College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University
Volume 15 Number 1 â€˘ Winter/Spring 2013
A Closer Look at OSU Dairy Science
Passport to Service
CASNR Students Assist in Africa
Living the Dream
Alumni Return to Family Farms
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Protecting Oklahoma since 1905
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150 years building toward the future, celebrating our land-grant mission! The Morrill Act 1862 - 2012 Division of
Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
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Hard Red Winter Wheat is Oklahoma’s largest cash crop. Photo by Charlcey Vinyard.
What defines the Oklahoma State University experience is ever-evolving. Old traditions remain, while new ones begin. For the students, faculty and staff of OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, traditions include serving and learning internationally and within our country, community and college. We strive to honor the accomplishments of our alumni, work to preserve and protect our natural resources, and continue the research our industry so deeply depends upon. These traditions, old and new, are reflected in this issue of Cowboy Journal. We thank the Cowboy Journal staff members for not only their dedication to this issue but also their dedication to each other and the passion with which they pursued these stories.
We are proud to have worked alongside all of you and are excited to showcase your talents in this magazine. Thank you to everyone who assisted in editing and proofing, including our assistant managing editors. A special thank you to photographers Todd Johnson and Mitch Alcala. Without all of you, this magazine would not be what it is — one of the best student publications in the nation. To our managing editor, professor and leader, Shelly Sitton: Your devotion to us and the agricultural communications program is the driving force of Cowboy Journal. We appreciate every effort more than we could possibly express. Wherever we go from here, we have you to thank.
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New Steak on the Block
Bison on the Grasslands
It’s Been a Ride
Circle of Life
Standing Outside the Fire
Partners of the Prairie
Returning to the Farm
A Voice for Millions
Making Muscadines Matter
Old World. New Perspective.
Near or Far: Forever Loyal and True
Shelly Peper Sitton, Ph.D.
Assistant Managing Editors
Always Waving: Keeping Wheat Well in Oklahoma
CASNR’s Service Abroad
Take Me to Your Cedar
Cheyenne Allen, Kali Begalka, Tara Burchfield, Tasha Dove, Kelsey Evans, Jenna Grace, Lani Griffin, Kela Kelln, Clinton Laflin, Riley Pagett, Mallory Ross, Charlcey Vinyard and Amy Yell
A New Addition to the CASNR Family
Butterflies in Oklahoma
A Desire to Continue
On the Cover
Rising High: Alumna Designs Her Way Up
The Everlasting Gift
‘Ruhl’ing Out Cancer
A Quest for Knowledge
Distinguished & Determined
CASNR Alumni News
Kylie Fanning Sara McCracken Jessica Willingham
Graphic Coordinators Emily Brinkman Brentney Maroney
Photo Coordinators Jessica Greene Casey Reinhart
Sponsorship Coordinators Bonnie Murphy Kaitlyn Nelson
Circulation Coordinator Rachael Doner
Dwayne Cartmell, Ph.D. Traci Naile, Ph.D. Angel Riggs, Ph.D.
A milk can from the early 1930s and other equipment remain at the Oklahoma State University Dairy Barn. Photo by Bonnie Murphy. Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability or status as a veteran in any of its politics, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid and educational services. This publication is printed by QuadGraphics-Midland and issued two times a year by agricultural communications seniors in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. It has been prepared and distributed at no cost to the taxpayers of Oklahoma.
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One can order the Vegas Strip steak at David Burke’s Primehouse at the James Hotel in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center. ©Leigh Loftus, ThinkLeigh Photography 2012.
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Famous for its casinos and high-roller clubs, Las Vegas provided the inspiration for the newest and possibly last cut from the beef carcass: the Vegas Strip steak. “People like steak,” said Jake Nelson, a meat-processing specialist at Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center. “So anytime you can find a new steak or a different steak that brings value, then it is going to succeed.” Working on various projects together since they met about 13 years ago, Nelson and Tony Mata, a meat specialist and consultant, discovered the muscle now known as the Vegas Strip steak and have worked together to promote and increase awareness of its value to the beef industry. For years, the two would approach each other and ask, “What do you think of this?” or “What if we tried this?” back and forth, trying new things. “Until one day Mata came in and asked, ‘How about this!’ and it was this muscle from the carcass that had always just been ignored,” Nelson said. This new discovery is a cut of beef traditionally used to create ground beef or roasts. “The muscle is nestled down in an area that has never been explored,” Nelson said. “It takes a certain set of procedures to extract the muscle and prepare it as a steak.” At this point in the development process, the team cannot disclose the exact location of where the muscle comes from, but they both passionately express how important this new discovery is to the beef industry. “Whenever you discover and create a procedure that is unique and has never before been identified, then that falls into the category of discovery, intellectual property,” Nelson said. Both researchers are enthusiastic about what they do and the discovery they have made.
“Whenever we can take a muscle and turn it into a steak, rather than grinding it or selling it as a roast, we are adding a greater value to the beef carcass,” Mata said. The muscle, when extracted, weighs approximately 9 to 14 ounces, which can then be divided into reasonable, restaurant-sized portions. After the discovery of the new steak, the pair sought If you are going Rick Gresh, an to eat a steak, the executive chef in Vegas is as good Chicago, to help with preparation or better than any recommendations other steak out for the new cut. there. Gresh has helped — Jake Nelson answer various Meat Processing Specialist questions regarding whether this steak will work in the foodservice sector. The steak can now be found in two restaurants, David Burke’s Primehouse at the James Hotel in Chicago, where Gresh works, and the Double R Ranch in Boise, Idaho. “When you have the finished product and you cook it and then put it on a plate, it resembles in appearance the New York Strip,” Nelson said. The overall eating experience is different as the flavor is what sets the two steaks apart, Mata said. “When you eat it, the tenderness is comparable to the New York Strip,” Nelson said. “Well, that is popular middle-priced meat. So if you can identify a new value cut that is similar in its attributes to the middle meat, man, that’s worth something.” With no better way to describe it, the taste and tenderness can both be closely compared to the New York Strip. “If you are going to eat a steak, the
Vegas is as good or better than any other steak out there,” Nelson said. The steak is simple because it does not require a lot of preparation. “It doesn’t require aging or marinating to achieve tenderness, and the steak’s visual appeal enhances the steak eater’s overall enjoyment,” Mata said. “This muscle produces a steak that is on par with or better than today’s most popular steaks.” Developing a name is one of the hardest processes to go through when developing a new product. “The name is what identifies it,” Nelson said. “The name needs to be unique. People need to be able to relate to it, and it needs to be memorable.” Using all of those requirements, they said the name they chose met every criterion to the greatest degree. “I am convinced that this is a fantastic name, as it gives the steak personality,” Mata said. For steaks, it’s all in the name. To help people identify and remember it, the pair chose to name the new steak with city-style. “There’s this whole westward expansion concept,” Nelson said. ‘‘The New York Strip, the Kansas City Strip and now the Vegas Strip.” Though for now the Vegas Strip can be found only in select restaurants, Nelson and Mata are working to create more awareness of the steak and are moving through the patent process. As exciting and grand as the lights of Vegas, the Vegas Strip steak may be on its way to culinary fame. CJ
Fairview, Okla. Broadcast & Marketing
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Bison that once roamed the Great Plains and much of North America were critical to Plains Indian societies. Photo by Amy Yell.
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Since 1999, Sam Fuhlendorf, along with a group of researchers, has studied the grazing patterns of American bison. By means of prescribed burns, Fuhlendorf and his research team have discovered a trend in the American bison’s grazing habits, comparing these qualities to cattle production situations. “[Through this research] we have not only discovered a grazing trend in bison, but also we’ve been able to come up with a way to manage livestock, so that you can have biodiversity and conservation qualities while also having high productivity,” said Fuhlendorf, Oklahoma State University professor of landscape and fire ecology. Fuhlendorf said fire drives bison to different locations because of the rich vegetation available after a fire. “Forage quality is [approximately] three times higher on a burned area than it is on an unburned area,” Fuhlendorf said. “This attracts large grazing animals to these areas.” Together, OSU and the Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve partner to recreate the historical burns that once ravaged the Great Plains. Bob Hamilton, director of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, said historical fires are what shaped the Great Plains to what they are today. “It’s easy to see in historic times where and when there was fire, there was bison,” Hamilton said. “Fires on the plains were caused by anything from the Native Americans to lightning strikes. “Grazing animals were drawn to the lush regrowth that appears after a fire,”
he continued. “This is what moved the bison around the plains.” The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve provides a home to 2,600 bison that have free access to 24,000 acres. The preserve also uses [Patch burn 11,000 acres for grazing] could cattle to study their be beneficial to a movements based cattle producer. on fire. Hamilton — Sam Fuhlendorf said these acreages NREM Professor are unrestricted by interior fences and barriers to allow for a better re-creation of where the bison and cattle once roamed freely. “Cattle and bison have so many similarities,” Fuhlendorf said. “For example, fire is the primary [mechanism] that moves their grazing distribution.” Hamilton said OSU researchers, along with the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, organize prescribed burns during all seasons of the year, allowing researchers to study bison and cattle movement as well as forage quality after fires. Fuhlendorf said through comparing bison research to cattle production, many beneficial trends have developed. “We have found not only are you able to move cattle with fire, but also these fires decrease the population of ticks and horn flies in the burned areas,” Fuhlendorf said. “[Patch burn grazing] could be beneficial to a cattle producer.” Fuhlendorf said prescribed burns also help improve rangeland management methods by removing
unwanted vegetation and replacing it with renewed regrowth.
Technology in research
To study the patterns of movement of bison and cattle on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, researchers have implemented the use of GPS collars. Brady Allred, OSU senior research specialist, said these collars have allowed researchers to track the bison’s and the cattle’s responses to fire. “Every 12 minutes, the collars record the location of the animals,” Allred said. “This allows us to draw information about the landscape and environment that bison and cattle are attracted to.” During the past four years, seven bison and seven cattle have worn GPS collars. Each year, the collars were transferred to a different animal in the herd to allow the data to be diverse. GPS collars help researchers know the animal’s proximity to different things on the landscape, including fire, water and tree cover. The collars also are able to record readings such as the temperature in the animal’s location, Allred said. “The bison and cattle at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve are managed in the same way,” Allred said. “This allows us to be able to compare bison and cattle more accurately.” While bison and cattle have similar grazing methods, researchers also have found differences, Allred said. When compared to bison, cattle tend to be
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drawn to more wooded areas where shade can be found, he said. “From a producer standpoint, if you have an area that is more heavily grazed than others, this is where [prescribed] fires could be important,” Allred said. “Prescribed burns could draw cattle away from the overgrazed area, allowing opportunity for regrowth.”
Bison exercise their strength on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Photo by Sam Fuhlendorf.
Bison in British Columbia
The effects of this research span much farther than just the Great Plains. Sonja Leverkus, a doctoral candidate from OSU, conducts similar research in British Columbia on the endangered wood bison. Like American bison, wood bison are drawn to regrowth, but because of the terrain in British Columbia, this causes a dangerous habitat for the 300 wood bison living there. The areas in British Columbia where the small population of wood bison live are heavily wooded. These wooded areas make it more difficult for bison to travel and graze, Leverkus said. “Because bison favor more open areas and fresh regrowth, the rightsof-way of the highway are where the bison are drawn,” Leverkus said. “This is where we are using fire to draw the bison away from the road, creating a more safe environment for the bison to live.” Leverkus studies a group of 120 bison reintroduced to the area in 1995 as a group of 49 bison. While the population of the herd has more than doubled, Leverkus said the herd should be much larger. “The high number of unnatural deaths are caused from the bison’s location along the Alaska Highway,” Leverkus said. “Our hope is through the use of prescribed fire and carefully routed wildfire, the wood bison will spend less time on the Alaska Highway and more time in ecologically appropriate areas with significant decreases in mortality due to vehicular collisions.”
Looking toward the future
From the cattle producers’ standpoint, multiple production benefits could
be gained from implementing patch burning, Fuhlendorf said. “When cattle graze on recently burned areas, they have higher forage quality and considerably [fewer] pests,” Fuhlendorf said. Fuhlendorf said as they advance in their research, they aim to find data to show specifically how this could economically benefit cattle production. Hamilton, along with others at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, often aid ranchers whose lands border the preserve to conduct prescribed burns. Hamilton said more cattle producers are implementing prescribed burning into their rangeland management programs. Hamilton said he hopes research conducted with OSU at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve will innovate conservation for other grasslands and rangelands and help create alternative ways to manage domestic herds. “If you burn it, they will come,” Hamilton said. “Forage quality and grazers like bison and cattle thrive in areas after fire,” he continued. “You see benefits in production as well as increased biodiversity of the environment.” CJ
Stilwell, Okla. Marketing & Public Relations
Often confused with “buffalo,” the American bison is a North American species that once roamed the Great Plains in massive herds. Introduction of domestic cattle diseases in the 19th century, along with intensive hunting from settlers and Native Americans, nearly drove the species to extinction. The American bison population has recovered largely because of protection of reserves and national parks. The American bison can be identified by its thick brown fur, large hump and short, sharp horns. The American bison also can be recognized by the large “beard” that surrounds its head. Buffalo, in comparison, are animals with light fur; long, curved horns; and lack a hump or beard. Buffalo are typically found in Asia (water buffalo) and in Africa (Cape buffalo). Water buffalo are often domesticated and used as livestock. Information courtesy of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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Circles. It takes three. When you put on an FFA jacket, you become part of a total agricultural education program that will connect you with exciting careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. FFA is one of three essential components of this system, all of which work together to provide the personal, academic and career experiences essential for success. We refer to this combination as the “Three Circle Model” of agricultural education.
FFA. Come grow with us. Oklahoma FFA Association • www.okffa.org
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Bob Kropp, pictured with his wife, Susan, will retire this summer from teaching at Oklahoma State University. Photo by Angela Roadman.
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40 years. 1,500 advisees. 10,000 students. One exciting ride. Bob Kropp, Oklahoma State University animal science professor, will teach his last semester in the spring of 2013 and retire after a long and decorated tenure. Kropp was born in the small town of Lockney, Texas. “We had a large, family farm of 8,000 acres of irrigated land — mainly cotton, milo and a little corn,” Kropp said. “We also had a 3,500-acre commercial cattle ranch and a large, purebred sheep operation.” Kropp said his family’s sheep operation, Green Acres Stock Farm, was one of the largest in the nation at the time. From 1960 to 1968, the Kropps’ operation included 1,500 registered Southdowns and Hampshires, and they showed extensively around Texas and across the United States. Upon graduating from high school, Kropp made his way to OSU and said he had all intentions of earning a bachelor’s degree and returning to the farm. “I chose to go to OSU primarily because it was 200 miles closer to home than Texas A&M,” Kropp said. “Also, OSU’s livestock production systems were more closely aligned with our home operation than the Brahman-influence and finewool sheep focus at A&M.” During his undergraduate studies, Kropp was involved in Block and Bridle and Alpha Zeta, serving as president of both organizations. He was also a
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member of the 1968 livestock judging team. Kropp was recognized with the Merit Trophy, which is equivalent to today’s Outstanding Senior Award. During his sophomore year, he met his wife, Susan, and they were married in 1968. Last I’ve seen summer, they youngsters celebrated 44 years of marriage. graduate who are Kropp sons and daughters graduated in 1970 of former students. with a bachelor’s I’ve seen a lot of degree in animal things happen — husbandry. The it’s been a ride. Kropps had their only child, — Bob Kropp Animal Science Professor Paul, prior to graduation. After graduation, Kropp returned to the farm and found his life had changed with his father’s death. “I had an opportunity to return to OSU and get my master’s,” Kropp said. “Originally, I had no intentions of becoming a professor.” Kropp received his Master of Science degree in animal nutrition and had plans of going to the University of Nebraska to get his doctorate. “I was going to study ruminant nutrition under Walt Woods at Nebraska,” Kropp said. “But in the summer of 1971, he told me he was going to Purdue to be the department head of animal science. He offered me an assistantship at Purdue, but he could not serve as my major professor. I told him I would have to think about it.” Kropp ultimately stayed at OSU to complete his doctorate because of unexpected events in his personal life. His father-in-law was killed in a car
accident, and his mother-in-law, who was severely injured in the accident, was hospitalized for several months. The Kropps took in Susan’s younger brothers. He said he was afraid he would have to discontinue his graduate studies as a result of these added responsibilities. However, the OSU animal husbandry faculty allowed Kropp to continue with his doctoral studies. Soon after, he was asked by the department chairman, Jim Hillier, if he could coach the livestock judging team for one semester while they searched for a new head coach for the team. “I said it would make my major professor mad, and Hillier said, ‘Well, I’m his boss, too, and I need you to coach and teach,’” Kropp said. “I agreed to coach for one semester, and they didn’t hire anyone that fall, so I coached again.” At 25, Kropp received an offer to be the livestock judging team coach. “That was my New York Yankees job,” Kropp said. “I had a chance to be on the faculty at the same place where I had come to school.” Kim Brock judged for Kropp at OSU in 1978 and said he has considered Kropp a friend and colleague ever since. “Dr. Kropp was the first person I contacted when I was interested in coming to OSU,” said Brock, OSU animal science farm coordinator. Brock describes Kropp as a highly respected judging team coach at OSU who was especially knowledgeable in the areas of cattle and sheep. “Livestock judging is a big deal at OSU, and tradition is important,” Brock said. “Bob did a great job in that very important role.”
