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College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University

Volume 16 Number 2 • Summer/Fall 2014

Farm Transitions OSU partners with producers to help keep farms in the family

Cowboy Congressman Frank Lucas stays grounded through agriculture

Special Champions Young showmen gain more than ribbons

Wild Nuisance Feral hogs uproot Oklahoma lands

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Growing Oklahoma’s Future. Division of

Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources dasnr.okstate.edu

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6 Editors’ Letter

As we prepare this issue of the Cowboy Journal for publication, we feel an overwhelming sense of pride. We are proud to have played a part in the creation of the latest installment of this timehonored tradition, and we are exceptionally proud of our staff members for showing enormous dedication, persevering, and never settling for “good enough.” Throughout the pages of this issue, you will find microscopic diamonds, students exploring the Galápagos Islands, unmanned aerial vehicles in wheat fields and much more. For assistance with the production of this publication, we would like to extend our thanks to Lori Allmon, Lindy

28 Knowles, Angel Riggs, Dwayne Cartmell, Traci Naile, Karen Brown, Todd Johnson, Jake Gankofskie and Jamie Trissel. Finally, we are most grateful to have the guidance, encouragement and leadership of our managing editor, Shelly Sitton. By constantly pushing us to do our best work, you have allowed us not only to create a high-quality magazine but also to grow as professionals in the agricultural communications field. We are also incredibly grateful to you, the reader. We hope the following pages convey the immense pride each of our staff members holds for this publication and Oklahoma State University.

Table of


Volume 16 Number 2


Ketchum if You Can 83-year-old Marie Ketchum inspires 4-H shooting sports.


Beefing Up Efficiency


Oklahoma Rooted

OSU researchers focus on beef efficiency in the face of growing demand. Congressman Frank Lucas stays rooted in his Oklahoma heritage.

— Rosie and Sam Editors Samantha Smith Rosie Templeton

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.

Managing Editor Shelly Peper Sitton, Ph.D.

On the cover: Transitioning across generations proves challenging on Oklahoma farms. Full story on page 25. Photo by Paige Wallace. 4 | SUMMER/FALL 2014

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10 16

Know the Enemy


Reigniting Hope


Cultivating a Future Generation


Exhibiting Inspiration


Time for the Takedown


Breaking the Cycle

Key to zapping Oklahoma’s pests may be found in the tobacco hornworm. Kent Donica improves agricultural practices at African orphanage. Oklahoma farm families prepare for changing hands. Special-needs youth make an impact in and out of the show ring. OSU senior Darnell Bortz wrestles academics and athletics. Adam Cobb researches how fungi and farmers can work together.


Snout Invasion


Cooking Up Success


Feral hogs become a wild nuisance to many Oklahoma landowners. OSU helps entrepreneur find a new way to bring bacon to the table.

Turning Values into Priorities Agricultural leadership sophomore Jason Wetzler thrives in National FFA.


Crediting the Cross Timbers


Ahead of the Fire


Exploring the Equator

Tree rings reveal history and benefits of Oklahoma’s forests. OK-FIRE program offers online tools for prescribed burning and fire safety. Students spend spring break in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.

Graphic & Photo Coordinators LaSalle Lewellen Alyson Moore

Circulation Coordinator Ashton Mese

Sponsorship Coordinators Mitchell Earl Betty Thompson Richey

Assistant Managing Editors Dwayne Cartmell, Ph.D. Traci Naile, Ph.D. Angel Riggs, Ph.D.


Game Changer


Flight to the Future


Family Extension

Kevin Igo takes agricultural chemical company to new heights. Unmanned aerial vehicles fly onto Oklahoma farmers’ radars. Campbell family makes careers in Cooperative Extension a family affair.


Digging Deep for Diamonds


A True CASNR Leader


CASNR Alumni News

Microscopic diamonds tell stories of the past in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Ashton Mese earns CASNR’s Outstanding Senior award. Brian Vowell takes the reins as new CASNR Alumni board president.

Staff Dedra Baker, Kiersten Brower, Amy Cox, Jeanette Green, Kristin Knight, Jacee May, Miranda Moorman, Taylor Payne, Anna Prichard, Harlie Runner, Shelby Skinner, Paige Wallace and Zach White.


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An 83-year-old Oklahoma woman leaves her legacy through 4-H shooting sports. oad the shotgun. Give the cue. Pull the trigger. Break the target. Repeat more than 200,000 times. For 83-year-old shotgun legend Marie Ketchum, this trapshooting routine was a way of life. A resident of Duncan, Okla., Ketchum and her late husband, Jack, began their trapshooting careers in 1969. Known as one of the only Oklahoma women competing in registered trapshoots at the time, Ketchum earned the respect of the shotgun industry with her talent, hard work and love of the sport. Beyond the competition line, Ketchum said she had a passion for improving the shooting skills of others and helping people enjoy the sport just as much as she did. In 1979, the past presidents club of the Amateur Trapshooting Association approached her about starting a youth program to teach kids the basic skills of shotgun shooting. “The ATA youth director called and asked me if I would work with some of the kids at the gun club,” Ketchum said. And so the legend began. After coaching dozens of students for four years to shoot at registered state and national trapshoots, Ketchum and Brad Harlow, former southwest district 4-H specialist, decided to implement a 4-H trapshooting program. The 4-H trapshooting program began in Stephens County in 1983 and has

continued to flourish since its induction, Ketchum said. Coaches have come and gone, but Ketchum’s legacy is one that cannot be ignored, said Kimbreley Davis, current southwest district 4-H specialist. Davis joined the Stephens County Extension staff in 2008. “I knew I was coming into a county that had a long-standing tradition of shotgun sports,” Davis said. “I didn’t know the extent of it, other than I knew there was this lady in her later years, and she held a huge reputation.” Ketchum’s reputation is intimidating, but her personality is the exact opposite, Davis said. “She is a lady to be respected, but I describe her as everybody’s grandma,” Davis said. “She has a standard that she expects you to meet, but at the same time, she has a caring personality that is very warm and welcoming.” Ketchum’s coaching style reflects her personality. She coaches in a quiet, encouraging way, Davis said. “She just simply walks up behind [the students] when they’re on the line and gives them a correction,” Davis said. “No one else will ever hear it. She just whispers it to them. Whatever it is, they know she is right.” Ketchum’s coaching style demands respect, a characteristic of trapshooting she said she considers most important. Ketchum said she emphasizes respect for

one’s gun, respect for the shooting grounds and respect for each other. “We try to teach kids respect,” she said. “We’ve had very few people who didn’t get what we were trying to do. If you don’t show them respect, they’re not going to show you any respect.” Davis said Ketchum’s respect for her students is reciprocated to her through the shooters’ hard work and their desire to please their coach. “Those kids will bend over backward because they want to make her proud,” Davis said. Carolyn Koch-Paramore, former Olympic trapshooter and one of Ketchum’s first students, can attest to Ketchum’s successful coaching. “Marie takes every child for who they are,” Paramore said. “She was my coach, but she was also my friend. She’s still very much a part of my heart.” At age 11, Paramore began shooting with Ketchum, progressing through the ranks until she eventually made the U.S. Olympic team, but Ketchum’s coaching was never far from her mind, she said. “I shot for her for 10 years,” Paramore said, “but a part of me was shooting for her my whole career.” Marie Ketchum of Duncan, Okla., began the 4-H trapshooting program in Stephens County in 1983. Photo by Samantha Smith.

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She’s a big part of the life lessons you learn at the gun club ... If Marie wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be here.

— Chris Totty Stephens County 4-H Trapshooter


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Marie Ketchum (second from right) has served as a 4-H trapshooting coach in Stephens County for 35 years. Chase Brasher (left), Annslee Bass and Chris Totty are members of her current team. Photo by Samantha Smith.

As a woman competing in what was considered a man’s sport, Paramore faced many obstacles throughout her trapshooting career. She said Ketchum, who was breaking ground herself, helped her overcome those gender barriers. “When I first started shooting, there weren’t very many women who shot,” Paramore said, “and [the men] sure didn’t want to shoot with an 11-year-old girl. She helped me overcome that because she was overcoming the same thing in the sport as a woman. I learned tolerance and self-respect from her.” Ketchum said the gender difference did not bother her. “When I’m out there on the line, I’m not a woman — I’m a shooter,” Ketchum said. “But, those boys didn’t want anything to do with me until I proved myself.” Ketchum is in her 35th year as a trapshooting coach in Stephens County, but she stopped shooting in 2006 due to her age-related physical limitations. Although she no longer shoots on the line, her coaching reaches far beyond the basics of shooting a shotgun.

“Those kids get way more than just a coach with her,” Davis said. “I don’t know that she or any of the other coaches realize the depth of what they do. They’re out there because they care about kids and they want to give them an opportunity to shoot, but along the way, they teach them so many life skills.” Commitment, self-respect, responsibility and teamwork are just a few of the things Chris Totty, a Duncan High School senior, said he has learned from trapshooting with Ketchum. “She is a big part of the life lessons you learn at the gun club,” Totty said. “The other coaches can teach you a lot about how to shoot, but she can teach you so much more than that. If Marie wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be here.” Davis said students will take the skills they learn and apply them to other disciplines in their lives. “They walk away with skills they learned in trapshooting that they’re going to use for the rest of their lives,” Davis said. “Marie bought into that a long time ago because she saw the value of it.”

As a former 4-H member, Ketchum said she sees the importance of the organization in the lives of students. Her love of working with children is what has kept her involved for so long, she said. “I can’t remember a time when I haven’t worked with kids,” Ketchum said. “Children need a place where they can do things, learn things and have people who are interested in how well they do them.” Although Ketchum’s time as a coach eventually will come to an end, her impact on Oklahoma 4-H shooting sports will leave a lasting legacy, Paramore said. “I wish people had the good things to say about me that I know they’ve had to say about her,” Paramore said. “She gave so much of her time, and there are so many people who don’t do that. She’s just phenomenal — you won’t meet anybody else like her.”

Samantha Smith Burlington, Okla.

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The FarmHouse members have majors as diverse as their backgrounds; however, they are an all-inclusive brotherhood devoted to the building of men.

FarmHouse Fraternity Oklahoma State University

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Above: Insentec feeders use transponder collars to record feed intake for each animal. Right: Weaned calves are fed haylage for several months before switching to a mixed grain and forage diet. Photos by Alyson Moore.

Willard Sparks Beef Research Center investigates input conversion in beef cattle.

y the year 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts the world population will reach 9 billion. Consequently, less land must produce a far greater yield while at the same time meeting bioenergy needs from grains. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United States provides 25 percent of the world’s beef but only accounts for 10 percent of its cattle population. Clint Krehbiel, Oklahoma State University assistant department head of animal science, said efficient, fast-gaining beef cattle are more valuable than ever. OSU researchers like Krehbiel use the Willard Sparks Beef Research Center to develop ways of minimizing inputs and maximizing outputs in beef production. Krehbiel said the center functions as an informative hub for both cattle producers and consumers. “The beef cattle industry has become a shrinking industry because of external forces,” Krehbiel said. “It’s now more critical than ever to maximize gain with the least amount of natural resources. If we plan to feed that many people with the same amount of land — well, less actually — cattle have to become more efficient.” D.L. Step, OSU Center for Veterinary

Health Sciences professor, said the Sparks Center’s priorities are beef health and nutrition reasearch. “The entirety of our research is to address the well-being of the animal so it can reach its genetic potential and ultimately provide a safe, quality product for the consumer,” Step said. Step said nutrition, environment, animal behavior and handling are all contributing factors to the efficiency and success of feedlot cattle. Advancements in technology and the design of the Sparks Center permit monitoring and research to be completed on each of those influences. “Animal behavior, their feed and water intake, illness rates, and the overall health of the cattle are each monitored,” Step said. “We actually have a mini weather station to monitor how the environment impacts the cattle.” Krehbiel said while cattle at the Sparks Center are penned together, new technology allows for individual performance to be recorded during each feeding. “We just installed an Insentec facility that allows us to group-house animals and still get an individual’s feed and water intake,” Krehbiel said.

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If we plan to feed that many people with the same amount of land — well, less actually — cattle have to become more efficient.

— Clint Krehbiel Assistant Department Head, OSU Animal Science


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2 1 He said although the Sparks Center has monitored feed efficiency for some time, water efficiency is now among the primary research performed. “A group of collaborators, led by Dr. Megan Rolf, just landed us a big USDA grant,” Krehbiel said. “We’ll now be able to measure water efficiency. This will be the first grant of its kind and the first data set of its kind. It’s a pretty neat thing.” Krehbiel said OSU is one of four facilities in North America to have the necessary technology to measure water intake and efficiency. “Our research and efforts at the Sparks Center are with a long-term impact in mind,” Step said. “We’re looking at what we can do to help the consumer.” Step said when producers take care of an animal, they strive to maximize the quality cattle producers work for as well as create what the consumers demand. Krehbiel said the Sparks Center was built with the student, producer and consumer in mind. He said the original facility was an experimental station located near Pawhuska, Okla., which was too far of a commute for faculty and students. Don Wagner, former animal science department head, and Don Gill, a beef cattle extension specialist, formed a committee of Oklahoma cattlemen to explore the idea of a research center in Stillwater. “The USDA approved a grant, which other sources were asked to match,” Krehbiel said. “A lot of cattlemen, including Willard Sparks, an OSU agricultural economics graduate, stepped up and funded the facility. It was completed in 1998.”



1. The Willard Sparks Beef Research Center installed high-tech Insentec feeders to measure feed intake of calves. 2. The facility was built in 1998 with a $2.3 million investment. 3. Steers wait in the finishing pen at the Sparks Center. 4. Andrew Grimes, Sparks Center employee, throws extra feed to calves. Photos by Alyson Moore.

Krehbiel said the center was built to assist Oklahoma cattlemen in gaining a better understanding for managing the health and nutrition of beef cattle. “The design of the Sparks Center reflects situations that occur in cattle production every day,” Step said. “The efforts we make at the center are done in order to relate to operations involving beef cattle.” Jared Taylor, CVHS assistant professor, said the real-world setting at the Willard Sparks Beef Research Center is beneficial to his research. “The Sparks Center offers the opportunity for invasive research when compared to typical management systems,” Taylor said. “I’ve worked with them on a number of projects where they were able to collect samples and data that facilitated my research.” Taylor said the independent portion of his research is focused on bovine respiratory disease. While the center’s primary focus is on nutrition and performance,

each data set collected at the center benefits numerous research trials. “Just because the cattle are on a feeding trial, they’re still obviously subject to health issues,” Taylor said. “Dr. Krehbiel has been very collaborative in working with folks here at CVHS to accommodate tangentially related research. In the end, this even contributes to the performance of the cattle.” Step said a strong interaction between the animal science department and CVHS makes things work. “We are blessed to have such a good relationship between the two departments,” Step said. “There’s no question it has contributed to the success of the facility and will continue to do so.”

Alyson Moore Selma, N.C.

