickman said.

Screwworms, which are actually fly larvae, infect warm-blooded animals and feed on living flesh, Talley said. The parasite devastated the North American cattle industry in the 1950s until the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared them fully eradicated from U.S. borders in the late 1960s, Talley said.

In 1994, the USDA and the Ministry of Agricultural Development in

Panama collaborated to eradicate the screwworm there. This collaboration led to the creation of the Commission for the Eradication and Prevention of Screwworms, referred to as COPEG.

This study-abroad trip was designed to be a collaborative experience among departments of the Ferguson College of Agriculture, much like the collaboration between the USDA and the Panamanian government, Talley said.

The COPEG lab, located in central Panama, uses radiation to sterilize the male flies because screwworms can mass produce by the millions, Talley said. By releasing sterile males, reproduction is not an option, therefore controlling the screwworm population, he added.

“Each experience in Panama provided something for each student, no matter their field of study,” Talley said. “Entomology students saw how sterilization is performed, while environmental science students witnessed

Study-abroad participants visit the COPEG lab: Rockny Pèrez Maisonave, assistant technical director of COPEG (back left); Pamela Phillips, technical director of COPEG-APHIS; Josè Uscanga, Justin Talley, William Lewis, Everett Daughtery, Lexi Cunningham, Desiree McGriff, Karen Hickman; Enrique Samudio, director-general of Panama; Robin Cooper (front left), Kaytie Cash, Delaney Jones, Melissa Reed, Abby Livingston and Gideon Morris. Photo courtesy of José Uscanga. Study-abroad students follow biosecurity protocols on their tour of the COPEG breeding and quality-controlled lab to see screwworm sterilization and distribution. Photo courtesy of José Uscanga. Study-abroad students explore the Butterfly Haven sanctuary to examine blue morpho caterpillars. Photo courtesy of José Uscanga.

the economic, environmental and cultural impacts the screwworm leaves in Panama.”

After sterilization, the flies are distributed across Panama and Colombia by plane to control populations and prevent outbreaks, Talley said. Screwworms were eradicated to the Panama-Colombia border because the limited land mass serves as a natural barrier, he said.

“The planes dispersing the flies are marked with the Panama emblem,” Talley said. “Because they are flying so close to Colombia, it is important for them to know it is not an enemy.

“Students got to hear little details like that, which make a huge difference and are so important,” Talley added.

Talley said students visited Panamanian cattle ranches and interacted with farmers who implement sustainable ranching methods such as rotational grazing. Additionally, students visited the Smithsonian Tropical Research station on Barro Colorado Island for more of a biodiversity experience, he said.

“It was really cool to see each student take something different away,” Talley said, “especially because we were all seeing the same things. But, because of their diverse interests and backgrounds, they all got something different out of each experience.”

The group traveled by van, departing at 4 a.m. most days as the majority of locations were hours away from their hotel, Hickman said.

“This trip was physically demanding,” Hickman said. “We hiked a lot of forests and visited so many places, but I never heard any complaining.”

Panama is home to the City of Knowledge, a business and technology park located across from the Panama Canal, Hickman said.

Many worldwide non-profit organizations are found in the City of Knowledge, she said.

“I was impressed by the number of agencies and organizations in Panama doing good things,” Hickman said. “We were even able to see conservational practices put into place by volunteers.”

The Panama study-abroad group hiked up to Metropolitan Park to celebrate attendee Kaytie Cash’s 19th birthday and to see this view of the Panama City Skyline. Photo courtesy of José Uscanga. The Emberá indigenous group sells their crafts at a community educational day where OSU students visited. Photo courtesy of José Uscanga. Students spend the day at the beach on the Pacific Ocean side of Panama. Photo courtesy of José Uscanga.


The OSU study-abroad group planted Pink Poui trees with the U.S. Embassy on roadsides that were once a forest, Hickman said. Endangered species conservation focused on species such as jaguars and frogs is also a priority in Panama, she said.

“Water conservation efforts are also incorporated to reduce the amount of pollution in resources used for sustainable agriculture and habitat preservation,” Hickman said.