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Herschel Brewster was a member of Kropp’s judging team in 1973. “Bob Kropp was our judging team coach but became much more than just a coach,” said Brewster, president and CEO of First National Bank and Trust Co. of Weatherford, Okla. Brewster said he considers Kropp a mentor, a leader and a dear friend. “Even though Bob was only a few years older than most of us on the team, he profoundly impacted all of our lives with honesty, integrity, leadership and loyalty,” Brewster said. “I truly feel Bob Kropp has been one of the most influential people in my life.” In 1981, Kropp’s role changed from teaching livestock evaluation and coaching the judging team to a teaching and research position in beef cattle management. During the next 30 years, he taught applied animal nutrition, cowcalf and purebred cattle management, and livestock sales management. Kropp’s current responsibilities are 85 percent teaching and 15 percent extension. He serves as the executive secretary of Oklahoma BEEF Inc., a member-owned central bull testing facility west of Stillwater, Okla. “If someone would have told me I would teach for 40 years, I would have said they were nuts,” Kropp said.
Kropp said his goals while teaching have been to provide the information to the students the best he can and help the students be successful. He said he wants to be a motivator and a role model for the students. Prospective students often ask for Kropp to be their adviser, even if they choose a major outside of animal science, said Don Wagner, former animal science department head. “A lot of people look at advisees as burdens,” Kropp said. “I see them as a God-send. If I am able to help students be successful, then that’s the best thing I can do.” Kropp said he advises his students how he would want someone to advise his own son. “Kind-hearted, friendly and generous, Kropp is the kind of person who is especially friendly to his students and advisees,” Wagner said. “He has a heart of gold and is the type of guy who not only is friendly in class but also will follow up with his students after graduation. He has maintained rapport with a lot of them.” Wagner, who Kropp credits as a mentor, said Kropp knows everybody and everybody knows Kropp. “Bob will be remembered not only as a coach at OSU, but more importantly, as
a friend and mentor to students receiving animal science degrees,” Brock said. “He is one of the very best teachers in the history of animal science, and he has a genuine concern about the well-being and the futures of his students.” Brock said unlike many professors, Kropp is easy to get to know and makes students feel comfortable immediately because he is personable and shows them true compassion. Wagner said Kropp is knowledgeable and cares about his fellow faculty and students, making it uplifting to work with him. “I will forever remember his generosity and his friendliness,” Wagner said. “A person can always have an honest conversation with Dr. Kropp. He is always genuine because he speaks from his heart.” No matter what the situation, Wagner said, you can have productive brainstorming with Kropp. “You could say, ‘Well, Bob, how do you see this?’” Wagner said. Wagner said Kropp will help you analyze a situation — you can share anything with him and it will never come back to haunt you. “I’ve seen youngsters graduate who are the sons and daughters of former students,” Kropp said. “It’s pretty
Bob Kropp has taught more than 10,000 students at OSU. Photo by Kali Begalka. Left: Kropp was no stranger to the nation’s winners’ circle as a youth. Photo courtesy of Bob Kropp.
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amazing when you think about it. I’ve seen a lot of things happen — it’s been a ride.” When asked about his pride for the OSU animal science department, Kropp said he appreciates the tradition and the fact the department has had a long heritage of livestock-oriented people. “I appreciate how we have never lost the sight of animal agriculture,” Kropp said. “There has always been livestock on campus. OSU has always had people teaching livestock production courses who have been considered experts in their fields and outstanding judges and evaluators who judge major stock shows around the country.” After retiring, Kropp said his plans are to remain in the area at his home south of Perry, Okla. Kropp said he looks forward to spending time with his two grandkids, Carson, age 13, and Kennedy, age 8, and traveling with Susan. “I plan to remain active with the department and especially the Animal Science Alumni Association as well as
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the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Alumni Association,” Kropp said. Kropp said as life members of the OSU Alumni Association, he and his wife will continue to be involved with the university. He said he looks forward to becoming more active in the alumni association as an alumnus, rather than as a faculty member. “Our grandchildren both plan to attend OSU, so we will certainly enjoy seeing them grow and prosper as OSU Cowboys and Cowgirls,” said Kropp, who is a season ticket holder for both football and basketball. “It will be really fun to see our grandchildren experience this great university, as we had the opportunity with our son and daughterin-law. We all bleed orange!” CJ
Estelline, S.D. Layout & Graphic Design
:: Judged on the 1964 Texas State Champion 4-H Livestock Judging Team. :: Considered playing professional golf while in high school. :: Played a role in changing cattle industry trends at the 1982 National Steer Symposium and the 1988 National Purebred Conference. :: Judged more than 700 national and international livestock shows. :: Toured on the National Bowling Tourney circuit for 17 consecutive years, winning the Coors Open in 1984. :: Served as a consultant for cattle producers developing breeding programs. :: Traveled around the U.S. playing competitive softball, as many as 130 games in a summer. :: Served as National Board Chairman of the Longhorn Breed Association. :: Caught a blue marlin on his first deep-sea fishing trip. :: Received the 2012 University Service Award.
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The Circle of
As you sit by a river watching the African sunset, a full-grown hippopotamus suddenly emerges from the water fewer than 10 feet in front of you. Your guide cocks his gun, prepared to shoot to avoid a charge as your group slowly moves away, not knowing how this wild animal might react. Though this does not sound like a typical learning experience, it happened to three Oklahoma State University students in summer 2012. Natural resource ecology and management sophomore Gabrielle Flud, NREM senior Josh Jones and animal science junior Samantha Jones participated in the EcoLife Expedition program in June 2012. Their program’s primary focus was wildlife conservation and management and was based at the University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa. “It was truly an incredible experience,” Josh Jones said. Ed Miller, the director of international programs in the Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, worked to help find this program for these College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources students. “Gabrielle came to me looking for a study-abroad opportunity that involved big game,” Miller said. “I helped provide some guidance, but she found this particular program on her own. I encouraged her to do some research to make sure it was a credible program.” This research included contacting students from across the United States who had participated in the program, Miller said. Flud talked to those students about their experiences and heard only positive things about the program. The expedition lasted 22 days and started with the students flying into
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Johannesburg, South Africa. The first day included an orientation and time at a lion park. Flud said this was one of her favorite experiences and recalls how she was so impressed by the lion cubs. “We went in an area with juvenile It has been said lion cubs, and they were already so that you leave strong,” Flud said. your heart in “They could already Africa. I have take me down.” found that to be Josh Jones very true. expressed how — Josh Jones surprised he was NREM Senior a lion cub at six months was about the size of a fullgrown German Shepherd. The students spent some time at a reptile center and listened to stories from a guide who had spent three days in an enclosure with venomous snakes as a part of research to prove that they were not aggressive unless they were provoked. From working with venomous reptiles to lion cubs, the students had an interactive experience overall. “When they say ‘hands-on,’ they mean it,” Flud said. “We were out running with the vet as he was tranquilizing nyala, which is a large form of antelope. Our task was to go and pull out the darts and then load the animals to be transferred to a game reserve.” The students also spent some time at an elephant reserve. They discussed the care of the animals and did several activities that displayed the intelligence level of the elephants. Flud recalled one activity where three students walked around leaving their scent on different objects and walked several hundred
yards away. The elephants were able to track them. The most impressive act performed by the elephants was when the students took off their shoes and mixed them up. The elephant then returned the correct shoes to the rightful owner, Flud said. The portion that really grabbed Samantha Jones’ attention was the discussion of elephant overpopulation, she said. Many issues exist within elephant management, and because of regulations by the Convention on International Trade of Wild and Endangered Species, an organization that was formed to preserve animals threatened with extinction, managing population properly is difficult, Samantha Jones said. One issue caused by elephant overpopulation is their tendency to trample over things, frequently on the forage needed for lower populations to survive, Samantha Jones said. “Our guide told us that if we had a way to get the elephant home, he would let us take it for free, since overpopulation is such a problem,” Samantha Jones said. The students camped the majority of the trip and found themselves completely immersed in wild Africa. The students said they tent camped most of the trip but some places had camping facilities. “At one point, a large herd of Cape buffalo walked right through our campsite,” Josh Jones said. “We had to be cautious to prevent a stampede.” Flud discussed the immense knowledge she gained on the trip and how that affected her. “I learned how to better deal with people with different personalities than me,” Flud said. “One of my favorite
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Top Left: An alpha lion rests under a tree. Top Center: An African Darter Bird perches above the water. Top Right: Josh and Samantha Jones play with two 6-month-old lion cubs. Bottom: A herd of elephants drink from an African watering hole. Photo in upper right corner courtesy of Samantha Jones. Other photos by Gabrielle Flud.
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things was sitting around the campfire hearing stories from the tour guides and other students.” Flud said she was impressed by the accomplishments of the other students on the trip. She said it was inspiring to see people her age who had already accomplished so much. Josh Jones brought back a few of the sustainability techniques and wildlife management tactics and applied them at the ranch he owns and operates, Hickory Ridge Ranch in Lamar, Okla. “They showed us the proper
use of fire as a much more effective management tool,” Josh Jones said. “A proper fire regiment will produce better forage and more natural environments. I just implemented it, but theoretically, it should create a better environment for more biodiversity.” All of the students said they left this experience feeling fulfilled. Miller said providing resources to the students is one of his goals. “Helping students accomplish their dreams is a really great thing to be a part of,” Miller said. “Besides the techniques
and technical skills the students learned, they agreed they learned a lot about life.” Josh Jones said he now notices more of what is around him. “I have a much broader view of culture and society and how we impact our environment,” Josh Jones said. The students agreed they would recommend the experience to others. “I would strongly encourage students to study abroad,” Samantha Jones said. “You get to see a new culture, different wildlife and different people while you are in college. There are plenty of people who are willing to help you accomplish your goals.” The students said they fell in love with the culture, people and wildlife. “It has been said that you leave your heart in Africa,” Josh Jones said. “I have found that to be very true.” CJ
The group waits outside of the Center for Wildlife Management at the University of Pretoria: Josh Jones (left), Samantha Jones (second from left) and Gabrielle Flud (second from right). Photo Courtesy of Samantha Jones.
Woodward, Okla. Writing & Marketing
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12/7/12 2:06 PM
As the fire took control of the trees and pastures around their homes, the only thing left for some Oklahoma families to do was leave, abandoning their past, memories and possessions to the mercy of the flames. Deborah VanOverbeke, an Oklahoma State University associate professor of animal science, along with her husband, Kirk, their 4-year-old daughter, Ester, and 18-month-old son, Joshua, were one of the many families who lost their home due to wildfires in August 2012. VanOverbeke grew up in eastern Nebraska on a family cattle feeding and farming operation and always has been involved in agriculture. “With my three older brothers — the oldest being eight years older than me — I have been in and around 4-H since I was born,” VanOverbeke said. She attended the University of Nebraska where she earned her Bachelor of Science in animal science in 1996. She also earned minors in agricultural leadership and in agricultural communications. She then graduated from Colorado State University with her master’s and doctoral degrees in animal science with a meat science specialization in 2000 and 2002, respectively. Upon graduation, she taught three years at the University of Minnesota before moving to Stillwater, Okla., in 2005 to teach at OSU. VanOverbeke’s position at OSU consists of 70 percent teaching and 30 percent research within the animal science department. “I might be busy among the four classes I teach and advising Block & Bridle, but I love teaching,” she said.
The VanOverbekes will never forget Aug. 4, 2012. “It was supposed to be like 114 degrees outside that day, so too hot for the kids to play outside in the afternoon,” she said. Being prepared for another hot day, VanOverbeke had a kiddie pool set up on the deck for her kids to play in that morning, she said. A little before 11 a.m., she noticed smoke from the start of a fire. “My husband was outside doing some stuff, and he When the came in and said smoke erupted ‘There’s a fire. I’m in the sky, we going to see where it knew it was is. Have your phone time to leave. so I can call you and — Deborah you can call it in [to VanOverbeke the fire station],’” OSU Associate Professor VanOverbeke said. Some friends from their church lived close by and had a fire stop just short of their home July 30, and the new fire could have sparked from that fire, she said. At 11:14 a.m., VanOverbeke reported the fire. “They already had units on the way,” she said. “But by the time they got there, the fire was already in the tree tops.” The smoke from the fire that morning was visible from town. Coworkers from campus and friends from church called VanOverbeke to check on the situation.
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The VanOverbekesâ€™ house smolders the day after the fire. Charred debris sit in the basement. Photo by Deb VanOverbeke.
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The fire had started two-and-a-half miles west and one mile south of the VanOverbekes’ property, with the wind blowing it straight toward them. “We already had tons of people out there ready to help us,” she said. Their house sat next to a creek on 20 acres, and they kept goats a mile west of their house where they own another 80 acres. Friends filled trash cans and buckets with water, ready to help protect the house from the fire, she said. “All we could do was water stuff,” VanOverbeke said. “We knew once it got in the 80 acres there wasn’t much we could do after that.” The property on the east side of the 80 acres was overgrown with red cedar trees, she said. “When the smoke erupted in the sky, we knew it was time to leave,” VanOverbeke said as she described packing up things for her husband and kids, leaving their house for the last time at 2:30 p.m. Along with the VanOverbekes, other people around the area had animals in pastures. Kirk VanOverbeke joined others who were moving animals for fellow faculty and friends, said Clint Rusk, department head of animal science. “We spent that evening just moving
people’s animals to safety,” Rusk said. “In a way, it started uniting all of us as part of this issue.” Formal evacuations in the area around the VanOverbeke home started at 3:30 p.m., which is when Kirk VanOverbeke was told to leave his home or he would be arrested. “We knew then that we would probably lose our house,” she recalled. “Kirk said he saw a big burst of flames while he was at our friend’s house evacuating them and was pretty sure that was our house.” The wind had switched directions, blowing at 60 to 80 mph that afternoon, which sent the fires straight up the creek. The fire overtook the deck and then the rest of the house, she said. “The wildfire was so hot it had melted some of the fire hoses and the tires off of vehicles, but it didn’t touch our kids’ wooden swing set,” VanOverbeke said. The VanOverbekes went to see what was left of their house the morning of Aug. 5 and found their house destroyed with rubble in the basement. The VanOverbekes stayed with friends from their church Saturday and Sunday nights and then in a hotel Monday and Tuesday nights. Chris Richards, OSU beef
extension specialist and friend to the VanOverbekes, was in contact with the family during the events Aug. 4. “Deb and I had talked on the phone and texted a few times while the fires were near their home,” Richards said. “She then texted to let us know their home had been taken by the fires.” Richards and his wife, Tina, own a rental home in Stillwater, which recently had become empty. “The house had become available the afternoon before the fires and was available if they wanted it,” he said. “Kirk had helped me hang drywall and do some painting, so he was familiar with the house.” Within four days of losing everything, the VanOverbekes had a fully furnished and stocked house because of Richards, disaster relief agencies and many friends. “Furnishing the house was an effort of the animal science department and the VanOverbekes’ church group,” Richards said. “Lynette Rhea and Divya Jaroni from the animal science department coordinated with the VanOverbekes’ church group to put together other basic home supplies and furniture. Lynette also coordinated an animal science effort to stock the house with food and cleaning supplies before they moved in.”
Rubble from the house sits in the basement, the only thing left standing after the fire. In the lower left corner of the photo, flames still burn from the day before. Right: The wooden swingset stands untouched by the blaze. Photos by Deb VanOverbeke.
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Rusk said Gretchen Mafi, assistant professor of meat science, brought the animal science graduate students together and started collecting necessary household things the VanOverbekes would need. “It was a tragedy, but yet it was interesting as the new department head to see this cause our department to grow stronger,” Rusk said. “It brought our department together as a group.” The VanOverbekes moved into their rental home Aug. 8. “We couldn’t have asked for more,” VanOverbeke said. But more help came from students once the fall semester began.
The Block & Bridle club hosted a benefit concert in the Animal Science Arena on Oct. 13. A total of $860 went to the VanOverbeke family. Block & Bridle is a student organization focused on animal agriculture. Members of B&B are involved in the livestock industry, community service and social events. To the VanOverbekes, Aug. 4 will be a day they never forget, not for the loss of their property, but for the help they received from their friends. CJ
Tuttle, Okla. Layout & Graphic Design
With the state in a continued extreme drought during the summer of 2012, Oklahoma experienced a series of wildfires; some were so severe they were classified as firestorms. From July 28 to Aug. 29, Creek, Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties had 678 affected homes, of which 603 were demolished in the blazes, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Above left: Friends and co-workers help clean up the ashes and debris in the basement. Photo by Deb VanOverbeke. Above right: A charred tool chest is all that remains from a garden shed. Photo by Sara McCracken. Right: The VanOverbekes stand in front of a basement wall. Photo by Sara McCracken.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 152,153 acres of Oklahoma land have burned in 1,295 wildfires as of Oct. 4.