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Time in Washington, D.C., will never change where Congressman Frank Lucas calls home. rowing up in a family and community almost exclusively focused on agriculture had a definite, positive and lasting impact on Frank Lucas, U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District. “I am a farmer by trade,” Lucas said. “I was raised by people who suffered

through the Great Depression. My grandparents were young men and women then, and [Roger Mills County] was a very, very tough place to be. “It was a time when there was basically no safety net when it came to weather, prices or markets,” Lucas added. Lucas was always interested in agricul-

ture, said Jimmy Beavin, Lucas’ long-time friend. His family played a crucial role in his first attempts at farming. Lucas’ background inspired him to represent agriculture, Beavin added. “My grandfather Fred Aderholt cosigned my first lease on a little farm when I was 17 years old,” Lucas said. “He also

Each summer, Frank Lucas meets with Oklahoma FFA students at the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Rep. Frank Lucas. COWBOY JOURNAL | 13

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diploma from OSU. His undergraduate experience provided him with opportunities to succeed. “One of the advantages of being a product of a comprehensive land-grant university is you develop relationships that will benefit you for the rest of your life,” Lucas said. “Had I not earned a degree in agricultural economics, I would not have the skill set, range of experiences or been prepared to be a member of Congress.” The U.S. Congress is in legislative session nine months of the year. This poses a unique challenge for Lucas to be both a farmer and a congressman, he said. “The great resource I am fortunate to have is my wife, Lynda,” Lucas said. “She likes the cattle but is not too crazy about the tractors. She runs the farm when I’m in D.C. during the week. “In all fairness, she also runs the farm when I’m there on weekends,” Lucas As chairman, Frank Lucas leads a meeting for the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture added with a laugh. “She does a wonderful job. Without Lynda to run the farm, it just in 2013. Photo courtesy of Rep. Frank Lucas. would not be possible to keep it.” Traveling back to Cheyenne and his “During my senior year of high co-signed my note at the bank and helped agricultural roots keeps Lucas connected, school, Mother Nature did not cooperate, get me started.” he said. He has logged more than 4 miland my 1978 wheat crop was a failure,” Family helped Lucas get his start lion flying miles between Oklahoma and Lucas said. “I cashed out my dorm in farming, and so did FFA. ThroughD.C. to remain engaged on his farm and deposit at Oklahoma State University, out high school, Lucas was active in the with his constituents. went down to the bank, persuaded my Cheyenne, Okla., FFA chapter, where he When Lucas was first elected to the banker to roll my notes over, and put in focused on wheat and cattle. legislature, Gov. Henry Bellmon, an Oklaanother wheat crop.” “Frank was always a quiet kid, but he homa A&M College graduate in agrono Instead of attending OSU that fall, was also a hard worker,” said Gary Kirk, my and a wheat farmer, had several words Lucas enrolled at a local junior college so Lucas’ agricultural education teacher and of wisdom for him, Lucas said. he could work part time and have anothFFA adviser. “During his freshman year “He said, er attempt at of high school, he was the chapter’s Star If farmers and ranchers ‘Don’t ever give wheat farming. Greenhand Award recipient.” up your farm “My sec As an elected official, Lucas delivers are doing OK, then Main because it is a ond wheat crop, speeches in public almost daily. He started Street businesses in Boise big part of what in 1979, was gaining experience with this skill through helps keep you one of the best FFA speech contests. City, Cheyenne, Pawhuska grounded,’” Lu “I required all of [the students] to give ever raised on and Hollis are doing OK. cas said. “Gov. that little farm,” a speech,” Kirk said. “For some, it was un— Frank Lucas Bellmon was Lucas said. comfortable and all they did was grumble, U.S. Representative for Oklahoma exactly right. “That turned but Frank was different. I could tell he Whether you are in state legislature or my financial fortunes around, and as a enjoyed it, and it turned out he was pretty sophomore, I enrolled at Oklahoma State.” in Congress, continuing to do the things good. He ended up getting second at the back home that made you the person you As an FFA member, Lucas had spent state FFA convention.” time on the OSU campus while participat- are is important. It helps maintain a grip Lucas remained involved throughout on reality.” ing in various contests and attending state his high school career and served as FFA Lucas is still a hometown boy, and FFA conventions. chapter president his junior and senior whenever he gets the opportunity to go “I went to the best place for me,” Luyears, Kirk said. home, he takes it, Beavin said. cas said. “I was among a wonderful bunch Lucas said throughout that time, he “Personally, I enjoy working on fencof professors and a great bunch of folks in was passionate about raising and showing es, driving a tractor, or doing something the student body. It was the right choice.” Shorthorn cattle and experienced trouwith the cattle,” Lucas said. “The handsmore than a Lucas said he received bling times in farming. 14 | SUMMER/FALL 2014

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on farm stuff some people might consider drudgery or work is how I get my oxygen and sunshine.” Just like in high school, Lucas is still a hard worker, Kirk said. “Whenever he is home, you are likely to see him at the veterinarian’s with some of his cattle and manure on his boots,” Kirk said. Being home also gives Lucas the opportunity to unwind away from the hustle and bustle of the Capitol, he said. “We live far enough out in a rural area that there are some places out on the backside of the farm where the cellphone does not work,” Lucas said. “At times, that can be a pretty good thing.” Lucas’ trips home allow him to stay connected with the needs of the people in his congressional district, Beavin said. “He has not forgotten about his ‘people’ and where he came from,” Kirk said.

From 2011 to 2013, Lucas’ home county, Roger Mills, was part of the “super drought,” and his time there allowed him to see its impact firsthand. “I could see when the pastures got shorter, the cattle had to work harder, and the crop conditions in the fields deteriorated,” Lucas said. “I did not have to read a report about it or watch television. I just walked through my own pastures. I looked my own cows in the eye. I tried to decide how I was ever going to get a wheat crop up myself.” With a congressional district spanning across 32 counties, Lucas must focus on other issues in addition to agriculture. However, his main focus has been and will always be agriculture and rural America, he said. “If farmers and ranchers are doing OK, then Main Street businesses in Boise City, Cheyenne, Pawhuska and Hollis are

doing OK,” Lucas said. “If things are not working on the farm, then there is trouble in all of those towns. If rural Oklahoma is not prosperous, then it affects everybody in Oklahoma.” Protecting rural Oklahoma and ensuring agriculture is sustainable through future generations is something Lucas said he strives to accomplish. “I am a multigenerational resident of rural Oklahoma, a farmer since I was 17 years old and an agricultural economics degree recipient from OSU,” Lucas said. “I want to pursue what I love, which is production agriculture.”

Miranda Moorman Leedey, Okla.

Oklahoma’s Internships in Washington, D.C. Congressional

Agricultural Policy

Agricultural Committee

Congressional internships with Congressman Frank Lucas are available in Washington, D.C., for the spring, summer and fall. Interns can learn about the legislative process and earn course credit. Interns are selected based on GPA and extracurricular activities. Preference is given to students who live in Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District. For information, call Lucas’ Washington, D.C., office at 202-225-5565.

Each year, one CASNR student is selected to intern for the House Committee on Agriculture with a focus on agricultural policy. Applicants must be a junior or senior and have completed Issues in Agricultural Policy, AGEC 3703, or American Agricultural Policy, AGEC 4703, by the end of the spring semester before they intern. The internship includes a stipend of approximately $2,700 to assist with living expenses in Washington, D.C. For more information, call 405-7449464 or visit 103 Agricultural Hall at Oklahoma State University.

Additional U.S. House Committee on Agriculture internships are available in the spring, summer and fall. Internships typically last six weeks but are available throughout the entire semester. These internships are housed in the House Committee on Agriculture, but duties are similar to the congressional office internship. Applications are accepted on a continual basis. Interested college students should send a résumé and cover letter to the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, at agrepublicanpress@mail.house.gov.

• • •

• • •

Spring: January to April; applications due at the end of November. Summer: May to August; applications due in mid-March. Fall: September to December; applications due at the end of July.

“I loved getting to learn how a congressional office works,” said Alison Slagell, Congressional intern for Rep. Frank Lucas in summer 2013. “My favorite part of the internship was talking with constituents and leading them on U.S. Capitol tours.”

Summer: May to August; applications due at the beginning of January.

“From the opportunity to live in the amazing city of D.C. to working on the farm bill, the entire experience was so meaningful,” said Morgan Neilson, Frank D. Lucas agricultural policy intern in 2013. “I learned how fast-paced and intricate the government is and would strongly encourage OSU students to apply.”

Spring: January to April Summer: May to August Fall: September to December

“Working with OSU alumnus Bart Fischer, chief economist for the House Committee on Agriculture, gave me an insight into how effective agricultural policy reform is forged,” said Brian Highfill, U.S. House Committee on Agriculture intern in summer 2013. COWBOY JOURNAL | 15

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OSU researchers build model to zap agricultural pests. olding a pipette with expert precision in the Noble Research Center at Oklahoma State University, Alicia Hu injects a solution onto a microplate containing proteins she designed and produced just a day earlier. Though far from a wheat field, the research of the OSU Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology is in the foundational stages of creating major innovations for Oklahoma’s farmers. Hu, a fifth-year doctoral student in biochemistry and molecular biology, works under Haobo Jiang, professor of entomology and plant pathology, in studying the genetic and enzymatic makeup of the Manduca sexta, commonly known as the tobacco hornworm. “The study of the immune system of insects is just the first step,” Hu said. “If you understand this system better, you can design pesticides or even control the diseases they transmit.” Jiang said this research is basic science that reveals important elements of the immunity of the tobacco hornworm and can lead to further discoveries about how to control similar pests, particularly those affecting agricultural crops. “It is an ideal model insect to work out the basic components of many physiological processes occurring in insects, Left: Haobo Jiang, OSU entomology and plant pathology professor, plans to publish papers on the tobacco hornworm in 2014. Photo by Rosie Templeton.

including pests,” Jiang said. “The insect is very large — 12 to 14 grams per larva — so it’s a good size for conducting research.” The tobacco hornworm, although not a major pest in Oklahoma, is a good model system, said Jack Dillwith, professor in entomology and plant pathology at OSU. “The Manduca sexta shows us a basic model of the insect immune system,” Dillwith said. “By using that model, we can better understand how to control aphids in wheat, for example.” Dillwith described using the tobacco hornworm for pest research as similar to using white mice for research in labs. “You can gather your basic information in the model system, then extend it to the pest species,” Dillwith said. Within the next year, Jiang said he plans to publish data on the tobacco hornworm genome and allow other researchers to use this model. He said this published research would help in the design of experiments on many different insects. Protein and DNA sequencing allows researchers to find exact targets where immunity is expressed and can provide information for designing chemicals to block functions in pests, Hu said. “The immune responses of an insect protect them from being killed by a pesticide,” Hu said. “If you can find some chemicals that can efficiently disrupt this immune response, then the insect pests can be killed more efficiently.” Though the research is far from lending itself to the development of new

pesticides, Hu said the understanding of the genome structure will prove invaluable to that process down the road. “We can infect the insect and see what kind of proteins are expressed and find those key components of the immune defense pathway,” said Xiaolong Cao, a third-year doctoral student in biochemistry and molecular biology. “We can study that protein’s structure, then design chemicals to block the function of that protein. This way, we can control the pest.”

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Manduca sexta larvae will grow up to 3 inches in length. Photo by Rosie Templeton.

Rick Grantham, assistant research professional in entomology and plant pathology at OSU, said many Oklahomans may be familiar with a close relative of the tobacco hornworm. “If you’re a gardener, the tomato hornworm is likely one of your biggest enemies,” he said. Grantham said some important agricultural pests in Oklahoma include the turnip, cabbage and bird cherry-oat aphids in canola, wheat and sorghum.

The grasshopper, false chinch bug, diamondback moth larvae and other caterpillars also have proven to be problematic for farmers recently, he said. “The sugarcane aphid has become a much greater issue in recent years,” Grantham said. “It has gotten to the point where the honeydew they deposit on plants is actually fouling up combines during harvest.” Jiang said his primary goal is to create an effective model to provide a gateway

to more complex research that can be employed by other researchers. The process of determining gene functions involves removing one gene at a time by injecting double-stranded RNA into the insect, Jiang said. Gene expression in that particular gene will be suppressed, and they can then test if the survival of the host is affected, he added. “By knocking down individual genes and testing the effect, we are able to learn which genes play the essential roles in immune defense,” Jiang said. The study of the immune system is just the beginning, Hu said, and it must be understood to conduct further research in controlling agricultural pests using chemicals, predators or other methods. “We plan to set a good model,” Jiang said, “one that someday other researchers will find useful. Ideally, our research will indirectly impact many people.”

Rosie Templeton Coaldale, Alberta, Canada

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Oklahoma State University animal scie hen Kent Donica’s daughters, Savannah and Madison, returned from a medical mission trip in Africa, they knew their father could use his production agriculture skills to help orphan children in Uganda. Kent, an ’87 Oklahoma State University animal science alumnus, currently raises commercial cattle on his ranch in Ardmore, Okla. When his daughters asked him to help at Watoto Childcare Ministries, he said at first he was reluctant to board the 22-hour flight to Africa. “I almost didn’t go,” he said. When he arrived at Watoto, they had about 30 goats, 15 acres of vegetables and a three-acre pineapple patch. “This lady had the backyard of two churches, growing pineapples and vegetables,” Kent said. “It was overwhelming at first, and we wound up helping them start to develop a long-range plan to provide for these kids.” Kent said he had a “front-row seat” to see the effects of agricultural education in Africa, specifically in Uganda. The cost of food is the limiting factor on how many kids the orphanage can take, he said. Watoto was founded in 1982 and now has three facilities. He said the orphanage serves 2,500 children and its goal is to expand capacity to help 10,000 of the countless orphans in Uganda by 2020. Watoto Childcare Ministries houses 2,500 children within three different facilities in Uganda. Photo courtesy of Kent Donica. 20 | SUMMER/FALL 2014

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animal science alumni use production agricultural experience to enhance living conditions in Africa. “In 2011, one often saw 14-year-olds as the primary caregiver for their 4-yearold siblings,” Kent said. “The only way I can describe the people is that the light of hope had gone out of their eyes.” He said he saw people on the street who he did not expect would live to see the next day. After Kent visited in 2013, he said the people of Uganda were making wonderful progress — a day and night difference. “These kids [at Watoto] are happy because they are alive,” Kent said. “They live one day at a time.” He said he soon realized the children were dependent on him for their lives. “If I fail [to improve their conditions], somebody doesn’t get to eat,” Kent said. Unlike Oklahoma’s ever-changing weather, Uganda’s weather is easy to predict, Kent said. Nights are 70 degrees, and the temperature reaches 90 degrees every day. It rains for three months and then quits for three months, he added. “Winston Churchill told the English Parliament in the ’20s that they should concentrate heavily on Uganda,” Kent said. “You can throw a seed in the ground, and it will grow.” Kent, who began raising goats in Oklahoma in 1996, shared his expertise to help improve the orphanage’s herd. “The goats at the orphanage were starving to death,” he said. After two weeks, Kent had nearly doubled Watoto’s goat milk production. “With a little nutrition, energy and protein, we had increased from 15 liters to 30 from the 30 goats,” Kent said.

Now, the orphanage has more than 90 goats and 250 acres with a guard protecting the animals at all times. “This milk is used to help supplement the newborn infants within the orphanage,” said Dustin Smith, a 2013 OSU animal science alumnus who traveled with Kent in 2013. The goat milk is produced at about half the cost of formula and is more digestible than cow’s milk, making it healthier for the babies, said Lianna Scholz, member of the Watoto agriculture team.

Dustin said Kent’s ventures inspired him during an animal science capstone class at OSU. At the end of the class presentation, Kent asked: “Have you paid enough attention in the classes you’ve had here to affect a positive change in a food production system? Could you produce enough food to move a child from the nasty street to that orphanage?” Dustin said Kent moved him to take the necessary steps toward his own journey to Africa last summer.

Kent Donica’s team helped assemble this grain storage unit at one of the Watoto orphanages to increase its farm’s sustainablity. Photo courtesy of Kent Donica. COWBOY JOURNAL | 21

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Dustin accompanied Kent and helped with different projects for the orphanage. One of the projects he helped with was building a grain huller. “They pick the corn by hand,” Dustin said. “Now, they can put the corn into a mechanical huller to get the kernels.” The hardest part of assembling the huller was not having the conveniences of American life, Dustin said. “The biggest struggle was not being able to run … to get what we needed,” Dustin said. “They didn’t have a cutting torch or welder, so we had to cut the majority of our stuff with a grinding wheel.” Savannah Donica, a freshman at OSU studying food science, has been to Africa

three times, two of those to help with the orphanage. She said her trips to Uganda helped influence her when making collegiate decisions. “When I was choosing my major, I definitely wanted to do something that would help when I go back to Africa,” Savannah said. Africa and Watoto have affected the Donica family, she said. “For my family, Uganda is a place that humbles you and creates change in your heart,” Savannah said. “It creates a more selfless way of life.” Dustin said he also cherishes his experiences in Africa. “My outlook on life changed,” he said.