Kaytie Cash, an animal science sophomore, said her favorite part of the trip was visiting the island of Barro Colorado and the Smithsonian. The trip made her want to add a minor in natural resource ecology and management to her degree, she added.

“We were able to stay the night in the research dorms on Barro Colorado,” Cash said. “It’s incredibly humid there, so our rooms consisted of a mattress, a dehumidifier, a single pillow and a single sheet.

“It was the best night of sleep I’ve had in my life,” she added. “Think of the relaxing nature sounds you can download to fall asleep — that’s what it sounded like outside of my window.”

Cash said she chose this study abroad because it was the first time the course was offered in Panama. The culture of Panama also stood out because it is a “melting pot” of people, she said.

“We ate at an authentic Italian restaurant one night,” she said, “but we had to order in Spanish.

“There was a lot of gesturing involved, but it was a really cool experience I don’t think could’ve happened anywhere else,” she added.

The vast amount of diversity in culture, nature and students is what stood out the most to Cash, she said, and she learned just as much from her peers as she did from the group leaders and tour guides.

“I would see a plant and ask a plant and soil sciences student what kind of plant it was,” Cash said, “or if we saw a monkey, I’d grab the biology guy.

“We all knew different aspects pertaining to the trip because we’re all from different majors,” she added.

Everett Daugherty, a plant and soil sciences sophomore, said he enjoyed the relaxed lifestyle and culture in Panama. The humid, rainy weather was something students were not used to either, he said.

“We’re used to rushing around and being on time,” Daugherty said, “but the culture there was really laid back and took time to soak in the moments.”

During the trip, students made connections with not only each other but also learned about government agencies, cultural elements and agricultural practices. Planning of the trip began as a collaborative effort between departments, and the theme carried throughout the experience.

“From a faculty standpoint, I enjoyed seeing everyone build connections,” Talley said. “Some students grew up on a ranch and others had never seen a calf before, but they each gained something from this trip.”


People like Josè Uscanga, the multicultural programs coordinator for the OSU Ferguson College of Agriculture, make study-abroad trips possible.

“I always ask students what is holding them back from studying abroad,” Uscanga said. “It’s no surprise the main answer is money.”

Uscanga said scholarships are available for study-abroad trips to help reduce the costs of flights, hotels and meals.

Studying abroad is more than a trip, Uscanga said. They are meant for students to learn while experiencing another country’s culture.

Study-abroad trips can be taken during winter, spring or summer break as well as a whole semester.

For more information about OSU Ferguson College of Agriculture study-abroad trips, visit global.okstate.edu.

After landing on a student during the group’s night hike through Barro Colorado, students learned this tarantula hawk wasp could fly. Photo courtesy of José Uscanga. MACY SHOULDERS SPERRY, OKLAHOMA
Clayton Howze serves 1890 Original at Iron Monk. He started at the brewery as a cellar man and worked his way to production assistant. Photo by Natalie Battaglia.

AND brew

It’s game day in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys are winning 9-0 at the half and the smell of fresh stadium food is in the air. The Cowboy Marching Band is playing, and a sea of orange fills Boone Pickens Stadium. The only thing missing is a beer in your hand. You make your way to the concession stand and notice the distinct orange and white can with Pistol Pete on it on display in the refrigerator. “Ah, 1890 Original,” you


think to yourself the missing link to the perfect Oklahoma State University game day experience.

Iron Monk founders Dave Monks and Jared Millirons and Trenton Inselman, a 2016 agricultural economics alumnus, said they had Cowboy fans in mind when they created 1890 Original, the new official craft beer of OSU.

“We wanted everything to be intentional,” said Inselman, head brewer at Iron Monk, “in everything from the


name on the can, the colors, the way we showcase Pistol Pete and the way we use OSU logos.”

1890 Original was named for the year Oklahoma A&M College was established. The alcohol by volume level, or ABV, which is based on the amount of grain used, has a special meaning behind the number, Inselman said.

The beer has an ABV of 5.2%, which is an acknowledgment to the 52 NCAA titles OSU has won, he said.