What can you do to help protect your home from a wildfire? • Keep your lawn mowed. • Trim trees and have them at least 100 feet away from structures and 30 feet apart. • Keep flammable fuels away from any structure. For more information, visit www.forestry.ok.gov.
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The roads people travel sometimes lead to unexpected places. Just ask Dan Stein. Like the wagon trains of old, Stein’s oxen, Pistol and Pete, and his career have taken Stein to places he never dreamed he would be. Stein graduated from Northwestern Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural ecology in 1978. Upon graduation, Stein partnered with his father, Leroy, his Uncle Don and his brother, Sam, on the family’s registered Angus ranch near Cherokee, Okla. Twenty-five I’ve always had years later, when his a passion for father and his uncle teaching. decided to retire, Stein saw a chance to — Dan Stein OSU Assistant Professor chase a new dream. After the dispersal of the cow herd, Stein and his wife, Jana, moved to Stillwater, Okla., to try something new. Stein, now an assistant professor of animal science, came to Oklahoma State University in 2002 as a graduate student. “I’ve always had a passion for teaching,” Stein said. “I have had a lot of chances to do a lot of things, and I’ve always felt like I was supposed to be in a position like this.” What stopped Stein from secondguessing his decisions were the goals he set for himself. Stein had three goals for himself when he started raising cattle. He wanted to have the top performing bull at a central bull test station, to have a bull leased to sire and to conduct a “blow-out” annual production sale. “At the end of that 25-year span of selling registered seed stock through private treaty sales, everything came together,” Stein said. “I had a bull standing at stud, I blew away the OBI bull test station my first
year, and the production auctions we had were really good,” he said. “I had accomplished my goals, so I have no regrets looking back,” Stein said. Stein said this experience helps him relate well to students who are trying to make their own decisions. “[Stein] is my dad in Stillwater,” said Corbit Bayliff, an animal science junior. “He has a huge heart. This combination of knowledge and willingness to teach makes him a great professor.” Stein encourages his students to accomplish goals, and he often tells them if they set their minds to something, they can do it. “He’s super nice and is willing to help you with anything,” said Melissa Williams, an animal science senior. “He goes far beyond what is required of him to help you succeed.” In addition to being recognized for his award-winning teaching with the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Ambassadors Outstanding Adviser Award, the Alpha Zeta Outstanding Teacher Award and other recent campus-wide awards, Stein is known for his oxen. His current pair is Pistol and Pete, twin Ayrshire steers from Hall’s Dairy in Cushing, Okla. Stein started raising and training oxen more than 20 years ago. “My dad said it would be pretty neat to have a team of oxen in the 1993 Centennial Land Run parade,” he said. “He got the idea after his dad saw three teams of oxen come up from Mexico that never left each other’s sides. I took that as a challenge to try and learn about what it would take to train the oxen.” To learn more about training, Stein worked with Ralph Griffin of Rutland, Vt. Stein’s first team consisted of Les
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Dan Stein works with Pistol and Pete. Photo by Jessica Greene.
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and Bud, a pair of Holstein-Longhorn steers, followed by Mike and Bud, a pair of Longhorn-Milking Shorthorn steers, given to him by Griffin. His next team was Moe and Joe, a set of Brown Swiss twins he owned for nearly five years. Stein usually starts working with a new team when they are only a couple weeks old. However, Stein said Pistol and Pete did not start training until they were 8 months old. When training oxen, Stein starts by teaching them to lead with halters and to obey basic voice commands: “haw,” which means left, and “gee,” which means right. Stein said a major part of the training process is forming a bond with them and earning their trust, similar to the way he interacts with his students. Once he learns the personalities of each steer, Stein decides which steer will be the “lead” and which one will be the “off ” steer. The lead steer listens to the handler more, while the off steer mainly responds to what the lead steer does. Pistol is the lead steer, and Pete is the off steer. “They have to listen to me and work together,” Stein said. The next training step is the yoke. Stein makes most of his own yokes so they fit each pair correctly.
A castrated male bovine of any breed that has been taught to work as a draft animal. Oxen is plural for ox.
At first, the two steers will just be turned out together with the yoke on to learn to work together, Stein said. “Training them takes a tremendous amount of patience,” Jana Stein said. “Pete tends to be the ornery one, and you have to always pay attention to him, or else he’ll make you pay attention.” Stein and his father came up with the name “Partners of the Prairie” from the bond formed between the two oxen and their handler. The oxen rarely leave each other’s side. With the time and effort it takes to train a team, the rewards come tenfold, Stein said. “At times it was a challenge,” Stein said. “They have to trust me, and I have to trust them, but the places they’ve taken me have made it more than worth the challenges.” In the past, Stein and his oxen have been in numerous OSU Homecoming parades; in the State Centennial parades in Guthrie, Okla., and Oklahoma City; and to several museums in Oklahoma and Texas. Pistol and Pete were the only animal project recognized as an official Centennial Project in the State Centennial Land Run Celebration. Last year, Pistol and Pete were the center of attention at OSU Day at the Oklahoma
Youth Expo. They also have attended Septemberfest, an annual family festival celebrating the history and heritage of Oklahoma at the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion in Oklahoma City. “If I can get someone in grade school to appreciate the past, I feel like I accomplished something,” Stein said. “I use the oxen to start a conversation with non-agricultural people, and it helps bridge the gap one person at a time.” Pistol and Pete have been Stein’s team for the past 10 years, and the time for them to retire is near. Even when their traveling days are over, the Partners of the Prairie will not hang up their hats just yet. Stein’s new team, Andy and Opie, are a pair of Holstein steers straight from the OSU dairy. “Andy and Opie are much more laid back than Pistol and Pete,” Jana Stein said. “They are learning things very well.” The bond and patience Stein has built during the years with his oxen has carried into everything he does, and his students reap the benefits. CJ
Castle Rock, Colo. Layout & Graphic Design
Dan Stein prepares for class with teaching assistant Kyle Thompson. Photo by Jessica Greene.
A castrated male of the bovine family.
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Following his graduation from OSU, Tyler Grimes returned to the farm with his dad. Financing land is his biggest challenge. Photo by Kaitlyn Nelson.
12/7/12 12:12 PM
In a generation often criticized for its aversion to hard work, a few young men and women fight the stereotype and return to a lifestyle filled with early mornings, irregular pay periods and dirty fingernails. Meet two Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources alumni who are part of the next generation of American farmers and ranchers.
An Unexpected Takeover
Kent Martin, a 32-year-old farmer and rancher from Carmen, Okla., planned to take over his family’s operation around age 50. However, his plans changed drastically when his father suffered fatal injuries in a tornado in May 2011. “I made the decision to move back to the farm,” said Martin, who completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and his doctoral degree in agronomy from Kansas State University. “On some of our land, I will be the sixth generation to care for it. I felt it was really important to keep that a part of the family, so I came back and took over both my parents’ and grandparents’ farming operations.” The opportunity to combine the family’s operations was the push Martin needed to farm, he said. Prior to his father’s death, the farm was not enough to support his parents and his own family. Before his return to the farm, Martin worked as an assistant professor and agronomist at the Southwest Extension and Research Area, a part of KSU Agricultural Research and Extension Services, in Garden City, Kan. “I had to make sure that if I was going to sacrifice a professor position at a major university that what I was
coming back to was going to be enough to support me and my family for the rest of my life,” Martin said. “I am doing what I will do until I am either physically unable or I die.” Martin grows wheat, rye, canola and grain sorghum while also running a cowcalf operation. “I am doing the true farmer and rancher deal, but I’m really more of an agronomist,” he said. While his real passion lies in agronomy, Martin said he also finds raising cattle rewarding.
Do It For The Profit
Farming and ranching is not an occupation for the faint of heart. Many struggling farmers have used the phrase “I do it for the lifestyle,” but farming for the lifestyle is the wrong method to take, said Eric DeVuyst, a professor in agricultural economics at OSU. “If you are going back to the farm, I hope you go back with the goal of getting very rich, and you work to make that happen,” DeVuyst said. “Do it for If you are going back the profit, and you can have the to the farm, I hope lifestyle and the you go back with the profit. Without goal of getting very the profit, the rich, and you work to lifestyle will make that happen. go away.” Tyler Grimes — Eric DeVuyst OSU Professor in Agricultural appreciated the Economics rural lifestyle he grew up with and dreamed of returning to his family’s wheat, row crop and
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cow-calf operation in Pond Creek, Okla. Upon completing his OSU plant and soil sciences degree in 2011, Grimes made his dream reality and joined his father, Roscoe, on the family farm. “Farming is a passion and something I have always wanted to do,” Grimes said. “I never really wanted to do anything else. I farmed on the weekends and holidays when I was at school. Now, I get to do it every day.” For a farm or ranch to expand from supporting one family to two, DeVuyst said the resource base must grow, which is the most difficult challenge young farmers and ranchers face. “You need to acquire the resources,” DeVuyst said. “That means finding more land, the money to buy more land, rent more land, buy more cows or buy more machinery. Whatever the enterprises are, you need to control more assets to generate more wealth.” Returning to the family operation has not come without challenges for Grimes. Determined to find success on the farm, Grimes bought 160 acres of farm ground soon after his return to the operation. Expanding acres and financing extra acres are the biggest challenges he faces, Grimes said. “I say I bought this quarter [section], but really, I just bought it on paper,” Grimes said. “I haven’t been able to pay for it yet. I’ve been waiting on the Farm Service Agency and the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers loan. The FSA doesn’t have the money to give me yet.” Subsidized loans from the state and federal governments offer options to producers just starting out, but they are not without drawbacks, DeVuyst said. “Your goal should be to get so financially healthy so fast that you get off [subsidized loans] as soon as possible,” DeVuyst said. “Staying on that cheap credit as long as you can means your financial position is miserable. “The government loan programs are designed to be the lender of last resort,” DeVuyst said. While he is taking advantage of governmental subsidized loans now,
Grimes said he sees that reliance weakening as his operation grows. “Once I am more established, I won’t need as much help from the government,” Grimes said. “I will have better credit, which lends to a larger line of private credit.” In 2007, the average farmer was 58 years old, according to the U.S. Department of I farmed on the Agriculture. Many weekends and farmers starting out holidays when find it frustrating I was at school. to compare the Now, I get to do it well-established every day. farmer to the new — Tyler Grimes producer. Land Farmer and Rancher prices are near record highs, and many older producers can afford the higher prices. The key is to develop relationships with landowners instead of trying to compete with established producers, DeVuyst said. “Convince them that you will be a good steward of their land and a good business person,” DeVuyst said. “It may take years before the opportunity is there to lease the land from them, but if you’ve established the relationship, you’ll be in consideration for the lease.” Private treaty sales also can go in favor of young farmers because of the relationship factor, Grimes said, but private sales can have challenges. “I bought my quarter on private treaty,” Grimes said. “The FSA decided that ground would end every year in the negative, so when I went to get a loan, I needed five letters showing the ground was capable of being profitable.” Unlike many beginning farmers, Martin is in a favorable position when it comes to land. “I would generally say having enough land to farm is difficult,” Martin said. “In my situation, I am fortunate that everything I farm, with the exception of two places, is owned by the family. I don’t have that problem.” While avoiding the land challenge, Martin still faces challenges experienced by many young farmers. His biggest is
the large input cost of new equipment, he said. “I have all of my dad’s equipment,” Martin said. “My dad’s equipment was poorly treated, but it was fine for his farming operation. I’m working with equipment that is probably 50 percent or less of what I really need on my operation. “Even though I have been saving money all of my life and have updated some equipment already, it all takes time,” Martin said. Seeing established farmers with newer, more efficient equipment can be frustrating, Martin said. “They can get a lot more done and do it a lot easier,” he said. “I’m just not to that point yet.” In an attempt to reach a financially stable operation, Martin works part time as a crop consultant, generally working for insurance companies to assess damages from injuries. This extra income helps provide cash flow on a more regular basis than his farm, he said. “When I’m farming, I get very few paychecks a year,” Martin said. “Crop consulting helps offset that, and I can do it when I’m not busy on the farm.” Having off-farm income is a common practice during the process of returning to the farm, DeVuyst said. “Most young producers will probably have to have an off-farm part-time or full-time job as they are building equity,” he said. “If they have to work full time, they work as many nights and weekends as they can on the farm.” Weather and the uncertainty of the markets are concerns for most farm operations. In Martin’s unique situation, those factors raise concerns most young producers do not encounter during their first years on the farm. “I must have enough income for my family as well as my mother, my grandmother and my grandfather,” Martin said. “I have to make sure what I do provides enough for these three families. Knowing the uncertainties in the weather and the markets really concerns me.”
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It’s the Life
Despite the economic challenges associated with returning to the farm, many young producers believe the lifestyle benefits outweigh the risks. “Obviously, there are other noneconomic benefits associated with a rural way of life,” DeVuyst said. “I grew up in that and have made sure my daughter is getting to grow up in that kind of environment. “I’m not saying it is any more moral than any other lifestyle,” DeVuyst continued, “but certainly it is a personally and spiritually rewarding lifestyle.” The rural community is the perfect place to raise a family because of the compassionate nature of the people, Martin said. “When my dad was in the hospital, there were a lot of friends, neighbors and area people who came to help us with anything from feeding cows to harvesting our wheat,” Martin said. “Raising my family in this community is very rewarding.” Freedom and relationship to the land are qualities Grimes said he cherishes most about being back on the farm. “You get to be your own boss, but don’t tell my dad I said that,” Grimes said, chuckling. “There’s nothing wrong with being out in the field all day. Plus, I help feed the world.” For Martin, the future of his family’s farm looks bright, but one regret is not farming with his dad, he said. “I would do it again,” Martin said. “In the end, farming is much better than I ever realized.” While others in their generation end their workdays at 5 p.m., Martin and Grimes accept the long hours and late nights of farming and ranching. The dedicated hands of America’s agriculturalists will work for generations to come. CJ
Top: Kent Martin became the sixth generation to farm his family’s land in Carmen, Okla., after his father’s untimely death. Below: Tyler Grimes harrows ground on his family operation. Photos by Kaitlyn Nelson.
Clark, S.D. Sales & Marketing
12/3/12 10:22 AM
Clockwise: Assoumane Maiga addresses a group of Malians. Assoumane Maiga (second from left) and a Cri de Coeur volunteer (right) interview al-Qaida in Mali. Assoumane Maiga (left) organizes a rally. Cri de Coeur members deliver food to Malians in need. Photos courtesy of Assoumane Maiga.
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A Voice for
Millions Leaving his family more than 5,700 miles away in a country occupied by radical Islamic groups, a good samaritan from Timbuktu has found his way to Oklahoma State University in hopes of learning new ways to help his country. Assoumane Maiga, an OSU doctoral student in the Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership, has learned new ways to communicate with the general public and assist farmers in his home country of Mali, Africa. Maiga said he always knew he wanted to continue his education beyond his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Bamako. However, how he arrived in the U.S. and “Cowboy” country was unexpected. “I first came to OSU in 2007 in a program through the Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership,” Maiga said. “The program was funded by the U.S. Department of State and was an exchange program.” The program, Nurturing the Fourth Estate in Mali, allowed Maiga to serve as a guide in Mali to OSU faculty, students and Oklahoma media professionals. In return, Maiga and 14 journalists from both private and public media outlets visited the U.S. for one month to learn about a different culture and its agricultural techniques. “I enjoyed working with the group from Mali,” said Dwayne Cartmell, professor of agricultural communications. “This opportunity was a big step for the participating Malians, especially learning the culture and infrastructure of the U.S.”
This experience led Maiga to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship to attend OSU. He was selected as a scholar and began his master’s degree in 2009, studying agricultural communications. In 2011, at the completion of his master’s degree, Maiga moved back to Bamako, Mali, to his wife, Aminata Dembele, and three children: 14-year-old son, Sidi; 10-year-old, daughter, Oumou; and 6-year-old son, Ila. Maiga said he was determined to make a difference with his newfound knowledge and fresh perspective. He taught a new understanding of agriculture, communications and farming practices to the people of Mali. “Once back in Mali, I was able to train journalists how to write better about agricultural topics,” Maiga said. Sharing his education with journalists allowed new agricultural techniques and global perspectives to be shared with Malian farmers. Nearly 70 percent of Mali relies on agriculture, Maiga explained, making it important to educate Malians with agricultural knowledge. Because of these efforts, Maiga said stronger ties exist between the urban and rural communities. He said in developing countries, farmers often do not have an understanding of what is happening in agriculture on the community, country and international levels.