“I’m not so quick to judge someone, and I know circumstances could be a lot worse.” These OSU alumni and students have helped create hope in the Watoto Childcare Ministries through their knowledge in production agriculture and by helping the orphanage become more self-sufficient. “There have been lots of bumps in the road,” Kent said. “The progress that they have made in the past three years is nothing short of a miracle.”

Jacee May Stillwater, Okla.

A young Ugandan boy tries on Kent Donica’s hat. Kent influenced numerous children at the Watoto Orphanage through his efforts to improve their agricultural practices. Photo courtesy of Kent Donica. 22 | SUMMER/FALL 2014

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THEY DECLARE JOBS FINISHED only after they are proud of the result. Their personal standards are higher than most, which is why their successes are also greater.

MORE THAN 95,000 loyal and true Cowboys have combined to exceed $1 BILLION for Branding Success: The Campaign for Oklahoma State University. But the state’s most successful higher-education campaign continues until Dec. 31, 2014.

OUR JOB ISN’T COMPLETE. There is still so much to do.

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Oklahoma families take measures to ensure survival of the family farm. f the 2.2 million farms operating across the country, only 30 percent will transfer successfully from one generation to the next, said Shannon Ferrell, Oklahoma State University agricultural economics associate professor. Planning to transition the farm can be a difficult task, Ferrell said. One of the most important parts of making a succession plan is learning how to start the conversation with your family, he said, and many families struggle with simply starting the discussion. Ferrell said he has discovered two primary reasons small businesses, such as farms, fail to make a successful transition. First, the founding generation fails to communicate its goals to the succeeding

generation. Second, the succeeding generation lacks opportunities to grow into the management role it will take once the business is transferred to them. Matt Steinert, a 34-year-old cattle and crop farmer from Covington, Okla., has worked with his family for the past 10 years to create an effective succession plan. Both Matt and his brother, Adam, received bachelor’s degrees at Oklahoma State University in biosystems and agricultural engineering. Matt also earned a master’s degree in soil science. Their father, Bill Steinert, left OSU with a bachelor’s degree in natural science and a master’s in weed science. “I have little doubt that if we hadn’t hired someone to help mediate and guide

us, we probably would have ended up not speaking to each other,” Steinert said. “The most important thing that you have to realize is that equal and fair are not the same thing.” Ferrell said his Managing Farm Transitions workshops can help families realize the difference. A grant to conduct the workshops was provided by the Southern Risk Management Education Center and funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency. “The reason we went out and got this grant to fund these workshops is because I kept becoming more and more convinced of how important this issue is for farm families,” Ferrell said.

Adam Steinert prepares to cultivate his family’s land near Covington, Okla. Photo by Alyson Moore.

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If your goal is to pass the farm on, then you are going to have to let go.

— Matt Steinert Oklahoma cattle and crop producer

“Everything I learned showed me time and time again that we have got to have a plan,” he said. “Not just an estate plan, not just a plan that comes into effect when you die, but a plan well before that point, so your family farm can have the maximum chance of success.” With help from fellow OSU agricultural economics professor Rodney Jones and extension tax specialist J.C. Hobbs, Ferrell conducted five one-day workshops around the state in spring 2014. Attendees also were encouraged to attend a two-day follow-up workshop in Stillwater, Okla. “Families that have had time to think about what they learned in the other workshops could then bring their families to Stillwater, and we actually helped them have their conversations,” Ferrell said. Once families come up with a plan, OSU will provide a space, facilitators and experts who will help them have that talk, Ferrell said. Steinert said his family understands this process. When he was still in high school, his family approached Kennedy and Coe LLC, an agricultural consulting and accounting firm, for guidance. He said one of the most important things he learned is how to transition responsibilities early in the process. “You want to create almost a mentoring relationship with that next generation so they feel comfortable in the new role they are going to have and you can feel comfortable in your new role, as well,” Steinert said. He said this can be hard for the older generation. Hiring Kennedy and Coe LLC provided his family with someone to help mediate their conversations. “You need someone to push the younger generation to take responsibility and for the older generation to put some trust in the next generation,” Steinert said. “If your goal is to pass the farm on, then you are going to have to let go.” Karen Krehbiel of Hydro, Okla., said her family began planning how they would transition the farm as soon as her daughter, Brittany, was born in 1995. However, when her husband, Jeff, was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, those plans changed. Matt (left), Bill and Adam Steinert work together daily on their crop and cattle operation. Photo by Paige Wallace.

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1. Create an inventory of your farm and human assets. 2. Establish objectives for yourself and the farm business — what do you both need from the succession process? 3. Communicate with all farm stakeholders, both those who want to run the farm someday and those who have an emotional connection to the farm. Talk about your objectives and give everyone a chance to be heard. Karen Krehbiel (right) and her daughter, Brittany, both play an active role in their family’s crop and sheep operation. Photo by Dustin Mielke of Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

“To have to make major financial decisions the same time you’re grieving is hard because you want to make decisions based on emotions,” Krehbiel said. “If you can make those ahead of time and plan in advance what’s going to happen, it will take that emotion out of it.” Krehbiel said her family’s roles on the farm changed with the passing of her husband in 2011. “I’ll be honest,” Krehbiel said. “There was quite a problem because I had not been active [on the farm]. I needed to be active because financially I was responsible for the entire operation. “My husband was sick for two years, and during that time, I went from an attitude of ‘You need to tell me what you’re doing’ to ‘I need to be involved in that decision’ to ‘That’s my decision to make.’” Just like Steinert, Krehbiel said every generation should be involved in the decisions of the farm. “I’ve met women through Jeff ’s death and the deaths of their spouses whose husbands didn’t tell them anything about the business,” Krehbiel said. “They were almost completely locked out of any financial discussion at all.” Ferrell said his workshops provide participants with tools to create a plan. “We are developing a farm transition

workbook so you can take that home and work through it at your own pace,” Ferrell said. “Put together some goals. Put together an inventory of what your farm assets are. Identify who the stakeholders for your farm are and what their roles could be going forward.” However, Steinert said creating a plan is not a quick fix. “It’s probably approaching 10 years, and we still don’t have everything resolved,” Steinert said. “You just have to accept that if you’re going to have a multigenerational business, as everyone ages, things change.” Growing up in agriculture, Ferrell said he understands the hardships farmers experience during the transition process. “We know it is incredibly important to farmers that they keep together what they’ve worked a lifetime to build and that it successfully transfers to the next generation,” Ferrell said. “We’re trying to encourage people to have a plan and avoid having to go through the heartbreak of seeing the farm broken up.”

Paige Wallace Stotts City, Mo.

4. Draft your plan and the necessary legal arrangements with a team of professionals that includes experienced attorneys, tax or accounting professionals, investment experts and any other needed consultants. 5. Have a strategy for implementing your plan. Talk with your farm stakeholders, especially your successors, and ensure everyone is prepared to implement the plan. 6. Relax! Take satisfaction in the fact you have worked hard to secure the future of your farm and have completed something less than half of American adults have done. The next Managing Farm Transitions workshop is scheduled for Aug. 6 in conjunction with Oklahoma’s Women in Agriculture Conference in Oklahoma City. Those interested in attending the workshop should call Kareta Casey at 405-744-9836 or email kareta.casey@ okstate.edu for information. COWBOY JOURNAL | 27

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Simple moments in the show ring change lives forever. omething special happens when livestock exhibitors enter the ring. All eyes are on them, but showmen seldom realize who is watching. They are focused on getting their animals set perfectly for the only person important at that moment — the judge. During this intensity, an exhibitor rarely affects the spectators or changes the lives of their fellow exhibitors, but it does happen every now and then. Special-needs youth exhibit their livestock with grace and confidence, but getting to the show ring is not that simple, said Dusty Oldenburg, Oklahoma State University agricultural education alumna, who assists special-needs livestock exhibitors on their paths to the show ring. “It was my calling to help,” Oldenburg said. “My sister, who has special needs, enjoyed the livestock. Livestock has an amazing effect on our lives.” Shelby Frost, a 13-year-old Guthrie sixth-grader, wanted to exhibit sheep in Oklahoma. Shelby and her family contacted Oldenburg about showing sheep while working with Shelby’s physical disability. Oldenburg said she and her husband, Jeff, a former OSU animal science student, constructed an attachment for Shelby’s wheelchair. The piece attaches to the bottom of the wheelchair and allows Shelby to walk and set up her sheep. “The most challenging part of Shelby showing is training the sheep,” OldenLeft: Shelby Frost shows her lamb at the Oklahoma Youth Expo. Right: Shelbi Kautz (right) helps Matt Sitton prepare to enter the show ring. Photos by Shelby Skinner. COWBOY JOURNAL | 29

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burg said. “We have to train the sheep to sounds and certain movements performed by Shelby to get it to set up correctly.” Special-needs exhibitors must work harder than other exhibitors because the animal must adapt to the showman, Oldenburg said. It takes a lot of time and patience with the showman to get the animals ready, she added. “Shelby is determined to be the best showman she can be,” Oldenburg said. “She is the most confident young lady I know. She shows her sheep as well as anyone else, but she works five times harder to get to that point.” In 2013, Shelby exhibited sheep at the Oklahoma Youth Expo for the first time. Oldenburg said she realized Shelby was not just exhibiting sheep — she was making an impact. “Sure, she was nervous,” Oldenburg said, “but you could not notice. When she rolled in the ring, the crowd was silent.” Oldenburg said she noticed everyone watched Shelby exhibit her lamb. “I have to tell Shelby ‘It’s not just about you anymore,’” Oldenburg said. “‘You are being seen all over the country. Your picture has been seen from California to Maine.’ She’s changing people’s lives — including mine.” Shelby said she enjoys competing with her friends in the show ring. “I like being able to do something my family has done for years,” Shelby said.

“It’s really fun to hang out with my friends at the shows. I have met a lot of new people showing my sheep.” Oldenburg said other exhibitors love interacting with Shelby. “It is rewarding for me to see exhibitors give Shelby so much respect in and out of the show ring,” Oldenburg said. “They realize how hard she works. I see Shelby changing their lives for the long haul. That is exciting for me because those kids have a passion for agriculture.” Oldenburg said she watched a young lady who grew up showing sheep reach a point in her life where she needed a change. Oldenburg said she thought Shelbi Kautz, an agricultural communications senior at OSU, would benefit from helping a special-needs child with everyday events and showing sheep, she said. Kautz said she began guiding Matthew Sitton, a 12-year-old member of the Payne County Livestock 4-H Club, and her life changed. “Matt showing sheep takes a lot of time and patience,” Kautz said. “It has been a journey for all of us, but it is so rewarding to see him show his sheep.” Kautz said Matt’s Down syndrome makes it challenging for her to keep him focused on the task. “When we began working with sheep, it was frustrating,” she said. “He couldn’t focus on what needed to be done.” Kautz said she knew she could not

give up because she saw something special between Matt and the first lamb he showed, Daisy Duke. “Once Matt started showing his sheep, it clicked for him,” Kautz said. “His improvements were astonishing. Not only was he improving with showmanship but also with responding and paying attention. “Showing his sheep was the turning point for Matt,” she said. After Matt won a few ribbons, he was hooked, Kautz said. Then something happened at the 2013 Oklahoma Youth Expo that she said changed her life forever. “When I saw Matt out there, I saw myself,” Kautz said. “He was holding his sheep just like I taught him.” Kautz said getting the opportunity to be a part of Matt’s life has been the most rewarding part of her life thus far. “She is my sheep coach and my big sister,” Matt said. “She helps me show my sheep and do good. I love Shelbi.” When Kautz entered Matt’s life, Oldenburg said, not only did Matt need her, but also she needed him. Oldenburg said watching Kautz and Matt learn from one another is similar to her life-changing moments with Shelby.

Shelby Skinner Bolivar, Mo.

Agvocates for Exceptional Individuals is a nonprofit program that teaches specialneeds students how to raise livestock. If you know of an individual who might be interested in the livestock industry, please visit www.agvocates.org, or contact Josh Hargis at josh@agvocates.org. Shelby Frost prepares to enter the show ring at the Oklahoma Youth Expo. Photo by Shelby Skinner.

Dusty Oldenburg (left) and Matt Sitton enjoy time together at the Oklahoma Youth Expo. Photo by Shelly Sitton.

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The Foundation of Your Success

Alpha Gamma Rho

Interested in joining? Visit www.osuagrs.com. 31_agr.indd 1

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OSU senior Darnell Bortz wrestles academics and athletics. ommitted, disciplined and dependable are three characteristics one might use when describing a wrestler or farmer. Darnell Bortz has walked in the shoes of both. A fifth-year senior from Pratt County, Kan., Bortz grew up involved in agriculture, working on his family’s farm and ranch. Bortz said if he was not working on the farm, he was participating in sports. “Sports were always my social outlet,” Bortz said. He said his interest in wrestling started when he was in fifth grade. He participated in a kids’ wrestling clinic where a local coach noticed his natural ability for the sport, he said. Bortz continued his wrestling career throughout high school and became a state champion his senior year. After graduation, he said he decided to take his wrestling career to the next level. Bortz created a highlight video and sent it to prospective universities, including OSU. He chose OSU for its reputable wrestling team, he said, and associate head wrestling coach Eric Guerrero asked Bortz to walk on in the 2009 fall semester. Entering his freshman year, Bortz received encouragement from his parents to pursue a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, but he also chose to use his agricultural background and major in agricultural economics, he said. “I wanted to wrestle for five years,” Bortz said, “so I knew I’d have to have a double major.” Darnell Bortz will finish his OSU wrestling career with a winning record of 61-50. Photo by Kristin Knight.

“That really lit a fire in him,” Guerre Bortz said his freshman year was difficult because as a walk-on, he struggled ro said. “He never looked back. If I were going to face tough times, I’d want him on with doubt, loss and fatigue, he said. “The funny thing about sports is even my side. He doesn’t know how to quit.” Bortz said he took a weekend of though you may be getting better, everyself-reflection to evaluate what wrestling one else is getting better, too,” Bortz said. meant to him. “The only way to see results is to make “I didn’t like the feeling of being a bigger improvements quicker than everyquitter,” Bortz said. “The feeling unraveled one else.” my soul to the threads. If I were to contin Despite adversity, Bortz said he ue wrestling, it would be for three goals.” continued to push himself through the Bortz said his most important goal obstacles he faced. was to improve other people and the team. Guerrero said Bortz’s agricultural Next, he strived to improve himself. His experience has equipped him with the last goal was to have fun. qualities to excel in his wrestling career. “By shifting my goals from my dreams “His background and upbringing on of being a national champion to goals that the family farm have carried over well into I could achieve every day, my hope was his wrestling,” Guerrero said. “He came restored,” he said. with an understanding that consistency Aside from impressing his coaches, and effort is what endures.” Bortz stood out to his teammates. As a student-athlete, Bortz said Michael Martin, one of Bortz’s teamacquiring two degrees kept him busier mates, said Bortz is than the average a prime example of a If I were going to face student. He said student-athlete. the everyday grind tough times, I’d want “He is a leader challenged him the him on my side. in both his sport most, but he had — Eric Guerrero and his academics,” experienced it from Associate Head Coach, OSU Wrestling Martin said. a different view Martin said he and Bortz have been point on his family’s farm. friends since he joined the team in 2011. “With wrestling, it’s not a single One of Martin’s most notable memworkout that gets you,” he said. “It’s the ories with Bortz was during his freshman everyday routine of getting up early, going year when Bortz invited him and other to practice, class, back to work out, then freshmen to watch a soccer game, he said. homework until late.” “He didn’t have to hang out with a After two years, doubt still set in his bunch of freshmen,” Martin said. “He mind, he said, and he questioned why he chose to make our first few weeks here a wrestled and what he was getting from it. little more fun and easy.” Guerrero said he remembers the day Bortz said he applied his new mindset Bortz thought he was in over his head. He to his friendships, as well as other aspects reminded Bortz to focus on the hard work of his life at OSU. he put into his wrestling career. COWBOY JOURNAL | 33

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“My success is little compared with the great wrestlers of Oklahoma State,” he said. “What matters the most is I found a mindset to achieve this success that I can use beyond the confines of a gym.”