The Iron Monk team even went as far as to match the number of IBUs, international bitterness units, to the 11 national championships the OSU Golf Team has won, said Clayton Howze, an agricultural leadership senior and production assistant at Iron Monk.

After Iron Monk was asked to be the official craft beer of OSU, Inselman

and Howze created two blonde ales at the same time, Inselman said.

“Iron Monk has a small batch or a pilot system here, and we can try and make different beers,” Inselman said.

“I’d always wanted to make a blonde ale, and I knew Iron Monk could make a great one,” he added.

The main difference was in the brews’ grain bills, Inselman said.

“I had a little more of two base malts,” Inselman said. “Howze had a little bit more variety of grains that were malted different.”

In his version of the 1890 Original, Inselman “dry hopped” his ale. In this technique, the brewer adds the hops after the beer is finished fermenting to help enhance the aroma, he said.

Howze and Inselman tried their 1890 Original versions side by side,

took what they liked from each brew and combined them using the traits they liked from each, Howze said.

The brewers knew they were close, he said, and with minor tweaks from Monks and Millirons, the beer was ready to scale up. Thus, the 1890 Original was born.

“You won’t find two better guys or two better workers,” Millirons said. “Their work ethic is amazing and completely unmatched.”

Inselman has brewed every batch of 1890 Original to date, Millirons said. Inselman took the reins, but they still collaborate on projects, he continued.

Millirons said he and Monks give advice when needed but Inselman deserves the credit.

Since the release of the 1890 Original on Aug. 20, 2022, Inselman

Trenton Inselman (left) and Clayton Howze celebrate their combined success with Iron Monk and Oklahoma State University. Photo by Natalie Battaglia.

Each can is made specifically for different areas of sale. The black can (left) is sold in stores in a 6-pack, 12 oz. format only. The white can (center) is made and sold in 16 oz. cans and for events only, such as OSU athletics events. The largest can — a crowler — is a 32 oz. reusable can. Photo by Natalie Battaglia.

has brewed more than 1,000 barrels of the new brew.

“Stilly Wheat was No. 1 in beer sales and was responsible for more than half of our production,” Inselman said. “The 1890 Original has surpassed Stilly Wheat in barrels produced.”

Inselman wants an 1890 Original available wherever large quantities of OSU Cowboys gather, he said.

“We can go a lot of places with just this beer,” Inselman said.

The future is bright for Iron Monk, Inselman said.

“We didn’t think anybody would ever be able to fill our previous head brewer’s shoes, but Inselman has filled his shoes and then some,” Millirons said. “I don’t know if we would have had the 1890 Original or the rights to even do that if it wasn’t for Inselman. He played a role in getting the partnership in place with OSU.”

Unknown to most OSU fans, Iron Monk, along with six to eight other breweries, had the opportunity to become the official craft beer of OSU.

Iron Monk owners pitched themselves as a brewery and focused on how their team was comprised of alumni or current OSU students. They spoke to who they were and let the beer speak for itself, Inselman said.

Being chosen as the official craft beer of OSU gave Iron Monk a greater sense of pride because they were, according to OSU, the best brewery for the job, he added.

“It’s quite crazy to think one beer changed the trajectory of this whole brewery,” Inselman said, “but it did, and it’s the 1890 Original.”


Alcohol By Volume or ABV: A measurement of the alcohol content of a solution in terms of the percentage volume of alcohol per volume of beer.

Aroma: Smells present at levels greater than twice their threshold level. These include fruit, floral, sulfur-based compounds, volatile hop aromatics and fusel alcohols.

Blonde Ale: Usually has honey, spices and fruit added and may be fermented with lager or ale yeast. It has no particularly dominating malt or hop characteristics.

Cellar Man: Responsible for cleaning and sanitizing fermentation and conditioning tanks as well as transferring beer from tank to tank, ensuring the beer is transferred slowly and in an aseptic manner.

Dry Hopping: The addition of hops late in the brewing process to increase the hop aroma of a finished beer without significantly affecting its bitterness.

Fermenting: The chemical conversion of fermentable sugars into approximately equal parts of ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide gas through the action of yeast.