“Agriculture [in Mali] is based on animal agriculture, such as using bulls and very old tractors,” Maiga explained. “In some cases, we are still using [hand tools such as] hoes and manual human labor. [Mali has] low-scale agriculture.” Mali is nearly 100 years behind, compared to U.S. farming technologies, Maiga said. Four basic levels of farmers live in Mali: farmers who do not have access to land or resources such as fertilizer inputs, [Farmers] seeds or money cannot pay for to hire manual themselves or for labor; farmers who their children’s have land but no resources; farmers education. who have land and — Assoumane Maiga related resources OSU Doctoral Student but no resources to hire manual labor; and farmers who have everything — land, resources and the ability to hire manual labor. Other farming opportunities are available for Malian farmers through the government. The breadbasket of West Africa, Bheki Khumalo, is more than 250 acres of land dedicated to rice production. This area, located in the Niger Delta region, has the largest rice production in West Africa. This high production area is costly to Malian farmers because land rent is high for this government-owned property. High input costs and land rent cause farmers to struggle to make revenues from farming, Maiga said. “[Malian farmers] cannot pay for themselves or for their children’s education, so it’s hard,” Maiga said. “They are the poorest of the poor.”
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To increase commodity prices, Mali has started government programs to develop subsidies and other strategies. One beneficial program is the Millennium Challenge Corp., created by U.S. President George W. Bush. By meeting specific criteria, countries receive crop marketing assistance. However, in March 2012, this program’s funding came to a halt as radical Islamic groups took over twothirds of Mali, ending one of the program requirements — democracy. “The U.S. government and other institutions withdrew from the program because we were no longer meeting the requirements,” Maiga explained. Radical Islamic groups have taken over every large city in the northern two-thirds of Mali, destroying all basic services and businesses, such as hospitals, schools, banks and seed banks. The Sahara Desert in northern Mali is being used by al-Qaida groups to smuggle and traffic drugs. With these challenges, life has become nearly impossible, Maiga said. For programs such as the MCC to be reinstated to assist farmers and the country’s economy, government elections must be held in Mali. When elections will be held is still unknown. With the circumstances, ideas to split the country into two states are surfacing, allowing the southern one-third of Mali to continue under the national government and meet the U.S. government program criteria. With the tragedy, despair and struggles in Mali, Maiga has used his knowledge gained from OSU to assist Malians in need. “Some people, like me, in the capital city decided we could not sit aside and not help our people, so we had to build an organization, a very good local organization,” Maiga said. People came together in Bamako, Mali, to form the nonprofit organization Cri de Coeur, SOS for the North of Mali. An officer team was selected, with Maiga as the communications officer. “I had to think about campaigning because we wanted to raise funds,” Maiga
said. “I was in charge of informing people of what we were doing and organizing campaigns at the national and international levels.” Creating the campaign was risky, and once enough funds were raised, a group of volunteers traveled north to help citizens in need. On April 13, 2012, Cri de Coeur re-opened hospitals and met with Malians Some people, like to determine their me, in the capital needs. More than city decided we 500,000 people could not sit aside were displaced in and not help our Mali or had fled to neighboring people, so we countries. Maiga had to build an said he also organization, a wanted to discover very good local what challenges organization. farmers faced and — Assoumane Maiga determine their OSU Doctoral Student agricultural needs, including seed, fertilizer, spare parts for equipment, fuel and money. Maiga invited a group of farmers to come back to Bamako and share their stories to help raise awareness of their hardships. The group joined the efforts of the Cri de Coeur, specifically the campaign efforts, by sharing their needs with the public. Maiga organized a press conference involving radio, newspaper and television media, where farmers shared their concerns for the upcoming agricultural year. Within two months, Cri de Couer started to see donations, sparked by the press conference. The Mali Red Cross donated the fertilizer and seed needed, and other international organizations provided needed items toward the cause to help the Malians. “All of the campaigning and communications I was able to do because of my education from OSU,” Maiga said. In August 2012, Maiga found himself back at OSU to begin his doctoral degree. Meanwhile, the efforts of Cri de Coeur continue. After training people how to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype, Maiga
A convoy drives to Northern Mali to deliver aide to Malians in need. Photo courtesy of Assoumane Maiga.
helps from Oklahoma by communicating with his colleagues across the globe. Maiga plans to raise global awareness by sharing Mali’s story, and he is ready to speak anywhere to find help. He is a global voice for Mali, since many Malians have no access to receive the assistance they need. In February 2013, Maiga plans to speak at the School of International Studies at OSU to present a global briefing on Mali. At the completion of his doctorate, Maiga said he plans to go back to Mali to teach agricultural communications at the University of Bamako, educating students to communicate effectively, and to continue efforts to assist Malian farmers. The voice for millions in need, Maiga has found the tools to help his country through his OSU experience. CJ
Holgate, Ohio Graphic Design & Marketing
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Derek Barchenger conducts research on muscadine grapes in the field and in the lab. Photo by Ashton Dawson. Below: In the laboratory, Derek Barchenger continues his research on muscadines. Photos courtesy of Derek Barchenger.
Deflation is written all over the man who leaves a full day’s work and walks home, knowing he has not made enough money to feed his wife and five children.
For the eighth day in a row, his family will go without dinner. Emptiness fills the single mother who has searched all day for a food source for her children. It is Sunday evening, and the last meal they received was Friday’s school cafeteria lunch. Fear of hunger was the motivation for Benny Ward to hunt whitetail deer each fall to feed his family in the winter. A similar motivation encourages Ward’s grandson Derek Barchenger today. “I remember hearing stories about my grandpa having to hunt deer in the fall,” Barchenger said. “He didn’t do it for sport, but so his family could eat in the winter. People should never go hungry. That’s why I want to help people learn to feed themselves and their families.” Barchenger, an Indianola, Okla., native, graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in horticultural sciences in 2012 and is now pursuing a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Arkansas. “I love Oklahoma State,” Barchenger said. “It’s my alma mater. But to be competitive in the job market, I needed to diversify my résumé, and that’s what I’m doing here.” Lou Anella, ornamental plant professor at OSU, said Barchenger is not only diversifying his résumé and achieving academic goals, but also he is achieving something greater. “I am not surprised at all that Derek continued his horticultural studies into graduate school,” Anella said. “Derek has always been a serious student with a real passion for providing food for the poor.”
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g Muscadines Matter Through his master’s research project, Barchenger is attempting to do just that. “My studies include conducting research of muscadine grapes,” Barchenger said. “I am examining their impact on feeding the hungry.” Muscadine grapes, scientifically known as Vitis rotundifolia Michx, are native to the southeastern United States and commonly are grown where winter temperatures are not low enough to limit production. They are an American breed; whereas, the grapes commonly bought in a grocery store are French or European species. Cultivation of muscadines first occurred in the North Carolina colony, but today, more than 300 muscadine cultivars grow in 17 states. Muscadine grapes are slightly smaller than a golf ball in size and larger than most grape species. They are bronze or black in color and commonly are used for wine, jelly and juice. Recently, however, the clustered berries have been recognized for their health benefits. “People are beginning to recognize the benefits of muscadine grapes,” Barchenger said. “They are important sources of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Additionally, they are a low-input crop — requiring little spray and water — and are relatively inexpensive for consumers. This realization has increased the demand in production of muscadine grapes.” However, a met demand heavily relies on an increased product supply. Therefore, Barchenger has chosen to research the post-harvest handling of newly bred muscadine grape cultivars and compare them to commercially grown lines to see how they perform. Barchenger’s thesis proposal outlines two limiting factors of the fresh market production and provides solutions that could allow muscadines to provide nutrition to consumers year-round.
“Two of the major limiting factors of the market production are the short harvest season and the high perishability of the fruit,” Barchanger said. “The harvest season for muscadine grapes runs from late August through September. “One solution for extending the market season and to prevent market saturation for fresh muscadines could be the production of new cultivars that hold up well in long periods of storage in regards to appearance and taste as well as nutraceutical aspects,” he said. “New developments will provide expanded options for muscadine growers to lengthen the growing season and to ultimately provide fresh grapes to stores and other entities. “If my research helps find a way to put muscadines on shelves longer without losing nutraceutical value, I could then help people help themselves,” Barchenger said. “I could teach them to grow food for themselves, for their families and for their communities all while developing self-worth and tangible knowledge they can easily pass on.” Barchenger’s long-time friend Kelly Lynn Offutt served as the OSU Student Government Association president while Barchenger served as vice president. Offutt praised her friend’s diligent research to find an end to this problem. “Derek is the kind of person who sometimes pretends like he doesn’t care,” Offutt said. “In actuality, he is one of the hardest-working and most caring people I know. It is no surprise to me that he is
doing extremely well in his research. He studies for hours, is the first to volunteer to take care of any work that must be done, and has a heart to serve others’ needs rather than his own.” Anella agreed. “It was refreshing to have a student so dedicated to fighting hunger,” Anella said. “Derek is different than other students. He stands out because he has the ability and desire to accomplish something beyond himself.” Barchenger credited many of those attributes to his time at OSU. “Oklahoma State influenced me,” Barchenger said. “It’s where I found who I was. I always knew I wanted to combine service and agriculture, but OSU gave me the roadmap to do so. It’s where I was able to learn how to do what I wanted to do.” Although Barchenger is unsure of his next step upon the completion of his research project, one thing is for certain. “Incorporating service into our daily lives is important,” Barchenger said. “Whether that is teaching a U.S. farmer how to grow muscadine grapes, building shelter for families in Africa, picking up trash on the side of the road, or helping our neighbor in a time of need, we should all strive to make a difference whenever and however we can.” CJ
Woodward, Okla. Public Relations & Policy
Healthy Benefits of Muscadines Muscadines provide nature’s richest source of polyphenolic antioxidants. They have been studied for their potential benefits against blood, colon and prostate cancers. Grape-seed supplements are beneficial for anti-inflammation. The puree of the grape’s skin and pulp is a source of dietary fiber and is low in fat. Source: Barchenger, D. (2012). Postharvest Storage and Nutraceutical Evaluation of Muscadine Grapes. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Horticulture, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
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CASNR Students Travel To The Czech Republic. Traveling through the Czech Republic, one finds majestic, weathered stone cathedrals, looking every bit like they have existed since the beginning of time. Nearby, GPS-driven tractors plow the fertile fields. One rarely experiences this “Old World” and “New World” coexisting in nearly perfect harmony, but a handful of Oklahoma State University, Tennessee Tech University and Arizona State University students had the opportunity in May 2012. The Czech Republic is not the first place many people think of when they think of Europe, said Blake Wilson, animal science doctoral student. Rob Terry, head of the agricultural education, communications and leadership department at OSU and faculty adviser for the trip, said the Czech Republic offers students a distinctive experience. “Prague and the Czech Republic are fascinating places,” Terry said. “There are so many things for students to learn.” Terry said he became interested in the Czech Republic when he was on the faculty at the University of Missouri. He went as a faculty adviser during a sixweek program and decided to bring it to OSU. In the original program, students participated in class four days a week and educational excursions on the weekends. “Instead of doing the six-week program, we focused on the travel pieces, kept four hours of classes and turned it into a two-week program,” Terry said. “A little bit of course work and a whole lot of education on the go. “With the other advisers [from Tennessee Tech and Arizona State], we
pieced this study-abroad trip together around a coffee pot at a conference in 2011,” Terry said. Participants have a unique experience because they get to interact with students from two other American universities as well as students from the Czech University of Life Sciences at Prague, Terry said. Anna Prichard, agricultural communications junior, decided on the Czech Republic study-abroad trip after Terry spoke in one of her classes. “The Czech Republic seemed like a place not a lot of people get the opportunity to travel to,” Prichard said. “I thought it’d be a great experience to go.” Having a lot of free time to explore Prague was nice, as was the chance to see something new everyday, Prichard said. Learning how to maneuver around Prague with the language barrier gave Prichard a greater sense of responsibility, she said. “We did a lot on our own, so we had to learn how to find our way around and get on and off at the right subway stops,” Prichard said. This study-abroad trip is unusual because Czech students act as guides and travel with the American students, Terry said. OSU students get to be with peers, instead of with faculty the entire time. “Having the students show us around felt like we got a more honest perspective of the Czech Republic, not the typical tourist feel,” said Amanda Wilson, third-year veterinary student.
“This is what is real. This is everyday life for them.” Terry said OSU students recognized the similarities and differences between Czech and Oklahoma agriculture. “When you walk onto the farm, you realize cattle are cattle — it’s not that different,” Terry said. “You look around and see how integrated the farms are.” Czech farmers accomplish much with limited resources, said Amanda Wilson. One of the farms visited used Czech Spotted Red cattle for both meat and dairy production. “A small country has to use resources to the best of its ability,” Amanda Wilson said. “This was a theme across most of the agricultural places that we went to.” Blake Wilson said while observing the agricultural production practices in the Czech Republic, he noticed they could be considered behind the U.S. in some of their farming practices. In other ways, they were more advanced in the use of new technologies, alternative energy and vertical integration, he said. Agriculture in the Czech Republic is different because it is so diversified, said Tyler Price, agricultural communications and agricultural education junior. Farms did not focus on one facet of agriculture; they had large-scale animal and crop production as well as alternative energy production all under one roof. “This experience broadened what my idea of agriculture was,” Price said. “I saw that the U.S. way of agriculture is not the only way.”
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Prague Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Czech Republic, was founded around 870 A.D. Photo by Samantha Smith.
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The classes at the university focused on giving a solid background of the agricultural industry in the Czech Republic before the farm visits. The professors explained about the main industry sectors. “I found it interesting their agriculture was mostly tied to their beer production,” Prichard said. Growing barley and hops for beer manufacturing was a large part of the grain production in the Czech Republic, said Samantha Smith, agricultural communications junior. It gave a new perspective on the “farm-to-table” aspect, she said. The Czech Republic is known for its beer. As part of the educational experience, the group toured the Budweiser Budvar brewery and learned about the beer-making process. “Touring the Budweiser Budvar brewery was a great learning experience,” Blake Wilson said. “It brought everything together, seeing the crops
in the field and then tasting the fresh brewed beer.” Having bars on campus is a novel idea in the United States, but it is commonplace at the Czech University of Life Sciences at Prague, Blake Wilson said. The university has its own microbrewery and sells the beer on campus and other places around Prague. Most places in the Czech Republic have beer cheaper than they have water. “Czechs treat beer like the French treat wine,” Terry said. “It’s an art form. It’s how they identify themselves.” Aside from the beer, many other things of interest were included in this experience. Students participated in a planned weekend excursion during their first weekend in Europe, and the following weekend they traveled to a location they chose. This opportunity makes this study-abroad program unique, Terry said. “I really liked having the free weekend where we could explore
anywhere in Europe we wanted,” Prichard said. “It gave us a chance to learn about more of Europe on our own.” On the first weekend, the American students boarded a train to Krakow, Poland. The advisers set up tours of the concentration camps Auschwitz and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. “It was a somber experience to witness everything you have seen in movies or read in books,” Amanda Wilson said. The next weekend, one OSU group went to Berlin, Germany, while the other traveled to Rome, Italy. The contrast of cultures, history and architecture among all of the countries visited was neat to experience in the short amount of time, Smith said. “It is extremely affordable for a twoweek trip to Europe,” Blake Wilson said. “The structure of the class, with a free weekend to go anywhere, is great.” Terry said he plans to continue the study-abroad program to the Czech
OSU students visited dozens of places in the Czech Republic (clockwise from top left): Rob Terry (back left), Alvydas Lenkauskas, Blake Wilson, Tyler Price, Amanda Wilson (front left), Courtney Pinkerton, Bonnie Murphy, Samantha Smith and Anna Prichard at St. Barbara’s Cathedral (Photo courtesy of Rob Terry); the Astrological Clock in the old city center in Prague (Photo by Courtney Pinkerton); the copper distilling vats at the Budwieser Budvar brewery (Photo by Anna Prichard); and the St. Charles Bridge in Prague at sunset (Photo by Blake Wilson).
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Republic. The 2013 trip will occur May 28 to June 11, and a few changes and additions are in the works, Terry said. “It is really an easy experience because [the Czech University] faculty members plan much of the program,” Terry said. “Once in the country, our faculty get to fully enjoy the experience with the students.” The opportunity to study abroad is something students should not overlook, Price said. Students can step out of their comfort zones as well as learn how others live and the culture of the people, he said. “I learned more in those two weeks than I ever did in a history book,” Prichard said. “It’s an experience you cannot get in the states. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” CJ
Laverne, Okla. International Travel Specialist
The fences of Auschwitz served as a reminder of the harsh realities of a past shared by millions. Photo by Samantha Smith.
The Auschwitz Road.
The long road. The last road. For millions of Jews, gypsies and others, there was no hope once one reached this road, the road to Auschwitz, the road to death. The Oklahoma State University students who took part in the Czech Republic study-abroad program walked this road, yet what awaited them at the end paled in comparison to those who walked it 72 years before. “You can never begin to fully grasp what these people went through by reading it in a history book,” said Tyler Price, agricultural communications and agricultural education junior. “Touring those facilities really helped bring to life what they endured.” Moving through the concentration camps and viewing the buildings brought things in our lives into perspective, said Samantha Smith, agricultural communications junior. “Getting to see and experience
Auschwitz and Birkenau were two of the most moving things I’ve ever experienced,” Smith said. “It really forced me to step back and give thanks for everything I have been fortunate enough to have.” Touring the concentration and extermination camps was a surreal experience, both shocking and overwhelming, said Blake Wilson, animal science doctoral student. Seeing what those places were like and imagining the more than 2 million people who suffered and died there left a lasting impression, he said. Amanda Wilson, third-year veterinary student, said she appreciated the opportunity to see Auschwitz because seeing it in the movies and reading about it are not the same as being where all the deaths and horrors took place. “It was a very sobering experience,” she said.
