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College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University

Volume 20 Number 2 • Summer/Fall 2018

Tradition of Champions

Coaches lead students to national titles

Oh, Honey!

OSU students work to help nature’s pollinators

One fish. Two fish.

Researcher investigates saugeye population

LETTER FROM THE EDITORS The two of us met for the first time on day one of Cowboy Journal. We quickly learned we have three things in common: an eye for design, an appreciation for clear writing and a love for the mountains. Cowboy Journal Volume 20 No. 2 has been quite the climb, and you, dear reader, hold the summit in your hands. We thank our readers for the years of loyalty that have made this publication a CASNR tradition. Without you, these stories of fellow Cowboys would go untold to current and future generations. We express our gratitude to the staff, whose integrity and flexibility made our jobs easy throughout the duration of the semester. With a relatively small staff, we could not be more proud of the effort and determination put forth by each of you. We also would like to thank Ruth Inman, Kristin Knight, Kelsey Conley, Samantha Siler and Alexis Shanes for their contributions to this issue. To our managing editor Shelly Sitton as well as Dwayne Cartmell, Angel Riggs, Quisto Settle, Samantha Blackwell and Erica Summerfield ­­— thank you for your mentorship, contributions and unceasing support through thick and thin. You have set the standards high, and your guidance has enabled us to surpass expectations. Welcome to the summit. Our hope is you enjoy the view as much as we enjoyed every step of the climb. — Ashley and Spencer College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University




Volume 20 Number 2 • Summer/Fall 2018

Tradition of Champions Coaches lead students to national titles

Oh, Honey!

OSU students work to help nature’s pollinators

One fish. Two fish.


Researcher investigates saugeye population


The 2017 Oklahoma State University Livestock Judging Team earned national champion honors and brought the iconic North American International Livestock Exposition bronze bull home to Stillwater. Photo by Jennifer Bedwell. 4 | COWBOY JOURNAL


EDITORS Spencer Dennis Ashley Hanson

MANAGING EDITOR Shelly Peper Sitton, Ph.D.



Samantha Blackwell Dwayne Cartmell, Ph.D. Angel Riggs, Ph.D. Quisto Settle, Ph.D. Erica Summerfield




SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATORS Hannah Darr Jessica Middleswarth


41 44

Maddy Udell

FACT CHECKER Caitlyn Minton

STAFF Haley Ashwood Jennifer Bedwell Cordelle Elsener Katie Friederichs Zadie McElhaney Kelsey Stimpson Xynyi Zhang 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 Modern Litho 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 Oklahoma taxpayers. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 5

OSU students take steps to help pollinators thrive

eople think of honey bees, and they may imagine delicious, golden honey or the variety of health and beauty products made from beeswax. However, the primary role of the insects is pollination. “Honey bees are important because they are our food source,” said Jessica Sammons, volunteer beekeeper for the Oklahoma State University Hive Health Project. “Bees pollinate 70 of the top 100 food crops we use to feed the world. That adds to 90 percent of the food we have.” No other organism can pollinate on the scale the honey bee does, Sammons said, and no other pollinator maintains a hive. Andrine Shufran, associate extension specialist and OSU Insect Adventure coordinator, said plants are unable to reproduce on their own. Instead, they rely on insects, such as honey bees, to move pollen from plant to plant. “Honey bees perform about 80 percent of pollination worldwide,” Sammons said. Anna Crosswhite, OSU psychology freshman and member of the OSU Beekeeping Club, said honey bees’ impact on food production has made beekeeping more popular among younger generations. “Beekeeping is becoming cool and trendy,” she said. “People want to do their part to help save the bees and contribute to helping the food supply. 6 | COWBOY JOURNAL

“Because of colony collapse disorder and the media, people are more aware and want to help save the bees,” Crosswhite added. “If the disorder wasn’t a problem, fewer people would hear about it, and fewer people would be interested.” Shufran said besides pollination, the other appealing part of beekeeping is the idea of helping nature. People like the idea of being able to make their own honey or treat their own allergies, she said. “Honey is an amazing product because it never goes bad,” Shufran said. “They pulled honey out of King Tut’s tomb, and it was still perfectly fine. “Honey contains antibiotic properties that keep it from spoiling,” she added. “People use it as moisturizer, as face scrub, for wound care and more.” The people who are most interested in beekeeping are women in their late 50s, Shufran said. They care about the Earth and healthy living, she said. “However, beekeeping is not an idyllic or pastoral hobby,” Shufran said. “It is hard work. Honey bees are a non-native species, so they cannot defend themselves.” As a non-native species, honey bees are more susceptible to viruses, mites, hive beetles and other parasites, Shufran said. A hive has to be maintained every two weeks, she added. If not, pests and viruses

will overrun the hive within three months, she said. Beekeepers also must check for honey and bee larvae, Shufran added. “To make honey, nectar is taken from flowers by the honey bees,” Shufran said. “It takes 30,000 flowers to make one ounce of honey. The bees slurp up as much nectar as they possibly can. “When their honey stomach is full, they will go back to the hive and regurgitate the nectar into the cells in the comb,” she said. “The young bees fan the nectar cell so the water evaporates. The water then becomes sticky and syrupy. The enzymes from the bees’ stomachs change it from just sugar water into honey.” OSU students are working to produce an OSU honey and to promote pollinators. This past fall, Jordan Davis, an OSU entomology and zoology sophomore, started the OSU Beekeeping Club. He wanted to make a difference and help the environment, he said. “I also thought it would be a fun hobby,” Davis said. “It is different than anything we have on campus. A lot of professors, advisers and students are drawn to us because beekeeping is unique.” At meetings, students build hives, tend to the bees, plan events, and brainstorm ideas for products. The students plan to

OSU Beekeeping Club members Nick Godfroid (left in top right photo) and Anna Crosswhite check their honey bee hives for pests, bee larvae, the queen bee and honey production. Photos by Ivan Bravo. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 7

HOW TO HELP NATIVE POLLINATORS Although honey bees play an important role in pollination, many native pollinators are vital, as well, said Andrine Shufran, OSU Insect Adventure coordinator and associate extension specialist. Homeowners do not have to own bees or start a hive to help the environment and pollination, she said. She offers the following recommendations:

Plant Milkweed

Milkweed is food for caterpillars, which grow into butterflies. The butterflies help pollinate flowers, plants and crops.

Avoid Yard Chemicals

Chemicals on the yard sterilize the natural environment for insects and other animals. Americans desire pristine yards with green grass and a few botanical bloomers. A plot of grass is actually a desert to insects and other organisms. Consider planting a variety of native grasses or wildflowers in your lawn instead.

Provide Habitats

Homeowners can leave a pile or two of mulch around so native bees can develop a habitat.

A honey bee collects nectar. Photo by Braden Schovanec.

produce lotion bars, lip balm, honey sticks and candles besides producing an OSU honey, Davis said. The ultimate goal is to provide a viable, long-term, consistent source of honey and other products for the university while educating students and the community, said John Noble, beekeeper and mentor to the club. “People do not realize the importance of something until it is gone,” Davis said. “There has already been a decline in bees. Having this club will help educate others that bees and pollinators are essential.” 8 | COWBOY JOURNAL

Club members hope to work with native pollinators such as butterflies and bumblebees, as well, he added. “These students are passionate and know what they are doing is important,” Shufran said. “They make a difference by educating others that honey bees are interesting, awe inspiring and valuable.”


Plant Native Flowering Plants and Wildflowers

Plant a variety of native flowering plants that bees, butterflies and other insects as well as animals will recognize. Sunflowers, salvia and a variety of wildflowers are some examples. This, in turn, provides food and seeds for other animals. The more diverse life is on the bottom with plants and insects, the more successful life is at the top of the food pyramid.

Thank you to the past and present Small Group Leaders who serve each summer at Oklahoma FFA Alumni Leadership Camp.

Small Group Leader applications can be found at www.okffa.org/alumnileadershipcamp. Applications are due April 1 each year. Approximately 60 Small Group Leaders are selected each summer, plus a Student Director, Technical Director and Photographer. Oklahoma FFA Association www.okffa.org Social icon

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FINDING your AGBU student serves as National FFA officer ore than 650,000 members make up one of the world’s largest youth organizations, the National FFA Organization. Each year, six individuals from across the U.S. serve as the face of the organization. Of these six, Oklahoma native Piper Merritt makes her mark on the agricultural industry one mile at a time. “Before entering the eighth grade, I had no previous agricultural background,” said Merritt, 2017-18 National FFA Central Region Vice President. “My family had never farmed or ranched, and I had little knowledge about the organization or what FFA stood for.” Merritt transferred from a private Christian school to Owasso Public Schools and decided to take agricultural education as one of her electives, she said. Scott Nemecek, Owasso FFA adviser, said Merritt excelled in the organization from the time she joined. She competed in public speaking contests as an eighth-grader and qualified to compete at the state convention, he said. “Although Piper didn’t win that year, she made connections and gained experiences that impacted her on a greater level than winning a contest,” Nemecek said. During the 2012 Oklahoma FFA Convention, Merritt met Trent Loos, director of Loos Tales radio program and convention guest. After hearing Merritt’s speech about antibiotic use in animals, Loos asked her to present her speech live on his radio program, Nemecek said. 10 | COWBOY JOURNAL

The following year, Loos gave Merritt her first gilt to start her supervised agricultural experience project. Merritt’s gilt was reserve champion spot gilt at the 2013 Oklahoma Youth Expo. “After her first year of being involved in FFA, you could tell she was hooked,” Nemecek said. “She was willing to do whatever it took to succeed in the organization and had a desire to give back.” After attending numerous livestock shows, career development events, speaking competitions, camps and conventions, Merritt said she was inspired by the organization and the impact it could have on lives. In 2016, Merritt was elected as Oklahoma FFA secretary. Ridge Hughbanks, 2017-18 Oklahoma FFA President, said after meeting Merritt at alumni camp early in their high school years, he knew she was going to go far in the organization. When they both were elected as state officers in 2016, the two continued to travel and represent the organization, developing a lifelong friendship in the process, he added. “Piper is one of the most inspiring leaders I have ever worked with,” Hughbanks said. “She is someone who relates especially well with young and nontraditional members. She has a way about her that she can bring the shyest members out of their shells and help them find their true potential in FFA.” While visiting FFA chapters across the state, Merritt committed herself to the members, Hughbanks said. She took

In between chapter visits, Piper Merritt visits the Oklaho

phone numbers and connected on social media with those she met. She checked on members and helped those facing hardships and personal battles, he added. “When Piper forges a relationship, she is fully invested in it,” Hughbanks said. “There is no such thing as 25 or 50 percent in Piper’s world. When she interacts with those around her, you can guarantee she’s giving it 120 percent.” After a year of serving Oklahoma FFA, Merritt felt called to serve on a higher level, she said. “I doubted myself constantly,” Merritt said. “I knew from serving as a state officer that FFA breeds incredible people, and I would be lucky to be one of the top six who become a national officer.” During the national officer selection process, Merritt went through multiple interviews and mock leadership scenarios, Nemecek said.

its the Oklahoma State University campus where she competed in her first state FFA public speaking event in eighth grade. Photo by Ashley Hanson.