Grain Bill: A list of all the grain malts and adjuncts used in a specific beer recipe.

International Bitterness Units or IBU: The measure of the bittering substances in beer. Analytically assessed as milligrams of isomerized alpha acid per liter of beer in ppm.

Malt: Grain specially prepared for brewing beer.

Source: craftbeer.com


Thank you to everyone who is making their mark on the New Frontiers Agricultural Hall, the new home for OSU Agriculture. While we’ve reached our $50 million goal in record time, we are continuing to raise funds for the facility that will take our research, teaching and Extension to new heights.

Together, we are embarking on New Frontiers!

When you give to the New Frontiers campaign, you are investing in OSU Agriculture and the e cacy of its research, the quality of education, the power of Extension and OSU’s important role in feeding the world.

To learn more about the campaign and to view construction progress, visit OSUgiving.com/New-Frontiers




Pistol Pete (Cooper Price) oversees the festivities of Hester Street Painting during America’s Greatest Homecoming. Photo by Savannah Hopkins.


In October 2022, Ferguson College of Agriculture students help celebrate America’s Greatest Homecoming by participating in all activities. The college earned the Most Spirited College Award for student involvement.


Left: Hoyt Nebgen (left) and Trinity Tisdale at Hester Street Painting.

Second from left: Cade Jenlink, Ferguson College of Agriculture Student Council president, in the Sea of Orange Parade. Right: Kaytie Cash (left), Reese Gonsalves, Hailey Dinterman and Julia Sanderson during Window Painting.


Left: Alpha Gamma Rho member Gage Milner (left) and FarmHouse member Jack Smithton in the Basketball Bonanza tournament.

Second from Left: Maci Carter (top) and Sarah Mullens during Window Painting. Center: Sydney Van Pelt (left), Amanda Hurst, Bree Kisling and Harrison Wicker at the Harvest Carnival. Second from Right: Homecoming King candidate Traber Smithson, who also is a Pistol Pete, during the Hester Street Painting.

Right: Rob Bomhoff, Spirit Rider, during the Sea of Orange Parade.


Left: Caleb Snodgrass (left) and Caden Schaufele preparing a house dec. Second from Left: Caleb Horne at the Sign Competition.

Right: Cooper Price (left), Garrett Bacchetti, Billy Marchy, Traber Smithson, Rob Bomhoff, Bullet, Brayden Smith, Kaylee Holt, Aubrey Buckmaster and Katie Whitfield at the Harvest Carnival.

by Cowboy Journal staff.


signed the BEAM!

More than 300 Oklahoma State University Ferguson College of Agriculture faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and New Frontiers donors helped celebrate a milestone in the construction of the new home for OSU Agriculture.

“The Tailgate & Beam Signing brought the OSU Agriculture family together,” said Thomas G. Coon, vice president and dean for OSU Agriculture. “Last year’s tailgate helped raise awareness and created excitement for the campaign, and this year’s event highlighted the meaningful milestone of the beam signing.

“We appreciate our alumni, donors, students, friends and family for spending their afternoon with us, celebrating the success of the New Frontiers campaign, seeing the tremendous progress on the construction site, and participating in the beam signing,” he said.

Photos by Cowboy Journal staff.


Ferguson College of Agriculture Alumni Society Board of Directors

Rick Reimer President

Claremore, Oklahoma Northeast District

Travis Jones Secretary/Treasurer

Roff, Oklahoma At-large Member

Justin Anderson Stillwater, Oklahoma At-large Member

Phillip Cowley Morrison, Oklahoma At-large Member

Matt Gard Fairview, Oklahoma Northwest District

Mechelle Hampton

Tulsa, Oklahoma Northeast District

Jon Marc Holt Sharon, Oklahoma Northwest District

Charles Rohla

Roff, Oklahoma Southeast District

Meg Stangl Okarche, Oklahoma

At-large Member

Becky Walker Chandler Stratford, Oklahoma Southeast District

Marcus Washington Oklahoma City Southwest District


Marcus Washington is a 2020 bachelor’s and 2022 master’s graduate in food science from the Ferguson College of Agriculture.