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Proud and immortal, bright shines your name; Oklahoma State, we herald your fame! The opening words of the Alma Mater Hymn are heartfelt not only for the Cowboy faithful who were born and raised in Oklahoma but also for the many out-of-state students Oklahoma State University welcomes to campus each year. This year, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources has become a home away from home for 595 students from 40 states. What makes this campus and CASNR different than any other campus? Junior Lauren Wells, an animal science and agricultural communications major from Bonfield, Ill., said the outstanding animal science program is what interested her initially; however, it was not until she set foot on campus that OSU won her over. “The beautiful campus, excellent faculty and Stillwater’s safe atmosphere are what brought me here,” Wells said. For senior Clay Zwilling of Viola, Ill., the outstanding livestock judging program drew him to the university. “Regardless of where you are from, if you have an interest in agriculture, you have most likely heard of OSU,” Zwilling said. Zwilling is an active participant on the livestock judging team and is one of 10 out-of-state students on the 15-person team. “Oklahoma State has the most competitive judging program in the country,” Zwilling said.
Excelling in agricultural programs is nothing new for OSU. With awards won throughout the years from judging teams, scholars and faculty, CASNR still strives for excellence to continue these traditions. So do families like the Zwillings. Clay Regardless of Zwilling is one of where you are 11 family members from, if you have to attend OSU. an interest in “Being from agriculture, you Illinois, most have most likely assumed I would attend an in-state heard of OSU. school,” Zwilling — Clay Zwilling said. “But, I was Animal Science/ looking to diversify Agricultural Education Senior and get a different experience. Oklahoma State University does that for me.” Unlike Zwilling, Wells is the first in her family to attend the university. “I chose to take a different path and go somewhere else because I wanted to make new connections and explore what the animal science department at OSU had to offer,” Wells said. Junior Jacy Alsup, an agribusiness major from Gravette, Ark., said she thought long and hard about breaking her family’s tradition of attending Texas Tech University. “Although most of my family members are Red Raiders, I knew OSU was the place for me,” Alsup said. “I knew I had to make the best decision for me, not anyone else.”
As most students face tuition increases, financial issues become criteria in their college selections. Zwilling and Wells both said OSU’s out-of-state tuition was more reasonable financially than what their in-state schools offered. “I looked around at other schools, but in the end, OSU was the best return on my investment,” Zwilling said. “You get that ‘hometown feeling’ at a fraction of the cost.” While on OSU’s campus, these students said they feel right at home. “Going to campus every day is like going to see your family,” Zwilling said. “Everyone is very welcoming and willing to take time out of the day to ensure the needs of the students are met.” Wells said she also got that feeling while on OSU’s campus. “As I toured the animal science department, it was clear the professors and faculty treat their students as individuals, rather than just numbers,” Wells said. “I felt valued just to be there, even though I was not a student yet.” After touring other campuses, Alsup said she was most impressed with the atmosphere on the OSU campus. “I felt like the tour guides, faculty and staff rolled out the red carpet for me,” Alsup said. “It was a feeling that I did not get while touring other campuses, and I knew this was where I needed to be.” For Alsup, attending OSU was a challenge she wanted to tackle.
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Edmon Low Library, opened in 1953, is an icon of the OSU campus. Photo by Casey Reinhart.
“I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and do something different than my norm,” Alsup said. “I only knew a handful of people in Stillwater, compared to going to an in-state school where most of my high school classmates would be attending.” Kelsey Lee, CASNR coordinator of student success, said prospective students choose OSU because they can develop professional relationships. “Students want to come here not only because of school spirit but also for the academic opportunities and solid relationships students develop with faculty and staff,” Lee said. “In addition, most CASNR graduates leave here with a job.” CASNR welcomes approximately 165 out-of-state freshmen to campus each year. Lee said she expects to see enrollment continue to increase. “After the increases we have seen over the past years, we expect to continue to see growth in the college,” Lee said. “This will further the Cowboy legacy. CJ
Ever you’ll f ind us, loyal and true; to our Alma Mater, O-S-U!
Yukon, Okla. Photography & Graphic Design
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Students work in the OSU dairy parlor (circa 1920). Right: The original Dairy Science Building was completed 1928. Photos courtesy of OSU Agricultural Communications Services.
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Before the pink and golden hues of the sunrise break across the red dirt of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State University dairy staff and students are hard at work. For 92 years, students and the dairy staff have continued a milking tradition. Students gain hands-on experience while receiving a paycheck and being part of Oklahoma’s dairy industry. In 1889, dairies emerged across Oklahoma because of land available from the government as well as new technology, including automated milking machines, refrigeration and commercial pasteurization, said Leon Spicer, professor of dairy science at OSU. The original 1920 dairy parlor, located at the Dairy Cattle Center, was one of the first dairies in Oklahoma to use this new technology. The parlor milked an average of 80 cows. In 1923, Oklahoma A&M introduced the first Dairy Science Club in the United States. Following the club was the dairy judging team and the dairy products judging team. The Oklahoma A&M Dairy Science Building, built in 1928, allowed the dairy science program and judging teams to gain even more hands-on experiences. “Back in the old days, they would process milk from the farm in the dairy science building and supply milk to the dormitories,” Spicer said. Spicer said staff would make cheese and ice cream in the Dairy Science Building. However, the dairy science program began to change in the 1980s as dairy numbers changed in Oklahoma. Many of the state’s dairies accepted the government’s buy-out program, which entailed selling their herds, Spicer said. Spicer said when the dormitories could not consume enough milk, the supply to the dormitories stopped. Spicer said the declining number of dairies in Oklahoma was because of the
increase of feedlots and beef cattle within the state. “Once feedlots took off, cattle were driven from Texas to Kansas,” Spicer said. “Since Oklahoma was in the middle, it became a popular beef state.” “I joined the animal science department in 1988,” Spicer said. “When I was hired, there were two full-time dairy extension specialists and a dairy nutritionist, but now I am the only one.” Spicer said one of the most interesting and important stories in OSU’s dairy history is how the current milking parlor was funded. “In 1987, the money from the sale of semen from [OSU bull] Sooner Elevation Chip was sold to fund the new milking parlor at OSU,” Spicer said. Spicer said the animal science department generated more than $400,000 from the sale of Sooner Elevation Chip’s semen. That was a small percentage of the bull’s total semen sales. The new parlor, finished in 1987, was one of the few university dairy barns in the United States. Another change to the OSU dairy program was the destruction of the Dairy Science Building in 2006. The Henry Bellmon Research Center was built in its place in 2011. “I used to work in the Dairy Science Building,” said Robert Walton Sr., 1956 OSU alumnus. “I actually still have a brick from the old building.” In one of his recent research projects, Spicer said he evaluated the strengths and opportunities the OSU dairy program had to offer. “Colorado State University, New Mexico State University, the University of Arkansas and Texas A&M University
have closed their dairy barns,” Spicer said. “However, if OSU decides to maintain its facilities, this allows a great opportunity to Back in the old recruit out-ofdays, they would state students process milk from and improve the farm in the Dairy the program.” Science Building and Eric Van der Laan, an supply milk to the animal science dormitories. senior and — Leon Spicer Dairy Science OSU Professor Club president, agreed opportunities would be available for OSU dairy science and recruiting future students. “This is a milk-deficit state,” Van der Laan said. “Oklahoma is a very welcoming environment because of the feed and land availability.” Van der Laan’s family always has embraced opportunity. “You have to know the whole family story to get my background,” Van der Laan said. Van der Laan’s family moved to the U.S. from the Netherlands in 1986 and started a dairy in Texas, later moving to Oklahoma. Like his family, Van der Laan embraced the dairy industry, and came to OSU to pursue the opportunities. “The dairy industry is changing and becoming more of a business,” Van der Laan said. “I chose OSU because it is on the cutting edge of animal science, and being able to apply this knowledge will keep me competitive.” As part of the OSU Dairy Science Club, Van der Laan has increased his connections with the industry. He also was involved in the OSU dairy judging
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team, which travels across the U.S. to hone its skills. “Being a member of the judging team was a great learning experience,” Van der Laan said. “I met other students who enjoy the dairy industry and met producers and industry leaders.” The Dairy Science Club provides students with a chance to engage in the dairy industry in Oklahoma. The club’s goal is to allow students with a passion for dairy science, including dairy goats, to make connections to help them stay involved with the industry in the future. “OSU dairy is not a large program,” said Kim Grewe, 2011 OSU animal science alumna. “However, I was still able
to meet several people from all across the U.S., which was incredible.” Grewe also said the dairy connections helped her find her job as a dairy herd information specialist for Northstar Cooperative. Van der Laan said he does not think the dairy industry is shrinking because of a lack of interested people. Rather, students specialize within the industry. “A lot of students are interested in dairy foods, and I hope we see more development within the department for dairy foods,” Van der Laan said. Students receive an education on all aspects of animal science at OSU, Spicer said. OSU offers them experience they can use in the future.
“My goal is to maintain a wellrounded department,” said Clint Rusk, head of the animal science department. “The dairy program is a very important area, and we are committed to keeping it long-term.” Rusk said if OSU’s dairy program could weather the storm, it would see an increase in the number of students. Also, he said students would have the opportunity for hands-on experience through this great program. CJ
Rogersville, Mo. Layout & Graphic Design
Every year, the OSU Dairy Science Club takes a photo to compete for the cover of Holstein World magazine. This photo won the contest: Jason White (left), Kim Grewe (seated), Dani Marlin, Laura Padgett, Randall Miller, Scott Wilson, Jack Stout, Leon Spicer, Megan Meyer, Dominic Wick (kneeling), Eric Van der Laan (seated), Cheyenne Vandament and Adrian Nault (seated). Photo by Mitch Alcala.
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From Dairy Farmer to Pageant Queen You may know Betty Thompson as Miss Oklahoma 2011; however, you may not know this Chandler, Okla., native is involved in the dairy industry. “Most people who meet me for the first time say they would not peg me as a dairy girl, but it is something I am proud of, so I always bring it up,” Thompson said. Her background in the dairy industry started when she was just a little girl. “I have been showing Jerseys since I was old enough to walk,” Thompson said. “I believe the first time I was in the actual ring was around the age of 2.” Thompson said she started a 4-H project with just one cow, but she expanded into her family’s 30-cow operation. Thompson competed in pageants and Irish dance competitions, which have kept her busy. Also, she judged dairy cattle with the OSU team. However, she still has managed to intertwine her passion for the dairy industry into her life. “My platform focused on educating young students about
the importance of dairy foods in their diet to get the nine essential nutrients found in milk,” Thompson said. “Healthy eating habits are developed at a young age, so giving the students this knowledge will allow them to make healthier choices on their own as they get older.” Thompson, an agricultural communications senior at OSU, said she hopes to continue her work as an ambassador for her passions. “I cannot imagine my life without dairy,” Thompson said. “I want a small dairy of my own, so someday my children can learn the things I did and love the farm life like I do.” Betty Thompson served as Miss Oklahoma 2011. Photo by Leigh Thompson.
OSU dairy club members and staff are taking a picture for Holstein World magazine. Picture taken by Mitch Alcala.
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Bob Hunger inspects wheat straw in Blackwell, Okla., for potential diseases. Photo by Jeff Edwards.
The OSU Wheat Improvement Team released experimental cultivars at a 2012 small grains wheat variety performance test. Photo by Jeff Edwards.
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Keeping Wheat Well in Oklahoma Golden fields of wheat wave to travelers down a country road. Oklahomans recognize this gesture as ordinary, since wheat is the state’s biggest cash crop. Dig a little deeper, and you will find this simple grain has a complex history. Wheat research began at Oklahoma A&M in 1891 when A.C. Magruder established a winter wheat fertility study. In 1924, Joseph Danne created the first wheat cross in Oklahoma that would eventually be the variety Triumph. Bred for the Southern Great Plains, Triumph was launched in 1948 with shorter, stronger straw able to withstand prairie winds and heat. When Danne passed away in 1959, he left his work and germplasms to Oklahoma A&M, allowing the university to strengthen its wheat breeding program. Today, many genetic descendants from Triumph still are used at Oklahoma State University to create new highyielding, high-quality, drought-tolerant and disease-resistant varieties, said Brett Carver, OSU Regents professor and wheat genetics chair. “We want the yield potential of today’s varieties with the viable genes left behind in other varieties,” Carver said. New wheat varieties are created in a 10- to 12-year process. Seed breeding at OSU is done conventionally by creating crosses and producing progenies. Carver explained wheat breeding is a three-step process. First, breeders spend up to two years crossing parents with complementary traits such as disease resistance and hope the progeny has the desired trait. Next, breeders spend four
years inbreeding lines to stabilize the traits and then an additional two years working on line development. Finally, researchers test the varieties in plots for four years or more. OSU partners with farmers throughout the state to plant wheat research plots. Wheat producer Mike Hogg from Granite, Okla., has farmed a four-acre test plot for the past four years. “OSU wheat breeders do a very professional job with the test plots, and I enjoy working with them,” Hogg said. Creating a new variety takes a lot of time as well as a lot of money. “It is extremely expensive to develop a new wheat variety,” said Jeff Edwards, OSU associate professor and small grains extension specialist. Funding for wheat research comes from the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, state funding, federal appropriations, grants and revenue from seed sales. “Up to 300,000 data points are used to come up with one variety,” Carver said. “When put in a monetary sense, it adds up to around $1 million per variety.” Oklahoma has 5 million to 6 million acres of wheat grown each year; of that, 2.5 million to 4 million is harvested. Edwards said the state is unique in that only about one-half of the acres are harvested because Oklahoma is one of the few places where wheat pasture also can be used for grazing cattle. OSU wheat varieties often are licensed by Oklahoma Genetics Inc. and then multiplied and distributed by its members who are certified wheat
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producers. The seed wheat is protected through the Plant Variety Protection Act, and royalties come back to the university to fund research. Edwards said growers can replant PVP-protected varieties year after year, but they cannot sell the seed to another farmer unless they have gained certification through the Oklahoma Crop Improvement Association. Crop disease resistance consumes the breeding program because pathogens continuously are adapting to varieties. Carver said wheat rust remains the biggest focus because the disease can be detrimental to yields. “The races of wheat rust mutate and change constantly, so a certain variety may be resistant to rust one year and susceptible the next,” Hogg said. In 2010, stripe rust-resistant varieties Everest, Armour and Garrison were launched, but a shift occurred in stripe rust genes. The new stripe rust strain made these varieties susceptible to the disease and yields suffered, Edwards said. Fungicides can be applied to the crop to combat the disease. “2012 was a pivotal year in the use of foliar fungicides because the stripe rust pressure was so heavy,” Edwards said.
Some varieties require fungicides. “This year we applied a fungicide to everything but Duster,” Hogg said. “If we need a fungicide and our crop can benefit from the yield potential, then we will apply it.” The races of wheat Carver said rust mutate and the Ruby Lee change constantly, variety by OSU so a certain variety has high yield may be resistant to potential and is intended for rust one year and susceptible the next. more intensively managed acres. — Mike Hogg Duster has Wheat Producer become the most widely planted variety in the state because of yield stability in a wide range of environments. Popularity has increased during the recent drought because Duster continues to thrive in dry conditions, Edwards said. Duster has the gene Lr34, which has partial resistance to three types of wheat rust: leaf rust, stripe rust and stem rust. “We’re putting three or more genes together in a package called a cassette,” Carver said. “This gives us a better probability of resistance over a longer period of time.”
Even though Oklahoma farmers have never seen stem rust, OSU researchers, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are building genes into the seed to resist the disease. Researchers must be proactive to prevent stem rust, since leaf rust and stripe rust have affected wheat yields in recent years, Hogg said. “We are very fortunate in Oklahoma to have the wheat breeders, agronomists and plant pathologists at OSU that we do,” Hogg said. “They work hard to generate a high-quality product that farmers can be confident in.” Hogg said he plans to continue planting OSU varieties and to maintain his involvement with the test plots. “Our goal is to create an effective and durable resistance to disease, while keeping or enhancing yield and quality,” Carver said. “Longevity and consistency have been important to maintaining this program, and we’ve done that now for over 60 years.” CJ
Altus, Okla. Marketing & Sales
Wheat Rust Basics
Leaf rust attacks a wheat crop. Photo by Jeff Edwards.