Aside from wrestling, Bortz serves as president of the OSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. SAAC facilitates communication between student-athletes, faculty and administration. Agatha Adams, assistant director of academic services and SAAC adviser, has worked with Bortz for the past four years. Adams said his exceptional leadership skills and his acceptance of others drive his success in SAAC. “He is a great motivator to others,” Adams said. “He is extremely well-versed on so many levels. You have to stay on your toes to keep up with him.” Bortz’s passion Darnell Bortz (back) returns Arizona State University’s Wesley for community Moore to the mat. Photo by Rachael Maltby of The Daily O’Collegian.

service is exemplified through his participation in SAAC’s projects, such as working with March of Dimes, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Mission of Hope. “In November, he organized the largest food drive that we ever had,” Adams said. “We served not only 21 families, but we also gave a large amount of food to the Salvation Army, the Mission of Hope and the Store House.” A member of Alpha Pi Mu, an industrial engineering honorary fraternity, and the president’s honor roll, Bortz said he plans to work in the fertilizer department of Koch Industries after graduation. “My mindset is what I need to succeed in whatever environment I encounter,” Bortz said. “In a company, raising a family or whatever I do, if I focus on improving others, improving myself, and having fun, I can’t fail.”

Kristin Knight Kingfisher, Okla.


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Researchers study the possibilities of fungi and farmers working together. dam Cobb, a natural resource ecology and management doctoral student, was looking for ways to improve soil structure and agricultural practices when his adviser approached him about improving sorghum production in Africa. “It was perfect timing,” said Gail Wilson, Cobb’s doctoral adviser and professor in the Oklahoma State University Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management. Wilson spoke with African agronomists at an international sustainability conference in Italy about modern sorghum seed producing poorly in Africa. The agronomists found the modern seeds required inputs the African people could not access, such as adequate water and fertilizers. “When you selectively breed for high production, you inadvertently breed against symbiotic relationship with fungi,” Wilson said. “When breeding modern cultivars, this is not taken into account because it does not matter in the countries where high inputs are readily available.” Cobb said his goal was to find a way to grow a nutritious food with enough calories produced with minimal use of fertilizers. “In nations where food security is low and the availability of chemical fertilizers is low, the modern seeds cannot thrive without the extensive inputs, meaning they are not very appropriate in a developing-country context,” Cobb said. Encouragement of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi colony growth could be the key to enhancing nutrient uptake and improving soil structure, Cobb said.

Sorghum is the fifth-most produced grain in the world. Photo by Rori Buresh. COWBOY JOURNAL | 35

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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, or AM fungi, is a microbe that lives in association with many plants and helps the roots draw nutrients from the soil, Cobb said. “The fungi not only colonize the plant’s roots, but they also create a network in the soil, which allows the plant to expand its nutrient absorption,” he said. AM fungi were instrumental in the evolution of most plant species, Cobb said, and the United States’ native prairie grasses depend heavily on AM fungi. “Most prairie grasses, plants and even large trees need mycorrhize,” said Rori Buresh, a Lew Wentz Scholar undergraduate student working with Cobb on a related sorghum biofuel project. Cobb compared the symbiotic relationship of AM fungi and plant roots to a ruminant’s digestive system. The microbes in the stomach system break down nutrients, allowing the animals to absorb nutrients they would not have on their own. The presence of AM fungi allows plants to access more nutrients and, therefore, produce more nutritious plants for consumption, he said. “We’ve done a good job of quantifying this in our native ecosystems, especially prairie grasses,” Cobb said. “They cannot complete their life cycle without it.” Cobb works mostly with grain sorghum, also commonly known as milo, because of genetic similarities between sorghum and the native prairie grasses in the United States. “Sorghum is a C4 grass,” Cobb said. “It is physiologically and genetically simi-

lar to our big bluestem. Taxonomists put it “We test the soil for its nutrients, look in the same plant tribe. at roots for microbes, and test the plants “We hypothesized AM fungi might for nutrient and production value,” Buresh have a large benefit, as well, to grain sorsaid. “It is a random process of counting ghum – the world’s fifth-most-produced colonies under the microscope.” grain,” Cobb said. According to Arbuscular mycorrhizal Cobb said Cobb’s research, he is looking for all three of the fungi were instrumental ways to improve African sorghums in the evolution of most and preserve outperformed the the soil while U.S. commercial plant species. reducing cost for ­— Adam Cobb seeds in the unferfarmers using the Doctoral Student, Natural Resource Ecology tilized soil where AM fungi in the and Management Department AM fungi were United States and abroad. allowed to flourish. The addition of phos “Sorghum is such an important crop phorus and nitrogen fertilizers reduced in Africa because of its drought-resistant the colonies of AM fungi present in both nature,” Wilson said. African and U.S. sorghums. He said he acquired three U.S. com Fertilizers increased U.S. sorghum’s mercial sorghum hybrids and three African grain production and decreased the sorghum cultivars to determine the seeds’ African cultivars’ production. Adding the reaction to the presence of AM fungi with fungicide to low-nutrient soil resulted in low-input management regarding crop completely unproductive plants. growth. Cobb said the African cultivars are “We want to make sure what we are more responsive to the AM fungi than the seeing below ground translates into the modern U.S. hybrids, suggesting modproduction and nutrition we see above ern breeding practices have affected the ground,” Cobb said. “Both seed types were symbiotic relationship. The research also grown in low-nutrient, local soil within a suggests the presence of the AM fungi greenhouse environment.” can have a significant effect on the plant’s Some of the plants were fertilized, growth and production value, Cobb said. and half received a fungicide treatment “The African cultivars, on average, to prevent AM fungi from colonizing the produced more than double what we saw roots, Cobb said. in the modern cultivars under these condi After the plants grew, Cobb said, tions,” Cobb said. he and Buresh assessed root colonization Buresh’s research investigates using and production of the grain’s biomass, fewer inputs in the production of biofuels. protein and mineral content. Many biofuels today are made with corn,

Rori Buresh uses a microscope and a clicker to count the presence of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Photo by LaSalle Lewellen.

AM fungi have a symbiotic relationship with roots. Photo courtesy of Adam Cobb.

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Buresh said, which is hard on the soil year after year. Buresh uses three different types of sorghum in her research, Cobb said. Unlike Cobb, however, all are modern sorghum cultivars from Bill Rooney, Texas A&M University professor. “Maybe farmers will plant the sorghum and use it for biofuels, making the process easier on the soil,” Buresh said. “We are hoping to prove it is actually using its inputs more effectively.” Buresh’s sorghum was planted in April 2013 and harvested from the fields during the fall of the same year, she said. Now, she is testing the soil samples and looking for AM fungi colonies. Cobb and Buresh planted a new crop of sorghum in April 2014 for an experiment with the intercropping of beans and sorghum. Traditionally, the two crops have been planted together in Africa or used as a relay sequentially. “We are excited to see if the AM fungi increases the nutrition levels in the plants,” Cobb said. In 2001, the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded a similar project with

Adam Cobb (right), Rori Buresh, Kayla Hess and Tamsey Maulding work in the lab sorting harvested root systems. Photo by LaSalle Lewellen.

Wilson and Yanqi Wu to work on a sustainable way to grow switchgrass. “There is strong evidence that Wu’s breeding under sustainable practices can actually increase reliance of crop or host plant symbiosis,” Wilson said. “Wu’s cultivars increased about threefold dry mass production.” Wilson said she has great confidence in Cobb’s and Buresh’s sorghum research.

“Adam has an amazing ability to get stuff done,” Wilson said.

LaSalle Lewellen Sapulpa, Okla.

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or decades, feral hogs have made Oklahoma their home. Their growing numbers and destruction caught the attention of landowners and researchers at The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, who worked with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service to help educate the public about this growing issue. In 1997, the Noble Foundation developed a way to estimate the population of feral hogs in Oklahoma by surveying agencies. “We came up with an estimate of 500,000 to 1 million hogs in the state,” said Russell Stevens, wildlife and range consultant at the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla. “That’s a very rough estimate. I think the population is closer to 500,000 to 600,000, but that was in 1997. It could be more than that now.” Feral hogs can be found throughout the state, but the most affected areas are in southern Oklahoma, said Will Cubbage, extension educator in Osage County. “Southeastern to southcentral Oklahoma probably has the largest geographical area with the most densities,” Stevens said. “But, Feral hogs were introduced into the United States by European settlers during the 1500s. Photo by Anna Prichard.

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The destructive lifestyle of feral hogs causes problems for Oklahoma landowners. there are pretty dense pockets elsewhere spread throughout the state.” Over time, feral hogs began to migrate from southern regions to some areas in northern Oklahoma, Cubbage said. “Not all of northern Oklahoma has [feral hogs],” he said. “They have come up around Osage County. The far northeast corner of Oklahoma doesn’t have any hogs, to my knowledge.” More abundant in lowland areas around watersheds, feral hogs tend to stay away from the elevated prairie due to lack of food resources and cover, Cubbage said. With sows farrowing up to two times per year, feral hog numbers are increasing, Stevens said. “Typically, they are going to be having litters in the spring when they can get a good quantity and good quality of food,” Stevens said. “Sometimes, if we have a lot of acorns in the fall, then some sows will have litters later in the fall or late winter.” Litter sizes vary from four to 10 piglets. The survival rate of the piglets is highly variable, depending on available food sources, said Dwayne Elmore, natural resource ecology and management associate professor at Oklahoma State University. Stevens said growing numbers of an ani-

mal species not native to North America can Since humans contracting diseases from run the risk of disrupting the environment. feral hogs is a possibility, Stevens advised Crops and native animals compete with wearing gloves while handling meat. feral hogs for land and food in areas with a From a physical standpoint, an unprodense feral hog population, he said. voked attack by a feral hog is rare, he said. “[The hogs’] rooting and wallowing can However, if feral hogs feel cornered, they are damage the habitat to where no species can going to defend themselves, he said. use it,” Stevens said, “but that’s uncommon.” “I would say your chances of getting Larry Brown, owner of Brown Ranch in attacked by a feral hog would be like being Ardmore, Okla., and an OSU animal science struck by lightning,” Stevens said. alumnus, said feral hogs have affected his People living in areas with a dense feral livestock by uprooting grass that otherwise hog population have the risk of running could be used for cattle. over the hogs on the road, he said. Like The bigwhitetail deer, feral gest threat feral hogs risk lives and hogs pose to damage vehicles by animals is the causing accidents, risk of transStevens said. mitted diseases, In 1994, feral Stevens said. hog sightings and — Russell Stevens damages led Humans also Wildlife and Range Consultant, landowners to have the chance The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation of getting a contact the Noble disease from feral hogs, he said. Foundation with questions, he said. “If you are handling them, you can run They had concerns with the hogs upthe chance of getting brucellosis or a disease rooting their pastures and wanted to know along those lines,” Stevens said. “If you are how to rid their property of the animals. handling raw meat or in contact with their This sparked demonstration-type work and blood or other body fluids, then you can get experiments with different trap designs, other types of diseases, if you’re not careful.” Stevens said.

I would say your chances of getting attacked by a feral hog would be like being struck by lightning.


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on their property, Phipps said, and some Trapping is the most effective tool even charge as much as $300 to shoot a available to control hog numbers, he said. single feral hog. Although a permanent solution to landownBrown, who leases his property to hunters’ hog problems cannot be given, they get a temporary solution by using a trapping tech- ers, said the presence of feral hogs attracts lease hunters. nique. However, the The increased hogs eventually will popularity of feral return to the land, hog hunts has inStevens said. creased awareness Kenny Phipps, about the problems owner of Hog Soluferal hogs cause and tions, said he found trapping to be bene— Dwayne Elmore has raised questions ficial in reducing Associate Professor, Natural Resource from across the state. Concerns from the feral hog popEcology and Management Department residents and the ulations. He uses growing hog populations led the Noble traps to catch hogs for other people. Phipps Foundation to work with land-grant universaid he uses two, 6-foot-tall by 30-foot-wide sities like OSU to educate the public about round traps with the capacity to trap around feral hogs. 42 hogs. For at least three years, OSU has part“It’s a win-win for the landowner and me,” Phipps said. “I take care of their probnered with the Noble Foundation in feral hog outreach efforts, Elmore said. lem for no charge. Then, I sell the hogs to “We have held two joint workshops licensed hunting facilities.” since 2011 where we brought in experts on Hog hunts have become popular throughout the state in recent years as anoth- feral pigs,” Elmore said. “OSU also produced a video series on wildlife damage manageer method used to control the numbers of ment, which includes feral pigs.” wild hogs in Oklahoma. Anyone interested in feral hogs, their Landowners commonly lease hog hunts

We have held two joint workshops since 2011 where we brought in experts on feral pigs.

history, the problems they cause or control measures could attend workshops in either Ardmore or Pawhuska, Stevens said. “We try to point out the fact that in some places it’s problematic and people disdain them because of the damages, competition and all the disease they cause,” Stevens said. “On the other hand, there are a lot of people who enjoy hunting them,” he added. Elmore said rather than promoting hunting at the workshop, the OCES educators encourage trapping with a corral-type trap as the primary method to control the numbers of feral hogs. The Noble Foundation continues working with the OCES on feral hog outreach as well as on other issues, Elmore said. Choosing OSU to work with on outreach was a “no-brainer,” Stevens said. “OSU is very well known,” he said. “They do reputable, high-quality work.”

Anna Prichard Krebs, Okla.

• A group of feral hogs is called a sounder. • A feral hog can grow to more than 300 pounds. An average sow is 110 pounds. • The home range of a feral hog can span up to 19 square miles. • As omnivores, hogs consume crops as a main food source. • Feral hogs vary in color with combinations of black, white, red and brown. • Feral hogs are primarily nocturnal. — Information provided by The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service

Corral traps hold large numbers of hogs, making them a common tool among hog trappers. Photo by Anna Prichard. 40 | SUMMER/FALL 2014

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An old-time ingredient brings new opportunities.

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The No. 1 thing is you have to believe in your product 100 percent. — Jan Laub Owner, Twin Foods

right orange waves of sunlight fall through the kitchen window as bacon sizzles and pops in a cast-iron pan. Jan Laub, owner of Twin Foods, said she remembers her grandmother’s bacon drippings sitting on the stovetop. Now, anyone can have bacon drippings instantly. Her new product, Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings, was created because of a gumbo recipe four years ago. “The recipe called for bacon drippings,” Laub said. “I thought I could just go buy drippings on the Internet or grocery store.” Laub said she could not find bacon drippings anywhere and began to wonder if anyone else had the same problem. “I started asking people if they would buy bacon drippings if they were available,” Laub said. Laub said she discovered through her research a market existed for bacon drippings, and today Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings are available in all 19 Reasor’s grocery stores. She started an online store more than a year ago. “I ship the retail and restaurant product nationwide,” Laub said. Laub started her company from scratch in an industry she knew nothing about, she said. Laub said promoting the product was difficult when she first started her business, Twin Foods, but it came together when she met Jim Brooks, business and marketing services manager for Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center. “FAPC played a mentoring role in finding a co-packer and getting an exposure,” Brooks said. “We invited her to go to the Associated Wholesale Grocers food

show where all store owners and directors see new products.” AWG members thought Laub’s new product was unique and individual, Brooks said. Brooks said Laub takes advantage of every opportunity to show her product. “She is someone you really like to help,” Brooks said. “She takes your advice and uses it. She’s professionally aggressive.” As a result of her business efforts, Laub earned second place in the 2011 Tulsa Community College Spirit Entrepreneur Award program. “I would not have received that award without the connection to OSU and Jim,” Laub said. Although she holds the entrepreneurial award “dear to her heart,” winning last year’s $10,000 nationwide Reser’s Fine Foods potato salad contest was her biggest accomplishment, she said.