Washington recently started in his professional career as a business development manager for the SGS North America Oklahoma City lab. He is also a co-founder and CEO of Rhodes Farms, which was created to provide low-cost produce to Oklahoma’s underserved communities.

As a member of the alumni board, Washington said he hopes to increase alumni involvement within the college, help build scholarship programs, and provide support for the college. Washington said he enjoys spending time with family and attending sporting events with his wife, Briana.


Herb Lengel joined the Ferguson College of Agriculture in September 2022 as its first employer and alumni relations coordinator.

Prior to coming to OSU, Lengel was an internship and career development coordinator at Washington State University for seven years.

At OSU, he collaborates with employers and industry leaders to bring more internship and career opportunities to students and alumni.

He also works with the Ferguson College of Agriculture Alumni Society to support programs and develop more college connection opportunities for the college’s alumni.



The OSU Ferguson College of Agriculture prepares its graduates to succeed at the highest levels of their chosen career paths.

In recognition of this success, each year the Ferguson College of Agriculture Alumni Society selects alumni as recipients of the college’s Early Career Achievement Award.

The board seeks nominations for alumni who have attained prominence through their efforts in agriculture, natural resources, life sciences or related areas of science, business, education, or government and public service early in their careers.

To be eligible for this award, a nominee must possess either an undergraduate or graduate degree from the Ferguson College of Agriculture and have earned a bachelor’s degree within the past 15 years.

Early Career Achievement Award recipients will be recognized during the Ferguson College of Agriculture Awards Banquet in the spring.

Nominations are due Feb. 1, 2023. For information about the award or to nominate an individual, visit agriculture.okstate.edu/alumni-friends.


Each year, the Ferguson College of Agriculture hosts Homecoming festivities at the Charles and Linda Cline Equine Teaching Center. Top Left: Cynda Clary, associate dean. Top Right: Alumni awards. Second from Top Right: Matt Gard (left), Lisa Hand and Raylon Earls. Above: Tom G. Coon (left), vice president and dean; Lori Templin; Cody Hixon; Jake Chilcoat; Cynda Clary, associate dean; and Rick Reimer. Right: Mary (left) and Joe French. Photos by Hunter Gibson.


Congrats from the Ferguson Family!

OSU Top 20 FreshmenOSU Seniors of Significance

Gunnar Aune — La Crosse, Washington*

Liberty Carson — Yukon, Oklahoma*

Shawn Hilliary — Elgin, Oklahoma*

Jeronimo Lara — Shattuck, Oklahoma*

James Lee — Oklahoma City

Blake Robbins — Pauls Valley, Oklahoma

Mason Smith — Elk City, Oklahoma*

Justin Stark — Kiefer, Oklahoma*

*denotes Top 10 Freshmen honoree

Rio Bonham — Madill, Oklahoma

Jerret Carpenter — Poteau, Oklahoma

Kallie Clifton — Soper, Oklahoma

Emily Garrett — Kingfisher, Oklahoma

Madelyn Gerken — Kingfisher, Oklahoma

Eva Hinrichsen — Westmoreland, Kansas

Cade Jenlink — Jet, Oklahoma

Bree Kisling — Enid, Oklahoma

Edward Myers — Culpeper, Virginia

Macy Rosselle — Adams, Oregon

Traber Smithson — Enid, Oklahoma

Kaitlin Taylor — Milton, Tennessee

Tanner Taylor — Adair, Oklahoma

Whitney Walker — Prairie Grove, Arkansas


Standing together for family agriculture

Family farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists form the foundation of Oklahoma Farm Bureau. Our grassroots members advocate for agriculture in their local communities, at the state Capitol and even nationally, giving a voice to the industry that feeds, clothes and fuels our world. Oklahoma Farm Bureau is proud to represent the hardworking Oklahomans who stand strong as they work to create a brighter future for all Oklahomans.

We are rural Oklahoma.®

Featured: The McMillan family, Johnston County Farm Bureau members


Oklahoma State University

Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership 448 Agricultural Hall Stillwater, OK 74078-6031

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