Leaf Rust Leaf rust is one of the most common diseases in wheat. This type of rust causes up to a 5-percent crop loss in Oklahoma. Wheat breeders will never achieve total resistance to the disease. Stripe Rust Stripe rust, or yellow rust, is a highly aggressive form of wheat rust because it rapidly affects leaves and attacks the spike (head) and stem tissues, said Jeff Edwards, OSU associate professor and small grains extension specialist. The disease was introduced to Oklahoma around 2001 and affected wheat yield and quality severely in 2010. Stripe rust causes up to a 15-percent crop loss in the state. Stem Rust Stem rust is essentially unknown in Oklahoma due to effective resistance to prevalent races, said Brett Carver, OSU Regents professor and wheat genetics chair. Countless funds and time have been spent preventing stem rust by creating resistant varieties. The disease can cause severe or total damage to a wheat crop, Carver said.
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Have you added to the value of the world this year?
Clockwise from top: A Sierra Leone woman cooks dinner. OSU student Jessica Lay spends time with orphans. Coated dirt floors cover the only library in Sierra Leone. Photos by Shannon Watson.
A group of Oklahoma State University Cowboys have increased the global knowledge and substance of a small country 5,580 miles away. Sierra Leone, a developing nation once ripped apart by bands of rebel forces, was liberated 10 years ago from these violent militias, and the problem now is rebuilding this oppressed region. In 2011, a team of 13 OSU students, faculty members Mike Dicks and Jeff Hattey, and “Oklahoma Horizons” television host Rob McClendon flew to Sierra Leone to gather information about a village there. The facilities they used in Sierra Leone were built in the late 1990s near the end of a 21-year-long civil war. Mercy Ships, a charity organization that aided the locals in rebuilding their country, abandoned the compound in 2001. With no running water, electricity or beds, team members slept on floor mats for the length of the trip. “You see the lingering effects of war,” McClendon said. “It goes well past the last raid.” Upon arrival, the team’s primary objective was to assess the facilities and evaluate what realistic improvements could be made on future trips. Another goal was to establish a small farming operation in the backyard of the complex that could feed the local orphanage. Introducing a garden to this orphanage was imperative, Dicks said, because 46 percent of under-5 deaths in Africa are caused by preventable malnourishment. “If I was looking to study abroad,
52 | WINTER/SPRING 2013
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I would’ve never chosen Africa as my first choice, but it’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made,” said agricultural economics senior Shannon Watson. “It was more like a service-abroad than a study-abroad.” The small farming operation established there is a completely madefrom-scratch project constructed in the arid climate of Western Africa. Equipped with nothing but It was more like hearts of hope a service-abroad and research skills, than a studythe OSU team abroad. transformed the lifestyle of this — Shannon Watson developing region. Agricultural Economics Senior The first problem with planting a crop in a decomposing facility was finding running water for the compound. OSU students built wells to retrieve clean drinking water. These water pockets were only 80 feet deep and drilled by hand. The cost of these hand-drilled wells was $2,500, compared to the cost of a machine-drilled well at $15,000. Once the wells began producing and the water was available for use, the research team built a drip irrigation system. This system was something the villagers had never seen and it improved their watering methods, Dicks said. While the orphans learned about successful methods of scientific agriculture, they reciprocated by teaching the Oklahomans about the harshness of conditions in Africa. “They have inherent knowledge that has been passed down,” said environmental science senior Liberty Galvin. “Putting a canopy over the
nursery is something we wouldn’t have thought of, but the plants would have shriveled up and died in a day.” Okra, cucumbers, eggplant and peppers were planted under these manmade canopies. Along with building and implementing a garden watering system, students created a biofilter from native materials that cleans the water on site. “You can build a sand biofilter from local materials,” Dicks said. “In about three days, it will be completely built and ready for use the same day.” The OSU team also traveled to a school for the blind to help introduce similar practices. While many of these children lost their vision because of powerful grenade blasts during the war, they remain content with life. “Sometimes the less people have, they almost seem to be happier than wealthier people,” McClendon said. “In the U.S., we get caught up in everything, and they are really just happy to have a meal on the table.”
In this challenging environment, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources students shine, McClendon said. Faculty members influence their undergraduates to have the moral aptitude of global consideration while instilling the OSU Cowboy work ethic to take on these highly regarded tasks, he said. “We are all meant to answer a higher calling,” Watson said. “I believe in utilizing our talents and skills for service and giving back to society. “This was an opportunity to take my passion for agriculture and my heart for service and really make a difference, not just on a global scale but also on a local scale,” Watson said. “Our impact on the community in Sierra Leone has been absolutely incredible.” CJ
Newcastle, Okla. Economic Public Relations & Graphic Design
… in clean water debt. The average worker in Sierra Leone earns $1 a day, and the cost of drinking water for a family of six is out of reach. Current cost of water per person per day Cost of water bags for the entire family that year Percentage of average Sierra Leone income
$0.50 $1,080.00 300%
Cost to build one biofilter (one time cost) Maintenance of biofilter (every three months) Percentage of average Sierra Leone income
$60.00 $10.00 28%
Total cost of endless water second year Percentage of average Sierra Leone income
$40.00 11% COWBOY JOURNAL | 53
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Clearing Eastern Red Cedar trees provides an effective means of controlling this invasive species. Bottom: Eastern Red Cedar mulch can be used in home landscaping. Photos by Craig McKinley.
A light, warm breeze blows through a quiet and seemingly undisturbed prairie, rustling the prickly, fragrant branches of countless Eastern Red Cedar trees. Visualizing this scene may bring to mind memories of Oklahoma; however, one problem exists with this image. “Oklahoma loses 762 acres of usable grassland to red cedar infestation every day, or over a square mile of pasture each day,” said Craig McKinley, Oklahoma State University professor and forestry extension specialist. McKinley said this species has a huge impact on Oklahoma agriculture. “The red cedar infestation became a big issue when traditional prescribed burning techniques were discontinued due to human population increases, lack of knowledge and environmental changes,” said John Weir, OSU research associate in the natural resource ecology and management department. Eastern Red Cedar is considered a non-sprouting woody species, meaning if you cut down the tree below its lowest branch, it will not grow back. “Prescribed burning is effective because it kills all of the trees and wipes out young seedlings that are not seen by the naked eye,” Weir said. “It is the most economically effective way to manage red cedar, if it is managed properly.” Increasing density of cedar trees near residential neighborhoods and pastures alike creates a fire hazard that must be dealt with. The loss of rangeland and other public safety concerns, such as the fire hazards, prompted small-business owners
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like Jason Cales, owner-operator of Cales Custom Clearing, to take action. “These trees are an extreme burn hazard because the cedar tree foliage begins at ground level and contains volatile oils,” Cales said. “This makes the common range management practice of burning overgrowth and excess foliage highly dangerous.” Cales, a native of Ponca City, Okla., offers red cedar Oklahoma loses clearing services 762 acres of usable to his clients. He grassland to red uses a skid loader cedar infestation attached with a each day. rotating saw blade to clear the trees — Craig McKinley NREM Professor one at a time. Depending on tree size, Cales can clear up to 100 trees an hour using only one machine. Cales said red cedar clearing helps landowners remain productive stewards of the land. “Land is a finite resource that only can produce up to its capabilities,” Cales said. “Producers can retain land productivity by clearing pastures of obstructions like red cedar much cheaper than going out and purchasing unaffected property.” Cales said producers can improve efficiency of red cedar clearing by improving current methods. He estimated up to 60 percent of his time is spent stacking cut trees. Cales said these large tree piles still pose an extreme fire danger to surrounding areas. Cales is developing a strategy to reduce fire danger and decrease wasted time stacking trees. This involves de-limbing still standing trees with a specialized saw blade. Cales said these separated limbs and tree trunks will be easier to handle from that point.
“Landowners can discard branches from these trees [more easily] and reduce fire danger to surrounding pasture and homes,” Cales said. “Transporting the remaining tree trunk can be simplified, as well. An individual can clear the trunk and cut it into smaller pieces.” Time and money are the two biggest issues facing ranchers and small-business owners like Cales in the fight against Eastern Red Cedar. This financial overhead includes the rising costs of equipment, fuel and labor. For example, clearing equipment often costs more than $100,000, and the amount of time invested in the clearing process is high. Cales said rising costs contribute to the problem with Eastern Red Cedar trees. “To manage the problem of Eastern Red Cedars, we must think outside the box and find innovative ways to fix the problem,” Cales said. Oklahoma State University is conducting research to provide alternatives for this problem. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, red cedars are found as far west as Oregon, with trees distributed from Oklahoma north to Minnesota and east to states along the Atlantic coast. McKinley said the red cedar trees’ ability to thrive in different harsh environments is a major reason they have become an issue.
However, red cedar does possess properties that could make it a viable alternative fuel source to replace some conventional gasoline. This opportunity has engineers like Mark Wilkins, associate professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering, excited. “Red cedar trees offer an outstanding opportunity to decrease the United States dependence on foreign oil,” Wilkins said. “It also gets rid of an environmental pest for agriculture.” The process uses a complex series of steps to break down the red cedar into a usable alcohol. Wilkins and his lab assistants can take red cedar in its natural form as a tree and turn it into a usable fuel in three to four days. More research is needed to make this fuel economically viable and processed on a larger scale, but Wilkins said the research can make using red cedar as a fuel possible. “My hope is that in the next 10 years this process is commercially viable and being processed on a larger scale,” Wilkins said. McKinley said value-added products from the tree itself will provide opportunities for use, especially in regard to energy. Every pound of red cedar biomass generates 7,000 BTU. A BTU, officially a British Thermal Unit, is the main unit
A Few Red Cedar Facts Early homesteaders planted Eastern Red Cedars to create windbreaks. Eastern Red Cedars grow an average of one foot each year. An increase in the Eastern Red Cedar population increases the amount of pollen in the air and creates more allergy concerns.
Information provided by John Weir
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of energy used when determining the amount of power needed for homes and businesses. Lignite, a common form of coal, generates close to 10,000 BTU. McKinley said red cedar could be a viable energy source if used in coal-fired generation plants. Recent estimates provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service show close to 134 trillion BTU are available for use in Oklahoma from red cedar. Even if one billion BTU were used every day, it would take 367 years to run out of red cedar in Oklahoma. One billion BTU is enough to supply all of the electrical needs of 30 average American households for one year. McKinley said this conservative estimate does not factor in red cedar growth as time progresses. “Running out of this fuel source is not the main concern when talking about red cedar,” McKinley said. “The main issue arises from getting the tree out of the environment and processed into a usable form of energy.”
Red cedar is becoming marketable because of the by-products it produces, McKinley said. He grinned when he said people have used cedar products for years but they have not realized it yet. These trees produce a sweet-smelling oil that could be marketed as a value-added commercial product because consumers are willing to use it, according to the Aromatic Cedar Association. This oil gives red cedar chests their distinct aroma and is a friendly reminder of nature, according to the association. “Red cedar paneling and lumber are commonly used in building everything from homes to caskets,” McKinley said. “This is why I believe red cedar has a bright future as a commodity.” With the ever-rising cost of conventional steel T-Posts, red cedar could be the answer in decreasing fence installation costs. Red cedar does not rot and is readily available, according to the Aromatic Cedar Association, making Eastern Red Cedars an environmentally friendly option for today’s fences.
“This tree can become an asset to Oklahoma, if it is handled properly,” McKinley said. “The question becomes how long will it take for the advantages of Eastern Red Cedar trees to outweigh its disadvantages. In the interest of Oklahoma agriculture, sooner rather than later would help preserve the landscape of the state.” CJ
Eureka, Kan. Writing & Photography
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Cynda Clary works at her desk in 136 Agricultural Hall. Photo by Rachael Doner.
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Each day starts with something new for Cynda Clary, from attending meetings to interacting with students and developing new ways to create student success. Clary, the new associate dean of academic programs for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University, grew up in an agricultural part of southern California. Her passion for agriculture started at an early age while being involved in 4-H and FFA. Clary said she has a passion for teaching and working with students. Clary was a faculty member at New Mexico State University for 19 years and was the agricultural education department head for the last four years. Cowboy Journal sat down with Clary for a Q&A session. . What is your agricultural background? FFA is the biggest part of my agricultural background. Before high school, my mother made me take all the home economics classes, even though I wanted a livestock project. She would not let me have an animal because she thought I was too young. I told her that the moment I am in high school, I am joining FFA, and I am having a livestock project. So, that is what I did.
What experiences shaped your career? My agriculture teacher in high school was the biggest influence outside of my family. I was looking forward to joining FFA my freshman year because I heard the teacher was great. Instead, we got a student teacher who had been in the military, and this was his second career. He was structured, and I was thinking I got shorted.
At the end of the year, this teacher asked me to be his teaching aide for the next school year. I worked with him for three years in high school. He taught me you cannot take peopleâ€™s first reaction personally and that you cannot just say you care about someone without spending time with them.
Why did you apply at OSU? I applied at OSU because students were clearly a priority. While visiting, I had a feeling that this school was a fit for me. What has the transition been like? I have only been here for a few months, so the transition is still happening. The transition, for me, is like being a college student. I live in a small apartment with my youngest daughter, Tess. I even have to do my laundry at the Laundromat. The work transition is a steep learning curve, but I have no second thoughts about it. What differences and similarities have you noticed between universities? The culture of every school is different; however, students are the same. All students want to make a difference in what they do. They also want to find where they fit, while searching for their strengths and passions. Watching students build up enough courage to go after what they want is the same, and that is what I enjoy. How do you describe your work? My work is fun, challenging and
different every day. My daily activities range from having to talk about issues to brainstorming for student events. I always enjoy students or faculty members being recognized for scholarships or excellent teaching or advising.
What challenges do you see for OSU? The challenges are challenges of success. The student population is increasing, which causes a need for more faculty members, more classrooms and more support for student organizations. Those are great challenges to have. A personal challenge for me is to learn quickly. This was also the case in my last job as department head in agricultural education, which was not my area of study. The challenges I faced were learning a different curriculum and figuring out how to learn as quickly as I can, while being involved and getting to know people. What goals do you have at OSU? My initial goal is to learn everything I can. My first year is about identifying areas where we can support and challenge students as well as supporting the faculty and staff who work with the students. I want to continue the success we already have. When I think about student success, I think about students finding their niche. Students finding a major that fits best for them and finding what they are passionate about is important. We spend so much time doing our jobs, so finding what career path you love is important.
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People think this is a clichĂŠ, but my work does not feel like work. It does not mean everything you do is fun, but when you believe in the purpose of what you do, it becomes fun.
What is your favorite thing about OSU so far? My favorite thing about OSU is the positive attitude people have. Students are committed to this school from the day they get here. I enjoy going into the Student Success Center to see all the students working in there. What inspires you? My family inspires me. There are a lot of teachers in my family, and we are teachers because we love to learn and we love to see others learn. My husband, Rob, also inspires me because I accepted this job without my family coming to visit. He was willing to move here without even visiting. I also get inspired by students who overcome obstacles. Everyone has his or her own story. When a studentâ€™s class
Cynda Clary (center) assists Tyler Price (left) and Blair Boyer in the CASNR Student Success Center. Photo by Rachael Doner.
performance is not stellar, but you find out they are caring for a family member or are truly paying every dime it takes to go to college, it is inspiring to watch those students graduate.
What advice do you have for students? My advice for students is to go to class. When I was an undergraduate student, I worked a lot and was pretty tired. I did not realize I was doing things the hard way. Going to class is the easy way.