“After numerous interviews, candidates host a mock workshop in front of students at the convention while they are being monitored by the nominating committee,” he said. After the first few days of interviews are complete, the nominating committee makes a 50 percent cut, Merritt said. From that point, 25 candidates are in the running until the final six are announced the last day of convention, she added. “I expected myself to be stressed, restless and nervous,” Merritt said. “But, I was so calm. From the time I finished my last interview to the time the new team was announced, I was completely at peace. I knew no matter what happened that morning, I was proud of what FFA had done for me and the things I was able to do for the organization.” On Oct. 28, 2017, in front of nearly 20,000 people, Merritt was announced

as the 2017-18 Central Region Vice President at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. “Over the loud speakers I heard ‘and from the state of Oklahoma’ and immediately fell to my knees,” Merritt said. Coty Back, team leader for the national officer management team, said after the newly elected team was announced, the group of six began training at the National FFA Organization headquarters in Indianapolis. “The national officers serve as the face of our organization to various stakeholders,” Back said. “They spend a lot of time with sponsors, donors and supporters. We want to ensure the folks who make contributions to our organization are shown the appreciation we have for them.” In addition to meeting with supporters, national officer team members travel nearly 100,000 miles and are on the road 300

days of the year, Back said. Many of these miles are spent visiting chapters across the country, attending state conventions, and representing the organization, he added. “Whether we’re in the classroom with students or in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill representing them, I love seeing the diversity of our membership and having the opportunity to expand upon and speak on behalf of it,” Merritt said. In November 2017, the officer team traveled to Japan for 10 days to explore the diversity of agriculture across the world. Officers spend a great deal of time working with Japan’s sister organization, Future Farmers of Japan, Back said. “While in Japan, each officer was placed with a different host family for two days,” Merritt said. “It is unique to see the diversity across the globe.” Back said the main reason he encourages these functions is to give officers the VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 11

Piper Merritt (right) celebrates with teammates Breanna Holbert (left), Erica Baier, Gracie Furnish, Bryce Cluff and Ian Bennett at the 2017 National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis. Photo courtesy of the National FFA Organization.

ability to build relationships with people from the other side of the world. “This helps the officers realize the importance of bridging relationships with those who might be a little different than us,” Back said. “A big portion of serving as an officer is building relationships.” One of Merritt’s favorite parts of serving as a national officer is experiencing agriculture in different settings, she said. “Agricultural education classrooms are diverse and look different across the nation and the world,” Merritt said. “A classroom in Owasso, Oklahoma, looks extremely different than a classroom in Kentucky or even Japan.” Just as agriculture is diverse, so are the officers who represent the organization, Back said. Each candidate comes to office with his or her own unique background and is unlike anyone else who has ever been elected as a national officer, he added. “Throughout her term, Piper will connect with FFA members who no other national officer ever has before or ever will be able to connect with in the future,” Back said. “There will be members who 12 | COWBOY JOURNAL

she is the only one who can reach them, whether that is because of her unique background in agriculture, her personality or her caring demeanor.” National officers must take a year off from school to fulfill their duties, said Cheryl DeVuyst, OSU agricultural economics professor. When Merritt’s term is finished, she plans to return for the 2019 spring semester to continue her studies in agribusiness, DeVuyst said. “Piper is a person you will never forget,” DeVuyst said. “She has a boundless energy about her that will leave you wanting to know more. We are extremely fortunate to have a young woman like her in the agricultural economics department.” Merritt said she has developed a passion for agricultural policy, which she hopes to pursue as a career. “My goal moving forward is to work either with the government, the department of agriculture or an agricultural corporation,” Merritt said. “I would like to help develop strong legislation that benefits American farmers and ranchers on a global scale in making sure we are represented in

trade deals and legislation that affects us here at home.” Having grown up in a housing addition in the suburbs with few agricultural ties, Merritt would not have expected her life to revolve around agriculture, she said. “FFA has empowered me to grow into the person I was meant to be by presenting me with opportunities and showing me what I was capable of through agricultural education and FFA,” Merritt said. Merritt is leaving her legacy with Oklahoma and across the world, Hughbanks said. “Piper has proven that no matter where you are from, what your background is, or whether you live on a 500-acre farm or in a housing addition, if you set your mind to something and you invest your heart and soul into it, you will succeed,” he said.




P e r f e c t ly ho knew making tasty treats in your home kitchen could lead to an adventure of a lifetime? For Linda Beguin, whipping up her specialties led to just that — a business adventure. Beguin, owner and operator of Over the Fence Farms and Spotted Cow Packaging, said before starting her businesses she enjoyed cooking for her friends and family in her home. “In November 2010, someone encouraged me to go to a craft show and bring my pickles and bread mixes,” Beguin said. “I was just making things for fun in my home kitchen. I went to a craft show in Pryor, Oklahoma, and people went crazy over my specialty products.” Beguin started her first business when the company she worked for as a trained engineering analyst announced its relocation in February 2011. Because her husband’s job and her family were in Enid, she resigned, she said. “In July 2012, after lots of praying and a leap of faith, my husband and I decided it was time to start Over the Fence Farms,” Beguin said. “Because we could not cook and sell products from our kitchen, I wrote a business proposal, applied, and



then spoke before a board requesting to work in the Autry Technology Center for Business Development.” Beguin said naming her company Over the Fence Farms seemed fitting after a cow flipped her over a fence. Just as that event changed her life, she knew the company would, as well, she said. “The incident caused an injury, which kept me off of my feet for several months,” Beguin said. “I wanted to take a memory that wasn’t so great and turn it into something good. This resulted in our name. On our logo, we decided to use a happy cow named Buttercup, unlike the one we had at the farm.” Beguin said she registered for a Basic Training Workshop at the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center at Oklahoma State University to help the business advance. “I was overwhelmed with the amount of helpful information the course offered me,” Beguin said. “It gave a great basic knowledge of how to move forward in my food business.” One year after launching Over the Fence Farms, Beguin had another company approach her about preparing and packaging its jellies, she said. At the time of the meeting, she was unaware she was agreeing to begin co-packing, she added. “Slowly but surely, word spread about my co-packing company,” Beguin said. “In April 2015, a few years after the meeting with my first client, I decided to start Spotted Cow Packaging.” Just by word of mouth, Spotted Cow Packaging has grown fast, Beguin said. “A company can bring me recipes, and I will take each recipe and bring it up to a size of 10 cases or 120 jars, which is our

minimum,” she said. “We will package and label their products and ship them back or distribute them if they so choose.” Spotted Cow Packaging continues to receive phone calls every week from new customers wanting their products produced and packaged, Beguin said. “We package granola, cookies for lactating mothers, raspberry salsa, barbecue sauces, pickles, tea, green chili chipotle and several other items,” Beguin said. “Altogether, we produce and package a total of 100 different products. We are the only co-packer in the state that also offers their clients distribution.” As her companies expand, Beguin said she knows the FAPC staff will guide her when needed. “The employees at FAPC know me well and are always just a phone call or email away when I have a question,” Beguin said. “I truly don’t know how I could have ever run this company without their help.” Once a participant, Beguin now has presented at several of FAPC’s Basic Training Workshops. “Because of Linda’s great personality and her passion for her company, we love having her as a guest speaker in our Basic Training Workshops, said Andrea Graves, FAPC business planning and marketing specialist. “She is very inspiring when she explains what went right and wrong when starting her own business venture,” Graves added. Beguin said every day she goes to work is different. The employees at Spotted Cow Packaging have a specific role they enjoy doing — whether cooking, interacting with the customers or packaging — but at the end of the day they are all a team, she said.


FAPC helps develop Oklahoma packaging company

Mandi O’Dea, Beguin’s assistant and accountant, said she enjoys the unpredictability of her job, never knowing if she will be in her office managing payroll or outside picking sand plums. O'Dea said she enjoys the family-oriented atmosphere. “My favorite part of working is sales,” said Jennifer Thompson, an employee at Spotted Cow Packaging. “I love putting a face with the names to the people who are purchasing our products.” Katy Bryant, the kitchen manager at Spotted Cow Packaging, said her kids are in awe when they see products she helped develop on the store shelves. Graves said Beguin has come a long way with her company since the first time she stepped into the FAPC offices. “Linda is very on top of things when it comes to her business,” Graves said. “It is easy to work with her and give her direction because from the start she has done everything right.” Spotted Cow Packaging is housed in a 3,000-square-foot building in Enid, Oklahoma. However, the company soon will relocate to a nearby 6,000-square-foot building to continue to grow, Beguin said. “It is always a joy to see clients achieve their goals and slowly develop after they have been through our programs and taken advantage of the resources we offer at FAPC,” Graves said. “I look forward to seeing Linda’s company continue to develop and grow in the days to come.”


Spotted Cow Packaging packages for Over the Fence Farms and multiple Oklahoma food companies. Photo by Zadie McElhaney. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 15

Family honors father, BIMB professor with endowed scholarship


hen some envision paradise, they see blue skies and water with sand between their toes. However, the late George R. Waller once said he envisioned paradise in the form of test tubes, beakers and innovative research. Waller, who was a professor at Oklahoma State University, lived in nine different countries, contributed to approximately 400 books, journals and bulletins, and impacted the lives of numerous students, colleagues, scientists and people around the world, said his daughter Rebecca Waller Gillan. A part of the legacy Waller left behind when he died in March 2015 was his most famous work — the introduction of the 16 | COWBOY JOURNAL

mass spectrometer to the U.S. and OSU in 1965. The mass spectrometer is used to ionize chemical species and sort ions based on their mass-to-charge ratio, said John Gustafson, OSU biochemistry and molecular biology department head. Waller spent most of his life working with this tool to develop and analyze chemical compounds of plants, he said. Waller joined the Cowboy family as an assistant professor in 1956 after graduating with his master’s degree in agricultural and biological chemistry from the University of Delaware. He then earned his doctoral degree in biochemistry at OSU in 1961. “Dr. Waller was at the forefront of the

separation and identification of small molecules, specifically in plants,” Gustafson said. “He even brought a machine from overseas to pioneer a novel technique to carry out his experiments.” Living by the belief “If you don’t have a vision for your work, your day-to-day life lacks a purpose,” Waller would admit he was not the best student in all subjects, Gillan said. “Not being the best is what inspired him to work harder,” she said. “But, what made him so unique is that once he learned something, he could take it to the next level. He would have an idea, break it down, and imagine what it could be like in 10 years.”

George Waller works with the mass spectrometer in an Oklahoma State University laboratory. Photo courtesy of the Waller family.

Waller’s innovative thinking gave him the reputation of being a scientific “father” to many colleagues and students, she said. With a calming presence and a soft-spoken demeanor, Waller was dedicated to his work, said Ulrich Melcher, OSU Regents professor in the biochemistry and molecular biology department. “Dr. Waller had a greater vision of what there was as far as problems and how to solve them, more so than the average plant pathologist,” Melcher said. While pursuing his master’s degree and doctoral degree, Waller and his wife, Hilda, were raising their three daughters, Gillan said. “It was hard to make ends meet at that

time,” she said. “That’s ultimately why my parents wanted to help students because they knew how hard it was to go to school and have a family. They always helped students have a sense of comfort at OSU.” This feeling of home and family led Nello Mangiafico, CEO and founder of MEDIVIS, an Italian pharmaceutical company, to OSU as an associate researcher with Waller in March 1975, Mangiafico said. MEDIVIS specializes in the research and development of ophthalmic products. Mangiafico said the idea of using biomolecules from natural origins, which was the most important driver in the development of MEDIVIS, originated in Waller’s lab.

“The American period of my life, spent in contact with Dr. Waller and his family, has greatly influenced my career as well as my life,” Mangiafico said. People came from all across the world to work with Waller, Gillan said. “Although these people who came from other places could talk on a higher level of research, Dad wanted to talk to them personally and know who they were,” Gillan said. “That’s the kind of relationships he built.” Waller’s love of OSU matched his passion for science, Gillan said. He loved showing off OSU’s campus to people from all over the world, she added. “Both of my parents spoke for several VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 17

years about their desire to help other families going through their education process at Oklahoma State,” Gillan said. “The biochemistry department helped my father expand his research, and OSU always supported my father. “In return, my father dedicated his career back to Oklahoma State,” she added. “He would always say he couldn’t do the work by himself.” All three daughters have many childhood memories of the OSU campus. Gillan said her first job was washing test tubes for 50 cents an hour for her father. “We grew up in the chemistry lab,” Gillan said. “We became used to the smells and sights of the labs with their test tubes and flasks.” Being products of OSU, Waller’s daughters — Gillan, Anne Rambsy and Catherine Waller Hoopert — decided to contribute to the OSU Foundation in their father’s honor in 2015. The Waller family established an endowment with the OSU Foundation that first provided funding to a student in 2015, said Heidi Griswold, senior director of development and team lead for the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. “The Waller family is also reviewing

books and belongings of Dr. Waller to donate to the department to maintain his legacy and be a tribute to his work at OSU,” Griswold said. As a legacy fund, The George R. and Hilda L. Waller Endowed Scholarship supports doctoral graduate students or postdoctoral candidates in the OSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. “Biochem only has six endowed scholarships,” Griswold said, “which makes a donation like the one the Waller family made all the more impactful.” Scholarship preference is given to students who are interested in plant biochemistry, Griswold said. “It just made the most sense to further my dad’s and mom’s legacy at OSU,” Gillan said. “The culture and atmosphere at Oklahoma State is what prompted us to donate. The community that fostered him ultimately fostered us.”



Oklahoma State University accepts different types of gifts each year to accelerate learning and discovery for OSU, said Heidi Griswold, senior director of development and team lead for the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. These gifts include a variety of forms, including cash or stock transfers, deferred gifts and bequests. “A person can choose to set up an endowment, like the Waller family, which requires a $25,000 minimum,” Griswold said. “With every endowment, we have an endowment agreement between the donor, the foundation and the department. “This agreement puts the donor’s wishes on paper and is then utilized by the department to award scholarships, fellowships and endowed faculty positions,” Griswold added.


George Waller evaluates liquid substances in an Oklahoma State University laboratory. Photo courtesy of the Waller Family. 18 | COWBOY JOURNAL

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Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales perform at the 2017 World Championship Ranch Rodeo. Photo by Cordelle Elsener.

Alex Schut (left) and David Johnston prepare Clydesdales for an event. Photo courtesy of Alex Schut. 20 | COWBOY JOURNAL

ight American icons, seven states and 12 weeks created one summer Alex Schut will never forget. The Oklahoma State University animal science senior traveled the East Coast as an intern for the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale team. Schut said her interest in this internship sparked more than four years ago. During her junior year of high school, she toured several land-grant universities, including OSU. While driving back to her home state of Michigan, she and her dad, John, traveled through St. Louis, Missouri, where they stopped at the Anheuser-Busch headquarters, she said. “When we stopped there, the Clydesdales were out front,” Schut said. “The crew was around the trailers, and they said I should apply for the internship when I was old enough.” Although she grew up showing draft horses, Schut said she never knew career or internship opportunities were available with the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales. “After I met the crew and knew about their internship, everything I’ve done in the draft horse industry has pushed me in the direction of pursuing their internship program,” Schut said. Dick Rosen, field operations business manager for the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales, said the internship program is always competitive. “For instance, we just closed the application for this upcoming summer, and approximately 6,000 people viewed the online job posting to apply,” Rosen said. “You must be pursuing a degree in some type of agriculture or animal care, and you must be at least 21 years old to be one of our interns.” While reviewing the nearly 200 applications that met all requirements, the

OSU student embarks on a unique animal science internship selection committee looks for experience working with horses, especially draft breeds, Rosen said. “Our Clydesdale interns also have to be willing to interact with the general public and answer a lot of questions,” Rosen said. “We train our interns to be educated about what the Clydesdales represent, but the big thing for us is an outgoing personality and interns who want to interact with the guests.” Last spring, Schut was selected as one of two Clydesdale handling interns, and Rosen said the selection committee knew she would be a great fit for the team. “Things that stuck out to us were her past experiences in the draft horse industry and her outgoing personality,” he said. Schut said at the end of May 2017, she packed her bags and began her internship for the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales. “I spent the first two days training in St. Louis, got my uniforms, and got to meet the other intern,” Schut said. “We learned about the history of the business, why they have the Clydesdales and how to articulate their legacy to the public.” After her training, she flew to New Hampshire where one of the team members met her at the airport for her first official day on the job, she said. “I expected to go back to the hotel, but I basically put on my uniform as soon as we got to where the horses were stalled,” Schut said. “I started learning all the ropes on that first day.” Most days began at 6 a.m., Schut said, and some nights the team worked until 11 p.m. As an intern, she assisted with daily care of the horses, including washing and feeding them and handling the hitch equipment. Because the Clydesdales represent a well-known brand, they are

always in the public eye, she said. Their team gives each horse a high level of care to ensure they are presented in the best way possible, she added. “We call this the Budweiser way,” Schut said. “We do things the right way to showcase the brand in the best way possible, which I think is important in agriculture.” Throughout the summer, Schut traveled with the team down the East Coast. Each stop was coordinated by a local distributer who put in a request to have the Clydesdales make an appearance at an event, she said. “It pays off for the distributors to pay for the Clydesdales because they draw in a really great crowd for their businesses,” Schut said. The Clydesdales are featured in a variety of events, including parades, one-horse displays where people can take pictures and pet the horses, and exhibitions at fairs where the crew drives the horses in an arena, Schut said. “My role at these events was to get the horses ready and hitched up,” Schut said. “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on, and I had to do some of the messier jobs like wiping the horses’ mouths or cleaning off the harnesses, just to keep everything looking good.”

As a part of such a well-known tradition, Schut said she experienced some incredible events. While in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the Clydesdales were featured in a parade for a fundraiser called Angel 34. This fundraiser was founded by parents who wanted to honor the daughter they lost to cancer. “During the parade, one of the handlers said to me, ‘When we turn this corner, you’re going to be floored,’” Schut said. “When we turned the corner, there were people everywhere. It was cool to see so many people who were passionate about this cause and who were excited to see the Clydesdales.” Rosen said this internship is unlike most because the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale team is iconic. “When the team pulls into an event, it’s treated like rock stars,” Rosen said. “The team gets to meet a lot of great people, not just in the general public. By teaming up with local distributors, our interns get to meet people who work in different parts of the business, like distributors and wholesalers, and they create many contacts for the future.” She said interning for such a company as large as Anheuser-Busch was intimidating at times.



“I remember the time one of the team members was gone, and I had to drive the van by myself,” Schut said. “The fact that it was Anheuser-Busch property I found kind of unnerving. “However, some of the jobs you’re kind of thrown into can be the best for personal growth and experience,” she added. Although Schut will pursue other career opportunities after graduation, she said this internship was the most rewarding opportunity she has ever taken. “I grew so much as a person because I didn’t know I could work that hard, both physically and emotionally,” Schut said. “It was a great summer of growth, and the connections I’ve made and the general equine skills I’ve learned with that level of perfection and success will transfer into whatever my future brings.” Amy Gazaway, career development coordinator for the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, said networking is a key component when students seek unique internship opportunities. “Some of the internships students take

are those found through campus resources, and some come from a student’s personal connection they have developed with a company,” Gazaway said. Gazaway said this positive experience with an OSU student could open doors with Anheuser-Busch for future students. Schut would advise other students not to be afraid to apply for unique internships, she said. “It’s important to pursue internships that may seem far-fetched because you meet new people and end up with this amazing experience,” Schut said. “People want to learn more about what you did and what you learned. “You just have to get your foot in the door,” she said, “but if you never go for it, you’ll never know what incredible opportunity could lie ahead.”



Each internship acquisition is unique, so Amy Gazaway, career development coordinator for the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, offers these tips to create your action plan: 1. Identify the most beneficial internships and search career resources. 2. Customize professional tools for your internship applications, including a résumé, cover letter and a list of references. 3. Prepare for interviews by having professional attire and polished interview skills. 4. Allow time to search and apply for internships. Then, follow up with prospective employers about your applications. To learn more, visit casnr.okstate.edu/ career-services.


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Left: Blake Bloomberg evaluates steers at Willard Sparks Beef Research Center. Photo by Emily Albert. Center: Steven Cooper speaks at the Charles and Linda Cline Equine Center grand opening. Photo courtesy of Agricultural Communications Services. Right: Gretchen Mafi calculates yield grades at the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center. Photo by Emily Albert.

CultivatingChampions ANSI judging team coaches help students succeed

hroughout the Oklahoma State University Animal Science building and the Totusek Arena, banners, ribbons and trophies fill the walls. Pictures of past judging team members and coaches showcase multiple national championship titles. However, for those who were part of these teams, the legacy of the judging program is more than winning contests. The animal science judging program includes four core teams: livestock judging, meat judging, horse judging and meat animal evaluation. Each coach has a different strategy to achieve team goals, but all have the desire to continue the

program’s excellence, said Morgan Pfeiffer, meat judging assistant coach. “Throughout the years, our students have been taught and coached by some of the true legends in the industry,” said Clint Rusk, animal science department head. “A brand of excellence has been established for this department that no matter what you do, you do it well.” Blake Bloomberg, livestock judging team coach since 2014, said he would be the first to describe himself as intense and driven, but students make coaching easy. “I expect 110 percent of students’ efforts,” Bloomberg said. “But, they know

I give them my all and have their backs at all times.” This past fall, the 2017 livestock judging team brought the North American International Livestock Exposition national championship bronze bull trophy back to Stillwater for the first time in five years. “Winning was such a surreal feeling,” said Jessie Judge, 2017 livestock judging team member and NAILE high-point individual. “Our team had such a diverse team dynamic, and everyone had a role in the success of this team.” Judge said the team members started with varying skill levels and experiences. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 23


“This only made us work harder,” Judge said. “Bloomberg coached us individually, so as a team we could succeed.” Kyndal Reitzenstein, livestock judging team assistant coach, said finding students’ drive and passion to develop is one of the biggest lessons she has learned from Bloomberg as a contestant and now as a graduate student coach. “When we look back at our time on judging teams, it is easy to see we aren’t just developing as contestants who win contests,” Judge said. “We are developing as the next generation of livestock enthusiasts and leaders of the industry.” The development of the future industry leaders also is visible in the meat judging program. Gretchen Mafi, meat judging coach, said her coaching style has changed during the past 12 years at OSU. “I used to be even more intense than I am now and more critical,” she said. “But, over the years, I’ve learned that high criticism is not the way to success.” Jessie Heidlage, member of the 2014 national champion meat judging team, said Mafi’s passion for meat science and


the judging program is what inspired her to find her place in the judging programs. “Our team had such a unique dynamic,” she said. “We just knew we were going to win the International Meat Judging Contest for Dr. Mafi, Morgan Pfeiffer and everyone who helped us along the way.” Mafi said believing in her students and ensuring they know they have the capability to achieve their goals are some of her favorite parts about coaching. Pfeiffer said her experience being coached by and now coaching with Mafi has helped her develop her own style. Being a coach is more than just providing critiques about the judging classes, Pfeiffer said, because a coach serves as a resource for everything in life. “The legacy of the OSU judging program is one of history and tradition,” Pfeiffer said. “Anyone who has been on a judging team at OSU has an instant connection. We have all contributed the same hard work and dedication to represent ourselves, our team, our department and the university positively and continue the winning tradition.”

The winning tradition continues with the horse judging team. Steven Cooper, horse judging coach, said when he first started coaching as a graduate student at the University of Illinois in 1995, developing a program from scratch helped him learn how to coach and find his style. “When I started at OSU in 1999, the legacy and success of this program was so evident,” Cooper said. “As a coach, I felt like I had to prove something to continue this legacy.” With success and age, Cooper said, his philosophy has focused more on developing the students in life, rather than just as judging contestants. “You can coach them to death, but it doesn’t mean they will have success,” Cooper said. “Pushing them doesn’t mean they’re going to get better.” This coaching philosophy is what drew Sarah Schobert, former assistant horse judging coach, to OSU and the horse judging program after she completed her degree at Black Hawk East and her time as a competitor on BHE’s reserve world champion horse judging team. “When I visited OSU, Cooper wasn’t just focused on what I could do for the team as a competitor,” Schobert said. “Rather, everyone I met was focused on my education and how they could help me achieve my goals and aspirations.” One of Cooper’s techniques Schobert said she respects most is his mentoring

style and ability to encourage students when they are down. “Cooper’s not afraid to give you the real deal,” Schobert said with a laugh. “He has affected so many young people in a wonderful way.” In 2016, a new tradition started for each horse judging team member to read a chapter of Today Matters by John C. Maxwell before each practice, Cooper said. “This book contains a bunch of different topics about attitude, relationships, work and all other aspects of life,” he said. Sometimes the team spent more time talking about the chapters in the book than judging classes, Cooper said. This book, the conversations and team building continue to serve as a tool to help each student develop personally and as members of a team, he said. “I want all of the kids who come through this program to say they gained more than just the knowledge to line up four horses,” Cooper said. “I want each of them to say it was worth it, even if they are not a part of a world champion team.” One of the most special memories in his coaching career was the 2014 AQHA World Championship Show, Cooper said. He pointed to the picture framed on his desk. He said the 10 people at the backdrop were all students who went through the OSU horse judging program and now coach their own teams at junior colleges and universities.

“This picture shows the success of our program,” Cooper said. Giving back is one of the most important parts of being a member of these teams, Schobert said. “The competition stage is wonderful,” she said. “But our job is to give back to the next group of agricultural enthusiasts in our industry.” Each student who has been a judging team member has become a prominent leader in the industry, Cooper said. Wravenna Bloomberg, 2006 OSU livestock judging team member and Blake Bloomberg’s wife, said the alumni of the department contribute to much of the success of these programs. “We’re all invested,” she said. “The history, pride and relationships made at OSU stay with you forever.” After graduation, connections with teammates, coaches and producers will benefit students forever, she said. “Being a Cowboy is special,” Rusk said. “Once you have been a part of one of these teams and put in the work, you are a Cowboy forever.”


LIFELONG SUCCESS I use the public speaking skills, hard work and self-confidence I gained from judging in all aspects of my life. Hana Murphy — 2016 World Champion horse team The meat judging team impacted my whole life. This experience helped me make connections that led me to graduate school as well as an American Meat Science Association student board member position. Emily Rice — 2016 National Champion meat team The best part of livestock judging isn’t necessarily the trophies won but the contacts made. A group of 21 people became my family in a matter of a year. Jennifer Bedwell — 2017 National Champion livestock team One of my favorite parts about coaching is seeing each team member grow, learn and improve. Marissa Chapa — 2015 World Champion horse team


Left: The 2016 undefeated World Champion horse judging team consisted of Samantha McCullough (front left); Macy Perry; Harlie Sasser; Hana Murphy; Franchesca Rollerson; Taylor Gilbert; Michal Robertson; Rebecca Janes; Jenna Kool; Clint Rusk, animal science department head (back left); Dylan Price; Sarah Schobert, coach; Cynda Clary, CASNR associate dean; Marissa Chapa, assistant coach; Garrett Reed; Steven Cooper, coach; and Thomas Coon, DASNR vice president. Photo by Todd Johnson. Center: Macy Perry makes final decisions at meat animal evaluation practice. Photo by Emily Albert. Right: Besides their individual teams, Gretchen Mafi (left) and Blake Bloomberg coach a meat animal evaluation team together. Photo by Katie Friederichs. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 25


Arenal Volcano, which is 7,000 years old, is located in Alajuela Province, Costa Rica. Photo by Dwayne Cartmell.

s a determined freshman walking into Oklahoma State University, Tina Newton said she knew she wanted to make a change in the world. Twenty-nine years later, Newton, a Perry, Oklahoma, native, is raising a family in Costa Rica, where she is making a lasting impact in communities around the country, she said. In 1993, Newton finished a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in international relations, focusing on the former Soviet Union. She also earned a second bachelor's degree in Russian with a minor in economics. After studying in Russia for four months, Newton returned to OSU and began working different jobs on campus. 26 | COWBOY JOURNAL

“I worked various jobs around the university,” Newton said. “These included the library, the OSU Police Department, and the Office of International Programs. During that time, I started my master’s in agricultural economics with an emphasis in international trade and development.” Tim Huff, manager for the Office of International Students and Scholars at OSU, said he knew Newton had a desire to do something internationally. “As a freshman, Tina was my advisee, and I quickly learned she had great motivation in what she wanted to do,” Huff said. “I eventually convinced her to come work for me and help develop what is now the Study Abroad Office here on campus.” Huff said throughout Newton’s time at

OSU, she listened and applied herself to everything she did and always had respect for those around her. During her master’s, Newton met her former husband, a native of Costa Rica, who earned a position in his home country as head of the School for Field Studies program in Atenas, Costa Rica. Newton then began to learn the language and lifestyle in which she would live, she said. “My main goal for moving to a different country was survival,” Newton said. “I didn’t know any Spanish when we came down, so I was learning to adapt to the culture and language while trying to find my place.” Newton did not take long to dig into work and find her purpose, she said.

A CHANGE ABROAD OSU alumna improves Costa Rica community

Soon after moving, she began helping her husband with the Center for Sustainable Development, a program that focuses on teaching students about the development issues within Costa Rica. After Newton worked at the Center for Sustainable Development at the School of Field Studies and began raising her two children, she opened a community center called Su Espacio. She offered dance, exercise, Spanish and English classes along with other activities, she said. Newton then started another organization called Angel Tree, which provides food and presents to more than 300 underprivileged children during Christmas. “I had the privilege to run Su Espacio for 10 years,” Newton said. “During that

time, I also worked with individuals coming from all around the world who wanted to volunteer in Costa Rica in all fields, from water conservation to organic farming. We started multiple charity projects such as Angel Tree, which is still going on after 13 years.” Atenas, the town where Newton has done her community work, has a population of 27,000 but keeps a small-town feel, she said. This feeling of community became a reason why Newton liked working in this area, she said. “Most Costa Ricans who live in these small towns have known each other their whole lives,” Newton said. “One of my favorite parts of what I have done here is raising my children in this environment.”

Newton also became good friends with the locals in the Atenas community, she said. When working at the Center for Sustainable Development at the School of Field Studies, Newton met Marietta Arce who was working for the city of Atenas. Eventually, the two became good friends and spent time raising awareness of environmental topics and other issues in the town, Newton said. “I can only speak for me, of course, but I think Tina and I have a unique bond,” Arce said. “When I was with the Chamber of Tourism, I knew that I could always count on her help with anything I needed. She has always been a good friend.” Within years of moving to Costa Rica, Newton became instrumental in raising VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 27


people’s awareness about the importance of different activities, Arce said. Along with leading projects, Newton was proactive in getting sponsors for impoverished children to have education, Arce said. Even now, Newton participates in almost all events organized in the town, especially fundraisers, she added. “Tina is one of the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever met,”Arce said. “She is an upbeat, talented, responsible and kind person.” Newton now owns two for-profit companies, Tristan & Newton Real Estate and International League Tours. Newton opened a nonprofit organization called Supporting Solutions to help with tax-deductible donations and projects for Atenas, she said. She also leads groups around Europe, brings groups to Costa Rica for tours, and volunteers in

the community while still spending time supporting her children. “With my companies, I am still on different boards for the Chamber of Tourism for Atenas, the Angel Tree, along with the Swim for Life program, and Supporting Solutions,” Newton said. “Trust me I am still a busy lady.” After living in Costa Rica for 19 years, Newton said she could not think of a more different lifestyle than what she studied at OSU, she said. “Having had the experience to go abroad, learn a language, and build the self-confidence while tackling a foreign country was developed through studying abroad," Newton said. Newton is one of few students who travel and live in a different country after college, Huff said. Only a small number of students who participate in a short-term

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study-abroad experience actually go back and stay for a long period of time, he said. “She is different than most,” Huff said. “From the first day I met her as a freshman, I knew she had enthusiasm to travel. Not only did she move to a whole new country, but she embraced and mastered the lifestyle. Not many can say they have succeeded at that.” Newton said she always tries to encourage students to take a study-abroad trip. She said a person must be flexible going to different places and have the mindset they can do it. “Deep down, people are humans everywhere you go,” Newton said. “The more you get involved in the culture, expose yourself to it, and learn about it, the more you grow. Experience is something no one teaches in the classroom.”


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Damona Doye has worked for OCES for 32 years. Photo by Maddy Udell. 30 | COWBOY JOURNAL

rowing up on a farm outside Lawton, Oklahoma, Damona Doye developed a passion for agriculture and money management at an early age. “I sometimes joke that I was the oldest son and the oldest daughter because my brother is 10 years younger,” Doye said. “As soon as my legs could reach the pedals on the tractor, I was driving.” Throughout her youth, Doye competed in 4-H public speaking contests, showed beef cattle, and completed sewing and cooking projects. Her parents also participated in Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Services activities throughout her childhood, Doye said. At first, she was not on the college preparatory track. During her senior year, one of Doye’s agricultural education teachers at Lawton MacArthur High School encouraged her to attend Oklahoma State University, she said. “I started in biochemistry because I didn’t know what I wanted to major in,” Doye said. “I was interested in both science and agriculture, so the adviser who enrolled me thought biochemistry would be a great fit.” During her freshman year at OSU, Doye’s agricultural economics professor, Loren Park, approached her about changing her major to agricultural economics. After that conversation with Park, Doye said she changed her degree path and never looked back. Doye earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at OSU in agricultural economics

New DASNR vice president continues lifelong impact on OCES in 1980 and 1981. She earned her doctorate in agricultural economics at Iowa State University in 1986. “Attending Iowa State was a great experience,” Doye said. “It was an opportunity for me to see another part of the world and learn from other people.” In 1985, one year before finishing her dissertation, years of work paid off when she interviewed with OSU and received the OSU and OCES farm management and farm finance specialist job offer. While earning her doctorate, Doye was working for the farm financial stress task force during the 1980s farm crisis. This was a stressful time for Doye, but she could not pass up an opportunity to return home, she said. Throughout her years at OSU, Doye has been involved in numerous projects such as the Master Cattleman Program, Annie’s Project and Quicken software education outreach programs. Doye’s work with Quicken was one of her favorite projects because she had the opportunity to work with smaller groups of people and help them realize what a powerful tool the software is, Doye said. Beyond her work with Quicken, Doye plays a vital role in the Master Cattleman program, said Thomas Coon, OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources vice president. “Damona provides key organizational leadership as co-leader of the Master Cattleman Program,” said Greg Highfill, Woods County agriculture and 4-H youth

development extension educator. “It is a 28-hour workshop beef producers can work through, and she has written many chapters in the beef cattle manual.” Mike Woods, agricultural economics department head, said Doye is known for her cooperative work through the Master Cattleman Program. She has provided training on financial management software and led rental rate and custom rate surveys, he said. Doye started working with Annie’s Project in 2006. This national project provides a six-week series of workshops designed to foster better farm management skills among women. “This project helps prepare women in agriculture to become better managers in agricultural enterprises,” said Susan Routh, Grady County family and consumer sciences and 4-H youth development extension educator. Doye said she attributes her success to her humble beginnings at OSU and the mentorship she received from her agricultural economics professors. “Damona has a strong foundation in agricultural economics, farm management and farm finance,” Coon said. “She has been a core leader for OCES and agricultural economics.” In July 2017, Doye was named an Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Fellow for her work in the agricultural economics department. Only two other OSU agricultural economics faculty have been named AAEA

Fellows — Jayson Lusk in 2015 and Wade Brorsen in 2014. “Very few women have been named fellows, and even fewer have been extension specialists,” Coon said. “That represents a respect for her scholarship and the rigor of the information she brings together.” Doye said joining the ranks of being a AAEA Fellow was exciting and jokes she is officially one of the guys. “Damona has been recognized on a national and international basis for her work in OCES programming,” Highfill said. “She has a litany of awards. She has won basically every extension award available, and rightly so. Her knowledge of our organization and the strengths we have within OCES are going to be wonderful in her new career role.” A driving force of Doye’s success is her continued service to OCES and Oklahoma as a whole, Routh said. “Dr. Doye understands what OCES does at a grassroots level in the county,” Routh said. “She has an understanding because she was a 4-H member and her family were clientele in the county where she grew up. Her professional experience as a state specialist as well as her involvement and support of county programs and extension educators has expanded her understanding of OCES’s role in the state,” Routh added. On Feb. 1, 2018, Doye became the OCES associate vice president. Doye said she is learning more about county situations and educators’ positions. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 31

Despite budget constraints, Doye said she is searching for a long-term strategy. “Damona is very dedicated to what she does," said Thad Doye, Oklahoma Farm Bureau executive director and Doye’s younger brother. “She is dedicated to agriculture as well as OCES.” Beyond her academic service, Doye participates in Relay for Life, plays an active role in her church, and works with the Department of Human Services to organize an adoption party for foster children looking for permanent families. Doye’s heart for service extends well beyond her work in Agricultural Hall, Routh said. “She has a mission to serve people,” Coon said. “She is driven by her personal sense of mission, and it’s a mission to strengthen the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension service through her new role.”

Damona Doye presents at the Women in Agriculture and Small Business conference. Photo by Todd Johnson.


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Southwest R Oklahoma Dep

Student's research aims to improve Oklahoma fish population


n the murky waters of Lake Lawtonka, a fish species rumored to improve crappie population health swims through the cool depths. This hybrid species is a fish-hatchery cross between a native walleye and sauger. A top predator in Oklahoma lakes, the saugeye is the unlikely species serving as the thesis research topic of Oklahoma State University master’s student Dray Carl. His project is reevaluating the impacts of stocking saugeye on the health and growth of fish populations, specifically crappie, in Oklahoma lakes. Unlike most graduate student research, Carl’s project is not funded by money from a traditional student research grant. Instead, he partnered with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “This project was a perfect fit for us as we had some management questions we wanted to answer,” said Ryan Ryswyk, southwest regional fisheries supervisor for the ODWC. Normally, management biologists for state agencies, such as the ODWC, would collect data and do similar research in a few lakes, said Dan Shoup, Carl’s adviser and OSU associate professor of natural resource and ecology management. “Dray came to me with this idea, and I realized ODWC staff were trying to address this same issue,” Shoup said. The ODWC faced challenges with a lack of data to find conclusive evidence of the effect of saugeye in Oklahoma lakes. Although saugeye have been stocked in Oklahoma lakes for sport fishing, they also have been found to swim in deep waters and hunt smaller fish. 34 | COWBOY JOURNAL

“The ODWC discovered that in a few lakes, saugeye eat a fair amount of crappie,” Ryswyk said. “Over the past few decades of saugeye stockings, crappie health did not change as drastically as we hoped in all instances.” The ODWC stocked lakes around Oklahoma with saugeye, using this fish for sport and as a management strategy to keep large crappie populations in check, Carl said. Carl and Ryswyk said they share an interest in the way saugeye affect the ecosystems and the crappie populations in Oklahoma fish communities. “I started out to help ODWC figure out if the saugeye management strategy works,” Carl said. “My end objectives have been met.” The different research methods Carl used will provide a large database for future researchers, Shoup said. Because this research was a partnership with ODWC and multiple people worked on it, researchers recorded and analyzed results in more lakes than a single management biologist could have done, he added. “Dray was able to collect a robust data set with ODWC help, and we were able to get answers to some of our management questions without spending countless hours analyzing data,” Ryswyk said. Carl started his research by data mining in the ODWC database. He searched for information on the controlled impact on crappie populations before Oklahoma began using a saugeye management strategy. “The research showed too many inconsistencies,” Carl said. “Then, we went back to square one.”

Dray Carl, Oklahoma State University master's student, w


er's student, works with saugeye and studies their crappie eating habits as his thesis research. Photo by Ryan Ryswyk. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 35

John Dattilo, OSU NREM master's student, checks the stomach contents of a saugeye as part of Dray Carl's research. Photo by Dray Carl.

The next method of research was a diet study to monitor what saugeye in Oklahoma lakes eat. Researchers deployed by ODWC took stomach samples seasonally and recorded saugeye diet data from six different reservoirs within a oneyear span. “We were able to provide Dray assistance with the field sampling and data collection, and he compiled all the data and did the analysis,” Ryswyk said. After sampling was complete, Carl checked the data for correlation between the diet of saugeye and size increases. The data results showed a significant variation among lakes, Shoup said. 36 | COWBOY JOURNAL

“In some lakes, the saugeye didn’t even consume crappie,” Shoup said. “If saugeye decide to eat alternate prey, it could ruin the management strategy.” After finding inconsistencies and variations, researchers determined the environment in each lake affected the diets of saugeye, Carl said. He then used the data to identify factors for successful crappie management strategies in individual lakes, he added. “Knowing these things will allow me to make better-informed decisions when it comes to fisheries management in the southwest region,” Ryswyk said. During the last part of his research, Carl

said he developed models using 30 years of information from both ODWC and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Carl based the models on bioenergetics and predicted how many calories were needed for a saugeye to survive. “It was simply big data management,” Carl said. These results show how much crappie the saugeye ate. Carl used this information to determine if saugeye had any effect on crappie populations. The answer he found varied among lakes, he said. In most ecosystems, he found crappie population growth rates respond best with low- or mid-range saugeye populations and overstocking can harm the success, Carl added. “Crappie management is all about balance,” Carl said. Part of the management strategy is restocking saugeye annually, Ryswyk said. Saugeye were believed to be sterile; however, researchers found this fish can hybridize, or mate, with a fish from its parent species in some instances. “We don’t have the environment in most Oklahoma reservoirs for reproduction, and it isn’t enough to sustain a population,” Carl said. Ryswyk said the benefit of the lack of reproduction will be to control the saugeye populations. Three fish hatcheries in Oklahoma breed wild walleye and sauger to raise saugeye for both research and stocking reservoirs. “Since we know exactly how many saugeye get stocked each year, we already know one piece of the equation when it comes to estimating population metrics,” Ryswyk said. The ODWC has received Carl’s results and will use saugeye as a tool to improve the health of crappie populations in appropriate locations, Ryswyk added. Saugeye grow faster than most fish and produce good meat, Carl said. Strategies using saugeye for both recreational and management purposes will bring a new type of fishery to the state, he added.


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Oklahoma farmers expand production of alternative rotational crop uring the past few years, Oklahoma grain producers have searched for alternative rotational summer crops because of a lack of moisture. This search has led some producers to sesame as a low-input, drought-tolerant summer crop, said Brian Arnall, Oklahoma State University associate professor in plant and soil sciences. “Like canola, wheat, soybeans and corn, sesame can be used as a food-grade crop,

unlike others grown around the state,” Arnall said. “It is used on sesame buns and other foods that people consume on a daily basis.” Sesame growth traits make the crop ideal for Oklahoma because of recent weather patterns, said Josh Lofton, OSU associate professor in plant and soil sciences. The sesame planting season is typically from May to June. However, in warmer areas, the growing season can be as late as

August, which allows producers to wait until they have had rain to plant sesame, Lofton added. Another benefit of this alternative crop is most farmers do not need any new equipment to produce sesame, said Brady Sidwell, Enterprise Grain Co. president. “With the tough economy for farmers, we as an elevator and seed business, thought, ‘What can we do for our farmers as a viable alternative?’” Sidwell said.

Sesame grows best in western Oklahoma as a rotational crop to wheat during warm summer months. Photo by Todd Johnson. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 39

Brady Sidwell holds Sesaco sesame seed for planting during the 2018 growing season. Photo by Cordelle Elsener.

Enterprise Grain Co. needed an alternative spring/summer crop to work with wheat, be suitable for the environment and have a high demand, he said. Producing sesame also provides economic security by including a fixed-price contract, he said. Oklahoma farmers are under a contract based on sesame acres planted and are required to deliver only what they produce, Sidwell said. Included in a sesame contract is an “Act of God” clause, Sidwell said. So, if a disaster ruins a sesame crop, the producer does not pay any penalty fees for not producing a certain amount of sesame that year. When producing a specialty crop like sesame, producers need access to the seed and to the elevators as a delivery point for the harvested grain, Sidwell said. Low commodity prices along with being able to rotate sesame with other crops sparked the interest of the Littlefield family, said Ross Littlefield, a sesame producer from Cherokee, Oklahoma. “Sesame has been a good rotational 40 | COWBOY JOURNAL

crop for us,” Littlefield said. “It is very drought resistant and allows us to rotate with wheat, canola, alfalfa and soybeans.” The Littlefields — Steven, Kory and Ross — have produced sesame for three consecutive years. In 2018, they raised sesame on about 1,800 acres. “Sesame seems to thrive better in the heat than soybeans and provides a good tap root in the ground,” Littlefield said. Sesame production might be a new concept to some in this region, but Sesaco has processed and developed sesame for more than 30 years, said Jared Johnson, Sesaco field tech representative. Although sesame production has struggled in past years, the future of the crop looks promising, Johnson said. “In 2015, there were 5,000 to 6,000 acres of sesame planted in northern Oklahoma,” he said. “In comparison, last year, approximately 50,000 acres of sesame were planted.” Another contributing factor to sesame’s potential success is the newly approved use

of a harvest aid, glyphosate, which is applied to the crop to accelerate the ripening process, Lofton said. Until this year, producers had to wait for the crop to dry naturally or a killing frost to fully ripen sesame for harvest, Lofton said. This caused an issue harvesting sesame because of the rise in humidity that occurs as Oklahoma reaches late fall and early winter, Lofton said. The use of a harvest aid will allow sesame to be fully ripe in the warmer days of October, creating a more viable crop, Lofton added. “The future of sesame in Oklahoma is bright,” Sidwell said.


CASNR students share experience of long-term study abroad

ervous but excited, Anna Miller, an agricultural communications and animal science junior, began her academic adventure at the University College Dublin in Ireland in January 2018. Miller decided to go on a direct enrollment study-abroad program after an Oklahoma State University short-term study-abroad experience, she said. “I talked to Jose Uscanga-Aguirre in the Study Abroad Office in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and got more information about the long-term study-abroad programs,” Miller said. University College Dublin is known for its international animal science program, which is for a different type of agricultural industry, Miller said. “I am taking four animal science courses this semester, and it is so exciting to learn an Irish-style agriculture,” Miller said. “Most of the livestock here are grassbased, which is a completely different system than most American operations.” Miller took similar courses at OSU from the perspective of the Oklahoma agricultural industry. She is now learning a different aspect, she said. “I would like to have more communication with local breeders from different counties in Ireland, instead of just learning from classes,” Miller said. “The most interesting activity was a field trip in dairy science class, where we were able to experience the college’s school farm.”

OSU animal science senior Jack Drummond took more traditional courses when he completed a long-term study-abroad experience at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland because the school did not offer any agricultural classes. “I wish I had taken some agricultural courses in Scotland, but I couldn’t,” Drummond said. “I did drive a lot and saw lots of sheep and a couple of cows surrounded by wheatgrass and ryegrass.” Drummond said he got homesick by the third day after he arrived in spring 2017, but he adapted to new surroundings and made friends from different countries through classes. “I thought, ‘I have the rest of my life to be home, and this place is awesome,’” he said. “I had new friends, a new lifestyle and new challenges. Why not enjoy myself?” Jackie Elliott, an agribusiness and agricultural communications junior, went to China Agricultural University for the 2017 spring semester for a reciprocal exchange. Reciprocal exchanges give students the opportunity to study at one of OSU’s partner universities around the world while staying enrolled at OSU. Seventy active partner

institutions are available for students to apply to attend one or more semesters, sometimes up to an academic year. Elliott took agribusiness courses, such as natural resources research of economics and managerial accounting with Chinese students. “In May 2016, I went to China with a short-term study-abroad group for two weeks,” Elliott said. “It was so interesting, I decided to go for a semester.” Elliott said she talked to Brian Adam and Joe Schatzer, OSU agricultural economics professors who helped with the Chinese short-term study-abroad program, to learn more about CAU as well as Chinese


Left: Anna Miller rests above Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Suzy Evenson. Center: Jackie Elliott (left) joins Jacquie Kemboi of Kenya in Beihai Park in Beijing, China. Both studied at China Agricultural University. Photo courtesy of Jackie Elliott. Right: Jack Drummond spends two weeks traveling Scotland during his semester abroad. Photo courtesy of Jack Drummond.

culture. She also had an unofficial orientation at the OSU Study Abroad Office before heading to China, she said. “Staff from the SAO helped me a lot on my paperwork, funding and guardians,” Elliott said. “When I was at CAU, all I paid was OSU tuition as an in-state student, and it was covered by the scholarship I had at OSU.” According to the SAO, 1,195 OSU students studied abroad in more than 50 countries while receiving academic credit during 2016-17. About 70 percent of them received scholarships. Elliott also received a grant from the Chinese government and scholarships through the CASNR Study Abroad Office. “In China, there was a new adventure every day,” Elliott said. “When you go for a short-term study-abroad program, you’ll get just a quick experience instead of deep relationships. “You learn a lot of surface stuff, but there are a lot of deeper cultural things that you miss,” she added. By studying in China for six months, 42 | COWBOY JOURNAL

she learned more not only about herself but also about the world, she said. “Something people really need to learn about is what is outside of America,” Elliott said. “You will gain an appreciation and understanding of both America and the world by going on a long-term studyabroad program.” Drummond said his long-term studyabroad program allowed him to explore other areas and pushed his personal limits. “You have to start over again just like a freshman,” Drummond said. “Once you get there, you don’t know anyone and know little about the culture. “You have to challenge yourself, overcome huge obstacles, get in touch with strangers, and explore new areas,” he said. Many students would benefit from leaving their comfort zones because they often focus on the community where they grew up, Drummond said. At Heriot-Watt University, Drummond took a microeconomics course, which held the same information he learned from agricultural economics in OSU, he said.

“Academically, I think it would be beneficial to learn from a different perspective, especially from Europe, which is a huge market,” Drummond said. “Having a dialogue with Europe would be a good way to share science, studies and resources.” Whether learning about agriculture or other topics, studying abroad serves as more than an international educational opportunity, Elliott said. The experience can change the way students see the world, she added. “I wanted to broaden my horizons and experience something different,” Elliott said. “Going on the long-term reciprocal exchange program was the most important decision I made. Everyone should try it if there is an opportunity.”



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OSU professor's research changes lives in developing countries

AN Incredible Jou s the sun sets behind the Oklahoma State University Noble Research Center, professors and students head home for the evening. While most scurry to their cars, George Opit hangs back and enjoys the sunset views from his office window. Opit, an associate professor of entomology and plant pathology, is in his 10th year on faculty at OSU but said he often finds time to reflect on the journey that brought him here. “I am originally from Uganda,” Opit said, “a land-locked, beautiful country, which is part of East Africa and referred to as the Pearl of Africa.” In 1987, he left his war-torn native country for Kenya, where he lived in a refugee camp for a year before teaching biology, math and agriculture in local schools, he said. “In 1990, I was sponsored by the World University Service of Canada,” Opit said. “Essentially, a group of students at 44 | COWBOY JOURNAL

Dalhousie University sponsored my immigration to Canada.” Opit said these students arranged for his permanent resident visa so he could acclimate to the harsh winter climate of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in eastern Canada. “I would take a few classes, and if I decided I liked university there, I could stay,” Opit said. “But, ultimately after one year, I decided it was too cold for me. The winters seemed to go on forever.” Despite the less-than-favorable weather conditions, Opit said he did well at Dalhousie University and went on to pursue a Master of Pest Management degree at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. “If you have never been to ‘Beautiful British Columbia,’ I’d highly recommend it,” Opit said. “It is really that beautiful.” Opit said his work at SFU focused on biological control and researching alternative measures of pest control for various species of spider mites on tomato plants.

“That whole project originated from the fact that the biological control agent they were using in tomato greenhouses was no longer an effective method,” Opit said. In 1995, Opit graduated with his master’s degree in pest management and got a job as a greenhouse integrated pest management consultant. “I worked as a consultant for about four years,” he said. “Then, I applied to about 10 or 11 American universities to earn a doctorate in entomology and got accepted to five.” Opit said his master’s advisers agreed Kansas State University would be the best place for him to pursue his doctorate. “Unfortunately, Oklahoma State was not one of the universities I got accepted to,” Opit said. “I would have loved to come here.” After earning his doctorate, Opit said he got a job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Manhattan, Kansas. “At that point, I changed fields and


George Opit teaches grain storage practices to local farmers in Nigeria. Photo courtesy of George Opit.

moved from greenhouse work into stored product entomology,” Opit said. “Essentially, my job was just like the one I have now here at OSU.” Since Opit started work at OSU in 2008, he said his job has been 20 percent teaching and 80 percent research. “He’s a great mentor and supervisor,” said Jorigtoo Hubhachen, an insect ecologist and postdoctoral fellow in Opit’s lab. “We have collaborated since 2012, and it is great to get to work with a nationally and internationally recognized stored-product researcher.” A majority of Opit’s work now consists of researching novel ways to protect stored grain from insect attack so farmers can keep more money in their pockets, Hubhachen said. “My lab is one of a handful in the U.S. that conducts research on book louse or psocids and also in the area of phosphine resistance,” Opit said. “My lab was the first to put a number on the levels of pest

resistance we have in the United States. We have published a number of internationally acclaimed papers on that.” In addition to his innovative research, Opit does international development work in Nigeria and Ghana through the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. “Here in America, very few people are linked into some of the issues that happen in agriculture,” Opit said. “Because of our technological advances and the land-grant university system, farmers in the U.S. often don’t realize the potentially high levels of post-harvest losses foreign producers are experiencing.” Opit said sharing his work with farmers in Ghana and Nigeria is one of the most rewarding experiences of his career. “Overseas, post-harvest losses can reach up to 70 percent of what they produce,” Opit said. “Yet, they break their backs to produce it. It’s just so painful to see.”

Instead of seeking to immerse the farmers of Ghana and Nigeria into western farming practices, Opit said he and his colleagues sought simple, practical fixes to aid in the prevention of post-harvest food loss and waste in these countries. “When I say practical, I mean things that work best under the conditions that prevail on the ground there,” Opit said. Strategies such as building sustainable food storage facilities, providing monitors to measure moisture in stored grain and training the future generations of farmers in sustainable storage practices are just a few techniques being used in developing countries, he said. “We have a moisture meter that is being assembled in these countries, a high-tech product that is practical, inexpensive and is going to solve a lot of their problems,” Opit said. “This meter is going to go at the heart of mitigating storage problems. It’s a project that I am so proud of and continue to be a part of.” VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 45

The Africa projects have helped with increasing employment, incubating agriculture-based industries and promoting sound commodity storage practices in the communities where these programs were implemented, Opit said. “I don’t know if you can put a value on that,” Opit said. “The impact we are making is incredible.” Jagger Harvey, the director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss, said his organization’s work is unparalleled and attributes portions of its success to Opit. “George is a model for how we like people to be engaged in our program,” Harvey said. “On top of all of his effectiveness as a manager and leader, he’s one of the leading authorities on storage pests. To have him involved on the technical level is such a tremendous asset to our team.” Opit has achieved much success on the Ghana project, Harvey said, and the innovation lab’s future looks bright because of Opit’s involvement. “The bottom line is I’m very impressed with what he’s done,” Harvey said. “He’s very effective. His work is high impact and focused on transferring knowledge and empowering the in-country partners.” Opit said he looks forward to continuing his research and working toward more sustainable developed communities across the globe. “We’ve really made a complete culture,” Opit said. “You see yourself really making an impact almost worldwide, both at home and abroad.”


George Opit observes a sample of psocids, a pest found in stored grain worldwide. Photo by Spencer Dennis. YOUR SOURCE FOR REGISTERED, CERTIFIED WHEAT, ALFALFA AND CANOLA SEED.


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Oklahoma 4-H youth development program offers special opportunities


miling faces and cheerful voices filled the Saints Grove Campground near Glencoe, Oklahoma, while campers “blasted off to better health” at Special Clovers Camp in March. Special Clovers Camp is an effort by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and 4-H to give children with special needs a camp experience in a fun and safe environment, said Cathy Allen, Oklahoma 4-H curriculum coordinator and Special Clovers Camp director. Oklahoma 4-H youth staff, extension educators, volunteers and 4-H members dedicated three days of their 2018 spring break to provide campers a way to have fun and learn, Cathy Allen said. Fall of 2016 was the first Special Clovers Camp, and Rylee Moore, Payne County 4-H Livestock Club treasurer and special clover camper, said she had a lot of fun. Rylee attended camp again this year and said she will continue to come back because of how great camp is. “My favorite part about camp was getting to go without my mom,” Rylee said. 48 | COWBOY JOURNAL

Becky Moore, Rylee’s mom, said the 2016 Special Clovers Camp was the first time Rylee had ever gone overnight without at least one of her parents. “One thing that stood out the most about Rylee’s experience was how independent she felt when she got back from camp,” Moore said. “She was so excited to attend all by herself.” During camp, each camper had two or three clover buddies. Clover buddies led activities, served their campers’ needs and ensured their buddies had a good time, Allen said. Rylee said she enjoyed going on a nature walk with her clover buddies and painting a picture of flowers, which she chose to paint purple. “I love my clover buddies,” Rylee said. “They are so cool.” Clover buddies are critical to the camp’s success and are selected through an application process, Allen said. Allen said she values clover buddies who give up their personal time to help at Special Clovers Camp. Clover buddies

must be 4-H members in grades nine through 12. Seventh- and eighth-graders were considered with a recommendation letter, she added. During the previous camp, a girl skipped her school’s football playoff game to attend camp as a clover buddy. “We see so much negativity about the younger generation,” Allen said. “It is nice to see the compassion these kids have for the campers.” Allen said Special Clovers Camp replicates a traditional 4-H camp by having team-building exercises, arts and crafts, and science, technology, engineering and math training. This year’s Special Clovers Camp included a visit by Oklahoma State University’s Insect Adventure and an eventful nature walk, Allen said. “We had a lot of fun this year on the nature walk,” she said. “During the nature walk, camper Matt Sitton kept telling everyone, ‘Ssshh, I think I hear Sasquatch.’” As a result, a staff member made this imagination a reality, hiding ahead of the

Josie Frazier, a clover buddy from Choctaw County, uses her spring break to work with Joy Bowling, a Special Clover camper from Oklahoma County. Photo by Kristin Knight. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 49

Photos clockwise from top left: Emma Davis (left) of Okfuskee County joins Taelor Brown of Pawnee County during puzzle time. Danny Regnier-Nelson (left) of Beaver County engages with Criostoir Williams of Lincoln County during Insect Adventure time. Kerstin Soell (center) of Cleveland County, Kristen Chapa (left) of Marshall County, Shayln Bowles of Cotton County and Hadley Griffith of Pottawatomie County enjoy sightseeing during a nature walk. Simon Regnier-Nelson of Beaver County enjoys snack time. Mary Lee Hainzinger of Osage County cheers on the Cowboys with Matthew Sitton of Payne County. Photos by Kristin Knight and Nancy Johnson. 50 | COWBOY JOURNAL


group and imitating Sasquatch by making loud noises. “Matt was in awe,” Allen said. “It was so fun to see Matt’s eyes light up when he thought he really was hearing Sasquatch.” Last year, a parent told Allen she loved sending her son to Special Clovers Camp because he had a blast and felt like other kids, rather than someone with special needs. Camp staff members do their best to treat everyone just like any other kid at camp, Allen said. “We try to focus more on the kids and less on their conditions,” Allen said. “We want them to be safe, but when they come to camp, we want them to feel like a regular kid because they are. They are just another kid in our eyes.” The importance of safety within 4-H activities is prevalent when working with children. Extensive planning is involved to ensure campers will be in the safest environment possible, Allen said. Given all camper needs differ, the staff and location must accommodate them, she added. Clover buddies and staff completed a day of training before camp started to ensure everyone knew what to do in various situations. Staff and volunteers discussed tactics and strategies to help campers in the event they had a difficult time. “It’s important for the clover buddies to know about the camper they will be paired with and what works best to help that camper,” Allen said. Allen said coordinators pair buddies based on interests and personalities to help campers bond with their buddies easier. “Rylee’s buddies, Mattlin [Stanek] and Teegin [Crosthwait], were phenomenal,” said Kimbreley Davis, Cotton County 4-H extension educator. “Those girls worked so hard to make sure Rylee had a good time.” Davis said Mattlin and Teegin were Rylee’s buddies for the second time. During the first camp, the girls learned a

lot about Rylee’s likes and dislikes and were better prepared to help Rylee feel more comfortable, Davis added. They brought Rylee a night-light to make her feel at home, Teegin said. Then, both clover buddies acted like they were going to sleep so Rylee also would go to sleep, which worked well, Teegin added. Rylee’s clover buddies emphasized the importance of campers interacting with one another to make new memories and new friends. “The best part is seeing the big smiles on their faces,” Teegin said. Teegin said she hopes when her peers see her kind spirit toward kids who are different it sets an example for them. “Spending the weekend with campers helps you realize the everyday challenges they face,” Mattlin said. “I try to take these things I’ve learned from being a clover buddy and use it other places.” Along with clover buddies and campers, staff who worked behind the scenes walked away with a touching experience, as well, said JinYu Burnham, OSU student and state 4-H student employee. Burnham said the special education class she was taking at OSU required students to have 15 hours of community service with children with special needs. Burnham plans to become an extension educator and wants to conduct events like Special Clovers Camp, she said. Burnham said she appreciated seeing campers change from being shy when they arrived at camp to knowing everyone’s name and participating in every activity by the end. “This camp is an amazing opportunity that not a lot of camps have to offer,” Burnham said. “I love how inclusive it is. We operate based on the camper’s schedule, and it is truly made for them.” A $61,000 Walmart Healthy Living Grant funded the 2018 camp. Attending

camp was $15 per camper, which paid for their T-shirts, meals, lodging and activities. On the last day of camp, parents came and had lunch with the campers while camp staff handed out awards, Allen said. “The kids love to show their parents the crafts and things they have learned at camp,” Allen said. “When they come get their awards, they are so proud.” Campers have so much fun they sometimes get caught up in the activity in which they are participating, she said. A lot of campers are sad to see camp come to an end, she added. “I’m sad that I have to go home, but I’m excited to come back here next time,” said Emma Davis, a Special Clovers camper from Okfuskee County. During the awards ceremony, Kevin Allen, Oklahoma 4-H program leader, spoke to parents, campers and buddies. “Whether for male or female, young, old, or differently abled, we are open to everybody,” Kevin Allen said. “Camp is a place for kids to just come and be kids.” Oklahoma 4-H prides itself on being open to everyone, he said. Toward the end of his speech, he turned to the clover buddies and told them to “remember that a life of service is a good life.” As Special Clovers Camp came to an end, Kevin Allen thanked the parents of the campers and clover buddies for sharing their kids for the weekend. “My favorite thing about Special Clovers Camp is that it is not about ribbons or trophies,” Kevin Allen said. “It’s just about kids being kids.”




EXPLORE. NREM alumna completes international internships


Top: Sarah Harren goes underwater with Bongo the crocodile at Victoria Falls. Center: Sarah Harren stands with a group of children from Bulawayo. Bottom: Sarah Harren sits with a brown hyena. Photos provided by Sarah Harren. 52 | COWBOY JOURNAL

n the little town of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, rescued animals and birds receive a place to recover and prosper before being returned to the wild by the staff at the Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage. Sarah Harren, 2017 Oklahoma State University graduate, traveled 8,990 miles to intern at this wildlife refuge during summer 2017. Harren, an OSU natural resource ecology and management alumna and a Claremore, Oklahoma native, grew up surrounded by animals, always owning at least one pet and multiple at a time if her parents would allow it, she said. “My parents saw this passion in me and encouraged it by always taking me to the zoo or aquarium,” Harren said. “My family is a lot of fun. We love animals and seeing the world. My family is a big part of who I am.” While in college, Harren completed three internships. The first was with the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, Oklahoma, in the animal husbandry department. She fed animals, including stingrays, bull sharks and other sea creatures not often seen in Oklahoma, she said. After her time at the aquarium, Harren went to Sydney, Australia, to work at a wildlife park. “This trip lit me on fire with traveling and doing internships,” she said. After this adventure, Harren said she wanted another international experience. She contacted KAYA, an international

travel and work company, to show her how to connect with overseas travel volunteer programs. KAYA connected her with the Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage in Zimbabwe, Africa, Harren said. Harren applied, interviewed and secured her spot in 15 minutes, she said. The hard part was preparing for international travel, including getting her vaccinations up to date, preparing her travel forms and booking her flight for her six-week adventure abroad, she added. Before her internships, Harren had the opportunity to gain many skills through the OSU NREM department, said Dan Shoup, NREM associate professor and Harren’s academic adviser. “We train the students in the skills of our field to give them a basic ecological understanding,” Shoup said. “Each student then takes a techniques-based class to learn his or her particular skill.” Arriving in Zimbabwe, Harren experienced a type of culture shock one only gets in developing countries, she said, because the local people taught her to appreciate all she has and brought her down to earth. Once she started at the wildlife orphanage, her daily responsibilities included feeding animals, cleaning and fixing enclosures, taking photos, giving medicine and conducting research. The weekly research was her favorite part, she said, because she learned about her specialty animal, the brown hyena. While in Zimbabwe, Harren also

Sarah Harren interacted with various species of wildlife during her internship, including African elephants. Photo by Dwayne Cartmell.

worked with birds, which she had studied in NREM. The birds were adapted to frequent human contact, Harren said. The interns administered medicine to sick birds and fed them so the birds did not react around people. While she was not working, Harren said her hobbies included roaming the grounds of the orphanage, taking pictures of the animals, reading in the African sunshine and going to campfires with her friends. She also visited Victoria Falls and other natural venues. “Victoria Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and Africa’s version of Niagara Falls,” Harren said. “It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in the world.” While in Africa, Harren learned about different African mammals, including how humans raise the orphaned babies, she said, adding the needs of animals are different. She also said learning to care for each species was enjoyable.

“I learned how incredibly important research is,” Harren said. “Even on animals that are not even remotely close to being endangered, you can never know too much about a species.” However, Harren said, the most important thing she learned was to remain positive no matter the circumstances. “Never judge a situation too quickly because you never know what’s going on,” she said. “I learned that a big part of the reason I love traveling is because I meet people from all over the world and learn about their cultures.” Shoup said NREM has many strong candidates for a small number of jobs, so internships help distinguish students. The top contenders for jobs often have multiple internships, he added. “Outside-the-box internships like Harren’s truly separate these students from the pack,” Shoup said. “Sarah has always been a driven individual,” said Matt Boyer, Harren’s high

school FFA adviser. “She has known she wanted to travel the world and help exotic animals since she was very young, and now she’s doing that.” Harren said she would like to continue to work in the animal conservation field, specifically with black rhino conservation and preservation. “My dream job changes daily,” Harren said. “I switch from wildlife veterinarian to being a part of a conservation team to running a zoo or aquarium. “Do every internship, and make every connection,” she added. “These experiences will only help you and will make your college experience even better.”



Clay Burtrum (second from right) and his daughters enjoy time on their ranch: Avery (left), age 14; Kinzie, age 17; and Karly, age 17. Photo by Katie F

OSU alumnus finds h


hoto by Katie Friederichs.

nus finds his passion in the beef industry

hen 1995 Oklahoma State University alumnus Clay Burtrum graduated, he did not expect his career path to lead him home to serve as an advocate for the beef industry. Burtrum said OSU gave him the opportunity to find his passion. The Stillwater native started as an agricultural economics student then changed his major to animal science pre-veterinary medicine. However, Burtrum said he soon learned going to vet school was not his plan. After an internship at a feedyard, he knew his path was headed toward a career in the feedyard industry, he said. During his internship, he saw what he would do every day if he chose to go into the cattle industry, rather than be a vet, he added. “Working at a feedlot gave me an opportunity to decide what I truly wanted to be,” Burtrum said. In May 1995, Burtrum accepted a job at Cimarron Feeders as a management trainee and later became a feedlot cattle manager of the company’s 60,000 head of cattle in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Gerald Horn, OSU animal science professor emeritus, said Burtrum is knowledgeable about each phase of the beef industry and is a skilled manager. “One of his axioms is, ‘Don’t ask an employee to do something you haven’t done yourself,’” Horn said. In 2000, Burtrum returned to Stillwater and became a partner in the company his father started when Burtrum was a youth. He said he never expected to come back to Farm Data Services, but when he did, his experience and additional expertise added value to the company. Farm Data Services is a management accounting company for farmers, ranchers, feedlots and small businesses. “You must learn what value you can bring back to the company,” Burtrum said. Once at Farm Data Services, he learned the ins and outs from his father, Mike Burtrum, he said. Burtrum rode along with his father for almost a year to learn all aspects of the company. The elder Burtrum knew many people, his son said. “I watched Dad build this company to what is it today,” Burtrum said. “We have been through hard times together.” Burtrum said he has learned many lessons through his work and has a passion for the beef industry.

Burtrum said he “learned to live to leave a legacy” while working at the feedyard and that lesson has stayed with him. Leaving a legacy means getting involved within the industry, he said. Burtrum has served as a chairman of the Oklahoma Beef Council, Region IV vice president of the Federation of State Beef Councils, a board member of the Payne County Farm Service Agency and a member of the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program’s advisory council. He also lobbies for the beef industry with the National Cattleman’s Beef Association in Washington, D.C. Being involved with legislative activities pertaining to the beef industry is critical, he said. “Clay is a strong believer in the importance of getting involved and giving back to one’s profession,” Horn said. “He has distinguished himself at a young age as a visionary leader.” When Burtrum walks into the room, his presence is well-known and people recognize his expertise and ability in the beef cattle industry, Horn added. “Clay is one of my heroes,” Horn said.“He is the quintessential professional, a businessman and a knowledgeable cattleman. His achievements reflect his faith and devotion to his family. His goal is the betterment of agriculture and the beef cattle industry for future generations.” Burtrum also supports and promotes OSU’s animal science program and stays involved with youth programs, Horn said. “His guest lectures in the stocker and feedyard class during the last seven years have provided students valuable insight into the beef cattle industry and remarkable perspective of his successful career,” Horn said. Burtrum also hires college students for internships at Farm Data Services and Burtrum Cattle. Jerry Fitch, an OSU animal science professor and Stillwater Sirloin Club president, has worked for many years with Burtrum, who served as Stillwater Agriculture Boosters president. “Clay has such a level head on his shoulders and is the common sense guy in the room during any meeting he is a part of,” Fitch said. “He is all about the youth.” Fitch said Burtrum ensures everyone at the meeting knows the youth are the focus of their efforts, Fitch said. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 55


Clay Burtrum serves as a board member for the Animal Science Alumni Association at the 2018 Gala Reunion. Photo by Justin Leonard.

“Clay is a rare individual who doesn’t have a personal agenda and just wants to make everything better for the youth,” Fitch said. Burtrum said he is passionate about helping younger producers get involved in the industry. Seven years ago, he hired OSU student Hayden Cooper for part-time work, and now Cooper is his ranch manager. “It started out as a job, but now it has grown into a full-time career and friendship,” Cooper said. “Clay and his girls feel more like family now than an employer.” He said Burtrum has taught him the business side of the beef industry. 56 | COWBOY JOURNAL

“He has taught me to never quit working toward my goals and to work harder to meet the end goals,” Cooper said. “He never quits trying to learn about what drives him.” Through hardships, the 46-year-old father stays strong in his faith and focuses on raising his girls, Cooper said. Burtrum said he lost one of the most influential people in his life when his wife, Tina, died in December 2017. “You need to find your why,” Burtrum said. “People do not buy into what you are doing, but why you are doing it. My reason ‘why’ is my three girls, especially after we lost their mother.”

He has three daughters: Kinzie, 17; Karly, 17; and Avery, 14. Burtrum said he had always known his family moved back to Stillwater for a reason and now knows why. “Without my support group in this community, I do not know what I would have done after Tina passed away,” he said. In early March, Burtrum witnessed the support of his community when his daughter Kinzie Burtrum went through the premium sale at the Payne County Spring Livestock Show with her steer. Burtrum’s main goal was for his daughter to earn some money for college, but little did he know the Stillwater Sirloin Club had a different plan, Fitch said. After the steer show, Fitch said he decided he wanted to raise at least $10,000 for Kinzie Burtrum. With local and state support, donors “purchased” the steer for a county record: $22,150. In this community and industry, people need to remember the heart and compassion they have for one another, Fitch said. “My family and I continue to be blessed by this community,” Burtrum said. “While we miss Tina, we know she is in the hearts of each and every person she touched.” Burtrum said the achievements he has made with the Oklahoma Beef Council and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association are important, but his daughters are his whole life and his legacy.



The Perfect Shot Award-winning OCES producer innovates Oklahoma Gardening for two decades

rom the days of floppy disks and BETA tapes to “the cloud” and 4K video, Kevin Gragg has focused the direction of the weekly Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources TV show “Oklahoma Gardening” since 1998. As producer, director and videographer, Gragg has innovated OKG with his creativity and passion for horticulture, said Casey Hentges, OKG host. When viewers watch OKG, they see many different camera angles. Gragg has mastered the art of shooting the show in a unique and creative way, Hentges said. She said Gragg is consistent with every aspect of the show and shoots multiple angles to tell the story. “The big thing for me is that I get to produce a television show,” Gragg said. “It is a lot of work, but it is so exciting that I get to have a creative outlet like this. To top it all off, the show is about gardening, which is a personal passion of mine.” Gragg said his passion for gardening began when his aunt encouraged him to take a horticulture class early in his college career. She believed he needed to be in the horticultural industry, he said, which has made a positive impact on his career. Gragg began his career as a videographer after graduating from Oklahoma State University with his bachelor’s degree in photojournalism in 1989. He later returned to OSU to pursue his master’s degree in information and communication technology education. He graduated in 1997 and then began his career with OKG. Gragg has provided long-term consistency for the program, said Lou Anella, director of The Botanic Garden at OSU. Being able to use technology to cultivate the show is another reason why Gragg loves what he does at OKG, Anella added. 58 | COWBOY JOURNAL

Under Gragg’s leadership, OKG was the first show on the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority that went widescreen, then digital and later high definition. Today, the show airs in 4K, which is the most up-to-date highresolution format. “Something so special about Kevin is that he has stayed up with the latest technology,” Anella said. “As technology has changed, he has adopted it and brought it to the show. It’s been incredible. “He has utilized things like YouTube and drones that didn’t even exist when he started producing the show,” Anella said. “In my opinion, that has been one of his greatest contributions to the show.” Visual literacy constantly changes in media, Gragg said. To make any kind of production successful, one must be accepting of change and willing to try new things to be innovative, he added. For his contributions to OKG, Gragg received the 2017 George J. Vaclavek Award from the Oklahoma Horticultural Society. The OHS board accepts nominations and presents the award annually to outstanding members of Oklahoma’s horticultural community, Gragg said. “Kevin was extremely humbled by the award,” said Laura Payne, OKG field producer. “He didn’t expect to receive the award, and I know it means a lot to him.” Gragg is the first award recipient not to be a professional horticulturist. “I’ve gotten accolades and awards before, but this one is No. 1 for me,” Gragg said. “When I got the call, I was just floored. To me, it was an acknowledgement by people I respect very much. I had just never thought I would be a recipient of the award. “There is tremendous power in doing something you are proud of,” Gragg said.

“Through the years, I’ve been tempted to take other jobs, but there wasn’t pride in the mission of the work. Feeling good about what you’re doing is my most valuable take away from working at OKG.” Along with being an amazing co-worker and friend, Payne said, Gragg is attentive and caring to his wife and children. Family always comes first for Gragg, Payne said, and he tries his best to be there for everyone. Gragg is willing to give people his time and has become like a “tall brother” to her, she added. “If you’re not having fun raising a family, then you’re doing something wrong,” Gragg said. “I really love my family and love spending time with them.” As a lifelong learner, Gragg enrolled in the OSU Master Gardener program in 2018. Studying for the program is intense, he said, but he enjoys getting to come home and do homework alongside his daughter, Danielle. In addition to his work and family, Gragg serves as an adviser for a service fraternity at OSU, Alpha Phi Omega, and supports local Boy Scout troops, Payne said. Gragg is an avid outdoorsman and loves nature, she added. “It’s easy for people who work in a job for so long to become passive with their work,” Payne said. “Kevin seeks out the excitement in his work not only for himself but for everybody. That makes working with him special.”


Kevin Gragg films for “Oklahoma Gardening” at The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University. Photo by Kory Frazier. VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 59

Megan DeVuyst receives the Remington Bronco Buster as the 2017-18 CASNR Outstanding Senior. Photo by Todd Johnson. 60 | COWBOY JOURNAL

s a young girl, Megan DeVuyst received a heifer from one grandfather and a piggy bank from the other. This year, DeVuyst received a Remington Bronco Buster sculpture from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources as the 2017-18 Louis and Betty Gardner Outstanding Senior. “My grandfathers’ livelihoods inspired my passion to serve an industry of selfless stewards of the land,” DeVuyst said. “I spent hours watching them carefully tend to their livestock and fields.” Honoring the legacy and dedication of her family, DeVuyst pursued an agribusiness major with a minor in finance. Growing up in small-town Morrison, Oklahoma, DeVuyst developed her passion for agriculture through FFA activities, she said. As a freshman at OSU, she served as the 2014-15 reporter for the Oklahoma FFA Association. Once in CASNR, DeVuyst said she was drawn to leadership opportunities. “The CASNR family quickly adopted me into their tightly knit group and made college less intimidating,” DeVuyst said. DeVuyst was on the Freshmen Representative Council and the President’s Leadership Council. She also was a 2015 Mortar Board Top Ten Freshmen Woman. Shannon Ferrell, DeVuyst’s academic adviser, said she is one of the most outgoing students with whom he has worked. “At every level — departmental, college and university — she has been at the highest levels of leadership,” Ferrell said. “Starting at day one, she has jumped in with both feet.” DeVuyst's leadership positions at OSU

CASNR names 2017-18 Louis and Betty Gardner Outstanding Senior have included CASNR Ambassadors president as well as CASNR Student Council vice president of student affairs and secretary. “My favorite part of my experience in CASNR is recruiting future Cowboys through CASNR Ambassadors,” DeVuyst said, “and then helping them find their home in CASNR through Student Council activities.” These activities provided DeVuyst with opportunities for both leadership and personal growth, she said. “I have been pushed as a leader and built friendships with peers from all across the country,” she said. Campuswide, DeVuyst has served as the PanHellenic Women’s Fraternity secretary and OSU Student Government Association Executive Cabinet special projects director. She was a Top Five Homecoming 2017 Royalty candidate and was named a 2017 Senior of Significance and 2018 OSU Outstanding Senior by the Oklahoma State Univestity Alumni Association. DeVuyst has worked with students in various capacities, including as a teaching assistant for four semesters in the agricultural marketing and sales class with Kim Anderson, agricultural economics professor emeritus. “I don’t know that Megan tries to be a leader,” Anderson said. “She is just a natural leader through her ethics and morals. Her lifestyle lends her to success, and success lends her to others as they watch and follow her example.” DeVuyst sees potential in students and helps them see it, too, Anderson said.

“There are students who have not found their way at the university and more than likely do not have the confidence they need to succeed,” Anderson said. “She has shown an aptitude to connect with those students and help them succeed and have more confidence in themselves.” As her adviser, Ferrell also sees her dedication to her studies, he said. “She is insanely smart, professional and engaging,” he said. “She is a skilled and insightful analyst.” DeVuyst’s name has held a place on the President’s Honor Roll for seven consecutive semesters, seeking an eighth and final time as she graduates in May. She has completed multiple scholarly research and creative activities, including a peer-reviewed journal article with former OSU agricultural economics professor Jayson Lusk focusing on USDA beef quality grades and consumer choices. DeVuyst’s efforts to serve her industry, university and community do not stop with just academics and leadership activities, Ferrell said. “She is extremely service-oriented,” he said. “It is always the needs of others first and herself last.” DeVuyst’s community service activities include organizing events such as “Coffee with the Coaches,” a benefit in conjunction with the Student Government Association and Coaches vs. Cancer. DeVuyst said she had numerous opportunities to grow as a student and a leader, but she took her time finding her place in the agricultural industry. Experience as an intern led her to an important decision. “After completing two internships

obtained through CASNR, I discovered my agricultural niche,” she said. As an intern with Oklahoma AgCredit, DeVuyst found her passion for agricultural lending and banking, a field she plans to serve in after graduation, she said. In June, she plans to marry fellow agribusiness senior Jake Fanning and begin her career at BancFirst. In every aspect of her life, DeVuyst refuses to give anything less than her all, Ferrell said. “No one works harder than her,” Ferrell said. “She has a roll-up-her-sleeves attitude about everything.” DeVuyst’s parents, Cheryl and Eric DeVuyst, are both faculty in the agricultural economics department. OSU orange runs in DeVuyst's genetics and her heart, Ferrell said. “She is the product of two university professors,” he said, “but she never took anything for granted. She made the most of everything she was given.” No matter where she is or what she is doing, DeVuyst epitomizes the CASNR and Cowboy family, Anderson said. “First and foremost, Megan is a Cowgirl,” Anderson said. “She is Oklahoma State University.”




Grace Ogden is a plant and soil sciences senior from Muskogee, Oklahoma, the community where she cultivated a passion for serving the agricultural industry, she said. Ogden’s favorite memory from her time at OSU is serving as a national officer for Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences. “I have refined my organization and public speaking skills, built confidence in my personal abilities, and made countless connections,” Ogden said. Ogden was a Niblack Research Scholar and president of the OSU Agronomy Club. “CASNR showed me that if I am willing to knock on the door of opportunity, the CASNR community would help me develop the tools to achieve success,” Ogden said. Ogden plans to pursue her master’s in weed science at Texas Tech University.

Alexis Shanes

Alexis Shanes, an agricultural communications senior, grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas. Shanes said her most rewarding experience at OSU was through her unofficial position as a mentor in the agricultural communications program. “My most pivotal CASNR experiences were not qualitative,” Shanes said. “They stemmed from my mentors, whose empathy, constructive criticism and willingness to listen were essential to my personal and professional development.” Shanes was a McKnight scholar, received the 2017 Professional Agricultural Communicators Student of the Year award and was a three-time National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow Critique and Contest winner. She plans to pursue a master’s degree at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism with a health, science and environment specialization.

Gatlin Squires

Gatlin Squires, an agribusiness senior with an option in pre-law, grew up in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, where his passion for the agricultural industry led him to serve as the 201415 Oklahoma FFA Secretary. Squires’ favorite memories from the last four years include time spent sharing his love for OSU with prospective students and fellow Cowboys. “While I gained valuable information in coursework, my greatest education from CASNR came outside the classroom from organizations, advising and career preparation services,” Squires said. Squires credits CASNR with his acceptance to four law schools and the full-tuition scholarships he received, he said. He plans to attend University of Oklahoma School of Law with a goal to advocate for agricultural policy, Squires said.

Liza Van der Laan

Liza Van der Laan is a plant and soil sciences senior from Frederick, Oklahoma. Van der Laan said she hopes she left a legacy in CASNR through the Student Success Center, where she served as a career liaison for five semesters. “I was truly able to give back to the college by helping my peers develop their own professional skills,” Van der Laan said. “I loved getting to see the students who consistently come back for help, and watch the progress of everyone.” Van der Laan also was involved in the Agronomy Club and Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences. Her time spent with these organizations and the plant and soil sciences department encouraged her to pursue a master’s degree at OSU in plant and soil sciences with an emphasis in plant breeding. Once finished with her master’s degree, she plans to pursue a doctorate in a related field, Van der Laan said. 62 | COWBOY JOURNAL

Julianna Albrecht ANSI & AGCM Howard, South Dakota

Cody Dean AGED Agra, Oklahoma

Hammons Hepner AGEC & ACCT Freedom, Oklahoma

Grayson Kuehny AGEC Elmore City, Oklahoma

Jenna Maltbie

AGBU & AGCM Burlington, Oklahoma

Courtney Mapes ANSI Alva, Oklahoma

Taylor Neilson ANSI & BIMB Meeker, Colorado

Macy Perry

ANSI Prather, California

Alexandria Schut ANSI Belding, Michigan

Madison Slawson BIMB McAlester, Oklahoma

Megan DeVuyst (left), Grace Ogden, Alexis Shanes, Gatlin Squires and Liza Van der Laan receive the 2017-18 CASNR Dean's Award of Excellence. Photo by Todd Johnson.

2018 CASNR AWARDS Outstanding CASNR Freshman Jordan Cowger | BIMB & ANSI

Award for Excellence in Teaching Dwayne Cartmell | AGCM

Alpha Zeta Outstanding Teacher Ranjith Ramanathan | ANSI

Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching Beatrix Haggard | PASS

Excellence in Graduate Student Advising and Mentoring Kris Giles | ENTO

Student Success Leader Outstanding Professional Staff Stephanie Cooper | CASNR

Excellence in Undergraduate Student Advising and Mentoring Udaya DeSilva | ANSI

Student Success Leader Outstanding Adviser Cheryl DeVuyst | AGEC

Outstanding Freshmen and Transfer Council Member Maggie Martens | AGED & AGCM


CASNR Alumni News SUMMER/FALL 2018

Trent McKnight (center) and Bambi Sidwell (second from left) receive the CASNR Alumni Association's Early Career Achievement Award from DASNR Vice President Thomas Coon (left), Associate Dean Cynda Clary and CASNR Alumni Association President Jeremy Bennett. Photo by Todd Johnson.

Early Career trent Mcknight s a rancher, businessman and founder of AgriCorps, Trent McKnight has made his career helping others at home and abroad. McKnight, a native of Throckmorton, Texas, graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics. “I like to make things better,” McKnight said, “whether that is a herd of cattle, my hometown, or the agricultural economy of western Africa.” After multiple life experiences and earning a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School 64 | COWBOY JOURNAL

of Economics, McKnight said his mind became more open to the world. “I saw it was my role to help open other people’s minds to rural America,” McKnight said. In 2009, he used his production agriculture background in conjunction with his economics knowledge as an agricultural consultant for the U.S. military in Iraq. This experience led him to his work in West Africa, specifically Ghana and Liberia, he said. “We found a correlation between families with access to agricultural education and food security,” McKnight added.

Now, AgriCorps sends agricultural professionals to teach students in western African countries. In addition to exponential growth in the number of people involved, AgriCorps has developed and implemented contests and curriculum in Ghana, McKnight said. AgriCorps team members work closely with farmers and producers in each community, he said. “There is so much to learn, do, experience, contribute and take,” McKnight said. “[Everyone should] go live life.” by Caitlyn Minton

bambi sidwell aised on a farm near Goltry, Oklahoma, Bambi Sidwell has never known a day without agriculture. Sidwell, vice president of Sidwell Insurance and co-owner of Sidwell Farms, graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness. “From a really young age, farming was important to me,” Sidwell said. “I fell in love with it.” She said her passion for agriculture was a “natural progression” beginning with her family operation. Sidwell said she also feels strongly about protecting agriculturalists and farmers, often participating in conversations about the Farm Bill because it impacts her family and her business. “I want to make sure agricultural producers have a safety net,” Sidwell said. Sidwell said people with agricultural

backgrounds should help educate those without ties to food production. “I’ve become passionate about educating people about where our food comes from,” she said. Early in her career she worked at Boeing in an accelerated management program. The Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources taught her a strong work ethic, allowing her to succeed outside of the agricultural industry, she said. “The best opportunities don’t come knocking on your door,” Sidwell said, “but they are endless.” Sidwell said her time at Boeing taught her lessons she continues to bring back to the agricultural industry. “I am extremely grateful and humbled to be from Oklahoma and to be a part of agriculture,” Sidwell said. by Caitlyn Minton

Casnr HOMECOMING Please join us for CASNR Homecoming, October 26, 2018, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event will include door prizes, giveaways, games and activities for kids. Hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn and other refreshments also will be provided. The CASNR Homecoming celebration will be held at the Charles and Linda Cline Equine Teaching Facility located at 2601 W. McElroy, just east of the Totusek

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

GET INVOLVED Membership in the OSU Alumni Association offers various benefits while also supporting the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources. A portion of all dues received from the OSU Alumni Association are returned to the college to support our alumni events and programming. Each year, the CASNR Alumni Board

of Directors coordinates and is involved with several events, including CASNR Roundup, CASNR Alumni Annual meeting and reception at Homecoming and the DASNR Access Tour. Stay connected to OSU and support our college by becoming a member at orangeconnection.org/join.


Pr e si d e nt Sti ll w ate r, O k l a h o m a At- l ar g e M e m b e r

Brandon Chandler V i ce Pr e si d e nt Str at f o r d , O k l a h o m a S o u t h e as t D i s tr i c t

Lewis Cunningham S e cr e t ar y Edmond, Oklahoma At- l ar g e M e m b e r

Karen Hick man

E xe cu ti ve S e cr e t ar y Sti ll w ate r, O k l a h o m a

Raylon E arls

Guymon, Oklahoma N o r t hwe s t D i s tr i c t

M e chelle Hampton Tu ls a , O k l a h o m a N o r t h e as t D i s tr i c t

Amb er McNeil

Elgin, Oklahoma S o u t hwe s t D i s tr i c t

Haley Nabors

E ni d , O k l a h o m a At- l ar g e M e m b e r

Rick Reimer

Cl a r e m o r e , O k l a h o m a N o r t h e as t D i s tr i c t

Charles Rohla

Ar d m o r e , O k l a h o m a S o u t h e as t D i s tr i c t

Travis Schnaithman G ar b e r, O k l a h o m a N o r t hwe s t D i s tr i c t

K irby Smith

O k l a h o m a Cit y S o u t hwe s t D i s tr i c t VOLUME 20 NUMBER 2 | 65

NURTURE. GROW. GIVE. REPEAT. to make better men

ALPHA GAMMA RHO www.osuagrs.com

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Cowboy Journal v20n2  

Cowboy Journal Volume 20, Number 2, Summer/Fall 2018, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Oklahoma State University

Cowboy Journal v20n2  

Cowboy Journal Volume 20, Number 2, Summer/Fall 2018, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Oklahoma State University


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