“If you want to call it something, it’s divine intervention,” Laub said. Laub said she thought long and hard about a unique recipe to enter. “My favorite food is spinach artichoke dip,” Laub said. “I thought, ‘What would that taste like in a potato salad?’” When Laub called to tell her twin sister, Jill Van Tuyl, owner of Van Tuyl’s Tasty Treat Drive In, about her idea, Van Tuyl said she thought her sister had lost her mind at first but knew she always liked to try new things. After a few taste tests, Laub submitted her bacon artichoke potato salad recipe to compete against 400 other recipes. Laub said she hoped her special ingredient, Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings, would set her recipe apart from the others. It took two months to learn if she was one of the top 20 recipes.

Left: A one-pound package of Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings retails for about $9. Right: Jan Laub founded Twin Foods in 2010. Photos by Harlie Runner. COWBOY JOURNAL | 43

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Laub said she was ecstatic when she Although Laub said her sister’s bacon discovered she made the first cut. was “not burnt, just crispy,” she switched The top 20 submissions competed on her sister’s duty to washing dishes. Facebook to see who got the most “likes” When the time expired, the duo took on their recipe, Laub said. The top seven their potato salad through the cheering with the most “likes” went to Las Vegas. crowd, Laub said. Laub came in first place. That evening, contest organizers “I got in the top 20 because of the po- announced the winners at the Golden tato salad,” Laub said. “I got to Las Vegas Nugget Hotel. because of my Facebook friends.” After the presenters announced the The final recipe competition was the second-place recipe, Laub said she askick-off to the World sumed she had Food Championship. won and Without being involved not Along with the top turned away from seven home-cooking the stage. with FAPC, I wouldn’t finalists, eight other The announcer be where I am today. professionals placed awarded Laub — Jan Laub in the barbecue first place and she Owner, Twin Foods cookoff potato salad started bouncing competition, Laub said. up and down, Van Tuyl said. The competition was held in the KenLaub said the best part was after more Kitchen Coliseum, which has more the announcement she could not walk than 50 complete kitchens. through the hotel or down Fremont Street Contestants had to bring their ingrewithout someone recognizing her. dients and make their potato salad in two Having Vic Vegas of the Food Nethours. Seven judges evaluated each entry work recognize her was the best complion taste and presentation. ment, she said. Vegas told Laub her recipe “During the competition, I was a reminded him of his grandmother’s — bundle of nerves, but Jan was calm,” Van simple and full of flavor, she said. Tuyl said. “I was in charge of cooking the The twins said they will never forget bacon to sprinkle on top, and I burned it.” the experience they had in Las Vegas.

Laub said she looks back on her accomplishments and realizes how special they are to her. “My success came to me at a time when I needed something special,” Laub said, “something to focus on and something to do. “Without being involved with FAPC, I would not be where I am today,” Laub said. “That connection was the single most important thing.” Laub said she attributes her success to becoming connected with the people at FAPC. The collaboration with them was essential, she said. “She has tenacity and perseverance and never takes no for an answer,” Van Tuyl said. “It’s her work ethic that makes what she’s done an accomplishment.” Laub said she has learned not to be bashful in the food business. “The No. 1 thing is you have to believe in your product 100 percent,” the winning entrepreneur said. “You are your biggest cheerleader.”

Harlie Runner Perkins, Okla.

Reser’s Fine Foods 2013 “America’s Best Potato Salad Recipe”

Bacon Artichoke New Potato Salad Jan Laub and Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings Ingredients 2 pounds Red Potatoes – cut in halves or quarter-sized pieces 2 tablespoons melted Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings 3/4 cup sour cream 1 cup mayo 7.5 ounces drained, coarsely chopped, marinated artichoke hearts 4 ounces green chilies

3/4 cup diced red bell pepper 2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops 1 teaspoon course ground black pepper 2 tablespoons salt 1 teaspoon Grey Poupon mustard Crispy bacon or bacon bits to top the finished product

Preparation While potatoes cook, add all ingredients (except bacon pieces/bits) in a bowl and stir to incorporate. Add whole, skin-on new potatoes to boiling water along with the tablespoons of salt, cooking until done. Drain and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes to release moisture from the potatoes. Cut potatoes to a little bigger than bite-size. Add potatoes to the bowl with other ingredients while potatoes are still warm. Mix well. Cover, refrigerate overnight or at least until potato salad is cold. Sprinkle with bacon pieces/bits.

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One man. One man. One goal. One goal. One jacket. One jacket.

efeat. Despair. Disappointment. All these emotions ran through Jason Wetzler’s mind when his name was not called during officer reveals at the 85th National FFA Convention. Although Wetzler’s dream of becoming a national FFA officer did not come true in 2012, his journey had only started. “I thought not being elected was the end of my hard work,” said Wetzler, an agricultural leadership sophomore at Oklahoma State University. “I had so many more lives I wanted to impact.” With his mother, Kathy Mayfield, and stepfather, Wynn Mayfield, as his FFA advisers, Wetzler said the organization always played a large role in his life. “My parents always helped me put myself on a path, not just to my goals, but also a path to serve people,” Wetzler said. Wetzler said he remembers accompanying his parents to the National FFA Convention when he was 10 years old, and one thing in particular caught his eye. “I remember Dane White giving his retiring address,” Wetzler said. “I just lost myself in the moment of listening to him.” Wetzler said he chose his college major as a sophomore FFA member in North Clackamas, Ore., after speaking about the need for more agricultural leaders. “One of my solutions was sending more people to study agricultural leadership,” Wetzler said. “A few weeks after I gave that speech, I took a step back to realize I should practice what I was preaching and study agricultural leadership.” He said only two universities in the United States that interested him offered agricultural leadership degree programs: Texas A&M University and OSU.

“When I visited Stillwater, it was magical,” Wetzler said. “I immediately knew that was where I would spend my next four years.” As he transitioned from high school student to college freshman, Wetzler said all he could think about was being on the national FFA stage. However, he was not the only one who saw that destiny. “He is one of the most charismatic

people I have ever met,” said Bill Weeks, OSU agricultural leadership professor. “Jason was destined to lead people.” Weeks said even after not being elected as a national FFA officer, Wetzler remained a leader in the agricultural leadership program as well as in his daily life. Wetzler said he continued to find himself at a crossroads, questioning whether the FFA was meant to remain so prominent in his life.

Jason Wetzler (center) meets with Brian Walsh, national FFA president (left); Mitch Baker, national secretary; Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator; and Wes Davis, eastern region vice president. Photo courtesy of the National FFA Organization. COWBOY JOURNAL | 45

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“A lot of people told me to move on and stop living in the past,” Wetzler said. After much consideration, he said he decided to put all his effort and focus on being a great student. “I just enjoyed being an Oklahoma State Cowboy for a while,” Wetzler said. Wetzler found inspiration to run for national FFA office again in his introductory agricultural economics class. His professor, Bailey Norwood, shared his passion for using his work to make other people’s lives better. After this, Wetzler began his sophomore year at OSU and prepared for another run at national office. “I didn’t try to overwhelm myself too much the second year,” Wetzler said. “I realized it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t get elected. I had so many other good things going on in my life.” Wetzler said he remained relaxed throughout his second effort at election. The scene of the 86th National FFA Convention was familiar to him, he said — thousands of FFA members gathered under one roof. Wetzler said his emotions were running high Nov. 2, 2013, because he believed his dream of being a national officer was going to be impossible. Then the announcer spoke. “Your new western region vice president — Mr. Jason Wetzler!” Wetzler’s dream of becoming a national FFA officer had finally come true. “Jason was so elated,” said Coty Back, team leader of the National FFA officers. “He was also willing and ready for whatever we threw at him.” The next few weeks of Wetzler’s life were a whirlwind, he said. He finished his fall semester two weeks early, and then his training began at the National FFA Center in Indianapolis. The newly elected officers and their training team spent two months preparing the officers for their year of service.   Back described the first month of training as focused on personal growth and leadership enhancement.   National FFA officers like Jason Wetzler travel to chapters in all 50 states and visit numerous countries to engage with members during their time in office. Photo courtesy of the National FFA Organization. 46 | SUMMER/FALL 2014

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He said team development also is critical to ensure the officers focus on the same goals. After training, the officers began traveling the states to give keynote speeches, present workshops, and visit several of their sponsors, such as Tyson Foods. Wetzler said Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods in Springdale, Ark., impacted him on a personal level. Smith’s advice was “People do not have a schedule in life — they just have priorities.” Wetzler said he follows this every day by making his values his priorities and then ensuring his priorities become his schedule. Wetzler said one of his favorite parts of being an officer is traveling. Each member of the team will travel an average of 100,000 land and air miles combined. Wetzler’s favorite destination was the

January 2014 trip the national FFA officer team made to Japan. “Japan was truly a life changing experience,” Wetzler said. Wetzler and the rest of the officer team stayed with host families, allowing them to experience the Japanese culture firsthand, Wetzler said. Learning simple things was difficult at times, he said, but he overcame the language barrier. “You do not need any words to be able to communicate with people,” Wetzler said. “Communicating is much deeper than any verbal connection.” Although Wetzler’s time as a national officer will end at the 87th National FFA Convention, his travels and experiences will not. After he retires from office, Wetzler said he plans to travel through the Med-

iterranean and backpack across Europe before returning to OSU in spring 2015. “I am wanting to see the Holy Land in Israel,” Wetzler said. But, most of all, he looks forward to growing a beard, he said. “We’re not allowed to have any facial hair as national officers,” Wetzler said with a chuckle. “I am really looking forward to ‘No-shave November.’” Until then, Wetzler said he will continue to be present in the moment, make those around him feel valued, and lead his life with a heart for service as a leader in agriculture.

Taylor Payne Hugo, Okla.



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OSU research ecologists reveal history and benefits of Oklahoma’s forests. tretching from southeastern Kansas to central Texas, the unique ecosystem known as the American Cross Timbers has quite the story to tell. As experts in dendrochronology — the study of tree rings — faculty and students in the Oklahoma State University Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management can narrate this tale. “It’s fascinating research,” said Steven Hallgren, dendrochronology researcher and associate professor for the NREM department. “Tree rings reveal much more than just the tree’s age. They can be used to date historical events, such as fires or droughts, and give immensely insightful research into an area’s climate and environmental conditions.” Hallgren said the post oaks and eastern red cedars found throughout Oklahoma’s portion of the Cross Timbers region can divulge ecological data dating back more than 200 years. By sampling an area of forested land, researchers can assemble an amazingly accurate history of the region, Hallgren said, a history that allows for ecologists and landowners to better manage the area. “We’ve all seen the growth rings in a tree’s cross section,” Hallgren said. “To a trained eye, like the researchers who have done much of the dating here at OSU,

those rings vary enough in size, color and other characteristics to show the information we need for continued research and extension efforts.” One of those NREM researchers, Doug Stevenson, said the dendrochronology process is interesting and fun. “The trees tell a deep history,” Stevenson said. “The research not only fills gaps in the climatological record, but it can tell us about conditions 100 years before those records were even kept.” To collect that historical data, the work begins in the field. “You can collect cores or discs,” Stevenson said. “For my project now, I have collected around 500 samples to analyze and construct a weather history of the Ouachita Mountain area.” Once those samples make it to the lab, the research starts. “It’s an art as well as a science,” Hallgren said about tree-ring dating. Each sample is dated differently, Hallgren said. If the sample was taken from a live tree, then the date of the outer ring is the current year. Based on the growth and scarring in the vascular cambium, or outer layers, the researcher can make detailed conclusions of aeration, moisture content, traumatic conditions and more.

However, if a sample is not alive, the dating process can be more challenging, Hallgren said. “This one right here has a pretty unique story,” Stevenson said, pointing to a 24-inch cross section of loblolly pine. “During the drought a few years ago, a farmer decided to clean out an area where his pond was dried up,” Stevenson said. “Preserved underwater for over 100 years were saw logs, including this one, that revealed climate history for the area that until that point, were unrepresented. “That scar is from the ice storm of 1894,” Stevenson said, pointing to a jagged ring on the tree sample. “You can see from these subsequent rings it took the tree four years to recover.” One component of dendrochronology is the research’s ability to build on itself. Comparing old and new samples sideby-side, researchers can compare rings and bridge gaps between 19th-century samples and those collected today. “People call with some giant tree in their yard they think has to be like a thousand years old,” Hallgren said. “The truth is, in Oklahoma, most of the oldest trees are 300, maybe 400, years old. Plus, for our purpose, the most descriptive research comes from post oaks with an average diameter of 6 to 10 inches.”

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Although sometimes used to date historical panel paintings or ancient wooden structures, the dendrochronology research done at OSU is much more agriculturally based, Hallgren said. “To some people, NREM seems slightly disconnected from the rest of agriculture,” Hallgren said. “But, the research here allows many farmers and rural landowners to better control their land and ensure a sustainable ecosystem for vegetation and wildlife.” More than just plants and wildlife benefit, Hallgren said. According to Hallgren’s related research, more than 7 million people in the central United States reap tangible benefits from the Cross Timbers. One of the most meaningful advantages to Oklahoma agriculturists is dendrochronology’s ability to serve as a decision-making tool, Hallgren said. “Burn it? Graze it? Build a pipeline on it?” Hallgren asked. “To help people answer these questions, we do our research. Researchers mark natural events on timber samples with dates and abbreviations, such as this “F” for a fire in 1975. Samples then are used to compile a historical record of the area. Photo by Ashton Mese. COWBOY JOURNAL | 11

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With a better understanding of ecological systems comes a better ability to manage our land.” With that better-managed land comes numerous benefits to forested areas, Hallgren said. “Environmental, societal and recreational advantages all result when we take proper care of the resources we have been given,” he said. Hallgren said many people could be surprised to learn that as much as 75 percent of the water they drink comes from forested watersheds. The natural filtration completed by the trees is important for water quality, Hallgren said. Students also push the boundaries of dendrochronology beyond timber. “My work is similar,” said botany doctoral student Justin Dee, “but I study the annual rings in the woody roots of herbaceous perennial species that exist solely within the tallgrass prairie community commonly bordering the Cross Timbers.” Dee said this work can be tedious because the rings in roots are often microscopic and require labratory equipment for

Justin Dee collects samples with a sledge microtome. Photo by Ashton Mese.

viewing. However, like the dendrochronology on timber, it ultimately could reveal historical and environmental signals for better land management, he said. “I’m grateful for Dr. Hallgren and the other researchers,” Dee said. “Their work really can help us understand how plants respond to disturbances in the environ-

ment, and through that, help people better manage them.”

Ashton Mese Kingfisher, Okla.

Financing a

Growing Oklahoma. Farm Credit of Enid 580-233-3489 • www.fcenid.com 1605 W. Owen K. Garriott • Enid, OK 73702



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Ahead of the

Online fire-management program keeps Oklahomans plugged in for fire safety.

hat do air temperature, relative humidity and wind speed have in common? As the three main weather elements important to wildland fire, this information is available through OK-FIRE, a joint effort of Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. OK-FIRE began in October 2005 with a three-year federal grant provided by the Joint Fire Science Program. OK-FIRE went online in fall 2006 and is now an established part of the Oklahoma Mesonet, the state’s automated weather station network operated jointly by OSU and OU. “OK-FIRE is a decision support system for wildland fire managers in Oklahoma,” said J.D. Carlson, program manager and associate researcher and fire meteorologist in the OSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. “OK-FIRE offers past, current and forecasting products for fire weather, fire danger and smoke dispersion.” A variety of wildland fire managers use OK-FIRE, including federal and state agencies, local fire departments, emergency managers and private landowners. Lloyd Colston, Altus, Okla., emergency manager, said when it comes to fire and drought, OK-FIRE helps him tackle multiple issues. “During a wildfire, we use the weather products provided by OK-FIRE,” Colston said. “OK-FIRE lets us know when the weather is going to be bad, shows where a wildfire burn will be good or not, and gives me the tools that allow me to assess the situation to inform my public.”

He said fire risk is low during a rain Colston said this support system event but rises quickly after. gives him and other users the resources to “Many people misunderstand the understand the behavior of fire. relationship between rain and wildfire risks “When using OK-FIRE, a user can during the dormant season,” Porter said. assess the fire behavior conditions and can Rain can make fire control difficult see where the fire will be headed,” Colston because of mud, Porter said, which makes said. “A user can see what the conditions it difficult for vehicles to access the fire. are like while a fire is burning, and a user “Wildfire risk and moisture in dorcan also see what is going to burn.” mant grass leaves are more correlated to OK-FIRE is a great program, Colston said, but more people need to inform their today’s relative humidity rather than past rain events,” Porter said. fire departments and emergency managers Rain can lower statewide when the fire risk during they plan to Fire is as important … the growing season conduct a burn as rain and sunshine. because plants uptake on their land. — ­­­­Mike Porter moisture, which lowers Mike Porter, Senior Wildlife and Fisheries Consultant, their flammability, senior wildlife The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Porter said. and fisheries “Fires are a naturally occurring proconsultant at The Samuel Roberts Noble cess,” said Terry Bidwell, OSU professor of Foundation, has conducted prescribed natural resource ecology and management burns since 1978. Porter said OK-FIRE and state extension rangeland specialist. has increased his level of confidence in “Fires benefit the ecological process.” making decisions. Bidwell said the early Native Amer “When I am planning for a burn, icans conducted fires and the land has I want to accomplish certain objectives evolved from there. with fire,” Porter said. “OK-FIRE helps “If you exclude fire from the ecologime evaluate weather parameters for each cal process, the land only ends up hurtpotential burn and determine whether the ing,” Bidwell said. objectives can be accomplished. Prescribed burners use the OK-FIRE “Fire behavior is a function of relative program to assess current and future humidity, wind, fuel and slope,” Porter weather conditions affecting fire risk said. “As relative humidity climbs, probincluding wind speed, wind direction and lematic fire behavior is reduced, and as relative humidity. relative humidity drops, fire behavior The Fire Prescription Planner within becomes more extreme. the OK-FIRE program allows burners to “Fire is as important to Oklahoma input their burn criteria and search the 84upland native plant communities as rain hour forecast for times when their criteria and sunshine,” Porter said. COWBOY JOURNAL | 51

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As part of the natural resource ecology and management advanced prescribed fire class, students Jake Bodley (left) and Chase Fairweather participate in the equipment and spotfire training exercise. Photo by Todd Johnson.

are met for their chosen location. Prescribed burners also use firebreaks when conducting a burn. “A firebreak is either a natural break, like a road, or we have to make our own firebreaks by digging trenches,” Bidwell said. “Smoke dispersion also plays an important role when conducting a burn.” Bidwell said OK-FIRE is always available for a burn. “There are no excuses when it comes

to planning a burn because OK-FIRE is a tool that is out there,” Bidwell said. John Weir, NREM research associate, has conducted more than 950 prescribed burns during the past 28 years. “When conducting a burn, you are always a little nervous,” Weir said. “It’s not that you’re scared of fire,” he said. “It is the concern you have about containing the fire and making sure the burn goes as planned.”

Weir said fire safety is important for people in and outside the burn area. When the burn is successful and the goals put in place are achieved, Weir said he feels rewarded.

Jeanette Green Wylie, Texas

Before you light a match ... • Have a pre-burn checklist of what could be in the burn area, such as brush piles, pens, barns, fences or homes. • Describe the management needed before a burn to accomplish the burn successfully and meet goals and objectives, including the firebreak types and locations around the burn. • Contact neighbors and the fire department.

• Know fuel and weather conditions, including temperature, relative humidity, wind direction and wind speed. • Know the weather conditions before and after the burn to ensure they are within the fire prescription set. • Have a checklist of equipment needed to complete the burn. • Develop a plan for an escaped fire. • Prepare firebreaks.

— Collaborated information provided by Oklahoma State University and http://okfire.mesonet.org. 52 | SUMMER/FALL 2014

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Students spend an unforgettable spring break in South America. magine spending spring break “He used a machete like I would use learning to hunt and grow food in a pocket knife,” Miller said. “He demonthe rain forest, hiking the Andes strated skills honed through survival to Mountains, swimming with sharks, and show our students a way of living that watching giant tortoises lumber across the cannot be learned in the classroom.” forest floor foraging for food. The guide cut the side of a ceiba tree, Fifteen Oklahoma State University used a banana leaf to catch sap, made a students experienced this and more as salve, and applied it to several of the stuthey traveled to dents’ bug bites, Ecuador and the said. Who could ask for a better Miller Galápagos Islands By the followin March 2014 as spring break than going ing morning, the part of a natural bites were gone. to South America? resource ecology Students spent — Amber Jeans and management three days in the Junior, Agricultural Leadership course taught by Amazon rain forprofessor Thomas Kuzmic. est, which stretches through nine nations, Traveling by plane, bus, boat, foot and including eastern Ecuador. horseback, the students interacted with The jungle adventure included a day Ecuadorians in their cities, villages, fields, with a jungle shaman, who performed a forests and national parks. spiritual purification ceremony. His family “Who could ask for a better spring taught students to use a blowgun, throw break than going to South America, learna spear, forage in the jungle for food, and ing the culture, and seeing the lifestyles prepare a meal. of the country?” asked Amber Jeans, an “The food in the jungle was so natural agricultural leadership junior. and fresh,” Jeans said. Found in northwest South America, After the rain forest, students traveled Ecuador fronts the Pacific Ocean and into Cayambe to the historic Hacienda la cludes the Galápagos Islands, located 620 Compania and toured the commercial rose miles west of Ecuador’s coast. production of Rosadex, an international “Upon arrival in Ecuador, the sturose exporter, Kuzmic said. dents traveled by bus to La Casa Sol, Qui“Roses can grow 6 feet tall,” Kuzmic to, for a good night’s rest,” Kuzmic said. said. “The climate, luminosity and fertile The students began their adventure volcanic soil provide ideal conditions.” the following day in the remote AmazoniStudents continued through the Anan town of Coca. des, visiting an equator monument, hiking They traveled up the Napo River via to Mojanda Lakes, and climbing the Fuya a motor canoe to Yachana Lodge. There, Fuya volcano, Kuzmic said. they met their guide, Avel, and began their “The landscape in the Andes was jungle adventure. breathtaking,” Jeans said. “I have never “Our guide’s skills with a machete, been to such a high altitude.” spear and blowgun were amazing,” said Ed Later, the group also hiked to a climbMiller, NREM professor. ers refuge on Cotopaxi Volcano. While


hiking Cotopaxi, the wind was gusting up to 40 mph with snow and sleet, Jeans said. “It was much harder than I expected it to be,” Jeans said, “but I felt accomplished after reaching our destination.” Beyond outdoor adventures, students visited artisan shops in Otavalo, Peguche and Agato to experience the Ecuadorian way of life, where people use their skills to provide for their families, Kuzmic said. “The Ecuadorian people use what they have been taught by generations before them to provide for their families,” Miller said. After flying to the Galápagos Islands, students experienced the landscapes of three islands, snorkeled, relaxed at the beach, and observed dozens of sea lions that swam among them. “We swam with Galápagos sharks that were not afraid of us,” said Sara Honegger, agricultural communications junior. After a boat cruise along the northwest coast passing Darwin Bay, students observed a breeding station for the Galápagos tortoises and walked to the Charles Darwin Research Station. “As an animal science major, visiting the research station and seeing where Darwin first landed was fascinating,” said Jackie Ervin, animal science sophomore. Traveling to the breeding station and the tortoise conservatory was the highlight of the trip, said Amanda Utt, animal science senior. “I have always loved turtles, so it was quite a thrill for me,” Utt said. More than 50 species of birds and unique animals are indigenous to the Galápagos Islands, Kuzmic said. “Our guides used words like incredible and spectacular to describe the animals, the flowers and even the rocks,”

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1 Honegger said. “I have never heard such enthusiasm and words to describe a place.” Students spent the final day in Ecuador learning about the chagra, or Ecuadorian cowboy, lifestyle on a cattle ranch, Kuzmic said. He said students wore wool ponchos and Alpaca chaps while riding horses at 12,000 feet in the Andes Mountains near a sprawling hacienda. “The owner of the hacienda has worked with the local community to enhance the traditions of the chagra lifestyle,” Honegger said. “Now, young Ecuadorians embrace their chagra heritage.” Traveling for 15 days through three ecosystems, students discovered the linkages among people, land and natural resources, gaining the hands-on experience of a lifetime, Kuzmic said.

2 4


Dedra Baker Yukon, Okla.

1. Gracie Coen (left), Sara Honegger and Amber Jeans show their OSU pride. 2. Students explore Ecuador with guides Thomas (front left) and Carlos (front right): A.J. Fried (back left), Maylinn Mathews, Gracie Coen, Amanda Utt, Sara Honegger, Daniel Dickerson, Marissa Giampaoli, Jon Latta, Amber Jeans (front row, second from left), Mindy McNeil, Sydney Everett, Kayla Hess, Jackie Ervin and Victoria Tomas. 3. Jackie Ervin learns to use a blowgun. 4. Daniel Dickerson (left) and Jon Latta participate in a purfication ceremony. 5. Kayla Hess (left) and Jon Latta explore the Andes on horseback. Photos by or courtesy of Sara Honegger and Thomas Kuzmic.


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Former OSU football player and CASNR alumnus dominates in a new field. he agricultural industry is a way of life for Kevin Igo, who has expanded a small, family-owned business in Texas to new heights. In 1957, Kevin’s parents, Merwyn and Shirley Igo, graduated from Texas Tech University and Texas Women’s University, respectively. They married, bought a grain elevator, and opened a fertilizer and chemical business. The couple had five children and taught strong family values, Kevin said. “My parents believed in three things,” Kevin said. “They believed in family, Christ and instilling a work ethic in me and my siblings.” Kevin said developing a work ethic and gaining an education were two things his parents demanded. Both of these traits helped him become a prized football recruit in West Texas, he said. “I wasn’t the most athletically gifted kid, but I was going to outwork you,” Kevin said. “If you put me on an even playing field against someone, I was going to come out on top, and that mindset has carried over into my business career.” Kevin said, as a high school senior, he received scholarship offers from Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University, Rice University, Baylor University and Oklahoma State University. Although he thought he would follow in his father’s footsteps, life had a different plan for him, he said. “The coaches from Tech came to my house and told me they honestly believed the kids from southeast Louisiana were just plain better than kids from West Texas,” Kevin said.

Kevin said he believed Texas Tech “In those 10 years, I gained a deeper University had a scholarship for him but knowledge of the farming aspect, and he was not their first option. That opened my father helped me blend my farming the door to play for Jimmy Johnson, forknowledge into the fertilizer and chemical mer OSU head coach. business,” Kevin said. “He helped me learn “I never thought that I would go to how the two go hand-in-hand and how to school at OSU,” Kevin said. “I always help others be successful.” thought I would be a Red Raider. Merwyn Igo, Kevin’s father, died “After visiting Oklahoma State and in 1997, and the reins of Halfway Farm learning about Chemical in Halfway, their school of Texas, went to Kevin. If you put me on an agriculture and “My father was very even playing field … bright,” Kevin said. the reputation that it had, OSU I was going to come “When he started the just felt like the company in ’57, it was out on top. right choice, and pretty tough times, but he — Kevin Igo it was one of the always believed if you do Owner, Halfway Farm Chemical best decisions I things the right way, look ever made,” he said. people in the eye, and be honest, you will Kevin played football for four years be successful.” at OSU and graduated in 1984 with a After his father’s death, Kevin evolved Bachelor of Science in agronomy. his small, family-owned elevator into one “It wasn’t easy juggling academics of the largest family-owned grain compaand football,” Kevin said, “but the most nies in the state. important thing that a person should do is The company has expanded from surround yourself with good people.” one to four elevator locations and three One of the people Kevin chose to be full-service fertilizer, chemical, custom aparound his junior year was his future wife, plication and crop consultation businesses. Roxie George, an education major from “Today, we trade about 2.9 million Ada, Okla. bushels of different types of grain annu After earning their degrees, the couple ally,” Kevin said. “Our fertilizer sales are married, moved back to West Texas, and over 90,000 tons each year.” started a small cow-calf and crop farm. In 2007, the Igos purchased two addi Kevin said after graduating he wanted tional locations: Edmonson Farm Chemito follow his heart and chose to return to cal in Edmonson, Texas, and Quarterway Plainview, Texas, to farm and raise cattle Farm Chemical in Quarterway, Texas. instead of pursuing professional football. Two years later, with the income from After 10 years of hard work at his the two additional locations, the company father’s grain elevator business, he became built a fourth location, Plainview Farm a partner, he said. Chemical in Plainview, Texas.

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Kevin Igo owns Halfway Farm Chemical, which handles more than 438 million pounds of grain each year. Photo by Roxie Igo.

This move also allowed the company to partner with Azteca Milling Co. for handling food-grade corn. Kevin refuses to take credit for Halfway Farm Chemical’s recent success. He said if a number of things had not occurred, the company never would have been able to reach the level of influence it has today. “Agriculture, as a whole, has changed so much,” Kevin said. “Yes, we have increased the business about 20 times from when I took over, but it is not all about what I have done. It is about the amount of technology and other things that have been brought to the table.” Kevin said the technological advances in agriculture allow the company to accomplish work in one day that would have taken a week when he started the job. Along with technological advances,

Kevin said he also attributes his success in business to having a wife who supports him and believes in him. “It is so important to find a woman who pushes you to follow your dreams,” Kevin said. “My wife is a very bright lady with great intellect and work ethic.” Roxie graduated from OSU with a bachelor’s in education and later received a master’s in education administration. The couple got its start while attending OSU, she said. “I was not in the agricultural department, but we both feel the university provided us with the educational background we needed to succeed,” she said. Roxie worked 21 years in education as a teacher, assistant principal and district administrator before she retired in 2013. She said she takes no credit for Halfway Farm Chemical’s success.

“My contribution to the company is really just my support of Kevin,” Roxie said. “He had a vision for the company, and because I didn’t have the knowledge in that field, I trusted him fully with every decision he made.” When Roxie first met her husband, she said she saw him as someone who was always trustworthy. “Kevin is an innovator,” Roxie said. “If things don’t work one way, he is going to figure out why and make it work another. He is a leader in his community, in his business, in his church and in our family.” The relationship between her husband and his clientele allows the company to maintain a loyal customer base, Roxie said. “Farmers who have been in the business a long time seem to want his opinion on different farming techniques and sometimes even personal matters,” she COWBOY JOURNAL | 57

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said. “They value his opinion, and they know that he cares about them.” The couple agreed that throughout 30 years of marriage, their proudest accomplishments have nothing to do with the company. Rather, those moments have everything to do with their three children: Jessica, Clay and Meagan. Jessica earned a bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University, a master’s at Texas Tech University and a doctorate at Colorado State University. She is a meat scientist for Merck Animal Health. Clay attended Angelo State University and has a beef production operation. Meagan earned a bachelor’s at Texas Tech University and a master’s at Texas A&M University. She works for the American Meat Science Association. Kevin said he is most proud his children stayed heavily involved in agriculture and pursued different career paths within the industry. “My son running his own cattle herd and my two daughters being All-American meat judges in college are the types of things that make me giddy,” Kevin said.

The Igos also have four grandchildren: Spencer, 9; Scarlet, 5; and infants Cooper and Syler. Roxie said the grandchildren can put a smile on Kevin’s face the second they walk in the room. Business stops, conversations stop, and customers and employees understand his children and grandchildren are his priority, she said. Kevin said while he is uncertain about whether his children will remain tied to the company, his daughter Jessica’s husband, Derek Finck, recently accepted a managerial position at the Edmonson Farm Chemical location. Derek said working with his fatherin-law has been a great experience and the two have been able to work well together. “I would say Kevin and I don’t really have an employee-boss type of relationship, but more of a mentoring relationship,” Derek said. “It is more of me trying to learn as much as I can by grabbing each and every bit of information he lets out.” Derek said Kevin’s work values make him special. “He is honest,” Derek said, “and if he tells you something, it is like gold.

Quality Shines Through.

“People believe in the advice that he gives,” Derek said. “His knowledge of his products and the production practices are really just outstanding.” Derek, who joined the company in September 2013, said he is confident Kevin is the reason Halfway Farm Chemical is successful and does not expect it to slow down anytime soon. “Kevin wants to continue building the company,” Derek said. “He has put the company on his back to get it to where it is today. He is no stranger to hard work, and he will continue doing so.” Kevin said everything worked the way it did because he was patient and followed his heart. “Let things come to you, learn as much as you can, and don’t cut any corners,” Kevin said. “I promise it will all work out just fine.”

Zach White Woodward, Okla.

G riswold C attle Setting the Standard

To be placed on the Griswold mailing list call the office 405-372-3300 or email gcccatalog@gmail.com

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Unmanned aerial vehicles soon may be added to Oklahoma farmers’ toolkits. magine if wheat producers could check for bug infestations in their crops from their front porches rather than walking through a field. This might seem like a far-fetched idea, but Brian Arnall, assistant professor in the Oklahoma State University Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, said this scenario is a lot closer to reality than some might believe. “Depending on who you talk to, unmanned aerial vehicles are the No. 1 or No. 2 topic in agriculture worldwide,” Arnall said. Arnall said he receives calls once or twice a week about UAVs. The question he is asked most often is about how the technology can make a producer money. Arnall credits the interest in UAVs to being “cool toys,” but Paul Weckler, associate professor in the OSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, said their popularity stems from their applications, known and unknown. Currently, the only practical application for UAVs in precision agriculture is not much different than what producers can get from manned aircraft and satellites, Arnall said. “The only thing we can do right now is take a picture and tell somebody to go take a look at this piece,” Arnall said. One day, UAVs could go from just collecting data to doing something like crop dusting or pollinating, said Ning Wang, OSU BAE associate professor. Plant pollination is an area of interest because bee populations are declining, Wang said. For bees to pollinate a plant, they have to visit it six times. The low efficiency of bees could be superseded by a UAV

the OSU School of Mechanical and Aerobecause the movements of a UAV can be controlled, possibly increasing the efficien- space Engineering. These regulations are evolving for cy of pollination, Wang said. commercial use and probably will not be Some of the biggest problems with established for a few years, he said, but getting UAVs into the hands of proproducers can buy a ducers include remote-control aircraft Federal Aviation With a UAV, you can for private use on Administration actually look by plant their own property restrictions, the and operate under the high price of or animal. You can get same rules as remote the aircraft and much more detail. control hobbyists. programs, and — ­­­­­­­­Ning Wang The average battery the UAV’s battery Associate Professor, OSU Biosystems and life, Arnall said. Agricultural Engineering Department life of a UAV is only up to 45 minutes, FAA regulimiting the amount of area covered on a lations include having proper flight path single flight, Arnall said. control, avoiding obstacles and other Even with a short battery life, the aircraft in the area, and keeping human biggest advantage UAVs have in relation control of the aircraft at all times, said to traditional aerial photography is their James Kidd, clinical associate professor in

To take off in a field, the UAV needs a flat surface. For this flight, Ning Wang and her students use a piece of particle board as a landing pad. Photo courtesy of Ning Wang. COWBOY JOURNAL | 59

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Ning Wang and her students test the UAV’s capabilites by measuring each plant in the test plot. The PVC pipe and calibration board serve as reference markers for the flight and allow the class to see if the UAV is taking photos of each plant correctly. Photo courtesy of Ning Wang.

ability to produce more images that have a higher resolution. “With a UAV, you can actually look by plant or animal,” Wang said. “You can get much more detail.” A single, nine-minute trip Arnall and a student took with a UAV produced about 540 pictures that were then stitched together electronically. During the course of a 45-minute trip, thousands of images could be captured for the producer. “To do a really good job of stitching [images together], you need really high resolution,” Arnall said. “[One needs] a centimeter to 3 centimeters resolution to

accurately put pictures together and get an accurately georeferenced image of a field.” The problem with this, Arnall said, is a 60 percent to 80 percent overlap in pictures is needed, and no application can get to a single centimeter of resolution. While all these issues exist with producers using a UAV in their operations today, Kidd said, the future of UAVs within precision agriculture looks positive. “[Precision agriculture] will probably have the biggest number of aircraft because of the number of farms,” he said. The biggest advantage in UAVs over manned aircraft and satellite imagery is their availability, Kidd said.

Manned aircraft can be in high demand and satellites, depending on their orbit, may only pass above a place every 16 days, Kidd said. A UAV owned by the producer, however, can be used whenever the producer needs. Producers must be able to use the data from the UAV for the technology to be really valuable, Arnall said. “Moving from the raw data, which is the imagery, to information — something the farmer is going to be able to make decisions off of — takes a lot of processing, interpretation and maybe layering different data sets together to make a history,” Kidd said. However, the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service or chemical companies may use UAVs more in the future than individual producers, Weckler said. “What’s the value of the information all by itself?” Weckler asked. “I don’t know. If you’re growing wine grapes, maybe a lot. If you’re growing corn or wheat, maybe not so much.” Weckler said he speculates in 10 years producers could go to their extension educator and check out a UAV, much like producers do with soil probes. One of the current uses of UAVs could be to help a producer with early detection of bug infestations, Arnall said. Future applications of UAVs, Weckler said, could include range-checking cattle and using a smart bolus in a cow’s rumen to check its temperature, rumen pH, location or metabolic readings. While current UAV use is limited for producers, Weckler said, the amount of data and potential applications of UAVs in production agriculture make them attractive to producers who are early adopters of new technology. “I’m not sure we know all the potential applications that may come up,” Weckler said. “It’s sort of like when GPS started showing up on farm machinery. I don’t think people would have predicted autosteer systems would have been the big success they’ve become.”

Amy Cox Sutton, Neb.

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Pork producers are on a mission. We have a legacy of responsible practices but we’re committed to ongoing improvement, always striving to do better. In fact, America’s pork producers are leaders in quality assurance and continuous improvement. Today there is no higher quality or safer pork. That’s quite an accomplishment. And it’s only getting better. Because when it comes to responsible pork production, nobody cares more about the environment, animal care, food safety, and the community than we do.

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Extension roots deepen across generations.

he Campbell family’s history with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service spans more than 63 years. The tradition started with Ray Campbell, and today his great-nephew, Jarred Campbell, carries on the legacy. In 1951, a 10-year-old Ray was one of the lucky 4-H members in McCurtain County to receive 25 free chicks. With this support, he learned to raise, feed, and keep records on his growing flock. In addition, he also had projects in rabbitry, forestry and gardening. Dave Williams, Ray’s 4-H agent, provided an inspiration for Ray to pass to his own students one day. Ray said he recalls the impact Williams had on him as a young boy. “He inspired me to become an agent,” Ray said, “though I did not realize it until much later in life.” In May 1963, Ray graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in animal husbandry. Though he had not given much thought to what he would do, Ray said he followed the advice of a family friend and spoke with the OCES at OSU about career possibilities in extension. He said he soon realized it would be a great fit. “I remember my first day vividly,” Ray said of his first job as a 4-H agent in Cole County. “It was June 1, 1963, and the county extension director left for Colorado the day I started, so there was no one to show me the ropes.” Jarred Campbell (left) and Ray Campbell (right) at the OSU Botanical Gardens. Photo by Betty Thompson Richey.


Though the basic organization of extension was the same then as it is now, Ray said today’s expanded volunteer leader base is stronger than when he began his career. Nearly 95 percent of the 4-H clubs in the 1960s were organized within the schools and led by teachers and extension specialists, Ray said. Then, members met at the school for a general monthly meeting for all members and gender-specific educational programs. “One of the positive changes I’ve seen in 4-H through the years is the growth of volunteer involvement,” Ray said. Ray eventually returned to OSU and obtained a master’s degree in horticulture. He continued his work with Oklahoma 4-H as an extension specialist in Delaware County and eventually moved to Wichita, Kan., where he spent four years. He earned his doctorate from Kansas State University and relocated to Virginia Tech University in the ’70s where he implemented horticulture programs in 30 vocational technical schools. “I really enjoyed my stay in Virginia,” Ray said. “I helped design curriculum and facilities, and I trained teachers. I traveled the entire state.” When a job at OSU as a professor and extension specialist in vegetable crops opened in the early ’80s, Ray said he did not hesitate to apply. He described coming back to work at his alma mater as his “New York Yankee’s job.” Ray said during his time as a professor he was unaware of the impact he was having on many of his own students, who were inspired to become extension agents, as well.

“Ray helped me realize the challenge that extension would be,” said John Haase, former horticulture student and current Rogers County extension educator. “I love a challenge. You never stop learning, and that is knowledge you can pay forward to another and feel rewarded.” Soon after returning to OSU, Ray became the third host of “Oklahoma Gardening,” the No. 1 locally produced television program aired on the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority. For 51 weeks of the year, he hosted a hands-on program specifically for Oklahoma gardeners, demonstrating proper gardening and safety techniques, options for pest control, and other various tips.

Ray Campbell demonstrates greenhouse tomato production techniques at the OSU research greenhouse in 1975. Photo courtesty of Ray Campbell. COWBOY JOURNAL | 63

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Eventually, OSU Agricultural Comfor a feed company, but when an opportumunications Services gained the capability nity to become the extension educator in to film the show in Ray’s personal garden. his home county opened, he said he knew After hosting the show for eight years, he could not pass it up. Ray became the assistant director for agri “I always enjoyed working with cultural programs and was later appointed people and kids,” Jarred said. “I knew a as the associate director for the OCES. chance like that wouldn’t come around While Ray was in administration, again, so I decided to go for it.” Jarred was studying agricultural leadership When he told Ray what he hoped to at OSU and would meet with his uncle to do, Ray said he was elated. have lunch. “I knew he would make a great Jarred said his agent,” Ray said. You can look back and father, Jim Camp“He’s dedicated, bell, played an insay, ‘I made a difference personable and very strumental role in hard-working.” in someone’s life. ’ his involvement Jarred was a — Ray Campbell McCurtain County in agriculture and Retired Associate Director, 4-H’er from age his decision to Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service 9 to 19. While in stay connected into adulthood. Jim also was involved with high school, he was inducted into the extension as a young 4-H’er, showing pigs McCurtain County 4-H Hall of Fame, the at fairs, participating in dress revue conhighest honor a member can receive at the tests, and performing in the Share-the-Fun county level. During his 10 years in 4-H, Jarred talent show. He went on to graduate with a degree was active in projects such as public speakin agricultural education from OSU in ing, showing and raising beef, citizenship 1985. Jim said he continues to use his loand community service as well as developcal extension service for advice on various ing leadership skills. “I wanted to come back home,” Jarred agricultural issues. Jarred also said James Campbell, his said. “I knew where my roots were, and I great uncle, was influential throughout his was thrilled to take on a role that influlife, especially when it came to agriculture. enced me as a young 4-H’er.” After Jarred’s grandfather passed away Jarred said he remembered thinking in a car accident, he began looking to his of his own extension educator as “older” Uncle James for knowledge and advice. when he was in junior high and high Jarred said his uncle was a well-respected school and laughed at the thought of being the “older educator” to some kids. leader and businessman in Idabel, Okla., and McCurtain County. James, like many Being a McCurtain County native, he in his family, has deep roots in agriculture. knows his students and their families well, “I wanted to grow up and be just like he said, and found establishing his role as him,” Jarred said. “I wanted to be a great an educator early on was essential. man just like he was.” “I never dreamed I’d be here,” Jarred After graduating from OSU in 2010, said. “It is truly a fortunate honor.” Jarred took a job as a sales representative On average, Jarred spends one to three

nights a week actively engaged in activities for approximately 300 county 4-H members. He frequently takes his officer team and ambassadors across the county to help them develop their leadership and speaking skills, he said. He said he is working to establish a speech team to speak at civic organization meetings and banquets. “Public speaking is the No. 1 fear in Americans,” Jarred said. “I want my students to be ahead and know that they can do it at a young age.” September is Jarred’s one-year anniversary as the 4-H county extension educator for McCurtain County. “It’s a family tradition to be involved in agriculture,” Jim said. “I’m glad that Jarred has the opportunity to help students with public speaking, showing livestock and gaining leadership skills through his work in extension.” Ray and Jarred said working in extension is an incredible way to impact lives because the career carries true meaning. Extension is well-respected and valued in Oklahoma, partly because of the support from OSU, Ray said. OCES has served as a highly regarded source of information for Oklahomans for 100 years, and the Campbell family has been part of that history for 63 of them. “I don’t think there is any other career that would have been more fitting for me or rewarding as extension,” Ray said. “At the end of the day — or career — you can look back and say, ‘I made a difference in someone’s life.’”

Betty Thompson Richey Davenport, Okla.

OCES Celebrates Extension’s Centennial On April 12, a historic re-creation of the Stillwater Central Railroad traveling from Oklahoma City to Wellston, Okla., united hundreds to celebrate the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Centennial. The train carried Oklahoma dignitaries and other guests and provided a unique opportunity for passengers to learn about the OCES. In Wellston, a “whistle stop education reenactment” brought history to life to show how the OCES agents, sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture, were allowed to ride trains and present demonstrations to people gathered at whistle stops in the early 1900s. Dozens rode the rails as part of the OCES Whistle Stop. Photo by Todd Johnson. 64 | SUMMER/FALL 2014

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Archaeological findings expose secrets of the past.

very scoop of dirt tells a story of the past, even if the story is too small to read. This could be the slogan for Brian Carter, Oklahoma State University professor of plant and soil sciences, and a team of archaeologists who dig up history along Bull Creek in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Their efforts require delicate analysis of the composition of excavated soil. Miniscule, elusive entities of matter called nanodiamonds occur in certain layers of soil previously exposed to extreme levels of pressure and temperature, and Carter said he has geared his involvement with nanodiamonds specifically toward the excavation process and identifying methods of formation. “[Nanodiamonds] are formed during explosions,” Carter said. “Those could be bombs detonated on Earth’s surface, or they could come up from the center of the Earth as part of magma flows, which is how you might find larger diamonds in some deposits. “Nanodiamonds can also come from a meteor entering the earth’s atmosphere,” Carter said. “That meteor contains small Excavation sites like this reveal nanodiamond formations under conditions of extreme temperature and pressure. Photo courtesy of Brian Carter.

amounts of carbon. When it explodes, it rains little specks of diamonds down onto the earth’s surface.” Research archaeologist Leland Bement of the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey said the presence of varying types of nanodiamonds supports the comet-impact theory, which suggests an extraterrestrial impact prompted changes in temperature, flora and fauna assemblages as well as human adaptations in eras after an impact. Bement, who has worked in his capacity with the University of Oklahoma for 22 years, headed a nanodiamond excursion in 2013. Bement said nanodiamonds serve as one of many markers for historical analysis of several eras pre-dating modern times. Bement also included one of his OU colleagues, professor of geology and geophysics Andrew Madden, on the nanodiamond project team. “Nanodiamonds are extremely tiny and hard to find,” Madden said. “Finding them was very exciting and amazing to think they could represent a signature linking drastic changes in Earth’s climate, changes in patterns of human habitation and extinction of many mammals.” Madden said many aspects of nanodiamond research are occurring. “In Earth science, most work on nanodiamonds has focused on meteorites or

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Nanodiamonds must be observed using a high-resolution transmission electron microscope. Photos courtesy of Leland Bement.

N-diamonds contain partial carbon occupancy, hydrogen substitutions or defects allowing electron diffraction positions to appear. These are the most common structure of nanodiamonds found at the Bull Creek site.

Cubic diamonds often form from explosions occurring after the initial point of impact. Significant numbers of these nanodiamonds have been found at the Bull Creek site.

Hex diamond formation results from shock-conversion of graphite under specific temperatures and pressures. These are most likely indicators of extraterrestrial impact sites, but have not been found at the Bull Creek site.

— Information provided by Leland Bement, Brian Carter and Andrew Madden

layers thought to represent impact events,” Madden said. “One possibility might be the recent nanodiamonds represent some type of signature of human impact on the planet.” Bement said the group’s findings, which have been focused on a time period around 11,000 radiocarbon years before the present — known as the pre-Younger Dryas chronozone — coincide with findings from several other more popular, larger impact sites. “We are now more familiar with the asteroid impact down in Central America from a time when the dinosaurs went extinct,” Bement said. “The markers associated with that asteroid hitting Earth are the same ones we are looking for at this 11,000-year-old event. “In the event that may have led to the wiping out of the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago, nanodiamonds and iridium spikes formed,” Bement said. “Bringing the same hypothesis forward to look at, maybe at 11,000 years ago, we had a similar thing happen, which led to the extinction of the mammoths, mastodons and saber-toothed cats.” Most recently, Carter, Bement and a team of specialists have focused their

research on the composition of soil profiles along Bull Creek dating back to the pre-Younger Dryas chronozone. The composition of these soil horizons contains many spikes of nanodiamond deposits, though the particular type of nanodiamonds suggest the Bull Creek site was not the point of impact from any type of extraterrestrial entity, Carter said. The types of diamonds found, including n-diamonds and cubic nanodiamonds, represent structural configurations specific to immense quantities of heat and pressure; however, the composition of these nanodiamonds suggests an impact site is not nearby, Bement said. For an existing excavation or crater site to be qualified as a point of impact from an extraterrestrial event, the presence of hexagonal nanodiamonds are an important indicator, Bement said. “Looking along Bull Creek, what we found were n-diamonds, and before that we found cubic nanodiamonds, but no hexagonal diamonds,” Bement said. “We are not close to where the impact occurred because we don’t have hexagonal diamonds,” Bement said. “We can’t rule out that an impact did occur, but that it is at some distance from where we are.”

Hexagonal diamonds, though a prominent indicator of a collision site, are not a sole indicator of extraterrestrial impact. Other factors include high levels of soot as well as spikes in occurrences of microspherules, magnetic spherules and platinum elements, Bement said. “If you get these little spherules and they have iridium, that means they were produced in outer space,” Bement said. “The element iridium is one that is very rare on Earth, but you get more from outer space.” Bement said other indicators are just as important as nanodiamonds in providing evidence of an impact’s occurrence. “There are other people out there looking at the other markers to see if we can isolate when this impact happened or if it happened at all,” Bement said. “Basically, it’s a lining up of all these different markers that lend support to this theory.” Many of the samples recorded from the latest nanodiamond excursion have yet to be examined. Because this project is still in the early phases of research, its findings have yet to be substantiated beyond simple historical references, Carter said. “Often times, we’ll take this research and look at things like rates of soil erosion

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or formation,” Carter said. “We’ll get over the fact that our findings are initially used to answer questions like why animals go extinct, but we’ll turn it around. “We have not yet gone from the stage where we use this basic research and apply it,” Carter said. The research regarding nanodiamond implications has only begun and likely will require a more thorough period of evaluation before continuing. Bement said he is not looking to expand his sample beyond what has already been collected. “We are waiting to re-evaluate to see what our findings show before we move forward on anything else,” Bement said. “We will continue our investigations into reconstructing the shifts that happened in the environment and what the ramifications of events 11,000 years ago had on the cultures of that time period and those that developed afterward.”

Leland Bement displays nanodiamond deposits in soil profiles during a field excavation at Bull Creek. Photo courtesy of Brian Carter.

Mitchell Earl Enid, Okla.

Dan May and siblings overlook their parent’s champion-producing herd, holding banners and trophies from the Chicago International circa 1963.

Dan May and Family 1212 N. Country Club Rd. Stillwater, OK 74075 405-880-1309 • mayshowcattle@yahoo.com COWBOY JOURNAL | 67

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Where Leaders Learn Oklahoma FFA Wins National Prepared Public Speaking 5 Years in a Row! 2013 – Tyler Schnaithman, Garber 2012 – Tanner Allread, Union City 2011 – Kaylen Baker, Yukon 2010 – Tara Newton, Kingfisher 2009 – McKenzie Walta, Kingfisher


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Kingfisher, Okla., native earns CASNR’s top honor.

rom serving as a small-town FFA officer to working for the governor, the 2014 College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Outstanding Senior began a path to success as a youth. Ashton Mese, an agricultural communications and agricultural economics senior from Kingfisher, Okla., received the college’s top student award at the 2014 CASNR Scholarship and Awards Banquet. “You can think of the award as the person who is the ‘best fit’ for all of the traits we consider important in a graduating senior — academics, research, community service, leadership and international experiences,” said Steve Damron, CASNR assistant dean of academic programs. Every year, CASNR seniors can submit applications for the outstanding senior award. A faculty committee determines the CASNR Seniors of Distinction, the Dean’s Award of Excellence recipients and the CASNR Outstanding Senior. As the top senior, Mese received a Frederic Remington bronze statue titled “The Bronco Buster” and a $1,000 scholarship provided by the Gardner Outstanding Senior endowment. Louis and Betty Gardner’s five children — Carrie, Brett, Jill, Jeanne and Kent, who all attended Oklahoma State University — sponsor the CASNR Outstanding Senior award. Both Brett and Kent Gardner were named CASNR Outstanding Seniors and have credited their successful careers to Ashton Mese serves as Gov. Mary Fallin’s policy and legislative adviser. Photo by LaSalle Lewellen. COWBOY JOURNAL | 69

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Five seniors received the Dean’s Award of Excellence from administration at the 2014 CASNR Scholarship and Awards Banquet: Jacy Alsup (left); Rebecca Purvis; Brian Vowell, CASNR Alumni board president; Amanda Mathias; Whitney Lisenbee; Mike Woods, DASNR interim vice president and dean; Ashton Mese; and Cynda Clary, CASNR associate dean of academic programs. Photo by LaSalle Lewellen.

their experience and education at OSU, Damron said. The Gardner children created an endowment to support the recognition of the CASNR Outstanding Senior in honor of their parents, who have given dual meaning to the notion of “OSU family,” Damron said. As this year’s recipient, Mese leads by example as a well-rounded, hard-working student, said Shelly Sitton, Mese’s agricultural communications adviser. “Ashton serves as an outstanding leader when she’s asked to be in that role,” Sitton said, “but she is not afraid to be a follower when someone else is in charge. That’s what makes her a strong asset to any team.” The daughter of Jason and Donna Mese, the 22-year-old’s accomplishments include being named a Harry S. Truman Foundation National Scholarship finalist and one of only 15 OSU Outstanding Seniors. She also has earned her way onto an OSU honor roll nearly every semester. “Not only does she possess inherent academic skills, but also she is diligent in

her studies to learn the most from each of her courses,” Sitton said. In addition to academics, Mese has focused her time at OSU in many service roles. She served as president of the OSU Panhellenic Council, as coordinating committee chairwoman of the CASNR Student Success Leaders, and as secretary and internal operations chairwoman of the CASNR Career Liaisons. She helped as a monthly volunteer for the Saville Center for Child Advocacy, collected donations for tornado victims, worked with Salvation Army projects, and served as a weekly elementary-school reading buddy. “Ashton has the ability to be involved in many activities and still contribute to each one,” said Shannon Ferrell, Mese’s agricultural economics adviser. The activities that have taken the most of Mese’s time off campus are her work as a policy department aide for Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and as a summer intern for the 2012 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

“One of my most rewarding opportunities has been helping to edit the governor’s State of the State Address the last several years,” Mese said. “Another has been working on the 2012 Farm Bill with Chairman Frank Lucas and others in Washington, D.C.” Mese also traveled to Uganda with faculty in the agricultural education, communications and leadership department as part of a U.S. Department of State exchange program grant in 2012. “I am forever grateful to OSU for providing a safe place for me to succeed and to fail, to learn about the world and myself, to make lasting relationships, and to equip me for a life of positively impacting agriculture and society,” Mese said. “Many of my friends also received awards, and they are so deserving,” she added. “I just feel really humbled.”

Kiersten Brower Stillwater, Okla.

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Amanda Mathias* Animal Science Meeker, Okla. Ashton Mese* Agricultural Communications and Agricultural Economics Kingfisher, Okla.

Jacy Alsup* Agribusiness Gravette, Ark. Corbit Bayliff Animal Science Gardner, Kan. Marty Jones Agricultural Education Ramona, Okla. Katherine Keil Environmental Science Little Rock, Ark. Devin Leslie Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Oklahoma City Whitney Lisenbee* Biosystems Engineering Jenks, Okla.

Morgan Neilson Animal Science and Agricultural Communications Meeker, Colo. Tyler Price Agricultural Education and Agricultural Communications Laverne, Okla.

Mary Temple-Lee Animal Science Pauls Valley, Okla.

Shelly Sitton Agricultural Communications Professor

L.J. Bernhard Animal Science Student Success Coordinator

Rebecca Purvis* Biosystems Engineering Houston Samantha Smith Agricultural Communications Burlington, Okla. *Dean’s Award of Excellence

Bob Kropp Animal Science Professor

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Brian Vowell

Get to Know: W

CASNR Alumni Board President

ith a passion for agriculture football games since I graduated in 1998,” and a knack for business, Vowell said with a smile. “Sports were Brian Vowell, vice president the first thing to keep me connected with of The Bank N.A. of Stillwater, will be a OSU after graduation. powerful force in his new role as president “I joined the OSU Alumni Associaof the CASNR Alumni board. tion shortly after graduating from college,” “I have been around agriculture all my Vowell said. “But, the deeper involvement life,” Vowell said. “Growing up in — beyond sporting events ­­— came several years later.” Thomas, Okla., I was around it every day Vowell said after moving away and as a kid and as much as I can be now.” Vowell said he is amazed at the life starting a family, he began seeking service lessons he learned in a small town that still opportunities at his alma mater. “Everything OSU stands for is what I apply to his work and involvement today. “Daily, I fall back on things I learned try to embody,” Vowell said. The CASNR Alumni board, growing up in Thomas,” CASNR’s sociVowell said. After changety within the Everything OSU stands for ing his major OSU Alumni is what I try to embody. several times, Association, — Brian Vowell Vowell said he was the perfect President, CASNR Alumni Board found the best fit for a more personal fit in the OSU Department of direct impact on the college, Vowell said. “Three years ago, the opportunity for Agricultural Economics. Vowell said his years at OSU were a me to serve on the board presented itself,” time of growth and enjoyment. Vowell said. “I jumped on it.” “In Thomas, our biggest rival’s colors In February 2014, Vowell was chosen were orange and black, so I wasn’t sure I as board president. “This role has taught me how the would be able to really commit to OSU colors,” he said. “Now, I bleed orange.” college and division operate,” Vowell said. Being involved with organizations “I’ve learned how universities and private like the College of Agricultural Sciences businesses work differently, and it has been and Natural Resources Student Council, very educational.” Homecoming Steering and his fraternity, Vowell said serving on the CASNR Vowell said OSU gave him the leadership Alumni board is not only a connection to he needed once he entered the real world. his youth but also has given him opportu “CASNR really is a family,” Vowell nities he did not take advantage of during said. “I’m amazed how many connections his undergraduate career. “One of my favorite things has been I made in Agricultural Hall that I’m still associated with today.” really getting to know the professors as Those relationships, Vowell said, people — and even friends,” Vowell said. solidified his involvement after graduation. The CASNR Alumni board con “I think I’ve only missed two home sists of 12 members, some representing

Brian Vowell serves as CASNR Alumni board president. Photo by Todd Johnson.

geographic regions of Oklahoma and some being at-large representatives. For young graduates hoping to remain involved, Vowell said joining the OSU Alumni Association means dual membership into your college’s alumni society. For CASNR graduates, if you are an OSU Alumni Association member, you are also a part of the CASNR Alumni. Vowell said students should take advantage of opportunities outside their comfort zones. “I really wish I had studied abroad,” Vowell said. “When my kids come to college, I hope they take advantage of opportunities locally, nationally and internationally to make the most of their college experiences.” Vowell and his wife, Alyssa, have two daughters: Averlee, 4, and Kyler, 1. “My girls definitely keep me busy,” Vowell said. Like many OSU Cowboys, Vowell said he hoped eventually to be called back to Stillwater. “Alyssa and I are grateful our opportunity to come back came earlier than expected,” Vowell said. “We get to raise our girls in the OSU community.” For that opportunity, Vowell said he is incredibly thankful and plans to stay involved through the alumni board and other opportunities to serve OSU. — Ashton Mese and Harlie Runner

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CASNR Alumni News

Summer/Fall 2014

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Round-Up CASNR


ASNR Round-Up provides a “Welcome to OSU” event for freshmen and transfer students entering CASNR. Sponsored by the CASNR Alumni Board, Round-Up offers students a chance to learn more about CASNR. “The primary goal of Round-Up is student adaptation to college and student success,” said Steve Damron, CASNR assisstant dean of academic programs. During the annual event, students learn about the clubs and organizations housed within CASNR. They also interact and network with CASNR alumni, faculty and other students in attendence. “We hope they find something of interest and join one or more clubs or organizations to become involved,” Damron said. “Co-curricular activities are an extremely important part of the total college experience.” After enjoying a complimentary meal from the CASNR Alumni, students are encouraged to visit with clubs and upperclasssmen about CASNR. “This event is a fun, easy way for everyone to visit and connect with family,” said Dana Bessinger, Ag in the Classroom coordinator and market developer for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. “Come join us for the next CASNR Round-Up, scheduled in August 2014 at the Wes Watkins Center,” Bessinger said. — Kiersten Brower

CASNR Alumni Board of Directors Brian Vowell

Pr es i d e n t Stillwat e r, O k la .

M e ch e lle Ha mp ton Vice Pre s i d e n t Tuls a, O k la .

Co le m an Hi ckma n Secre t a ry Sapulp a , O k la .

Ste ve D a mron

E xecutive Se c re t a ry Stillwat e r, O k la .

J ay Bessi nger Tuls a, O k la .

B rand o n Cha ndler Str atfo rd , O k la .

Le wis Cunni ngha m E dmond , O k la .

J am e s Ferrell Y ukon , O k la .

K yle Hughba nks Alva, O k la .

Do n Roberts E nid, O k la .

K e n Sp a dy

Hinto n , O k la .

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

CASNR Student Success Center

Prospective Student Outreach • Academic Success Support • Career Development Services 103 Agricultural Hall • Stillwater, OK 74078 • 405.744.9464 • casnr.okstate.edu

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4/18/14 4:09 PM

Profile for Cowboy Journal

Cowboy Journal v16n2  

Cowboy Journal Volume 16, Number 2, Summer/Fall 2014, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Oklahoma State University

Cowboy Journal v16n2  

Cowboy Journal Volume 16, Number 2, Summer/Fall 2014, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Oklahoma State University


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