I also think it is important for students to do something, each year, outside of their comfort zones. This can range from joining a different club or meeting different people. It can help students see a bigger world. CJ
Claremore, Okla. Writing & Editing
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The sweeping Oklahoma prairies serve as home to dozens of wildlife creatures, but the state can boast more than 150 butterfly species, many of which can be found in the prairie. “When I think of Oklahoma wildlife, I think butterflies are some of the best things available to us,” said Ray Moranz, lecturer in the Oklahoma State University Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management. Much like bees, butterflies serve important roles in prairies. They serve as pollinators and food for various birds and spiders. In fact, some wildflowers can be pollinated only by butterflies. “Without pollination we would not have many of our fruits or our vegetables,” said Laura Payne, volunteer and events coordinator at the OSU Botanical Garden. Central Oklahoma is in the heart of the most important migratory pathway for the monarch butterfly, which is a common butterfly in your backyard. During the monarch butterfly’s migration, one can find thousands of them roosting in a single tree at dusk. More monarch butterflies fly through this region than any other in the country, Moranz said. Oklahoma also is home to a rare species of butterfly, the Regal Fritillary. This species can be found in the northernmost tier of Oklahoma, primarily in Osage County, Moranz said. While the orange and black monarchs are a migratory species — migrating to Mexico in late September and October — most rare species are non-migratory. Habitat destruction is the primary cause of rarity because they are sensitive to certain disturbances and changes, Moranz said. “A disturbance is an event that causes a change,” Moranz said. “It’s the
removal of plant biomass that causes change in the ecosystem, like a fire.” Grazing and fire can both help and hurt butterflies. In this part of the country, prescribed burning is common and finding the balance of when it helps and hurts is difficult, Moranz said. Kristen Baum, associate professor in the OSU zoology department said management practices like prescribed burning are necessary in some grassland habitats to prevent woody encroachment. “Patch-burn grazing, an innovative way of improving forage quality using fire, has shown great promise in maintaining native butterfly populations,” Moranz said. Most prescribed burning is done in the winter months, which is when the migratory butterflies are not here, so it does not hurt them. The non-migratory butterflies are still here, and if the burn is very complete, you could kill the nonmigratory species, Moranz said. The effects of grazing vary with intensity, Moranz said. If you have a large number of cattle on a small area of land, they could eat all the plants and there would be no food for butterflies. If you have a more moderate number of cattle, you could potentially increase the number of wildflowers and butterflies. Besides being productive, butterflies are eye-appealing. Interest in butterflies has grown worldwide, leading to the creation of butterfly farms. A few are in the U.S, but most are in the tropics. The purpose of a butterfly farm is to raise them for sale to butterfly houses, like zoos, and for events such as weddings. Getting more butterflies into your
own backyard can be achieved simply by planting certain species of plants. “Planting nectar plants and host plants is the best way to attract butterflies,” Baum said. Host plants are food for the caterpillars, and nectar plants produce I think butterflies nectar for the adults. Certain are some of plants will attract the best things certain butterflies. available to us. If you want — Ray Moranz more monarch NREM Lecturer butterflies, then you would plant more milkweed. Milkweed is the only host plant monarch butterflies eat; they are not as picky about nectar plants, Moranz said. You also should be careful about what sprays you use on your plants because some will kill caterpillars, Payne said. “Butterfly gardening is amazingly fun and amazingly easy,” Moranz said. “It’s just a matter of knowing which plants to plant.” When building your butterfly garden, you want brightly colored flowers, different types of plants for the different species of butterflies and a birdbath for water, Payne said. “Butterflies are pretty, and they send you in a state of freedom when you watch them,” Payne said. “They are one of those things that are here just for the beauty of things.” CJ
Carthage, Texas Layout & Graphic Design
12/3/12 12:08 PM
Butterflies serve as pollinators (clockwise from top left): a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Photo courtesy of OSU Agricultural Communications Services); a Regal Fritillary butterfly (Photo by Ken Williams); and a Monarch butterfly (Photo by Casey Reinhart).
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The smell of coffee and bacon wafts through a small-town café in the early morning.
AgrAbility client Dee Shouse feeds her sheep, Mocha, on her family farm. Photo by Brentney Maroney.
A local sheep producer meets Sandra Stevenson, the project manager of the Oklahoma AgrAbility Project, at the café to drink a cup of steaming coffee and to learn how this project could assist him. Stevenson often meets farmers in a neutral location to discuss their needs and offer possible solutions for implementing assistive technologies on their farms and ranches. “I listen a lot,” Stevenson said. “I look at all aspects of their lives and personally meet with them in their most comfortable environment.” Authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill, AgrAbility projects link Cooperative Extension Services at land-grant universities and nonprofit disability organizations. The projects work to support farmers, ranchers and their families who have been impacted by injury, illness or disabling conditions. AgrAbility helps provide support for rehabilitation and assistive technology to farmers who wish to continue their participation in agriculture. As a project manager, Stevenson works directly with farmers and ranchers to complete on-site evaluations of their farming operations to help reduce their disability-related challenges. Alongside the AgrAbility Project, the Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation provides grant opportunities to fund the equipment farmers might need to continue to be successful in their farming
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operations. Assistive technology might include two-way mailboxes, rubber mats to prevent slipping, air-ride tractor seats and lifts to access tractors. The Langston University School of Physical Therapy also assists the farmers in the project with education and rehabilitation services. Stevenson said she enjoys working closely with each family she visits, especially when she sees the results as the family implements her recommendations for their farming operations. Oklahoma AgrAbility also partners with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. OCES provides resources, training and classes to assist AgrAbility farmers in their counties. OCES educators connect organizations such as 4-H and FFA to farmers in their areas through the AgrAbility project. “Extension desires to help continue the activities farmers enjoy and want to do,” said James Trapp, OCES associate director. “Of course, we can’t always get things exactly back to how they were, but we try and provide resources and help however we can.” Josh Maples, an Okemah High School junior and an Ofuskee County 4-H member, has participated in the AgrAbility project through his local 4-H club for two years. “Through 4-H, I have been able to inform other youth in our county about the AgrAbility Project by showing them what farmers and others with disabilities have to go through on a daily basis,” Maples said. Maples, along with other 4-H members in his county involved with
AgrAbility, has helped spread awareness of the project through workshops and local 4-H activities. “I love agriculture,” Maples said. “Any time someone connects with the project and realizes the difficulties these farmers go through, it warms my heart.” Since being established in 2002, Oklahoma AgrAbility has served approximately 700 Oklahoma farmers with referral services, education, This program networking and direct assistance with their really gave me individual situations. the boost of “You get so hope I needed. committed in trying — Dee Shouse to help these farmers AgrAbility Client when you see how passionate they are about what they do,” said Linda Jaco, Oklahoma AgrAbility Project co-director. Oklahoma is one of only 25 states awarded an AgrAbility Project funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “We work one-on-one with these farmers,” Jaco said. “We manage a case, providing them with an opportunity to continue their livelihoods in a setting they absolutely love.” Dee Shouse, a small-town farmer in northeast Oklahoma, continues her duties on the farm with the help from the AgrAbility Project. Still enduring painful injuries from a vehicle accident in 2006, Shouse was limited in the amount of care she could give to her farm animals. Due to the pain she experiences from an injury to her back and severe nerve damage in both hands, Shouse has trouble distributing
feed for her chickens and shearing her sheep for the summer months. “I dealt with a lot of frustration after my accident,” Shouse said. “The AgrAbility Project introduced me to a whole new world of hope and opportunity. These people truly have the greatest heart.” By coordinating funding through the Oklahoma Assistive Techology Foundation, the AgrAbility Project obtained the tools and equipment to reduce the obstacles so Shouse could continue to work on her farm. Shouse now uses assistive technology such as a wheel gate to make her daily chores more convenient. “This project really gave me the boost of hope I needed,” Shouse said. In 2011, Oklahoma AgrAbility clients received a combined $338,027 for accommodations, assistive technologies and other rehabilitation-related services. “We help keep them going,” Stevenson said. “We are strong believers in the power of hope, prayer and will because farming is not just a job to these individuals. It is a way of life.” CJ
Cashion, Okla. Public Relations & Graphic Design
Know someone who could use AgrAbility assistance? You can visit http://ok.gov/agrability/ or call 888-885-5588 for information.
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Rising High Lexi Tucker is far from a funky chic designer or a lawnmowing grounds keeper.
Yet, the stigmas attached to her career field are as unique and diverse as her everyday routine at one of Oklahoma City’s top health and science design and architecture firms, Miles Associates. A 2011 graduate of Oklahoma State University’s landscape architecture program, Tucker is a promising young professional, rising to the top of skyscrapers and occasions alike. Tucker began her OSU journey as a freshman who struggled to find her perfect fit on a campus of nearly 20,000 students and hundreds of majors. “My mother initially suggested landscape architecture to me,” Tucker said. “Sometimes moms do know best.” The landscape architecture program is one of the smallest in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, with about 75 students enrolled in the degree program. Students interact one-on-one with faculty in the classroom and the design studio, developing professional-grade portfolios. OSU landscape architecture students become knowledgeable about plants and what makes workable and pleasing aesthetics for clients, something architecture or interior design majors do not learn, Tucker said. Tucker credited the hours she spent collaborating with classmates in the studio to giving her a competitive edge in a bleak job market. Even so, she was challenged to find a job in a struggling economy, when funds rarely allowed for amenities like landscape design. “There were not a lot of internships available due to the recession,” Tucker
said. “Knowing that, I began looking for opportunities that were outside of the normal landscape architecture firm. “I applied at Miles Associates as a cold-call applicant willing to do any form of work to get experience,” she continued. “They agreed to let me field verify a giant hospital. Upon getting the internship, I did It didn’t take long everything I could for me to become to get involved with enamored with anything landscapenature. related. Fortunately, they were working — Lexi Tucker 2011 Landscape on a large project Architecture Alumna at the time, the University of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Rooftop Village at the OU Medical Center.” Tucker was given a half-hearted chance to fill a temporary, less-than-elite position within the firm. She seized the opportunity to prove the firm not only wanted but needed her. With confidence and determination to leave a lasting impression, Tucker’s talent came through to her Miles Associates superiors. The temporary position transformed into a full-time offer. “Her enthusiasm toward her profession makes her stand out among her peers,” said Jorge Charneco, senior vice president of Miles Associates. “She was hired for her technical skills, but her enthusiasm is why we kept her on. “Young people take a big leap from school life to working life,” he said. “Until you work full time, you don’t have a sense of the increase in responsibility. She’s constantly in dialogue with others, and we are giving constructive feedback and helping her along. That is a big reason she has avoided the typical pitfalls of young people in the real world.”
Alumna designs her way up
Tucker is the only Miles Associates employee with a degree in landscape architecture from an accredited program. The company was unsure it needed the skill set of those graduates, but Tucker’s plant knowledge and communication skills helped with the success of the firm’s projects, such as OU Children’s Hospital Rooftop Village. Opened in August 2012, the “village” changes the child-patient experience at OU Children’s Hospital, said Elizabeth Connelly, child life specialist. “It gives families, especially patients, who would otherwise be cooped up in their rooms, the opportunity to release some energy,” she said. The colorful, spacious escape from disease and sickness is full of the imaginary — skyscrapers, countryside, a marketplace and village — as well as pieces of nature, transporting visitors away from a harsh, sterile medical world. “When I began landscape architecture, I had no experience with plants, but it didn’t take long for me to become enamored with nature,” Tucker said. “Landscape architecture is the perfect harmony of design and nature. The idea you can create special outdoor spaces for people to enjoy is rewarding.” As her role evolves, her career gains ground with each project. “My primary career focus is to become a licensed landscape architect by 2015,” Tucker said. “Even in the short time I have been working, I am always surprised by the opportunities that present themselves.” CJ
Tishomingo, Okla. Public Relations & Journalism
12/3/12 12:23 PM
Lexi Tucker enjoys the OU Childrenâ€™s Hospital Rooftop Village, a space for children and their families. Photo by Casey Reinhart.
12/3/12 12:24 PM
Top: Students learn OSU traditions at Fall Conference. Photo by Tasha Dove. Middle left: Ambassadors Carrie Doyle, Colby Gregg and Chelsie Wilson enjoy Fall Conference. Photo by Lacey Newlin. Middle right: Freshman display their new medallions at Your First Tradition. Photo courtesy of OSU Human Sciences. Bottom: Emily Sewell (left) helps a student break through her fears. Photo by Lacey Newlin.
The Everl Tom and Pauline Miller found each other while students at Oklahoma A&M. Today, their financial contributions help Oklahoma State University students find their futures. Once college sweethearts, the Millers married two years after their 1935 graduation with respective degrees in agronomy and home economics, now human sciences. Their only daughter, Barbara Miller Williams, who also graduated from OSU, died in 1975. The hard-working couple owned Miller Feed Farms in Elk City, Okla. They also raised broomcorn, once a staple of Oklahoma’s economy, and cotton on four farms covering 800 acres, according to the OSU Foundation. Pauline Miller taught home economics at Elk City High School for 30 years. The Millers, who died in 1993 and 1998, respectively, wanted to help others attend their alma mater and left the university a $3 million endowment. The gift, made during the 1990s, is one of the largest bequeathals by a family to OSU. Part of the endowment provides two $10,000 scholarships each year for Elk City students to attend OSU and major in human sciences or in agricultural sciences and natural resources. “[The Millers] were just a very giving and wonderful family,” said Katey Smith, an agribusiness and pre-law junior from Elk City. Although Smith did not know the Millers personally, she is the third OSU student in her family to receive the Millers’ scholarship.
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verlasting “Straight out of high school, I didn’t realize how significant the amount was,” Smith said. Not having to worry about student loans or debt makes attending OSU much easier, she said. Along with scholarships, the Miller Endowment provides money to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the College of Human Sciences each year. The funds are to be used, by request of the Millers, for student development and activities. Steve Damron, It’s amazing interim assistant how one gift has dean of CASNR, turned into so said because of the many gifts for so flexibility of the many people. endowment the college can try new — Shiretta Ownbey programs to see how Associate Dean of Human Sciences they will work. “We have a better chance of securing support for a program from other sources if we can show that the program works,” Damron said. “[The Miller Endowment] gives us a chance to innovate and to help students in ways that no other endowment allows.” In CASNR, the money supports student development activities such as Freshmen in Transition and the CASNR Living Community.
These programs provide students with opportunities to network within the college and be mentored by successful CASNR students, Damron said. “FIT helped me with the transition from living at home to going to college,” said Joe Giacomini, an animal science senior. “I made a ton of new friends and learned all about what OSU offered me.” Also, soon-to-be CASNR graduates are recognized in a new program funded by the Millers’ gift. The New Graduate Celebration allows faculty and staff to congratulate students and encourage them to succeed and stay in touch. Additional programs funded by the endowment are the Undergraduate Research Scholar Program, studyabroad scholarships, minority leadership enhancement and student development leadership activities. Shiretta Ownbey, associate dean of the College of Human Sciences, said the Millers’ funds have helped the college maintain OSU’s highest freshman retention rate — at more than 80 percent each year — for the last four years. Human Sciences uses its Miller Endowment funds on programs to get current and incoming students involved in college activities, Ownbey said.
For example, the Freshman Reading Program allows students to make new friends in their majors and be mentored by adult volunteers. The College of Human Sciences also hosts Your First Tradition, an event for incoming students to interact with alumni who graduated in their majors. The students also receive a symbolic medallion, which they wear at graduation. In addition to these programs, both colleges strive to increase success among their student bodies. The Miller Endowment provides funds for the college ambassadors, prospective student recruitment, club and leadership activities, and career services. Damron said the Millers were educational visionaries and humanitarians who understood how to keep their gift relevant and vibrant for generations to come. “We can’t say how grateful we are to the Millers,” Ownbey said. “It’s amazing how one gift has turned into so many gifts for so many people.” CJ
Big Cabin, Okla. Marketing & Advertising
An endowment is an amount of money given to the university with a stipulation that the funds are invested to earn annual interest rather than spent immediately. A portion of the annual earnings is used to award student scholarships, provide faculty development or support OSU programs. The rest of the earnings are reallocated back into the fund’s principal to ensure the endowment continues to grow and yield more interest for future support.
Source: OSU Foundation
12/7/12 11:32 AM
As the search for a cure continues, doctors, professors, researchers, students and volunteers make progress in the fight against cancer. One Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources professor dedicates his time and effort to this pursuit. Donald Ruhl, assistant professor and academic adviser in the biochemistry and molecular biology department, is making progress with his latest cancer research. “For several years, I have been interested in studying medicine related to increasing people’s quality of life down the road,” Ruhl said. After receiving his Ph.D. at the St. Louis University School of Medicine, Ruhl completed a post-doctorate at Cornell University. In 2010, he joined the OSU faculty to teach and continue his research. At St. Louis and Cornell, Ruhl worked among peers to identify one of the causes of breast cancer. Now, he focuses on pediatric cancer, but he said the two cancer types are similar in what amounts to a misreading of DNA. He recognizes students are highly interested in pediatric cancer. “The OSU lab students have a choice in what they would like to research,” Ruhl said. “Most student interest leans toward the pediatric cancer we study. It has more unknowns, and they like that.” His research lab of eight OSU undergraduates primarily focuses on a specific pediatric cancer and the unique patterns of gene expression to maintain cellular identity in an organism. The students’ current research examines an
aggressive cancer known as atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor, or AT/RT. This cancer affects infants and children typically under the age of 5, with a life expectancy of about one year. Ruhl’s biochemistry lab works persistently to identify the cause of AT/ RT’s cancerous structure. If the structure can be solved, then the functions of that protein and what the protein interacts with can be determined, which may result in a cure. If you are motivated Ruhl said he and want to do hopes to design research, come to a drug to bring OSU and you can solutions to this do it. destructive cancer and encourages — Donald Ruhl his lab students Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Assistant Professor to passionately continue the search. The responsibility of Ruhl’s undergraduates is to purify a particular AT/RT protein, isolate it, and determine its structure. “Now, seniors who were once sophomores are stepping up and training today’s sophomores,” Ruhl said. Ruhl said teaching students to teach their younger peers is his goal. “Lab work is a slow process, but still very fun, especially when results are found,” Ruhl said. Dru Albin, a junior in biological sciences from Keller, Texas, said he enjoys working alongside Ruhl and compliments his teaching styles. “By the way Ruhl talks and makes sure we’re all on top of our research, you can tell he really cares,” Albin said. “It is a lot of trial and error, but Ruhl makes research fun for me. It is exciting to be a part of something that could possibly find a cure for this type of cancer.” Madison Donica, a senior in biochemistry and molecular biology
from Ardmore, Okla., is one of Ruhl’s leaders in the laboratory. Donica is contemplating going to medical school and becoming a teacher. “I never thought about teaching before, but seeing Ruhl teach so well, conduct research and possibly save lives makes me want to do the same,” Donica said. “I am excited about our pediatric research because it is directly related to human health and affecting people.” Ruhl said he promotes research and encourages students to pursue research experiments to benefit their career goals. Ruhl said a large number of his past research students were pre-med. While some may not be involved specifically in future research, Ruhl said their cancer research will assist them in their future endeavors and their work contributed to the possible cure of this rare disease. One of these students, John Paul Long III, a biochemistry and molecular biology alumnus, said the cancer research he did at OSU helps him today. “The opportunity to work as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Ruhl’s lab proved to be of extreme benefit early in my medical career,” Long said. “The hands-on learning environment provided the skills, experience and knowledge to interpret data of biochemical assays, prepare and present scientific findings, collaborate with a team, and understand current scientific literature.” Like Long, many of Ruhl’s former students use their experiences to succeed. “If you are motivated and want to do research, come to OSU and you can do it,” Ruhl said. CJ
Fairview, Okla. Public Relations
12/3/12 2:27 PM
Donald Ruhl (right) assists Madison Donica in a cancer research experiment. Below: Madison Donica (right) teaches Dru Albin how to isolate cells in the laboratory. Photos by Tara Burchfield.
Cancer is the general name for a group of more than 100 diseases. Although many kinds of cancer exist, all cancers start because abnormal cells grow out of control. 1. Half of all men and one-third of all women in the United States will develop cancer during their lifetimes. 2. The risk of developing many types of cancer can be reduced by changes in a personâ€™s lifestyle. For example, staying away from tobacco, limiting time in the sun, being physically active, and eating healthy are ways to reduce cancer risk. 3. The estimated number of deaths due to cancer in 2012 in Oklahoma was 7,800, compared to Californiaâ€™s 56,620 deaths and 577,190 total U.S. deaths. Source: American Cancer Society
12/3/12 1:24 PM
Jayson Lusk displays five books he has written. Photo by Kelsey Evans.
Researching may just be a requirement to some, but to Jayson Lusk, research is a way of life, his passion that gives him a sense of pride. Lusk grew up in a small town in the Texas Panhandle. Graduating in a class of 13 people, he was involved in 4-H and FFA throughout high school and became active in dairy judging. Lusk spent his summers and holidays working on farms to make money. He said from an early age, he was interested in agriculture and knew he wanted to study this discipline in college.
Success in dairy judging landed Lusk a scholarship to Texas Tech University, where he spent the next four years earning a bachelor’s degree in food technology. However, he said an internship in Dallas helped him realize the food technology industry was not the right fit for him. He decided to take an agricultural economics class as an elective his senior
year. Lusk said he enjoyed it so much he decided he wanted to continue his studies in the field. After graduating from Texas Tech, Lusk accepted a fellowship to Kansas State University, where he earned his doctorate in agricultural economics. “I chose Kansas State because they offered me the best scholarship,” Lusk said. “I ended up loving it.”
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After graduating from KSU, Lusk spent time teaching and researching at Mississippi State University as well as Purdue University. He said he enjoyed both of his jobs. A job offer at Oklahoma State University was one I love the fact he could not refuse. that I get paid to Lusk accepted the think. position as a faculty — Jayson Lusk member and the Agricultural Economics Willard Sparks Professor Endowed Chair. “This offer allowed me to continue my research,” Lusk said. “It allowed me the financial support, as well.” Lusk said part of the draw to OSU was its proximity to home and family. Other positive aspects included the research topics and the faculty he would work with in the OSU Department of Agricultural Economics. “Bailey Norwood, a professor in agricultural economics, was an influence on my decision to come to OSU,” Lusk said. Lusk met Norwood while they were both studying at KSU. “He seemed like a regular, good guy,” Norwood said. “He was the only Texan I had ever met who didn’t think he was special just because he was a Texan!” Throughout his research years, Lusk has written five books and 120 articles. “I love the fact that I get paid to think,” he said. Research is important to him, he said, because he wants to help people who depend on it make better decisions, like farmers, for example. He said he strives to generate knowledge every day. Last year, Lusk took a six-month sabbatical, which is a period of absence given to a professor in his seventh year of teaching. He and his family lived in France while he broadened his research. “I always desired to live outside of the United States,” Lusk said. “I also already had experience working with researchers from around the world.” While Lusk was in France, he continued his research in consumer economics. He said he wanted to
Jayson Lusk joins his two boys, Jackson (back) and Harrison, on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Photo by Christy Lusk.
compare European economic behavior to American economic behavior. He said he was thrilled about this opportunity because of what it can do for OSU. “This trip allowed me to increase OSU’s visibility,” he said. “I am proud of my research because it shows my hard work and dedication.” Although Lusk has many achievements, faculty members said he also is known for being a good listener and someone who gives great advice. “He is very approachable,” said Damona Doye, interim department head of agricultural economics. “He serves as an important tutor of young researchers and a mentor for students.” Lusk said he plans to continue his mentoring and researching, which will include a monthly survey about food. “I want to have a timely and consistent source of information in the changes of consumer demand and preference,” he said. Another of Lusk’s projects allows him to work with clinical psychologists. They have taken pictures of a person’s brain to determine why he or she makes a certain choice. His fifth book, which will be released in April 2013, is called The Food Policy: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate.
With research as his passion, Lusk has spent 15 years of his life finding answers to help producers and consumers. He said he does not plan to stop any time soon. CJ
Pryor, Okla. Public Relations & Photography
Jayson Lusk conducts the majority of his research in his office. Photo by Kelsey Evans.
12/3/12 1:04 PM
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Distinguished Determined Achievements and excellence of graduates greatly reflect a college’s reputation and influence. With 239,462 living alumni from Oklahoma State University, including 24,680 from the College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources, graduates have countless opportunities to succeed. Each year, select CASNR graduates are honored as distinguished alumni. According to the nomination guidelines, these alumni have contributed to society and demonstrate such integrity and stature that faculty, staff, graduates and students are inspired. Nominated by faculty, each recognized alumnus demonstrates a continuing interest in agriculture and natural resources. “Today’s faculty in the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are very in-tune with the accomplishments of the alumni from their departments,” said Mike Woods, interim vice president, dean and director of DASNR. “We rely on them to nominate the best of the best for consideration, and the slate of nominees is always impressive.” This year, two alumni received this honor: Ron Sholar and Tommy Kramer. “This is a recognition only a few people can claim, and these men exemplify the traits of our most distinguished alumni,” Woods said.
A Master of His Trade
Growing up on a crop and livestock farm in Tennessee, Ron Sholar said he always knew he would work in agriculture. “I thought it was a noble calling to help farmers feed their own families,
their neighbors, people in their state and nation, even in the world,” Sholar said. Sholar pursued a Bachelor of Science in agricultural science at the University of Tennessee at Martin. While earning his degree, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officers Training Corps, or ROTC. With his new bride, Linda, Sholar moved to Oklahoma to attend Oklahoma State University in 1971. “I told Linda I was taking her to Oklahoma for our honeymoon,” Sholar said. “She thought then, and still thinks, that was a great idea.” Sholar earned a Master of Science in agronomy in 1973 and his doctorate in crop science in 1984, both from OSU. After a two-year active duty stint in the U.S. Army, Sholar worked for 30 years as a professor of agronomy at OSU and as an extension agronomist, while also serving as a citizen-soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve. “Ron Sholar has devoted his life to the service of others and has made a tremendous positive impact on society through his many outstanding contributions,” said David Porter, plant and soil sciences department head at OSU. “We are so very proud of his exemplary service to our country, our state and our university.” Throughout his 39 years in the military, Sholar has visited soldiers in Germany, France, New Zealand, Kuwait, Qatar, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Becoming an officer in the Army has led to a life that I never planned for early on,” Sholar said. “But once I started down that path, it was a career decision for which I developed a great passion.” After progressing through the Army ranks and retiring from OSU in 2003, Sholar received a promotion to major general. He returned to duty and commanded large Army organizations in Arkansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas and Georgia. Before his military retirement in 2010, Sholar was the deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Command and was responsible for 206,000 soldiers. But, retirement was not for Sholar. “I failed retirement and went back to work part time,” Sholar said. From 2010 to 2012, he worked as an agricultural consultant. Sholar now serves as the executive director for the Oklahoma Oilseed Commission and executive director of the Great Plains Canola Association. “It’s a really exciting time, as we are getting [canola] going in Oklahoma and other Great Plains states,” Sholar said. “It can make a difference to folks, and I am happy to be a part of that.” Sholar serves as the Army Reserve Ambassador for Oklahoma and speaks frequently to public and private groups on national security issues. The Sholars are active with World War II veterans and are committed to doing whatever they can in the interest of national security, Sholar said.
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The Sholars enjoy hiking, camping and working outside at their home in Stillwater. They also enjoy traveling and visit Europe every other year. “Of course, we are absolutely huge OSU Cowboy fans,” Sholar said. “[We have] season tickets to football and basketball, and we attend as many other sporting events as we can.” The Sholars’ 40-year marriage has given them one daughter, Tessa; a son-in-law, Rick Barrett; and four grandchildren — Grace, Claire, James and Grant. “We are very close to them,” Sholar said. “They are a big part of our lives.” Sholar said he plans to continue his involvement with agriculture and national security. “Frankly,” Sholar said, “I have no plans to stop.”
Tommy Kramer (top) and Ron Sholar are honored as CASNR distinguished alumni for 2012. Photos by Todd Johnson.
Being raised around horses, cattle and hay on a farm in Tulsa County, Tommy Kramer said he has always had a love for agriculture and farm animals. His family grew wheat and raised livestock. They made a living producing high-quality hay. “We had quite a hay business,” Kramer said. “We baled square bales and sold them to show horse stables around Tulsa and Rogers counties.” He was involved in 4-H for 11 years and became intrigued with cutting meat in his grandparents’ grocery store and meat market in Tulsa.
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Kramer attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, where he earned his associate’s degree in animal science in 1970. He then earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science and animal breeding with a minor in biology from Oklahoma Panhandle State University, graduating at the top of his class in 1974. During his senior year at Panhandle State, Kramer started receiving letters from agricultural universities asking if he had entertained the thought of attending graduate school and working on an advanced degree program. “When I narrowed the field down,” Kramer said, “Oklahoma State University was my top choice.” Kramer earned his Master of Science in animal science with a meat science option from OSU in 1976. After graduation, Kramer was employed by Eastern Oklahoma State College to develop a two-year meat science program. There, he became the department head of the meat science
program in the Division of Agriculture. During his five years at Eastern, he built a meat laboratory capable of slaughtering and processing cattle, swine and lambs. For the next 10 years, Kramer served as the operational manager of Owen’s Country Sausage in Richardson, Texas. He then moved back to Oklahoma to become the vice president of J.C. Potter Sausage Co. in Durant, Okla., for 10 years before retiring. “I have been the luckiest guy on Earth to have a career in agriculture,” Kramer said. In 1998, Kramer left retirement to become the first executive director of the Durant Industrial Authority. “Durant and southeastern Oklahoma have forever been changed for the good because of Tommy,” said Roy Escoubas, director at the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center. During the past 15 years, Kramer has brought more than $750 million in business investments and economic
development growth as well as created more than 4,000 new jobs for Durant. “I’m watching my city grow,” Kramer said. “Every time a new business comes to our community and builds a facility, they hire locally for their workforce. When that happens, the quality of life for our citizens improves and that is a true blessing to watch.” Kramer and his wife, Barbara, have four children — Amy, Kimberly, Chad and Keith — and five grandchildren. Both of Kramer’s daughters graduated from OSU. “That was a very touching moment in my life, watching our daughters achieve a degree from OSU,” Kramer said. “I’ll never forget those days and the blessing of being back on the OSU campus for their graduation.” CJ
Woodward, Okla. Public Relations & Writing
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Null Seed Farm Your source for registered, certiﬁed wheat and canola seed.
13919 N. 2180 Road Hobart, OK 73651 Larry: 580-726-3220 Scott: 580-726-5882 Tom: 580-482-4601 COWBOY JOURNAL | 79
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CASNR Recognizes 2012 Early Career Achieveme
Kyle Hughbanks (left), president of the CASNR Alumni Association board of directors, presents the Early Career Achievement Award to Jason Harvey (above) and Shane Robinson. Harvey and Robinson received the awards during the annual CASNR Alumni Homecoming Barbecue in October. Photos by Todd Johnson.
The Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Alumni Association created an award recognizing young alumni who impact agriculture in Oklahoma. Jason Harvey, 39, and Shane Robinson, 38, are the most recent recipients of the CASNR Alumni Early Career Achievement Award this fall. This award recognizes CASNR graduates from within the last 15 years who bring distinction to the college. Dana Bessinger, who serves on the board of directors for the CASNR Alumni Association, said both Harvey and Robinson help promote agriculture throughout Oklahoma. “They are in the trenches for agriculture,” Bessinger said.
Harvey, from Beggs, Okla., graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and a minor in agronomy. He then earned a master’s degree in 1997 from OSU in agricultural education. Harvey serves as the grant coordinator for the Market Development Division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. His job includes assisting crop producers, establishing farmers’ markets and working with entrepreneurs to promote their products through the Made in Oklahoma program. In addition to volunteer work for 4-H and FFA youth activities, Harvey served on the CASNR Alumni Association board of directors from 2003 to 2009 and was president from 2006 to 2007. Harvey has coordinated the
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evement Award Recipients Agricultural Access Tour and has helped at the Oklahoma Youth Expo. “It was a shock to receive this award,” Harvey said. “It was a humbling experience to know I was selected out of many deserving young alumni.” Harvey’s wife, Melanie, graduated from OSU with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. They have a 6-month-old daughter, Alyse.
Robinson, a Hollis, Okla., native, graduated from OSU in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. In 2000, he earned a master’s degree in agricultural education. Robinson taught agricultural education at Sapulpa High School from 2000 to 2003. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in agricultural education in 2006. Robinson taught agricultural education for one year at the University
Gold Level Express Ranches Farm Credit of Western Oklahoma Greg & Kristen Hart
of Kentucky before going to work for the OSU Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership in 2007. In addition to teaching, Robinson provides presentations for professional development services for educators and agricultural teachers. “I was surprised and honored to receive this award,” Robinson said. Robinson also received the Outstanding Young Member Award at the 2012 Southern Region American Association for Agricultural Education. “CASNR is near and dear to my heart, so to be recognized by my peers was a very humbling experience for me,” Robinson said. Robinson’s wife, Erin, is also an OSU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. The couple has three children: Parker, age 7; Ella, age 5; and Walker, age 2. — Rachael Doner
American Farmers & Ranchers BancCentral N.A. BancFirst - Stillwater Bank of Kremlin Chisolm Trail Credit Grissoms, LLC P&K Equipment Persimmon Creek Investments Shattuck National Bank The Bank N.A.
Hopeton State Bank REI Enterprises, Inc. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.
The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Alumni Association Board of Directors Ky l e H u g h b a n k s P re s i d e n t Alva, Okla. J a m e s F e r re l l V i c e P re s i d e n t Yu ko n , O k l a . B r i a n Vowe l l S e c re t a r y S t i l l w a t e r, O k l a . S t eve D a m ro n E xe c u t i ve S e c re t a r y S t i l l w a t e r, O k l a . Mechelle Hampton Tu l s a , O k l a . Ke n t G a rd n e r Oklahoma City Glen Winters Altus, Okla. Coleman Hickman Sapulpa, Okla. D o n Ro b e r t s Enid, Okla. Tre s a Ru ny a n A rd m o re , O k l a . J o h n C o t h re n S t r a t f o rd , O k l a . Ke n S p ad y Hinton, Okla. Dana Bessinger Wa t o n g a , O k l a .
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Feeding and clothing the world ...
one farmer at a time.
Oklahoma’s agriculture industry is generations strong. Zac Harris brings together modern technology and a diversified crop base as he builds upon generations of know-how on his family’s southwest Oklahoma farm. From father to son, from grandfather to granddaughter, Oklahoma farm families care for the land and for our state’s natural resources. Oklahoma Farm Bureau has served generations of Oklahoma’s farm families, and we will be agricultural advocates for generations to come.
2501 N Stiles • Oklahoma City, OK 73105 • www.okfarmbureau.org
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Cowboy Journal Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership 448 Agricultural Hall Stillwater, OK 74078-6031
OSU Mortar Board recognized nine CASNR sophomores as 2012 Outstanding Freshmen: Ty Schoenhals (left), Cade Broadbent, Dalton Downing, Chacey Schoeppel, Kendra Rash, Hannah Nemecek, Chris Stockton, Peter Storm and Brandon Baumgarten (not pictured). Photo by George Bulard.
CASNR Student Success Center 103 Agricultural Hall • Stillwater, OK 74078 • 405.744.9464 • casnr.okstate.edu
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Cowboy Journal Volume 15, Number 1 Winter/Spring 2013 Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
Published on Jan 1, 2013
Cowboy Journal Volume 15, Number 1 Winter/Spring 2013 Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources