COWBOY OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Volume 21 Number 1 â€˘ Winter/Spring 2019
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33 Blame it All on His Roots
42 Pivotal Potential
Alumnus completes long-term service in BAE
Panhandle land donation creates opportunities for PaSS research
In Loving Memory Jackie Bauer
agricultural communications and animal science July 29, 1997 — September 18, 2018
natural resource ecology and management April 20, 1999 — October 5, 2018
Too soon gone; not forgotten 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 the taxpayers of Oklahoma.
54 Retaining the Red
AFS researchers combine pomegranate with ground beef
Jackson Mayberry | Kate Miller | Jera Pipkin
Dr. Shelly Peper Sitton
ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITORS
Samantha Blackwell | Dr. Dwayne Cartmell Dr. Ruth Inman | Dr. Angel Riggs Dr. Quisto Settle | Erica Summerfield
Annie Frische | Vanessa Wiebe
Mary Frost | Megan Trantham
Joy Hendrix | Katelin Spradley
Steven Baringer | Sierra Beauford Baylee Beck | Brett Budke Bethany Farmer | Stanley Gaffrey Colby Jane Hall | Karen Hiltbrand Emily Horton | Cheyenne Jones Tanner Lopez | Kinsey McDougald Anna Miller | Cassandra Robledo Cayley Strickland | Kassidy Weathers Kaila Williams | Emily Woodruff VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 5
16 Rebuilding the Brand 10 Warrior. Survivor. OSU Rodeo Team strives for Believer. growth in the program
32 Cooperative Cowboy
39 Travel with Purpose
34 Riding After a Dream
CASNR students explore two countries in one trip
58 Small Town. Big Goals.
AECL alumnus leads FFA chapter to success
21 Masters of Class
OSU Honors College adds to the Cowboy experience
71 Granting Food Safety Futures
Grant allows AFS students to pursue careers in food safety
USDA honors AFS faculty member
24 See S²
AECL professor earns national teaching award
52 Cultivating a Passion
NREM researcher helps improve soil fertility
Entomologist leads the charge against household pests
OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Volume 21 Number 1 • Winter/Spring 2019
Researchers use dehydrated pomegranate rind in a solution to lengthen ground beef’s shelf life. Photo by Katelin Spradley.
AGEC alumnus becomes chairman and CEO of Regent Bank
49 Serving with a Smile
AFS alumna makes impact at Blue Bell
69 Cowboys Like Us The Pfeiffer family makes OSU a tradition
73 Leaving a Blooming Legacy
ON THE COVER
MIAP alumnus pursues an education to change his life
46 From Regents Dinner to Regent Bank
64 Colonies & Infantries
6 | COWBOY JOURNAL
AECL alumnus fosters success through leadership programs
Two teachers win national awards
22 Making His Mark
61 Adding on Honors
AGEC professor and cancer survivor gives back
Alumna endows estate to The Botanic Garden at OSU
19 Smart Phone. Smart Farm.
14 Little Steps. Big Impact.
31 A Change for the Future
66 Into the Weeds
28 Evaluate at a Glance
37 Honoring Our Cowboys
DASNR improves agriculture one smartphone at a time
Weed Scientist uses hard work and passion to excel
78 Roasting Success
FAPC helps in-state company edge the competition
HORT/LA research aims to improve field surface hardness
Greenbug forecasting system gets an update
76 Midwest Migration
OSU makes effort to conserve monarch butterfly habitats
FROM THE EDITORS
“Welcome to the biggest group project of your life.” Shelly Sitton greets a new CJ staff the same way each semester. While we knew this would be a semester of hard work and tradition, we did not know how much we would celebrate and mourn together. This semester, 28 students brought together their unique contributions — writing, photography, design and so much more — to make one beautiful magazine. We are ever grateful for the chance to fit their talents together because none of us alone could have produced what you hold in your hands today.
To our relentless staff, thank you for the teamwork and patience. For all of us, this Journal is a stepping stone, just one puzzle piece, on the way to even bigger and even better things. To Melissa Mourer, Samantha Siler, Sara Honegger, Kelsey Conley, Holly Blakey and Jacob Sitton, thank you for your behind-the-scenes contributions. To Ruth Inman, Samantha Blackwell, Quisto Settle, Angel Riggs and Dwayne Cartmell, thank you for your help in producing this publication. Most of all, thank you for developing us throughout our time on the fourth floor of Ag Hall.
CASNR department adopts new formal name
Remembering the lives lost during the 2015 homecoming tragedy
56 Going Global
Oklahoma 4-H partners with an international exchange program
To Erica Summerfield, thank you for being our light and our focus. We could not have done this without you. To Shelly Sitton, our steadfast managing editor, thank you for knowing us so well, encouraging us, and pushing us to create a magazine we are proud to put forward as a showcase of CASNR. With much joy, we embraced the chance to make you an even bigger part of our issue. To you, the reader, welcome to a snapshot of a few of the people and activities going on inside the Cowboy Family. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have. — Jackson, Jera and Kate VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 7
Alumnus completes long-term service in BAE
uring the 1893 Cherokee Outlet Land Run, a small sod house was built in Aline, Oklahoma, by a family man ready to start a new life. Many years later, next to that sod house is where a young Wayne Kiner found his love and passion for machines and how they work. Kiner, biosystems and agricultural engineering lab manager and 1980 mechanized agriculture alumnus, is a self-proclaimed “original Okie” with deep roots not only in Oklahoma but also in the Oklahoma State University BAE department. “When I was growing up, my grandfather was a pipeline welder,” Kiner said. “He never got out of the eighth grade, but he has two patents.” Kiner spent many hours in his grandfather’s shop watching him design and build pieces of equipment — including his patented disc plow and pipeline pump. He said his decision to study mechanized agriculture came from his time in the shop all those years ago. “It’s kind of in the blood,” Kiner said. “He taught me a lot, and that’s how I got interested in mechanical stuff and being on the farm. It just fit me to come and be in some type of agricultural mechanics field.” In 1974, Kiner came to OSU as a BAE freshman. He soon started working at the BAE lab on campus. After graduation, he began his career working for Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. as a technician in the service department. 8 | COWBOY JOURNAL
When a job became available in the BAE lab in 1986, Kiner applied and returned to OSU. “My roots were grounded here,” Kiner said. “I knew what the place was about, and I liked the energy and fun of being around the students, not people whose stuff is broken all the time.” Kiner not only manages the lab but also does design work. “We have always had tremendous projects that have been cutting edge,” Kiner said. “Not only do we do projects for our department, but we do projects for the whole university. Everybody is doing different things, and it’s all interesting to see what’s happening. “The purpose of the BAE lab is to provide technical support, equipment, fabrication and research space for the department,” he said. Of all the jobs he does on a daily basis, the best part is working with the students, Kiner said. Randy Taylor, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service assistant director, has worked with Kiner on a multitude of projects and has seen this collaboration firsthand. “He has an enormous amount of patience,” Taylor said. “The time he’s been here and the student groups he’s been through — he’s about seen it all.” While student collaboration has dwindled some, Kiner said students keep him young and excited about the work they do. Students in the lab often work on
their own projects, but some work for Kiner to help maintain the lab, he said. Kade Shelton, a 2018 agricultural engineering alumnus, worked for Kiner in the lab and said he was always learning from Kiner. “He is one of the smartest and one of the best design guys in that department,” Shelton said. “He has the willingness to help everybody. His willingness to collaborate with all the departments on campus is one of his outstanding features.” Kiner said working with different departments across campus is something he is proud to do. The lab has been part of multiple projects to help with research, production and extension. “We may build little trinkets or educational materials for our extension guys,” Kiner said. “We’ve done multiple things like that for those folks.” Taylor said when he has needed things designed and built for extension presentations, Kiner is always willing to give his services. Taylor said he admires Kiner’s vast knowledge of the equipment and phenomenal design work. Part of the work done on faculty and student projects requires Kiner to design computerized models of the projects so technicians can build them. Shelton said Kiner is one of the most knowledgeable people in that area. “Kiner really taught me how to create engineering drawings just how you would need them to read,” Shelton said. “He helped me a lot with that.”
After 32 years dedicated to working at the BAE lab, Kiner has decided to retire in February 2019. The driving factor behind his decision was to spend more time with his family and enjoy his land, he said. Kiner and his wife, Jody, plan to visit their children and grandchildren, who live all over the world. Not one to brag on himself or his work, Kiner said one of the things he is proudest of during his time at OSU is how much the lab has grown. “When I started here, we were kind of limited on what we had,” Kiner said. “It’s probably not any work of mine, but we’ve increased our equipment and our ability to do things like fabrication. I give all the credit to the technicians on all the work done in the lab.” He also said while he is proud of all the work done in the lab, he hopes he has left a mark on at least one student in his time at OSU. “I’ve worked with some wonderful people over the years,” Kiner said. “Those are my memorable times, working with those folks. Projects come and go, but it is still the people who are most important.”
Wayne Kiner developed his mechanical interest because of his grandfather (in photo frame). Photo by Jackson Mayberry. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 9
AGEC professor and cancer survivor gives back chemo, I was getting red and white unshine always follows a storm, blood cell booster shots,” DeVuyst said. especially for Cheryl DeVuyst, a Doctors pronounced her cancer-free two-time cancer survivor. For her, in May 2006, DeVuyst said. having faith was the main priority to Four years later, a colleague’s passing overcome such an overwhelming battle, from melanoma left DeVuyst concerned she said. about her future, she said, because “The Monday before Thanksgiving in 2005 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s melanoma is a common risk to any Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient. lymphoma,” said Cheryl DeVuyst, agri“Being fair-skinned and being a cultural economics professor. Leading up to the diagnosis, DeVuyst Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, I knew my risk was higher than normal,” was cold and tired, she said, which she DeVuyst said. “Being aware of this, I assumed was normal since she and her noticed a spot on my chest that was abfamily were living in North Dakota. normal, so I scheduled an appointment Without knowing what was wrong, the to get it checked.” family assumed her illness was just a Following her biopsy, DeVuyst was sinus infection or strep throat, she said. diagnosed with melanoma. “My doctor had moved, so I hadn’t “After having the spot of melanoma had a regular doctor visit in a while removed, I was canbecause I was always She went through a battle that cer free again but the healthy one in the family,” DeVuyst she didn’t deserve to go through, had to follow up said. “So, I went to a but yet she has overcome that every six months to and serves others every day. check for abnormal walk-in clinic.” Tori Trimble spots on my body,” After sitting in agribusiness and marketing junior DeVuyst said. the walk-in clinic for After her diagnosis with cancer, she three hours while doctors ran multiple was a rock when others could not be, tests and scans, DeVuyst learned she said Eric DeVuyst, agricultural economhad Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she ics professor and Cheryl’s husband. said. After additional medical visits, she “Cheryl sees the positive in just started treatments. about every possible circumstance,” “I spent six months going through he said. “She has incredible faith, and chemotherapy, and when I wasn’t in 10 | COWBOY JOURNAL
when she was going through her cancer journey, she never doubted. And only two times did she cry. “Cheryl got through her journey with amazing cheer,” Eric DeVuyst said. The strengths Cheryl DeVuyst showed during this time reminded him of her parents, he added. “If we could go back and take the cancer from Cheryl so she never went through the things she did, as hard as it was for our daughter and myself to watch her go through it, as hard as it was for her to physically go through those things, we wouldn’t go back and change it,” he said. “It drew our family close to one another and, more importantly, close to God in the process.” After fighting cancer and surviving, Cheryl DeVuyst became a volunteer with Coaches vs. Cancer and has been involved with the organization for five years, Eric DeVuyst said. “What Cheryl is doing with Coaches vs. Cancer is beautiful,” Eric DeVuyst said. “Her love and compassion for those children in the program and their parents is amazing and is truly a ministry for her.” Watching his wife work passionately with students and the children involved with the Coaches vs. Cancer program is inspirational, Eric DeVuyst said.
Cheryl DeVuyst overcame melanoma and Hodgkinâ€™s lymphoma (represented by black and purple ribbons, respectively). Photo by Sierra Beauford. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 11
“Cheryl is a team player, always them, and I think Cheryl truly underwilling to pitch in where she is needed,” stands that.” said Kendria Cost, the OSU Coaches Cheryl DeVuyst relied on her faith vs. Cancer chairwoman. “Her strength to help her get through her diagnosis is that, as a cancer survivor herself, she because that time in someone’s life is understands the importance of not only scary, Cost said. finding a cure but also supporting peoThough battling cancer, Cheryl ple along the way.” DeVuyst continued teaching and servCheryl DeVuyst relates well to people ing her students. and is open about her journey, Cost “Originally, Cheryl was not my adsaid, and she relates to the cancer surviser, but after having her as a professor vivors in a different way than someone and speaking with her about my future, who has not faced she took me under She has incredible faith, and when that diagnosis. her wing, and I beshe was going through her cancer came her advisee,” “What most journey, she never doubted. people don’t said Tori Trimble, Eric DeVuyst understand is that agribusiness and AGEC professor when someone is marketing junior. diagnosed with cancer — and it doesn’t “Cheryl is well prepared to help every matter what age the person is — that time a student walks through her door,” diagnosis changes the entire family Trimble said. “She understands that real dynamic,” Cost said. life happens while we are students.” “Just because one person is diagnosed Cheryl DeVuyst knows students with the disease doesn’t mean that it have more happening outside of school, doesn’t impact everyone else related to and sometimes school is not the most
important thing affecting their lives, Trimble added. “Cheryl treats me like I am her only advisee, and I know that she has so many more,” Trimble said. “She really wants each student to be the best and most successful they can be.” By putting challenges behind her and accepting something difficult happened and moving forward, she inspires others to keep living their lives, Trimble said. “Cheryl is strong in her faith, and she trusts in that,” Trimble said. “She went through a battle she didn’t deserve to go through, but she has overcome that and serves others every day.”
Pig Farmers we care
12 | COWBOY JOURNAL
HORT/LA research aims to improve field surface hardness
he Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts were set to open the 2016 National Football League season at the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio, until the grounds crew deemed the turf at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium unplayable. This marked the first time an NFL preseason game was cancelled because of field conditions. “The field surface is the most important part of the game,” said Chrissie Segars, who earned her Oklahoma State University doctorate in crop science in 2017. “If we don’t have a safe playing surface, then the athletes are at risk and cannot play to their highest potential.” Segars worked with Justin Moss, horticulture and landscape architecture associate professor, to study field surface hardness and how improving field management practices can affect the overall hardness levels of football fields. 14 | COWBOY JOURNAL
Segars said she has always been interested in sports turf research and would like to get more involved in the surfaceto-player interactions in the future. Although a football field’s hardness plays a major part in the increasing number of player injuries, Segars said, athlete safety is not something fans tend to think about when attending a game. “As sports turf managers, safety is our biggest concern,” said Tim VanLoo, manager of athletic turf and grounds at Iowa State University. “Nobody shows up on a game day and thinks about how the fields were taken care of in preparation. They show up to watch the football game itself.” In the past few years, the NFL has increased the requirements related to field maintenance. These changes should result in safer playing surfaces and, in return, a lower number of player injuries, Segars said.
The researchers hope their efforts will improve athletes’ safety because the field’s health and maintenance plays a major role in the overall safety of the players, Moss said. “Everything we do on a day-to-day basis revolves around healthy fields,” said Todd Tribble, OSU athletic field superintendent. “Having healthy fields is how we try to make sure our athletes do not get hurt.” Segars said a field can be too hard or too soft. The softer fields are more likely to cause knee and ankle injuries while the harder fields are more likely to cause head injuries, she said. The research Segars conducted at OSU focused on field surface hardness data collected from two natural turf playing surfaces: ISU’s Jack Trice Stadium and the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
The OSU football team practices on natural and artificial turf fields. Natural, on the left, is less common in the Big 12. Photo by Kassidy Weathers.
The data was collected using a Clegg Impact Tester, Segars said. The test consists of dropping the tester’s 2.5-kilogram hammer from a specific height to determine the Gmax score of that particular location on the field. The Gmax score provides a numerical representation of the surface’s response to impact. Although a specific Gmax score range has not been determined as an appropriate level for any organization, the NFL requires specific actions to be taken to reduce field surface hardness if the Gmax score is higher than 100, she said. VanLoo collected the data for Segars’ research project before every football game at Jack Trice Stadium. VanLoo said collecting data always has been his favorite part of any research, so when Segars asked him if he would like to be involved in the research project, he did not hesitate.
VanLoo said he always will be willing to conduct research and help improve the turf industry. More research will help industry professionals make more improvements to their fields, he said. Segars and VanLoo both have unique perspectives on the turf industry. VanLoo referred to the industry as one of his passions in life. “You hear it said a lot, but if you show up and truly enjoy what you do, it never feels like work,” VanLoo said. “The industry is a major part of my life and my family’s life.” Segars has continued her work through another field safety research initiative, which is a portion of her role as an assistant professor of plant and soil science at the University of Tennessee at Martin. The initiative is a cooperative effort among faculty at UT Martin, ISU and Texas Tech University. The project
began in fall 2018 with plans to complete it in spring 2019, Segars said. Data will be taken on more than 50 competitive high school, collegiate and recreational fields, she said. Segars said she hopes researchers can show the need for further testing on all playing fields through this evaluation. “Eventually getting down to the root of player and surface interactions will change the game for the better,” Segars said. “Athletes can know researchers are doing their best to figure out the best way to cut down injury risk.”
Hinton, Oklahoma VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 15
OSU Rodeo Team strives for growth in the program
o great goal or dream was successful overnight, taking years of passion and determination to forge the path of progress toward success — including the development and branding of the Oklahoma State University Rodeo Team. Founded in 1946, the OSU Rodeo Team has provided students with an outlet to compete at the collegiate level in the sport of rodeo while gaining a high-quality education at a four-year institution, said Cody Hollingsworth, OSU Rodeo program coordinator and head coach. The rodeo program has not always been under structured leadership or had a clear direction, he said. “2012 was the first time the university ever hired a coach to manage the program,” Hollingsworth said. “When I started, rodeo at OSU was a student organization with a volunteer adviser.” As the program’s first official head coach, Hollingsworth had the goal to provide structure and support for the team, he said. The lack of organization and funding before his arrival made it difficult to find livestock to practice with or proper facilities to meet in, Hollingsworth said. 16 | COWBOY JOURNAL
“I wanted to provide some structure and depth to the program,” he said, “allowing us to have sustained success as we represent the university.” Hollingsworth has worked with the associate and assistant deans of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources to establish guidelines for the program and build a functional team facility, he said. “We have received a great deal of support from the university,” Hollingsworth said. “The support from CASNR administration has been tremendous in helping me and allowing me to establish the framework for the rodeo program.” This support has given the program the opportunity to provide more scholarships to rodeo team members, he said. “The struggle now is getting out and selling our story,” he said. “We have the opportunity to help students with scholarship money, so now we can go out and find students who are a good fit for our university and our program.” Cowboy Stampede, which began in 2014, is the annual rodeo hosted by the OSU Rodeo Team. In just four years, the rodeo has added to the program’s success, he said.
Cowboy Stampede was voted the best rodeo in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Central Plains Region in the fall of 2017. With the team’s history, a need existed to show the community the program is bringing in quality students, he said. Cowboy Stampede has given the team the opportunity to introduce those individuals, he added. “Bringing back the Cowboy Stampede was a tremendous move for us,” Hollingsworth said. “It gave us the opportunity to showcase the type of people we have in the program to not only the university but also the Stillwater community.” The increased positive visibility of the program and the skills students gain by hosting the Cowboy Stampede are invaluable, said Cynda Clary, CASNR associate dean of academic programs. “It is giving students practice in learning by doing,” Clary said. “It is practice in being a part of a large event, and it is something they should be very proud of.” Cowboy Stampede gives community members the opportunity to be involved in the rodeo program and gives the team a platform to advocate for the sport of
Rodeo Team member Kenna McNeill watches teammates at the 2018 Cowboy Stampede. Photo By Ashley Hanson. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 17
rodeo, said Brittany Perron, OSU rodeo team past-president. “The Cowboy Stampede has been a tremendous addition for outside parties to get involved with the program,” Perron said. “The rodeo recognizes university officials, allows local businesses to advertise, and brings alumni back to become involved with their alma mater.” Perron said she believes the Cowboy Stampede is a testament to the team’s current support and its growing success. “Students should understand how far this program has come in just six short years,” Perron said. “They should understand it will continue to grow to accommodate anyone’s needs, interests and disciplines.” Being part of this team while studying at OSU is a privilege because the program is well supported, Perron said. “We have now been able to offer
the best of both worlds for students,” Hollingsworth said. “I recruit for students who really value the type of education offered here at OSU.” The updated facilities and scholarship opportunities along with the education students gain at OSU has helped in selling the team’s success to prospective students, Hollingsworth said. “Students can now come be a part of a program, not just a club,” Clary said. “The program is purposeful about its goals and objectives, its support of students, and really making the connection to academic success.” The rodeo program is now one of the programs CASNR administration and faculty use in the student recruitment process, Clary said. “The program is part of what we communicate when we do regular recruiting as a college,” Clary said. “It has
allowed us to shift and share the message that the program is about getting a great education and getting to be a part of something you are passionate about.” As the rodeo program moves forward, the goal is to attract the best students who seek a high-quality education while wanting to be competitive on the college rodeo circuit, she said. “We need to clearly keep moving forward and continue to think bigger,” Clary said. “We need to attract students — from both Oklahoma and around the country — who are strong rodeo athletes and students.”
Rodeo Team member Spencer Bramble heels a steer during a team roping run at the 2018 Cowboy Stampede. Photo By Gary Lawson. 18 | COWBOY JOURNAL
DASNR improves agriculture one smartphone at a time echanical rumbles, swishing crops and livestock murmurs are all predictable sounds in the world of agriculture. But today, the beep and chime of a smartphone might be just as familiar on a farm as on a busy city street. Oklahoma State University is a leading institution for mobile application development in agriculture and natural resources, said Brian Arnall, plant and soil sciences associate professor and an early supporter of app development in the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The extension branch of the landgrant mission has always been in a prime position to move into mobile app technology, Arnall said.
“Fact sheets are so easily turned into applications,” he said. “So are the decision-aid programs our agricultural economists have. Extension is really set to take advantage of it.” He said the beginnings of the app development program in DASNR started in 2013, when agricultural leaders at professional conferences voiced a desire for more of these tools. These technologies appeal to every generation, he added. “When you go to an Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service meeting where the average age of the client is maybe 70 or 75 and ask everyone who has a smartphone to hold it up, they all have them,” Arnall said. In 2014, about 40 free agricultural
apps were available, he said. Today, more than 320 apps are available for monitoring and managing cereal and fiber crops alone, Arnall added. “For DASNR, it started with a recognition that we have more of our clients who are using hand-held devices, tablets or smartphones with their combines or in a greenhouse, and they’re looking for information,” said Dwayne Hunter, DASNR information technology manager. Farmers, hunters, gardeners and researchers already use mobile apps in other areas of life, Hunter said, so DASNR administration chose to focus on sharing agricultural information in this accessible format. “If you’re interested in soil
Apps provide an everyday tool for farmers, ranchers and outdoorsmen to make decisions with up-to-date information. Photo by Kate Miller. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 19
parameters or what variety of crop you want to sow, we have a lot of decision-aid apps that will help you do that,” Hunter said. DASNR has produced more than 30 apps ranging from input calculators and crop production measurement tools to research aids and agricultural economics learning games, Hunter said. “We’re in the digital age in agriculture,” said Randy Taylor, OCES assistant director. “We have the ability to collect more data than we can even process mentally.” Taylor said in his role as OCES program leader for agricultural, natural resources and community economic development programs, he tries to ensure faculty members have the resources to be successful. “The faculty have the application ideas, but they’re not programmers,” Taylor said. In the past, faculty wishing to bridge the gap between idea and complete application had to find outside resources for funding and off-site application programmers, Hunter said. However, funding can be found through a variety of grant programs as well as checkoff programs and researchers who need more information on a specific topic, Arnall said. When Arnall started developing apps, he sought help from computer science master’s students, he said. “What I found is I can bring students
on and give them assistantships,” Arnall contact information about human resaid. “They get their tuition waived, and sources, such as state specialists, faculty I have them build apps for me.” or county extension educators, to proRelying on student employees results vide more information,” Hunter said. in high-quality work because they are He said this information is a way of learning the most current practices, bringing attention to new research. Arnall said, but the high rate of pro“We have a product that has our grammer turnover logo on it, and it We have the ability to collect has science behind can be unsustainable. more data than we can even Jaya Nagaboyina, it,” Hunter said. process mentally. mobile application “The application Randy Taylor developer, was hired will maybe pique OCES assistant director by DASNR IT in someone’s curiosity August 2018 as a full-time programmer about what else DASNR has to offer or for both Apple and Android systems. additional resources related to whatever “I collect requirements from faculthey’re interested in.” ty and create an app that meets those The demand for innovation and uprequirements,” Nagaboyina said. dates is expected to increase, he added. Her role also includes assisting stuThis popularity is why putting resources dent programmers with problems they toward mobile app development is so encounter and facilitating a smooth important, Hunter said. transition when programmers cycle “We know apps are a way of doing through, she said. business,” Taylor said. “Using a cell “If we have a full-time person and we phone with apps is really important to can get her to stay, she understands how that generation and to that group of an app was developed and understands people. We try to have relevant apps the mechanics behind it,” Hunter said. that help them be a part of something. “This will help us with sustaining the It makes it easy.” For a related story, read the article on application development, not only creating new ones but also updating the ones page 28. we have out on the market.” This ability to update applications ensures producers have the most upto-date science available, even when it changes over time, Hunter said. “In each app, we normally link to KATE MILLER Owasso, Oklahoma relevant fact sheets and try to provide
CONGRATULATIONS, CASNR TOP 10 FRESHMEN Jacob Auer
BAE South Coffeyville, Oklahoma
AGBU Westmoreland, Kansas
AGCM Woodland, California
AGBU South Coffeyville, Oklahoma
ANSI Edmond, Oklahoma
ANSI Alva, Oklahoma
PASS & AGBU Altus, Oklahoma
AGBU Newkirk, Oklahoma
NREM McKinney, Texas 20 | COWBOY JOURNAL
BIMB Welch, Oklahoma
AGCM Garber, Oklahoma
AGBU Hooker, Oklahoma
Masters of Class Two teachers win national awards
Universities receive a plaque shaped like the U.S. to showcase the institution’s national and regional award winners. Photo by Jackson Mayberry.
n 1992, the U.S. Department of Agriculture partnered with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to present national awards honoring excellent teaching at colleges and universities. The USDA gives four national awards and eight regional awards. This year, two College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources faculty members received these awards. Ranjith Ramanathan won a New Teacher Award, and Shelly Sitton won a Teaching and Student Engagement Award. “To win an award is a pretty big feather in the winner’s cap,” said Wendy Fink, APLU Board on Agricultural Assembly academic programs executive director. “It really is something to be chosen out of a vast swath of people to be nominated and then to actually win.” The New Teacher Award was created in 2005 to honor two faculty members annually who have no more than seven years of experience in higher education and research. “What makes new teachers unique is they have barely gotten their doctorates, and they’ve moved into this role,” Fink said. “They may have been hired to do a lot of research, and at the same time, they’re learning how to teach.”
The award does not denote a specific percentage for teaching and research appointments. However, the review committee analyzes teaching strategies, research success and other innovative factors, Fink said. “When you read through these application packets, honestly, you wonder how they manage to sleep,” Fink said. “Some of these folks are achieving well beyond what anyone would probably expect of them.” Created in 2018, the Teaching and Student Engagement Award recognizes faculty members who have a 75 percent or more teaching appointment because teaching at land-grant universities has evolved, Fink said. “This national award was created for fantastic teachers who don’t fall into the other categories because they spend less time on research,” Fink said. The review committee members look for applicants who demonstrate meritorious teaching and service to students, she said. “Meritorious teaching means people who are amazing,” Fink said. The service component includes student advising and mentoring as well as sponsorship of student organizations and competitive teams.
These national awards signify the winners’ peers recognize their work as high quality, said Cynda Clary, CASNR associate dean of academic programs. The USDA, a key partner for Oklahoma State University in agricultural extension, research and education, is honoring those involved in that partnership, said Thomas Coon, Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources vice president. “The USDA gives out awards to recognize exceptional professors who have been involved in teaching as well as in extension and research,” Coon said. National award winners receive a personalized U.S.-shaped plaque, a marble apple with a golden stem and a stipend to benefit their programs, Fink said. With its two most recent recipients, OSU now has 10 USDA national and regional teaching award winners, making the university tied for fifth in the national count. “The two winning faculty members are committed to the CASNR family,” Clary said. “Dr. Ramanathan and Dr. Sitton embody CASNR’s culture of excellence and commitment to students. We are proud to have them here.” — Jackson Mayberry and Jera Pipkin VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 21
USDA honors AFS faculty member
Ranjith Ramanathan adapts his classroom to the needs of his students, encouraging student success. Photo by Jera Pipkin.
rom the southern region of India to the red dirt of Oklahoma, Ranjith Ramanathan, animal and food sciences associate professor, has charted his course in the classroom. Cultivating inspiration into a career has allowed him to make a difference in students’ lives across the globe, he said. “He is having an impact,” said Clint Rusk, head of the Oklahoma State University Department of Animal and Food Sciences. “He’s not just teaching and getting a paycheck for doing it. He’s touching people’s lives and helping them find their niche.” Ramanathan, who is known across the OSU campus as “Dr. Ram,” received a Bachelor of Science in veterinary and animal science from Kerala Agricultural University in India, then pursued his Master of Science and Doctor 22 | COWBOY JOURNAL
of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut. Six years ago, he made his way to Stillwater to begin his collegiate teaching journey. “I think Dr. Ram shows people another side of what education can be,” said Deborah VanOverbeke, assistant dean of academic programs for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. To start teaching without prior experience was a “big challenge,” Ramanathan said. He relied on countless mentors, educational courses and university opportunities to perform his best in the classroom, he said. At the University of Connecticut, Ramanathan watched from the sidelines, observing his colleagues’ teaching strategies and admiring the hard work they put into their profession, he said.
Richard Mancini, UConn meat science associate professor, and Cameron Faustman, interim dean of the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, showed Ramanathan how to teach complex topics with the utmost simplicity, he said. “A lot of people inspired me,” Ramanathan said. “So, why I’m here today is purely due to the fact I was really fortunate to meet a lot of really good people.” Courses throughout his higher degrees also provided insight into valuable teaching methods, Ramanathan said. From guest speakers to learning opportunities and preparation techniques, Ramanathan’s courses were one of the turning points that led him into pursuing teaching in higher education as a career, he added.
Also, learning and using technology has helped him connect with a broader audience and provide students with integral resources, Ramanathan said. “It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s all about the students. Everyone has some good educational ideas, so I combined them. That way, I can make a change.” Ramanathan’s teaching influence extends into five OSU classes on a rotating schedule, including Fundamentals of Food Science, Food Chemistry I, Food Chemistry II, Analysis of Food Products and Advanced Meat Science. “It’s a challenge to teach all my classes because it’s the same person teaching,” Ramanathan said. “I try to be different in each one because in freshman-level classes I can have 16 different majors from freshmen to seniors.” Being adaptable to the diversity of students allows them to stay engaged, he said. By incorporating valuable research findings, hands-on methodology and interactive activities with peers into the daily classroom model, students learn more, Ramanathan said. “The neatest thing I’ve seen Dr. Ram do is grow in his link to students,” VanOverbeke said. “When you see how his class has changed in terms of student interaction, it has been pretty phenomenal. He will go out of his way to help students succeed in the classroom.” Using in-class demonstrations are one way Ramanathan works to connect students together, regardless of their different backgrounds, he said. The complex topics he teaches, like protein denaturation and structure, are better understood with hands-on learning models, Ramanathan added. “To show protein denaturation, I will bring an egg white into class, add some ethanol and you can see the colors change,” he said. “I can also 3D print protein structures, so if I give students those templates they can understand with ease.” Allowing students to engage with each other is important to the teaching process, especially with students’ diverse backgrounds, Ramanathan said.
Incorporating opportunities for stuIn six years, Ramanathan has pubdents to learn from each other helps lished 47 peer-reviewed journal articles, Ramanathan teach better, he said. 72 refereed abstracts and four full-paper “Student learning means I can teach, conference proceedings. He also has sebut you learn better when you talk with cured $1.4 million from federal agencies your friend because you have the same for research. language,” Ramanathan said. “I try my very best not to comproIncorporating mise,” Ramanathan It’s not about me. It’s all about said. “Some days I activities such as the students. icebreakers and sleep two or three Ranjith Ramanathan interviewing each hours. Trying to AFS associate professor other allows him balance teaching and to include this style of learning, he said. research is an immense challenge.” But for Ramanathan, good is not Ramanathan’s commitment to always good enough, he said. Rusk said excellence in teaching and research Ramanathan works to improve his skills has decorated him as one of two U.S. and learn more about his teaching from Department of Agriculture New Teacher his students, showing how much he Award national winners for 2018. cares about them. Whether he is showing students the “Dr. Ram doesn’t wait until the last importance of food science, inspiring week of the semester to do course evalthem to become educators and reuations,” Rusk said. “He starts doing searchers, or influencing other faculty, course evaluations the first week of Ramanathan’s persistence has guided class, which is highly unusual. He not many, Rusk said. only does them. He listens to them.” “I have never met a man who cares Ramanathan takes the information more about his students and his profesand works to improve the next class sion,” said Markel Harris, agricultural period, Rusk said. leadership senior. VanOverbeke said Ramanathan VanOverbeke said Ramanathan’s adapts to student needs, changing humble nature, pay-it-forward mindset, assignments to fit specific strengths. and dedication to improving himself “He’s one you see at every teaching and his students has made a lasting workshop, unless he’s out of town,” impact on OSU. VanOverbeke said. “He puts a priority “He looks at it from a standpoint on professional development to better of it’s everyone’s award,” VanOverbeke himself in the classroom for students, said, “because without professional and not everybody does that.” development and having colleagues Teaching is not Ramanathan’s to bounce ideas off of, he wouldn’t be only role at OSU. With a 60 percent where he is today.” teaching appointment and 40 percent Ramanathan said he is humbled and research appointment, he finds unique thankful for those who have made a ways to balance and incorporate his redifference in his life. search into his food science classrooms, “I want someone to understand VanOverbeke said. — do your best and care about others,” Ramanathan’s research is centered Ramanathan said. “You can make a around improving beef quality and positive change.” lasting color freshness. He uses new research findings to demonstrate the importance of food science principles to students, he said. Using pictures, animations and video clips helps him convey the ideas in simple ways that JERA PIPKIN Republic, Missouri help students, Ramanathan said. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 23
AECL professor earns national teaching award Sitton plans and verbalizes her lestudents enter 404 Agricultural sons as she teaches so students can see Hall in groups, chatting as they and hear the processes happening inside make their way to wheeled chairs her head, Summerfield said. colored in America’s Brightest Orange. “I don’t pre-think or have graphics Some swivel to work on shiny, silver computers while others continue talking going in,” Sitton said. “It takes longer, but I start from scratch, too. Students as they organize their notes. do not see the mental hoops I go “Hello, friends!” Shelly Peper Sitton through if everything is too prepped.” says as she enters the room with a smile However, sometimes not every examaccompanying her joyful greeting. ple goes well, Summerfield said. “I feel like I’m home when I walk “I struggle, too,” Sitton said. “When into the computer lab,” said Sitton, I began I was a perfectionist, but age Oklahoma State University agriculturhas a way of helping you understand al communications professor. “It is an you don’t have to be perfect. extension of my office. “Owning my own mistakes helps “We go there to get work done, and others see they can make mistakes, too,” the learning happens while we’re workshe said. ing,” she said. Sitton teaches differently than other She walks to the front of the room professors, said McKenna Knight, and opens an Adobe Illustrator docagricultural communications and agriument on the projector screen. She business junior. Sitton gives students begins designing a logo, explaining the an opportunity to learn the design proprocess as she goes. cess for themselves, she said. “Shelly is a teach-by-doing kind While working of person,” My mom taught me to love people just on the finishsaid Erica like they were my own family members. ing touches of a Summerfield, Shelly Sitton design project, Sitton’s gradAECL professor Knight said she uate teaching was frustrated when Sitton suggested assistant and agricultural communicaextra changes. tions master’s student. “When Shelly “Shelly told me and the whole class and I walk into class, we know what we she wants us to want to get more out of are teaching about but don’t have an the class than just an A on a project,” exact plan.” Knight said. Sitton teaches layout and design, Knowing someone is helping stufeature writing and editing, and the prodents beyond their grades is comforting, gram’s capstone course, which produces Knight said. the Cowboy Journal. 24 | COWBOY JOURNAL
“Shelly expects a lot from you, and she lets you know it,” Summerfield said. “But, she will not leave you hanging.” Whether for a design or writing piece, Sitton takes time to give individual feedback to each student, Summerfield said. Students understand her input matters, she added. “It all comes back to relationships,” Sitton said. “I am tough and have high expectations because the world does, and I want students to be prepared for the real world.” Sitton works hard to build relationships with students so she can challenge them to think critically about their work and the creative process, said Dwayne Cartmell, agricultural communications professor and Master of International Agriculture Program assistant director. “Many students talk about being bad at layout and design,” Cartmell said. “But, they really are good and just need to be challenged.” Deep relationships make it possible to challenge students and help them be well-equipped, Sitton said. “I get in the trenches with these kids,” Sitton said. “The graduate teaching assistants and I are side by side with them even when it means extra time.” Sitton knows students outside of the classroom, too, Summerfield said. The lines between her work hours and her office hours are blurry because of the flood of students waiting to see her, Summerfield said.
While editing, Shelly Sitton writes “See S²� when she needs to meet with a student. Sitton has been part of AGCM’s growth from 24 students to one of the largest and best programs in the nation. Photo by Jackson Mayberry.
“It doesn’t matter if she has a million things to do,” Knight said. “When students ask for help, she is always willing to help.” Many students come to Sitton seeking advice about topics inside and outside the classroom, Knight said. People look up to Sitton and value her opinion, she added. “An open door makes for great relationships,” Sitton said. “That is why it stays open.” The agricultural communications faculty members work hard to make all the students feel like “our kids,” Sitton said. Students need to know they are valued and loved, she said.
Hugs and words of encouragement are some of the ways Sitton tells students she cares about them, she said. “My mom taught me to love people just like they were my own family members,” Sitton said. “The greatest compliment I have received was being told I am like her.” While growing up on her family’s cattle ranch, Sitton saw her mom show compassion to everyone, said Trent Peper, Sitton’s brother and Peper Patch Farms co-operator. “She gets it from our family and the people we call family,” Peper said. “Shelly picked up our mom’s attitude of ‘if you’re in my house, you are family.’”
Life is about building relationships, Sitton said. As a student adviser and teacher of the capstone course, she sees many of “her kids” during their first and last days on campus, she said. “Not every student is the same, and not all are good at the same things,” Sitton said. “I try to help individuals get where they want to be.” To recognize her impact during the past 27 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture presented Sitton with the National Award for Excellence in Teaching and Student Engagement. “The USDA identified Dr. Sitton as one of the preeminent instructors teaching agricultural students in the VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 25
country,” said Thomas Coon, Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources vice president. The USDA created this award to recognize exceptional teaching by someone who has a majority teaching appointment, said Cynda Clary, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources associate dean of academic programs. Sitton received this award because of her long-standing impact on her students and her profession, Clary added. “What isn’t shown on Shelly’s course list is the time she spends being available to students,” Clary said. The award recognizes professors excelling in and out of the classroom, Clary said. Sitton embodies this with excellence and passion, Clary added “It is overwhelming,” Sitton said. “I was in shock when I found out because I didn’t think there was a chance. The first thing I did was call my son, Jacob, because he and his brother, Matt, have
had to share me with several thousand students to let me do what I do.” Sitton said when she found out, she felt humbled more than anything. “This award isn’t about me,” Sitton said. “This award is about the program. Faculty and students support each other, and that makes all of this possible.” Sitton is focused on students and making the students and program look good, Summerfield said. When they succeed, she feels like she has succeeded, Summerfield added. Shelly Sitton demands the best because she cares about people, said Jacob Sitton, Shelly Sitton’s son and 2018 agricultural communications alumnus. She sees people’s potential and does all she can to get them there, he added. “She didn’t treat me any differently,” Jacob Sitton said. “Anything she did for me, I know she would and does do for all students.” Shelly Sitton also works hard to create a family atmosphere, which brings
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people in and keeps them here, Jacob Sitton said. “I guess I have a couple thousand siblings because the students who have gone through the program are all Mom’s kids,” Jacob Sitton said. Since starting in 1992, Shelly Sitton said her years at OSU have not felt like work because she loves what she does. “It’s been a dream come true,” Shelly Sitton said. “It took my breath away when I found out I got this job, and I still get chills thinking about it.” Shelly Sitton said being hired at OSU is a “God-thing.” “CASNR and OSU are my home,” Shelly Sitton said. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
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Tom Royer uses the Glance ’n Go cellphone app to determine if a wheat field needs to be treated for greenbugs. Photo by Elizabeth Jones. 28 | COWBOY JOURNAL
very year, farmers can endure multiple economic setbacks before harvesting their crops. But what if wheat farmers could make better financial decisions? What if a system could help farmers decide if they needed to treat a field for pests? The Oklahoma State University Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology has made these “what ifs” possible. Greenbugs, which are a type of aphid, are a common pest in winter wheat. The small creatures feed on the juices in wheat plants, causing visible damage and economic hardship, said Tom Royer, entomology and plant pathology professor and integrated pest management coordinator. “Greenbugs reduce yield and the health of the plant,” Royer said. “Sometimes they cause winter kill. The plants become too weak and cannot tolerate the winter.” Crop consultants, extension personnel and wheat producers attempt to manage greenbugs with minimal economic loss, Royer said. Royer said when he started at OSU, he noticed an abundance of greenbugs in wheat. He wanted to create a tool to help farmers know when and how much insecticide to apply, he said. This tool, or forecasting system, can help farmers make financial decisions based on realistic goals and crop values, Royer said. “Forecasting systems are important to help producers make decisions about
Greenbug forecasting system gets an update how to manage their crops and their farms,” Royer said. “With increasing farm sizes, we want to help farmers manage their operations.” The team members who created the first and only greenbug forecasting system, called Glance ’n Go, were Royer; Kris Giles, entomology and plant pathology Regents professor; Norm Elliott, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service employee; Dean Kindler, retired USDA ARS employee; Douglas Jones, Bayer Crop Science market development representative; and David Waits, former SST Software board chairman. Glance ’n Go was designed as a reusable card to fit in a back pocket, Royer said. Farmers were able to use the system for the first time in 2002. The team began their research by determining what the yield relationship to greenbugs is, he said. “We were literally counting every aphid we found in the beginning,” Royer said. “We were looking for that relationship between percent infested and actual number.” Data collection for the system’s baselines took about seven years and meant viewing every wheat leaf, or tiller, from more than 100 fields before Glance ’n Go was completed, he said. Royer said he recommends wheat producers stop every 30 feet and look at three tillers while crop scouting. The size of the field determines how many stops producers should make, he added.
After inputting the number of infestproducers have to connect to the intered tillers, producers can determine if net or they cannot use it, Royer said. treatment is needed. If the data is incluAs a result, the team decided to sive at the end of sampling, producers create an app, which will not need the need to come back in two to six days to internet to use. take more samples, Royer said. “We want it to be a self-contained The greenbug population may be application that will work all the time, changing, Royer said. every time,” Royer said. Glance ’n Go was one of the first Brian Arnall, plant and soil sciencforecasting systems to incorporate the es associate professor, coordinated the activity of the natural enemy in the app’s development. treatment decision, Royer said. “Dr. Royer came to me and asked For example, the parasitic wasp is an what it would take to turn Glance ’n Go aggressive natural enemy of greenbugs, into an app,” Arnall said. Royer said. They lay eggs inside the Arnall said he got involved with the greenbug. When project when they With increasing farm sizes, we started talking about the eggs hatch, want to help farmers manage applying for a grant. the larvae feed on their operations. the inside of the When the grant was Tom Royer greenbug, causing funded, Arnall hired ENTO/PLP professor and it to turn into a Yash Tiwari to develintegrated pest management coordinator mummy, he said. op the app. Tiwari, If producers check 15 tillers and find OSU management information systems four or more mummies, treatment is master’s student, began developing the unnecessary, he said. Glance ’n Go app in June. “The natural enemies are going to Creating a more convenient user take care of that aphid population,” experience is the goal for the Glance ’n Royer said. Go app, Tiwari said. If an aphid is stung, the larvae feed “The app is much more user-friendon it, slowing down its reproduction. ly,” Tiwari said. “Farmers can use this in The larvae pop out of the aphid after the fields.” they are fully developed, killing the Farmers only need to say how often aphid, Royer said. greenbugs are present, Royer said. Then, As technology evolved, so did Glance the app will tell the farmer if treatment ’n Go. In 2012, it turned into an online is necessary. system in collaboration with Kansas The Glance ’n Go app is available for State University and the USDA. all Apple and Android products. The online system works well, but “Part of agricultural efficiencies is VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 29
WHAT IS A GREENBUG?
A close-up look of a colony of greenbugs under a microscope. Photo by Richard Grantham.
having good data to make sound decisions,” Arnall said. “Having an app like Glance ’n Go allows you to put new information in and get timely information back out.” Glance ’n Go makes insecticide treatment decisions easier for wheat farmers, Arnall said. The app helps them decide if their decisions make economic sense, he said, which also can be more beneficial for the environment. “The Glance ’n Go app helps the
environment in saying we’re only going to spray when we’re above an economic threshold and need to,” Arnall said. “We’re helping eliminate unnecessary insecticide spraying.”
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The greenbug was officially identified as a U.S. pest in 1882, said Tom Royer, Oklahoma State University entomology and plant pathology professor and integrated pest management coordinator. “They are small, soft-bodied insects that have a needle-like mouth part they plug into a plant and suck plant juices,” Royer said. Greenbugs cause visible damage as yellow or orange spots with a dark, necrotic lesion in the center. With a lifespan of a few weeks, greenbugs are all females and give birth to live young, Royer said. “They can grow from nymph to adult in seven to 10 days,” Royer said. “One female can produce up to 35 young during her life.”
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Above left: OSU food science students conduct research on beet boba. Photo by Elizabeth Jones. Above center: The original OSU Beef Barn was located where the University Health Services Center sits now. Photo courtesy of OSU Agricultural Communications Services. Above right: The OSU Sheep and Goat Center’s flock includes boer goats. Photo by Kinsey McDougald.
A Change for the Future CASNR department adopts new formal name
n Dec. 14, 1891, students attended the first classes offered by the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. During the next 16 years, the College of Agriculture included two departments: agriculture and horticulture. “During the next 60 years, the agricultural department went through a series of changes that resulted in splitting the department into more narrow disciplines,” said Clint Rusk, animal and food sciences department head. Between 1891 and 2018, Rusk’s department has been reorganized and renamed six times. On Feb. 9, 2018, he proposed an official name change of the department to the Oklahoma State University Department of Animal and Food Sciences. “As a department, we have been wanting to grow the food science major,” Rusk said. “Putting food science in the department name helps incoming students find us.” Once the idea was proposed to Thomas Coon, Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources vice president, the department sent a survey about the potential change.
“A brief questionnaire was developed for faculty, staff, students and alumni to provide feedback,” Rusk said. The survey was distributed to those who could be reached via email. It also was shared on departmental social media platforms for alumni to access, Rusk said. “We received roughly 1,000 responses that were mostly positive,” said Gretchen Mafi, animal and food sciences professor. The name change process was thorough, Coon said. All faculty members had a voice and voted on the proposed name change. Once the change was proposed, the process was finalized within five months, Coon added. “The food science major currently offers four undergraduate options, which are industry, meat, safety and science,” Rusk said. “Career opportunities in food science continue to increase, creating demand for more food science majors. This change better markets food science and the food scientists within the department.” Coon said including food science in the name is an important change and he
wants people to understand the department’s faculty made this decision. “Adding food science into the department name makes a lot of sense for the department,” Mafi said. The name officially changed July 1, 2018, to the OSU Department of Animal and Food Sciences. The goal of the name change is to help grow the food science program, Mafi said. If changing the name helps in a positive way, then the change was the right thing to do, she added. “I believe this will help recruit freshmen to our program and show we are here and growing,” said Jessie Payne, food science senior. “Everyone in food science is excited about this change,” Payne said. “I remember when it was proposed and everyone was talking about it. Now, it has become a reality.”
Friant, California VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 31
AECL alumnus fosters success through leadership programs leadership and what the implications hriving on a passion for ruwere for his professional work life,” ral Oklahoma, RJ Gray uses Weeks said. his position at the Oklahoma Upon graduation, Gray accepted his Agricultural Cooperative Council to first job as OACC executive director. connect a generation of agriculturalists He enjoyed it from the beginning and to the industry that gave him his start. now has a passion for OACC, he said. Gray grew up 18 miles southeast of “Co-ops represent a large portion Stillwater in the small town of Ripley, of Oklahoma agriculture,” Gray said. Oklahoma, where he dreamed of be“I was able to see what coming an Oklahoma I love the culture of the the organization could State University cooperative system and be. I work with people Cowboy, he said. For rural Oklahoma. who have a vision for his first two years of RJ Gray the future of cooperacollege, Gray attended OACC executive director tives, agriculture and Northern Oklahoma Oklahoma,” he said. College in Tonkawa. He transferred to OACC’s mission is to enhance the OSU, which led to a bachelor’s degree public’s understanding of cooperatives in agricultural leadership in 2005. and advance their development. “The leadership theory found in the Gray said he took the mission to agricultural leadership program inheart early, striving to create new protrigued me,” Gray said. grams for current and future employees, Gray said he was a typical college board members and members. student until he served as the CASNR Cooperatives are unique because they Agricultural Legislative Intern before are owned and controlled by the memhis senior year at OSU. The internship bers, he said. Therefore, farmers own helped him realize the importance of the company while also governing it. the education he was receiving, he said. “Co-ops stick around in rural “I remember having RJ in class after Oklahoma to provide services to rural he finished his internship,” said Penny Weeks, agricultural leadership professor. communities while the larger companies typically do not when times get tough,” “RJ was so excited about school during Gray said. that semester because he saw real-world Often the largest employers in their applications to what he was studying in community, many cooperatives typically the classroom. provide the area’s largest payroll and “He was eager about studying 32 | COWBOY JOURNAL
offer great benefits in those rural communities, Gray said. “I love the culture of the cooperative system and rural Oklahoma,” Gray said. “I get to work at OACC alongside farmers who feed the world day in and day out. Those farmers then serve on community boards tirelessly with not many thanks.” During Gray’s time at OACC, he has created fundamental and specialized board development programs, out-ofthe-box employee leadership training, and an internship program for college students to educate them about the cooperative system, he said. Early in Gray’s career, he wanted to show young people they have the ability to live and have a career in rural Oklahoma by providing exposure to different areas of the cooperative model, he said. “My idea was to bridge the gap between the older and younger generations in hopes to attract more people to the cooperative system,” Gray said. With the help of the OACC Board of Directors, Weeks, co-op managers and key stakeholders, Gray developed an OACC internship program for students interested in what the co-op system is and does, Gray said. Three areas inspired the internship program: increase exposure to the different areas of the co-op, show
INTERESTED IN AN OACC SUMMER INTERNSHIP?
As a part of his job, RJ Gray helps co-op managers reach success. Photo by Megan Trantham.
young people they can work in rural Oklahoma, and show co-ops have a huge impact, he said. “The OACC’s internship program allowed the co-ops to do something together that they could not do on their own,” Gray added. Weeks supervises students’ internships through the agricultural leadership program. Therefore, she provided feedback on experiences as well as obstacles, she said. In addition, Weeks helped OACC create structure for its internship program, such as competitive salary, leadership development opportunities and overall experiences, she said. “RJ is great at recruiting the next generation of co-op employees,” said Samantha Siler, former OACC director of education. “The internship provides more than a summer job to students. They are exposed to the co-op model and are able to see how they can fit in as future leaders in their communities.” Gray said farmers have different expectations of a co-op leader. In response, OACC offers various leadership opportunities to board members as well as employees and provides strategic planning to help them succeed, he said. The cooperative system can help farmers compete on a broader scale, Gray said. OACC is dedicated to serving its local farmers and customers. “The best days are when we go into
a local co-op’s boardroom or training room to work directly with employees to solve problems and to hopefully move co-ops forward,” Gray said. “These leadership and developmental programs are where my agricultural leadership education comes into play, which is really enjoyable,” he said. In addition to being honored as a distinguished alumnus in agricultural leadership, Gray has served on the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Dean’s Advisory Board as well as the Agricultural Leadership Alumni Advisory Board. “I get to serve rural Oklahoma and the American farmer,” Gray said. “But, growing up in a small town made me who I am today.” He said his teachers and the members of his community taught him to have high standards and strong values. Now, Gray and his wife, Jecole, are instilling those same values and love for rural Oklahoma in their two boys: Hudson, 4, and Beckett, 1. “Rural Oklahoma is and will always be a core piece of me,” Gray said.
Internship candidates submit an application, then participate in an interview. The qualified candidates are placed in various locations across Oklahoma, said RJ Gray, Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council executive director. The interns have an opportunity to experience the many facets of co-ops, Gray said. “The younger generation needs to return to work in rural Oklahoma,” Gray said. “They have opportunities to be community leaders and to have a real impact in those rural communities.” Internships are all about trying something to see if you like it or not, Gray said. OACC tries to be competitive and offer the best experience possible to interns, in hopes interns want to work for them and in the future are a natural fit, he said. This internship is unique because OACC provides exposure to many different parts of the co-op system, said Samantha Siler, former OACC director of education. “What’s really interesting about this internship program is they truly mentor you, and it is a good experience for a soon-to-becollege graduate,” said Penny Weeks, agricultural leadership professor. “Interns are going to work hard at the co-op. They will also create a strong network through the co-op employees and customers.” The internship application is due March 1, 2019, and more information can be found at okagcoop.org.
Boise City, Oklahoma VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 33
MIAP alumnus pursues an education to change his life
get an education. They didn’t have a lot osé Uscanga’s dream was not to of resources, but they gave him all they have all the money in the world or to be famous. All he wanted was to could, he said. Growing up, school did not come own a bicycle. easily for him, he said. He became interUscanga, director of multiculturested in college in fourth grade when al programs for the Oklahoma State his teacher, Casto, came to school riding University College of Agricultural a new bicycle, Uscanga said. Sciences and Natural Resources, grew “I asked him how I could get a bike up in southeast Mexico on a small farm like his and he said to go to college,” with no electricity or running water. Uscanga said. “That is when I knew I The oldest of five siblings, Uscanga had to go to college. learned how to help on the farm at a “All I wanted when I was little was young age, he said. a bike,” Uscanga said. “My uncle had Uscanga said he would wake up early a bike. I learned to ride it when I was to let the family’s pigs out to pasture younger, but I never had my own. and to grind corn for tortillas before That’s why I wanted to go to college.” walking to school. Uscanga said the day he learned how “I would walk two hours to school to ride a bike was amazing. As a kid, barefoot through the rainforest,” he would be sent on errands, and with Uscanga said. “Right before I got to a bike he could complete them much the schoolhouse, I would always stop faster than on foot, he said. at a puddle to wash my feet off before “I felt like I was flying on a bike,” putting on my shoes.” Uscanga said. Uscanga’s school had only one teachUscanga said after he finished er. Once Uscanga was finished with middle school, he started studying for his schoolwork, his teacher would send the qualifying exam to be accepted him to help teach the younger students into Universidad how to read and write. Once school But, I knew I wanted that bike Autonoma Chapingo and I knew I wanted to go to in Mexico, which ended for the day, college to change my life. accepts a small perUscanga said, he José Uscanga centage of all students would walk the director of multicultural programs who apply. Uscanga two hours home and 12 classmates took the exam, but where he would tend to the pigs, comno one passed it. Uscanga knew he had plete his homework, and then take a only one more chance after finishing shower at the well behind his house. high school, he said. His parents, Flora and Manuel, “I studied my whole senior year became supportive of Uscanga’s desire to 34 | COWBOY JOURNAL
to prepare for the qualifying exam,” he said. “I still remember my mentor showing me the national newspaper of Mexico with my name printed in it saying I was accepted. I was so happy.” Chapingo is similar to boarding schools, Uscanga said, and has high school and college combined. After being accepted, Uscanga packed his bags and moved five hours away to begin his studies at Chapingo. “It was hard to get into Chapingo, but with a low graduation rate, it’s even harder to stay in,” Uscanga said. Uscanga said his first year in college was the hardest year of his life. He slept an average of three or four hours each night so he could pass the end of the year exams, he said. If students do not pass these exams, they are removed from the college. Uscanga graduated from college with an agricultural engineering degree. He married his girlfriend, Aracely, and moved to the U.S. in 2006. He said he began working different jobs such as janitorial services, construction and farm work, including picking tomatoes for $1 per bushel. Finally, Uscanga started working for an agricultural company in California, but he still did not make enough money to support his growing family, he said. “I wasn’t making very much money for the work I was doing at the time,” Uscanga said. “I realized the way to fix that was to go back to school.” Uscanga said he decided to get a
The first bike JosĂŠ Uscanga rode gave him the opportunity to accomplish more than he could do on foot. While he has many bikes now, once he earns his doctoral degree he plans to purchase his dream bike. Photo by Vanessa Wiebe. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 35
master’s in agribusiness and found a university in Mexico, Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Puebla, which had a partnership with OSU. He came to Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 2011 where he graduated with a Master of International Agriculture from OSU and a Master in Agribusiness from UPAEP. He started his doctorate in 2013 and is working on his dissertation as a doctoral candidate in agricultural education at OSU. In his current role, Uscanga helps bring cultural awareness to CASNR through study-abroad programs and multicultural events, and he has a bike, which he rides to work every day. “José is a great role model for other students who might aspire to pursue a career in agriculture,” said Craig Edwards, Uscanga’s doctoral adviser.
“He is very diligent and dedicated in academics and with his family.” Edwards said he has seen Uscanga grow throughout his academics and brings a new perspective about multicultural affairs to the college. “I remember talking to someone about this job, and I was asked ‘when did agriculture become multicultural?’ and I stopped,” Uscanga said. “It caught me off guard. I want to be able to show people that culture is important, regardless of which industry it is in.” Adele Tongco, former director of DASNR International Programs, has worked closely with Uscanga. “José is very dedicated and passionate in working with students to foster their international and cultural competence,” Tongco said. “He has the ability to encourage students to participate in
José Uscanga’s passion comes from his kids, Carlo (left), Marco (back right), and Danna, and he strives to show them the importance of education. Photo by Vanessa Wiebe. 36 | COWBOY JOURNAL
activities that promote enthusiasm for involvement in broadening their overall college experience.” Of more than 60 first cousins, Uscanga is the second to attend college. He said he saw the life of his teacher compared to the lives of his parents and knew he wanted to change his life. He said the biggest life lesson he has learned is education is powerful. “My school growing up in Mexico wasn’t the best quality,” Uscanga said. “But, I knew I wanted that bike, and I knew I wanted to go to college to change my life. Education is so important, and you never stop learning.” After reflecting on his life — both the struggles and the victories — Uscanga said success for him is overcoming limitations and facing the unknown. He said he is thankful for things he has and works for what he does not. Uscanga said he is most proud of his family, specifically his children: Marco, age 12; Carlo, age 10; and Danna, age 4. “Coming home from work and receiving a hug from each of my kids always brings a smile to my face, regardless of how tired I am,” Uscanga said. “It’s amazing how you can think you love someone, but then you have kids and suddenly that love is indescribable. You know they love you without having to say it. That is love.” Uscanga said he is trying to encourage his younger cousins and his own three children to go to college because even if their future job or business fails, they will always have their education. “If you want to break the cycle of whatever you are going through — poverty, social injustice, cultural norms — whatever it is, get an education because it will change your life,” Uscanga said.
The Stillwater Strong memorial is located near the 2015 Homecoming crash site at the corner of Main Street and Hall of Fame Avenue. Photo by Colby Jane Hall.
Stillwater Strong memorial ribbon stands at six foot high on the northwest corner of Hall of Fame and Main. Photo by Colby Jane Hall.
Remembering the lives lost during the 2015 homecoming tragedy klahoma State University is known for “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration.” The house decorations, the orange fountain and the Sea of Orange Homecoming parade bring spirit to the OSU campus and community. However, what was only a day of celebration now includes remembrance and reflection.
On Oct. 24, 2015, a car drove into the crowd during the annual Homecoming parade, injuring dozens and taking the lives of Nikita Nakal, Nash Lucas, Marvin Stone and Bonnie Stone. “It was a completely senseless tragedy,” said Scott Petty, executive director of the Stillwater Medical Foundation who spearheaded the Stillwater
Strong committee and building of the Stillwater Strong memorial. Marvin and Bonnie Stone were familiar faces at OSU, especially within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Bonnie Stone worked in key information technology roles around campus, and Marvin Stone was recognized VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 37
around the world because of his career in the OSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. This fall, three years and two days after the crash, the Stillwater Strong Memorial was revealed across the street from where the tragedy occurred. The land for the memorial was donated by the City of Stillwater. One feature of the memorial is a 6-foot-tall, blue and orange metal ribbon constructed by Wiemann Metalcraft in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “The orange is, of course, for Oklahoma State,” Petty said. “The blue represents the City of Stillwater. The event happened during the university’s Homecoming festivities, but it affected the Stillwater community as a whole.” The memorial also includes four granite plaques — one for every life lost that day — and one separate plaque explaining the meaning of the memorial. The plaques have a photograph of each victim etched into the granite as well as a short paragraph about the person.
“It’s hard to capture the essence of a person’s whole life in just 40 to 50 words,” Petty said, “but that’s what we tried to do.” Petty said the memorial cost around $75,000. During the 2015 Bedlam football game, $43,000 was raised for the victims of the crash. Two years later at the 2017 OSU Homecoming game, Leadership Stillwater Class XXIV organized collections for the construction of the Stillwater Strong memorial. “The memorial has been an idea since the week following the crash,” Petty said. “Gary Sparks contacted me soon after the incident and volunteered to design the memorial at no charge.” Sparks, who graduated from OSU in 1966 with a Bachelor of Architecture, was the architect for Gallagher-Iba Arena and Boone Pickens Stadium renovations as well as the Remember the 10 memorials in Stillwater and Colorado. Sparks said he knew how meaningful the Remember the 10 Memorial
was for the families involved. When the Homecoming incident took place, Sparks said he knew a memorial for the victims could have the same impact. “Mark Lambert of Lambert Construction Co. was the contractor for the memorial,” Sparks said. “He was helpful getting different people involved to help bring in the materials to keep the cost down.” Petty said during the dedication of the memorial, people were emotional. They were reminded of the event that changed multiple lives and shook the town of Stillwater, he said. “The memorial is more of a celebration of life,” Petty said. “People have overcome a horrible tragedy, whether it was lives altered or lives lost.”
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38 | COWBOY JOURNAL
CASNR students explore two countries in one trip
rom the mountains of Italy to the Swiss Alps, 10 students spent eight days traveling abroad last May to earn course credits and explore two cultures. An Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources study-abroad program allowed students to explore two countries in one trip. Each student received three college credits and enjoyed guided tours of both destinations. “I lived in Europe for four years, and I thought this would be an ideal opportunity for me to use the knowledge I have about my European experience and share that knowledge with OSU students,” said John Gustafson, trip leader as well as professor and head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Gustafson earned his doctorate in medical microbiology at the University of Zürich while living in Switzerland. When planning the itinerary, Gustafson wanted to do things he knew about and would excite OSU students, he said. “I wanted to go to the cool, fascinating parts that make Italy and Switzerland and their natural beauties accessible and wonderful to visit, simply because I had that experience,” Gustafson said.
He said he planned a short trip to show students how much they could see by visiting only a few spots. During eight full days, the students gained a base knowledge of science, mode of travel, culture and cuisine, he said. Next year, Gustafson will include a health portion of the trip, he said, because of a suggestion by Cynda Clary, CASNR associate dean of academic programs. All students are welcome to join a CASNR study-abroad trip, but Clary suggested Gustafson target this trip for pre-health students, he added. The Italy and Switzerland trip was the first study-abroad trip for the BIMB department. The majority of the students who attended were biochemistry and molecular biology majors; however, four of the 10 students were from other CASNR departments. “Many students wanted to take advantage of getting to know Dr. Gustafson and to explore two countries during one trip,” said Georgia Blackwell, a biochemistry and molecular biology sophomore. “I wanted to go on the Italy and Switzerland trip because Dr. Gustafson lived in Switzerland,” Blackwell said. “This made me comfortable knowing he had already experienced the itinerary.” The undergraduate students, along
with Gustafson and Sikta Patnaik, a biochemistry and molecular biology doctoral student, departed May 22, 2018, arriving in Cuneo, Italy, for their first stop. A favorite site among students was the Caseificio La Bottera farm, a family-run farmhouse for cheese making and pig farming in Cuneo, Patnaik said. Students understood unique aspects about the farm because of their knowledge about how enzymes create an distinct taste in cheeses, Patnaik said. “I had the chance to use the information I learned in class and see how the information applies in real life,” Blackwell said. Gustafson said during their journey in Italy, the students visited Salumificio La Perla in Parma to enjoy tasting Parma ham. They then traveled to Milan to explore the Sforza Castle. For dinner, the students had a unique experience at a restaurant in the middle of town, Gustafson said. Nello Mangiafico, a former post-doctoral fellow at OSU, crafted a personal menu for the students to enjoy. “When I called Dr. Mangiafico, I thought the meal was just for me,” Gustafson said. “But, he made reservations for all 11 students and paid to have this special menu served for all.” VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 39
Students tour the mountains of Italy and Switzerland during their study-abroad experience: Allison Luna (back left), Jennifer Cooper, Karlie Wade, Cassandra Salinas, Ty Montgomery, Olivia Davis (front left), Georgia Blackwell, Jake Scheetz, Lydia Dance, John Gustafson and Sikta Patnaik. Photo courtesy of Georgia Blackwell.
The group’s final day in Italy included a tour of HubMilan, a local business, and visiting the National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan. At each day’s end, the students had free time to explore the city, Gustafson said. “As a graduate student, I was amazed to see how independent these kids are,” Patnaik said. “They had no fear and used their free time to engage in each country’s culture.” Blackwell said during their free time her friends explored a museum known for famous Egyptian monuments. “I hesitated wanting to explore another museum,” Blackwell said. “But, I learned the museum in Turin, Italy, has the second-most Egyptian artifacts in the world, and I would not have experienced anything like that in another place. It goes to show you never know what you like until you try it.” The Italy and Switzerland trip was
Blackwell’s first study-abroad experience. Her biggest takeaway from the trip is having an open mind and a go-withthe-flow attitude, she added. “It’s not just your experience,” she said. “It’s the group’s experiences.” Following the Italy portion of the trip, the group took a train overlooking the views of Switzerland as they traveled to Zürich, where they stayed for their final four days. The city of Lucerne, Switzerland, was another popular place with the students, Gustafson said. “My favorite memory of the trip was renting a motorboat on Lake Lucerne,” said Olivia Davis, a biochemistry and molecular biology junior. “We also got to experience what locals do every day and see the beauty of Switzerland.” On their final day abroad, students spent their time visiting the University of Zürich and networking with undergraduate students. The groups discussed
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university cultures and traditions while having the opportunity to learn the differences in academic curriculum abroad, Patnaik said. The students grew close during their eight-day adventure, Gustafson said. He learned more about each student on the trip, such as where they were from and how they grew up, he said. “I learned to appreciate Oklahoma culture while I was abroad,” Gustafson said. “I learned more about cow-calf operations, show cattle and what it means to the people who love them the most.” Gustafson said the trip made him a more insightful person because he knows more about Oklahoma culture from the students. Planning for a second trip to Italy and Switzerland is already underway, Gustafson said. The trip set for May 2019 will explore new levels of health engagement by including a Swiss hospital visit and additional health-related companies in Milan, he said. Gustafson said he looks forward to traveling with more OSU students to share the unique histories of the Italian and Swiss cultures. “Traveling somewhere is a huge opportunity to continue with lifelong learning,” Gustafson said. “That’s what this trip is about.”
Builder of men
Panhandle land donation creates opportunities for PaSS research ich in history and promise for the future, Oklahoma State Universityâ€™s McCaull Research and Demonstration Farm is nestled in the shortgrass prairie of the Oklahoma Panhandle. At this new facility, professors and students in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences have dedicated their time and effort to provide groundbreaking crop research.
42 | COWBOY JOURNAL
The McCaull Research and Demonstration Farm uses a pivot irrigation system to irrigate crop circles. Photo by Cheyenne Jones.
VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 43
J.R. McCaull was a farmer from Goodwell, Oklahoma, who left his property in the Ruth McCaull Irrevocable Trust, named after his late wife. McCaull directed his gift to be used for crop research by OSU faculty and students. The McCaull Research and Demonstration farm consists of about 1,000 acres in Texas County with four crop production circles, spanning 122 acres each and irrigated by center pivots. Darren Buck, a local farmer contracted by OSU to plant and harvest the crops on the property, has helped to establish two circles of corn, one of wheat and one of sorghum, he said. “This farm is important because it gives OSU a big opportunity to have a larger Cooperative Extension presence in the Oklahoma Panhandle,” Buck said. “Agriculture in the Panhandle is diverse because farmers need to irrigate more and have different cropping systems. “I want to see the McCaull farm develop into a truly commercial-scale research farm,” Buck said. “It can directly benefit farmers and create research that
can improve farm management for years producers to know which seed variety to come.” produces a higher yield or works better Buck, who also serves as a representa- in different climates or regions, he said. tive for Pioneer Seed, said more than 75 These research-based cropping syspercent of the seed he planted this year tems give OSU a foothold with the right was donated or discounted to OSU for kind of property to research irrigation, commercial research purposes. cropping and fertilization strategies that Pioneer, DeKalb, Fontanelle Hybrids, can make a difference to the farmers of Channel Seed, Hoegemeyer Hybrids the Panhandle, Murley said. and Nutrien Ag Solutions donated Jason Warren, plant and soil sciences seed to the research farm because OSU associate professor, has spearheaded the gives these companies the results of McCaull project. Warren and post-docthe research being done, said Cameron toral fellow Sumit Sharma work to Murley, senior staprovide real It gives OSU a big opportunity to tion superintendent results from have a larger Cooperative Extension of the Oklahoma the rough Panhandle Research presence in the Oklahoma Panhandle. topography in Darren Buck Extension Center the Panhandle, owner of Buck Farms and the McCaull he said. Research and Demonstration Farm. Buck said farmers in the Panhandle “Researchers at the McCaull Farm will be more willing to rely on OSU for are taking real-world agronomic apresults and help because the university plications to a non-biased agricultural now has a field research station dedicatenvironment, which is sponsored by ed to this part of the state. different professionals in the industry,” “This property provides tremendous Murley said. opportunity to do large-scale research Along with other agronomic studin a highly intensive agriculture system ies, the research allows companies and that hasn’t been thoroughly studied
Research at the McCaull farm includes nitrogen level trials on a corn circle. Photo by Brian Arnall. 44 | COWBOY JOURNAL
before,” Warren said. “We can do things on a scale that allows us to climb to the tip of the sword to help producers achieve production goals.” Sharma, who received his undergraduate degree in India and a soil sciences master’s degree from OSU, said Indian agriculture is focused on grain production, horticultural crops and other annual plants. However, the irrigation practices being researched at the McCaull farm have the potential to help worldwide under similar climatic conditions, he said. The Panhandle region of Oklahoma and surrounding states only receives about 16 inches of average annual rainfall per year, while the eastern border of the state gets as much as 55 inches of rain annually, according to the Oklahoma Climatology Survey. The McCaull Research and Demonstration Farm lies above the Southern High Plains, or Ogallala, Aquifer that supplies irrigation water to crops in the Panhandle, Sharma said. With the water table going down, new and improved irrigation methods must
be explored to sustain agricultural crops, he said. With the research being conducted at the McCaull Demonstration and Research Farm, OSU professors and students hope to provide other irrigation methods and a way to prolong the use of the aquifer for farmers in this region, Buck said. As OSU alumni, Buck, Warren, Murley and Sharma are dedicated to putting the university on the map and making an impact on the agricultural industry by helping the McCaull Research and Demonstration Farm succeed, Buck added. “We need research to help us extend the life of this aquifer while maintaining economic viability,” Buck said. “This is a very tall order.” Buck and his family have lived in the Oklahoma Panhandle their entire lives, he said. He runs a successful business and thoroughly enjoys being a part of the research being done by OSU. “My family’s livelihood, like many others in this region, depends on the research here,” Buck said. “Researchers
need to think outside the box for more irrigation strategies to give OSU an opportunity to lead in this area for the first time.” Despite the lack of rainfall, Texas County is the No.1 agriculture-producing county in the state as well as No. 1 in individual sorghum, corn, swine and cattle production. Texas County’s productivity and efficiency makes it imperative to provide large-scale results to farmers who need it, Murley said. Now, OSU can provide real, commercial-scale results to farmers who harvest considerable acreage, Warren said, offering promise for the future. “We’re the only university doing anything like it,” Murley said. “That’s what makes it unique.”
VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 45
AGEC alumnus becomes chairman and CEO of Regent Bank
n his final semester at Oklahoma State University, Sean Kouplen attended an OSU A&M Board of Regents dinner, not knowing this night would provide a career-changing opportunity for him. Students like Kouplen, CASNR Student Council and Interfraternity Council president at the time, often were asked to attend dinners and banquets with business professionals so students could hone their social skills and make contacts, said Jim Halligan, OSU president emeritus. “A man by the name of Bruce Benbrook, who owned a bank in Woodward, Oklahoma, attended this dinner,” Halligan said. “To paint the picture, I was in seat No. 1. To my left, Sean was in seat No. 2, and Bruce Benbrook was in seat No. 3. “I asked Sean if he had a life plan,” Halligan said. “He then proceeded to look over at the name card of Bruce Benbrook where it said ‘banker.’ Sean said he wanted to be a banker, truly knowing he had no clue what he wanted to do in life at this point.” 46 | COWBOY JOURNAL
Halligan said this brief comment made at the dinner changed the course of Kouplen’s life. “I was too embarrassed to say I had no career plans, so I made a very quick career decision,” said Kouplen, 1995 agricultural economics alumnus and now chairman and CEO of Regent Bank. “When walking out of the banquet that night, Dr. Halligan explained to me he had a good friend who owned a group of banks in Oklahoma City.” Halligan’s friend at Midfirst Bank hired Kouplen for an internship during the summer of 1995. When the internship ended, he was hired as a full-time employee. The combination of people and numbers in the banking industry inspired him to venture into community banking, he said. “After a few years of working in Oklahoma City, I got a call from an OSU friend named Doug Tippens who asked me to join American Heritage Bank in El Reno, Oklahoma,” Kouplen said. “I worked for the bank for several years and was promoted to an executive position there.”
“It was my first community banking job,” he added. “I loved being involved in the community and helping to improve people’s lives.” This job led to several leadership positions with local community banks, including Citizens Security Bank and Grand Bank. At age 34, Kouplen decided to make a career move. “I remember vividly when he told me he wanted to buy a bank,” said Angela Kouplen, Sean’s wife. “We had just had our second child, and it was a pivotal time in our lives with the company I was working for in the process of moving the headquarters to Houston.” The Kouplens did not know what bank ownership would entail, but that lack of knowledge did not stop her husband, she said. “When Sean puts his mind to something, he is going to get it done,” Angela Kouplen said. Before he bought Regent Bank, he resigned from Grand Bank and began raising the funds, she said. Angela Kouplen worked at Williams Cos.
Sean Kouplen credits his love for the banking industry to Oklahoma State University. Photo by Bethany Farmer.
throughout this time, helping provide for the family until the bank purchase went through. Sean Kouplen and his investment group, Regent Capital Corp., purchased Regent Bank on April 1, 2008. Then, the U.S. economy began to suffer and the markets began to decline in the fall of 2008, Angela Kouplen said. Perseverance and prayer guided the couple through this chapter in their lives, Angela Kouplen said, but the process was worth it. “At the time we purchased the bank, we were a small community bank with two locations, 43 employees and $72 million in assets,” Sean Kouplen said. “Now, we are a regional bank in two states with four different markets, 105 employees and almost $600 million in total assets.” Before Sean Kouplen’s investment group purchased the bank, it had been family-owned and family-controlled in a small town, said Darrell Fry, Regent Bank board member. Fry was a board member with the previous bank and is now a Regent Bank board member.
“Sean’s vision of what he wanted to me how he can handle everything he turn the bank into, with its presence does and continue to make it all work.” in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, was very Sandy Moore, Regent Bank corpoexciting to all of us,” Fry said. “Because rate secretary, said Sean Kouplen is a Sean was so excited about this opportuprofessional and driven man, yet warm nity, we were hopeful.” and friendly. Many employees love the The bank has grown quickly, Fry new aspects he has brought to the bank, said. With the growth in deposits and she said. loans, the bank is on a sound financial Sean Kouplen is a caring person who basis, continues to pay attention to the makes it known how much he cares quality of loans, and has the staff to about his employees, Moore said. It handle the increased volume, he said. only takes moments of being around “Sean has so him to know how He continues to amaze me how much energy, which great of a person he is infectious for ev- he can handle everything he does is, she said. eryone throughout and continue to make it all work. “I have been Darrell Fry the organization,” with this bank for Regent Bank board member Fry said. “He is more than 21 years, positive and cares about every individuand Sean has changed our lives and this al he interacts with. This is what makes bank in many ways,” Moore said. “We people want to work for or with him.” have grown in terms of personal and orBank employees call him the rainganizational growth, employee benefits, maker because he makes things happen and various programs offered.” for the company, employees and cusDespite the hard times in life or tomers, Fry said. banking, the Kouplens remain positive, “He has built such a wonderful orgafaithful and persevere no matter what nization, and I am pleased to be a part comes their way, Moore said. Even of it,” Fry said. “He continues to amaze when Angela Kouplen was diagnosed VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 47
Above left: Sean Kouplen enjoys engaging with his employees. Photo by Bethany Farmer. Above right: Sean Kouplen (back left) keeps a balance between professional and personal life with his family: Angela (center), Emory, Finn (front left) and Kennedy. Photo by Shauna Peterson.
with breast cancer in December 2016, they remained hopeful, she said. “We went through 12 months of chemotherapy, radiation and the trials that go along with it,” Sean Kouplen said. “Any time someone goes through a life-threatening illness, it makes you reevaluate everything in your life. “Angela and I had two guiding principles going into her battle with cancer,”
Kouplen said. “We were not going to allow the situation to alter our lives, and we wanted this experience to be a testimony for overcoming challenges.” He said his wife’s experience showed how important relationships are in life and has made each day more special. “My family’s experience shows that with good family, friends and faith, you can get through anything,” Sean
Kouplen said. “Sometimes hardships are a necessary part of our personal and professional growth.”
TURNING DEEP ROOTS INTO A
48 | COWBOY JOURNAL
AFS alumna makes impact at Blue Bell
Blue Bell Creameries serves 40 flavors of ice cream and sherbet. Photo by Kaila Williams.
ith a determined passion in her eyes and a beaming smile, one Oklahoma State University alumna is making an impact, working behind the scenes to provide a healthy, safe product eaten at special occasions or any time: ice cream. Kacie Duncan O’Dell began her college career at Connors State College, building a foundation before she transferred to OSU, she said. In 2011, O’Dell completed her bachelor’s degree in animal science. “When I graduated in animal science I didn’t feel like I was done learning,” said O’Dell, quality assurance supervisor at Blue Bell Creameries of Oklahoma in Broken Arrow. “My husband, Travis, was a year behind me in school. I wanted to make myself more marketable when entering the job field.” O’Dell stayed at OSU to earn a Master of International Agriculture degree. During this time, she worked in a livestock entomology lab, which began to prepare her for her future food science career, she said. “From all of those things I did during my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I had gained so many different qualities and knowledge that I can use in almost any aspect in the food industry or agricultural industry,” O’Dell said. “The good thing about an animal science degree is it is versatile.”
After receiving her master’s, O’Dell and her husband moved to Arkansas where she worked in the live poultry industry at O.K. Industries. “My husband is an agricultural education teacher,” O’Dell said. “In 2011, he got a job offer in my hometown, and we said ‘OK, let’s go.’ “I left a job that I loved, came back to my hometown, and didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said. After a local veterinarian asked if she had considered working for Blue Bell, O’Dell said she completed an application and was happily surprised to be called back for an interview. O’Dell was hired in January 2015 and participated in a program designed to let new employees try several different departments, she said. “I was working in dry storage, driving a forklift, unloading trailers, and staging freight,” O’Dell said. Three months after O’Dell started, Blue Bell’s production was shut down because of a potential listeria monocytogenes contamination. Blue Bell revamped the plant, and O’Dell moved to the quality assurance department after supervisors learned about her background, she said. “I knew she had some experience working in that industry and she knew the importance of following strict guidelines to make sure our food supply VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 49
is safe,” said Marty Kilgore, general manager for Blue Bell Creameries of Oklahoma. “In the chicken industry, they have to keep such excellent records of things, and that was what I was looking for.” Her new position required cooperation with teams of microbiologists and quality assurance experts, O’Dell said. “With that came a job title change and a whole lot more responsibility,” O’Dell said, “but I definitely wouldn’t change my new role for anything.” Kilgore said Blue Bell needed someone in the quality assurance department with experience in traceability and government regulations. O’Dell was the right person to take care of the responsibility, he said.
“Blue Bell and I didn’t know we needed each other, but we kind of found each other,” O’Dell said. “I took my science background and learned everything I needed to know about the food safety side.” O’Dell said she had to teach herself everything she needed to know about food safety rules and legislation. “I had tested for salmonella and campylobacter at my old job, but I never had this much food safety,” O’Dell said. During any free time O’Dell had at work or at home, she would print reports and scientific papers to learn as much as possible, she said. New legislation and food safety laws and best practices need to be implemented all the time, O’Dell said.
While working in the poultry industry, Kacie O’Dell learned to keep accurate records and follow guidelines, which helped Blue Bell Creameries during a time of crisis. Photo by Kaila Williams. 50 | COWBOY JOURNAL
“She has a really good understanding of regulations and how to interpret regulations and comply,” Kilgore said. “She’s very good at creating and implementing new policies and new programs. She just has a keen knowledge of food safety, in general.” O’Dell became instrumental in creating and implementing food safety programs as soon as she was placed in quality assurance following the outbreak, Kilgore said. “It was absolutely a group effort, and I’m so proud of Blue Bell and everything they have done to get back to where we are right now,” O’Dell said. All of the notebooks filled with notes and scientific papers have helped O’Dell continue to improve, she added. “When she’s off the job, she’s still researching and doing things to make herself better,” Kilgore said. Stacy Eckert, director of quality assurance for Blue Bell Creameries, said she appreciates O’Dell for her detail-oriented nature. “I never have to worry about a task when it’s given to Kacie,” she said. At the end, it will be a perfect project, procedure, or task.” O’Dell said her many long hours of studying and reading have paid off. “She can work with a wide variety of people, whether it’s a microbiologist, attorney or someone working on the production floor,” Kilgore said. “She can communicate with every level with a great deal of professionalism.” O’Dell brings a willingness, a fantastic attitude, a great personality and a desire for continuous learning to the Blue Bell team, Kilgore said. “Our jobs can be very stressful at times, but during some of the worst situations, you can count on Kacie to help you smile or laugh,” Eckert said.
A pAssion NREM researcher helps improve soil fertility
Adam Cobb spends much of his time at the OSU Agronomy Farm researching soil and grasslands. Photo by Baylee Beck. 52 | COWBOY JOURNAL
or Adam Cobb and his childhood friend Joey Sorenson, jumping a fence was a part of their daily after-school routine. Cobb, postdoctoral research fellow in natural resource ecology and management at Oklahoma State University, grew up in a Seattle suburb, but opportunity to be around a farm and livestock was just over the fence at his friend’s house, he said. The boys would disappear for hours playing and admiring the Sorensons’ livestock. They also spent time in the garden and nearby woods, which always intrigued Cobb, he said. Then, at age 11, Cobb and his family moved to the Philippines, where he saw poverty firsthand, he said. After that, Cobb knew he wanted to help end poverty and food insecurity, he added. “Nobody should have to live in poverty, no matter where in the world they live,” Cobb said. Cobb said ending hunger and human misery inspired him the most while growing up, through his college career and beyond. He wants to make a difference in the lives of others through the improvement of their food systems and soil, he said. “Soil is the foundation of a sustainable economic system,” Cobb said. Cobb’s foundation for life is his passion for learning new things, said Craig Watters, director of the Riata Institute for Global Social Entrepreneurship at OSU. Watters said he has known Cobb since 2011 and described him as someone who gives 110 percent in everything he does. “Adam is a go-getter,” Watters said. “He’s always willing to help anyone with anything and does so with such a great attitude.” Aside from learning about new ways to improve soil, Cobb has another
passion: traveling. He said he enjoys going to new countries and researching ways to help people improve their soil and crops. So far, he has visited 36 countries outside of the U.S. Cobb said in 2008 he made one of his most influential trips and fell in love with family farming. After spending three months in New Zealand he made the choice to pursue agriculture and help others, he said. This trip gave Cobb the drive to work to end poverty and help others learn how to have more sustainable and abundant crop production to feed their families and themselves, he said. Cobb said he is far from being done exploring different parts of the world. Already planning for 2020, Cobb is set to travel to Iceland with graduate school friends for a group reunion. When Cobb arrived in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 2009, he and his friend and colleague Sara Siems, who works as an Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service assistant, decided they were going to do something to reduce food insecurity on a local level. They wanted to start a small community garden, Siems said. “Adam will see things through and take the time needed to make sure things are done right,” Siems said. The pair received a piece of land at the Stillwater First Church of the Nazarene to help people in low-income neighborhoods. Cobb said he knew for the garden to be productive and sustainable for the community they needed a good foundation — the soil. The pair spent the first year of the garden working solely on soil fertility and quality. Then, in early 2010, after the soil was right, they began growing different vegetables and flowers as well as creating a small orchard with fruit
trees. They also installed rain barrels and a water collection system from the church roof. “The garden has changed forms a few times,” Cobb said. “It is still going, but I pulled back from leading it in 2012 when I got busy with the start of my doctoral degree.” Cobb said he would love to have a small plot of land to have a “microfarm” to grow various crops to use as a public education tool to show anyone can produce food. He said he also wants to teach the public about the importance of regenerative agriculture. “Adam can usually teach you something you didn’t even know you could learn more about,” Siems said.
Cobb’s Travels Australia Austria Botswana Canada China Costa Rica Czech Republic Finland France Germany Guam Guatemala Hungary Italy Israel Japan Jordan Liechtenstein
Mexico Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Palestine Panama Peru Philippines Russia Singapore Slovakia South Africa South Korea Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom Vatican City Zambia
VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 53
Researchers use dehydrated pomegranate rind in a solution to lengthen ground beef’s shelf life. Photo by Katelin Spradley.
For industry packers, pomegranates omegranate and ground beef may could serve as a different source of seem like a strange combination, antioxidants than what they are already but a group of professors and using, Bechtold said. students in Oklahoma State University’s Once the researchers receive pomeDepartment of Animal and Food granates, they dehydrate the rind, Sciences has found a way to make the grind it up and boil it in water to make two a useful duo. different concentrations of the solution, “Consumers buy meat based on Pfeiffer said. The solution is then added color, especially with ground beef,” said to the beef during the grinding process. Morgan Pfeiffer, meat science doctoral The treated beef is stored for five candidate working on the research. days in four types of packaging to simu“In our research, we use pomelate what is commonly used in the meat granates as an antioxidant,” she said. processing industry. “Antioxidants have a lot of properties, The research but one of them is Ultimately, it would save a ton of started three years they can increase money if we could keep ground ago after Ranjith the color and shelf beef on the shelves longer. Ramanathan, animal life of meat.” Morgan Pfeiffer and food sciences Pfeiffer said promeat science doctoral candidate associate professor, fessors and students proposed the idea. Today, the project involved in the project are looking at shows promising results, Pfeiffer said. the specific effects of pomegranate on The ground beef with the pomegranate the ground beef to which it is added. extract shows an enhanced color and “The plan is to add pomegranate does not spoil as quickly as ground beef extract to ground beef patties to extend without the added extract, Pfeiffer said. the shelf-life of the color, retaining “Dr. Ram is world-renowned for more of the reddish-pink color,” said meat color research,” Pfeiffer said. “It Emmy Bechtold, food science senior means a lot for him to have a paper and undergraduate research scholar. 54 | COWBOY JOURNAL
published about an antioxidant that isn’t widely used and is successful.” A stark difference exists between the ideal color of the ground beef patties with added pomegranate extract and those without, said Taylor Neilson, 2018 animal science alumna who worked on the project. Although improved meat color was an important part of the research findings, Pfeiffer said her favorite discovery came from the results of the lipid oxidation tests, which look at changes in the lipids, or fats, in meat. Antioxidants are also known for keeping lipids from changing, which causes meat to spoil, she said. “You could see the color change big time, but we were also running a lipid oxidation test to look for the spoilage point,” Pfeiffer said. “When we would run the test in the test tubes from the control to the one-and-a-half percent pomegranate sample, the results were getting so much better.” The delay of spoilage extends the shelf life of ground beef in the store as well as the time ground beef can stay fresh after purchase, Pfeiffer said.
AFS researchers combine pomegranate with ground beef Neilson said her career plans do not lie in meat or food science, but she liked the idea of using a natural antioxidant to extend the amount of time meat stays fresh and to reduce waste. Neilson said chemicals can be added to ground beef to delay lipid oxidation, but adding an antioxidant like those found in pomegranates instead is a great alternative to achieve similar results. “We aren’t adding pomegranate in high enough percentages to claim you are getting any additional health benefits,” Pfeiffer said, “but you are getting a little bit of the antioxidants.” Lipid oxidation and resulting meat spoilage is a controversial topic in the meat processing industry, making this research relevant to a broad audience of people, Neilson said. Neilson presented the research through a poster at the Reciprocal Meats Conference in June 2018. “This is one of those projects a lot of people would stop by to see because it is something they are all trying to achieve, too,” Neilson said. One question Neilson said she received multiple times during the
conference was whether the research could be applied outside of a lab setting. “I don’t think a big industry grinder is going to use it, but the smaller ones that grind in-house could add the pomegranate solution in a small concentration,” Pfeiffer said. “Ultimately, it would save a ton of money if we could keep ground beef on the shelves longer.” Looking forward, Neilson said the next stage of research will be a taste test with a trained taste panel to see whether the addition of pomegranate changes the flavor of the ground beef. OSU researchers also may look to pair with other universities to use pomegranate extract to enhance dark-colored steaks, which otherwise would be discarded due to consumer preference, Pfeiffer said. One of the project’s biggest challenges is the seasonal availability of pomegranates, Bechtold said. Making the pomegranate solution is a pretty affordable process since the rind is a by-product but the seasonality of the fruit makes it hard to obtain a year-long supply, she said. “We have frozen the solution for
up to a year, and it was still good,” Bechtold said. Despite the challenges, the research holds big implications for OSU and the meat processing industry as a whole, Pfeiffer said. “It is a big deal this worked and could have some relevance in the industry,” Pfeiffer said. “It is also rewarding for the whole university and the department.” The hands-on experiences gained and connections made through their research involvement was something both Neilson and Bechtold said they rely on as they continue their educational careers. Both Bechtold and Neilson did a lot of the work required to make the research a reality, Pfeiffer said. “No matter where it is published or where it is talked about, people will always say OSU did this,” she said.
Cuba, New Mexico VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 55
Oklahoma 4-H partners with an international exchange program hroughout the country, 4-H members have recited the 4-H pledge since its creation in 1927, pledging their service to their clubs, communities and country. In 1973, 4-H added “and my world” to the pledge, opening new avenues for the program. One avenue is through international exchange programs. “By Oklahoma 4-H partnering with the Labo International Exchange program, Oklahoma 4-H is fulfilling the 4-H pledge,” said Kevin Allen, Oklahoma 4-H state program leader and assistant director for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. Labo is a family-based, Japanese youth organization, in which parents register their 3- and 4-year-old children. “They go to something like a 4-H club where they have a tutor, like our 4-H volunteers,” said Jim Rutledge, 4-H international exchange program state coordinator. “The tutor’s job is to work with a small group of kids to help them learn English.” Labo’s mission for its participants is to learn English and also experience American culture. 56 | COWBOY JOURNAL
When the Labo participants are in high school, they come to the United States for one month in late summer, Rutledge said. They get to experience part of the summer and start school with their host family. “Some of these kids get out of school, and three days later, they are on a plane to America,” Rutledge said. “They only get a month for summer break so when some of them get home they have missed the first two or three days of the new school year.” Oklahoma 4-H joined 22 other states already partnered with Labo in 2014 by agreeing to host students, Rutledge said. Since then, Oklahoma 4-H has hosted 71 Labo youth and six chaperones. This program is a month-long immersion into life in Oklahoma, Allen said. “The participants get the experience of family life here in Oklahoma,” Allen said. “The relationships they make in a month become heartbreaking when it is time to leave.” Adryn Ingle, 16-year-old Hughes County 4-H member, can attest to that. His family hosted Taku Hashimoto from Tokyo. Ingle’s father, Daniel Ingle, grew up
hosting several exchange students, so he wanted his family to have the same experience, Ingle said. Being part of Labo was not the first time his family had hosted exchange students, Ingle said. When he was younger, they hosted a student who was six years older than him. “This time it was a lot more fun because he was my age,” Ingle said. The Dockrey family from Shawnee, Oklahoma, who have helped with the program multiple times, hosted the group’s chaperone, Junko Kawamata. “We participated the first time because we wanted our daughters to learn about another culture and support this important program,” said Angela Dockrey, who is also a Pottawatomie County 4-H volunteer. “After such a great first experience, and now that our children are grown, we viewed hosting Junko as an opportunity to learn from one of our peers since she was the adult chaperone,” she said. While in Oklahoma, Kawamata enjoyed spending her time helping on the farm, cooking traditional Japanese meals, and learning about Native American history, Dockrey said.
Above left: Taku Hashimoto (left) and Adryn Ingle meet for the first time. Photo by Kassie Ingle. Above right: Junko Kawamata, chaperone for Labo students, visits her temporary hometown. Photo by Angela Dockrey.
“While Junko was in Oklahoma, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation had its annual powwow,” Dockrey said. “She arrived interested about native culture, so the timing was perfect for her to learn and participate in a powwow.” Some of the participants stayed close to their host families’ homes and the others got to experience Oklahoma 4-H activities firsthand. Every summer, Oklahoma 4-H’ers can attend 4-H State Roundup. In July 2018, Hashimoto attended with Ingle and the Hughes County delegation. Ingle and Hashimoto taught a workshop titled “How to Impact Your World,” Ingle said. “During the workshop, Taku did a question-and-answer session,” Ingle said. “He talked about why he decided to come to the U.S. “Taku said his favorite part was the freedom we have,” Ingle said. “He talked about how everyone is friendly here.” Even though Hashimoto was only in Oklahoma for a month, Ingle — who has two brothers — said it felt like he had another brother. “The month lasted forever because we were always together,” Ingle said.
“We shared a room. We would wake up every morning and go to school. It was just me and Taku everywhere I went.” Being intentional with your time and giving your international guest an ideal experience is important, Dockrey said. However, host families must also continue their normal routines to ensure their guests experience what everyday life is like in Oklahoma, she said. “We became very close with Junko,” Dockrey said. “We gave an arrowhead to her because Native American culture was of high interest to her and because we genuinely formed that level of bond with her. “Junko loved trees, so we planted a Japanese-variety tree with her before she left so we can watch it grow and think of her often,” she added. The Labo program gives 4-H’ers an opportunity to tie in the “my world” aspect of the 4-H pledge, Ingle said. “Not everyone gets that opportunity,” Ingle said. “This gives you a bigger aspect of what is going on in the world and that you can impact someone from outside of your community.” 4-H members see the club and community aspect every day, Allen said.
Oklahoma 4-H members also experience the country aspect at national contests and educational trips, he said. “4-H is an international organization,” Allen said. “More now than ever, our world is shrinking. The international experience that older generations of 4-H members lacked is now expected from the younger generation,” he added. To ensure future generations of 4-H members get international experience, every year Rutledge asks the host parents how he can help improve the program, he said. “One host father said ‘there is one really big problem with this program,’” Rutledge said. “‘Saying goodbye is just too hard.’” Those interested in becoming a host family for Labo can contact the Oklahoma 4-H office at 405-744-5394 or Jim Rutledge at email@example.com.
Sulphur, Oklahoma VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 57
SMALL TOWN. B
Lawson Thompson (center) helps Carney FFA members like Cade Sellers (left) and Hope Kennedy with their livestock as part of their supervised agricultural experience programs. Photo by Stanley Gaffrey. 58 | COWBOY JOURNAL
BIG GOALS. AECL alumnus leads FFA chapter to success
ith cattle bellowing, clippers humming and the sound of water hitting hair and hide, the early morning noises of the cattle barn combine. Lawson Thompson, FFA adviser in Carney, Oklahoma, drags a clipping chute into place and prepares to help his students for show day at the fair. “The days like today are why I do my job — waking up at 5 a.m. to come down to the fair to allow students to compete,” Thompson said. “If the kids want to do it, we need to do it.” On most days, Thompson works in the classroom, teaching about livestock, leadership and various agricultural topics while helping students discover their passions, he said. “It’s about finding what students are interested in as far as getting more involvement,” Thompson said. “The biggest thing these kids need is to get out, meet people, and make connections. For me, that’s what it’s all about.” Not too long ago, Thompson was in the same blue corduroy jacket as the FFA members he now leads. Thompson grew up in a “sports-driven household,” he said, where playing sports was expected of him. However, Thompson said he also learned about FFA through his older siblings. “I knew I was going to be in FFA,” he said. “My older brother and sister were involved in FFA and raised pigs.” Raising and showing pigs was a family project, Thompson said. “We would play ball on Friday
Johnson said he continued to mold nights, come home and work late, and and change the way Thompson was then get up super early on Saturday beginning to envision the future and mornings to make it to the show,” what Thompson could do after his time Thompson said. “That was the life we in FFA. led, and it was awesome.” “Originally, I wasn’t going to teach This family love of showing pigs and agricultural education,” Thompson Thompson’s first steps into an agriculsaid. “Coming out of the Oklahoma tural education classroom his freshman FFA State Convention that final year year of high school helped mold him into the FFA adviser he is today, he said. of high school and getting elected as an Oklahoma FFA officer, I stuck with Jarrod Johnson served as Thompson’s agricultural education.” agricultural education teacher at Deer These leadership opportunities Creek-Lamont High School. led Thompson “Showing pigs Knowing people personally and to Oklahoma was all I knew having people check on you State University’s about FFA, and Mr. helps you grow as a person. agricultural eduJohnson saw more Lawson Thompson cation program, potential in me,” Carney High School FFA adviser but his College Thompson said. of Agricultural Sciences and Natural “He saw that I could be a leader. Resources experiences kept him hooked, “He saw what I see in my students,” he said. he added. “With some training, these “Everyone talks about OSU being kids are going to really go far in life.” Johnson worked alongside Thompson a family, but I guarantee you it’s not like it is in CASNR,” Thompson said. as he grew through the FFA program. “Knowing people personally and having “I knew Lawson was special and people check on you helps you grow as talented, just in the way he carried a person.” himself,” Johnson said. “I could see the After being placed in a student-teachpotential he had the day he walked into ing position at Morrison High School my classroom.” Johnson said Thompson had a strong during his last semester at OSU, Thompson was challenged to grow just work ethic and was willing to do anya little more, he said. thing asked of him. “My time at Morrison was unbeliev“Originally, I told him to be a lawyer able,” he said. “My skill set overlapped because he was so intelligent that he with Morrison’s program. You could not could have been anything he wanted have drawn it up more perfectly.” to be,” Johnson said. “With the job he Thompson said Morrison High picked, he is able give back to students School’s FFA chapter focused heavily and that speaks to his character.” VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 59
on leadership and showing livestock. Thompson said he wants his students The culture was one of hard work and to explore life beyond Carney, to get building success, along with an uplifting exposure and to represent themselves feeling students received when walkand their chapter with pride. ing into the classroom, he said. All of “Mr. Thompson makes me feel like this reminded Thompson of his home someone cares about me and my future,” chapter and what he wanted his future said Haleigh Ohl, Carney High School chapter to be, he added. freshman. “He wants me to be successWhile student teaching, Thompson ful, and that makes me proud.” received a call for an Thompson said he has Chasing dreams with the interview at Carney begun helping his stukids is why I’m in it. High School. dents develop their full Lawson Thompson “Only 20 to 30 potential through FFA Carney High School FFA adviser minutes of the meetcareer and leadership ing was the actual interview, and then development events. an hour and a half was natural conversa“What Mr. Johnson did with me tion about the future of this program,” made me less one-dimensional,” he said. Thompson said. “He helped me gain Thompson said he told the interview- the skills to do so much more than just ers he would restructure the program show pigs.” to help students realize and tap into the Students involved in agricultural potential they possessed. education and FFA leave high school “Chasing dreams with the kids is prepared for their future, he added. why I’m in it,” Thompson said. “If that “They have those much-needed colopportunity was taken away, I’m out lege and career-ready skills,” he said. because I just want to be with the kids.” Ty McCorkle, Carney High School
freshman, said Thompson is supportive of his students’ extracurricular activities and has an great relationship with them in and out of the classroom. “The way he does things makes me and others feel like he cares about us,” McCorkle said. “He wants us to be involved in FFA so we can succeed in life.” Now, two years into Thompson’s teaching career, Carney FFA is a National Three-Star Chapter, which is the highest achievement level the National FFA Organization can present to an individual chapter. “Students know when they come into my classroom, I want to make them feel valued, just like I felt in my small school,” Thompson said. “They need to know they are supported.”
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HONORS OSU Honors College adds to the Cowboy experience
goal is. If you are keen to learn about ld Central, the oldest buildstuff, honors is for you.” ing on the Oklahoma State Within the classroom, honors University campus, stands students experience a deeper level of loyal and true and provides a home for education with hands-on activities the OSU Honors College. and lower student-to-professor ratios, Like the architecture of Old Central, Garbutt said. the OSU Honors College presents a “Some of the big pluses of the unique college experience with many Honors College are the honors coursadded benefits for students willing to es themselves,” Garbutt said. “These put in extra work, said Keith Garbutt, courses take students on a different indean of the OSU Honors College. tellectual journey, and they come in lots Students who join the Honors of different sorts with lots of different College often are driven individuals outlooks and experiences.” who seek to set themselves apart in In addition to the honors seminars, their academics, said Karen Hickman, students also may earn honors credit assistant dean of academic programs in the College of Agricultural Sciences and through the honors add-on courses. Garbutt said these Natural Resources. “These students You must have a lot of intellectual add-ons are available sometimes are en- curiosity, and if you have that, the for “highly technical Honors College is for you. courses,” such as couraged to join the Keith Garbutt The Meat We Eat program by either OSU Honors College dean course. Gretchen their parents or a Mafi, animal and food sciences profeshigh school guidance counselor because sor, teaches this course. of the status associated with graduating Mafi said these add-on courses allow with honors,” said Hickman, who serves students to earn honors credit along as CASNR’s honors college liaison. with credit for their degree-required Garbutt said the Honors College undergraduate courses. provides a personalized educational ex“With the honors add-ons, students perience to allow students to gain more take an additional hour with the regular from their time in school. course, allowing them to gain honors “You must have a lot of intellectucredit and additional information,” al curiosity, and if you have that, the Mafi said. “It is a good opportunity Honors College is for you,” Garbutt because it is a smaller class size and they said. “It does not matter what your get a lot of hands-on experience.” major is or what your ultimate world
Students in the add-on section of The Meat We Eat course learn firsthand how meat products are processed as the course allows students to process a pork carcass from start to finish. “We use a hog from the school farm,” Mafi said. “Students get to process the carcass, making sausage and bacon. It is very hands-on. They see the whole process. They also get to try all the products they make.” Students also do hands-on projects with beef and chicken products throughout the semester, she said. “It is just one extra hour a week,” Mafi said. “Then, for their credit at the end of the semester, students write a short paper on a topic we choose for the class. It is not a lot of additional work for them outside of class, but it is great additional hands-on experience.” Hickman said CASNR is wellrepresented in the Honors College with different opportunities throughout CASNR’s academic departments. One of these opportunities is the honors add-on to Animal Genetics. Udaya DeSilva, animal and food sciences associate professor, teaches Animal Genetics. DeSilva said in the honors add-on portion of the course, students have the opportunity to analyze their DNA through the 23andMe company. “The add-on allows students to explore their own genomes,” DeSilva said. “I walk the students through the VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 61
Old Central, built in 1894, provides a home for the Honors College. Photo by Mary Frost.
process of analyzing their data, but they do not have to share the data with me for privacy reasons.” DeSilva said students finish the class with a five-minute presentation discussing one thing they learned, one thing they found interesting, and one thing they found surprising. Outside of CASNR, DeSilva also teaches the honors seminar Science and the Movies. “During the semester, we watch 14 movies and discuss if the producers got the science in the movie right,” DeSilva said. “Before viewing each movie, students write one paragraph about the movie. After viewing the movie, they write a 3,500-character review 62 | COWBOY JOURNAL
explaining what the movie got right or wrong. We then have in-class discussion about the movie.” DeSilva said this honors course and many others provide students with a diverse group of peers as students from all branches of the university can take these courses. “We have students from history majors to music majors, animal science students and biochemistry students,” DeSilva said. “With so many different backgrounds, each student walks away with completely different views of the movie. A good day for me is when I get them to argue about something because that leads to a good discussion.”
While honors courses provide students with a higher level of education, Garbutt said the benefits of the Honors College surpass classroom experience. “In a very practical way, the fact the honors students get priority registration is a big plus,” Garbutt said. “There are also advantages in the ability to build complicated curriculum.” Last year, more than three-quarters of OSU honor student graduates completed both a major and a minor, Garbutt said. As double majors also are becoming increasingly common, the honors student degree-planning database has been rebuilt to allow up to three majors, he said. “Additional advising is one of the perks of the Honors College,” Garbutt said. “You have an honors adviser as well as an adviser in your major. Honors advisers keep students on track for honors, but also they try to look at big picture things.” Garbutt said honors advisers assist students in establishing and working toward their long-term goals. The honors advisers think about “not only what students do in the classroom but also those things that must be accomplished outside the classroom to build a résumé and make graduates as competitive as possible,” he said. The option to live in Stout Hall, home of the Honors College Living Learning Program, is one of the many benefits of honors outside the classroom, Garbutt said. Sarah Riley, biosystems and agricultural engineering senior, has taken advantage of living in Stout Hall since her freshman year. She also served as the Stout Hall vice president for two years. “Living in Stout Hall is a great opportunity because we have so many activities, and you can get involved in this little family group,” Riley said. “Mrs. Christine Garbutt, Dr. Garbutt’s wife, makes cookies and tea every Tuesday, and we have a board game night every Thursday. “It is especially easy to stay involved if you live in Stout Hall because it is
all right here, but even those no longer living in the dorm come back for these activities,” Riley said. Riley said if she were to give advice to students considering the Honors College, she would tell them honors courses require “a little extra work, which is a bit intimidating, but in the end provide so many opportunities.” Riley said honors courses allow students to interact with individuals from all departments of the university, take on leadership roles, and develop a diverse résumé. “Honors provides the first step to professional networking and building a competitive résumé,” Riley said.
JOIN THE HONORS COLLEGE Transfers
Students other than incoming freshmen will be eligible for the Honors College on the basis of OSU and cumulative college grade point averages meeting eligibility requirements for continued honors course enrollment. Students with fewer than 60 credit hours must meet a 3.30 cumulative grade point average. Students with 60 to 93 credit hours must meet a 3.40 cumulative grade point average. Students with 94 or more credit hours must meet a 3.50 cumulative grade point average.
Incoming freshmen applying to the Honors College must have an ACT composite score of 27 or higher or SAT-R score of 1280 or higher (critical reading and math only) to be eligible. Additionally, they must meet a high school grade point average of 3.75 or higher. Applicants may use weighted high school grade point averages certified by their high school. More information about the OSU Honors College program can be found at honors.okstate.edu.
VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 63
Brad Kard examines a soldier termite in a Noble Research Center lab. Photo by Emily Woodruff. 64 | COWBOY JOURNAL
lthough Webster’s Dictionary defines success as achieving desired aims or attaining prosperity, Brad Kard’s definition of success is making an impact. Kard, entomology and plant pathology professor, served more than 30 years in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserves. He also served as a high school principal and science teacher in North Carolina. Although Kard has called Oklahoma home for the past 19 years, he grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. After graduating high school, he began studying engineering at a local college and then chose to join the U.S. Army. “One advantage I have among civilians is the leadership skills I learned through my military career, both as a company commander and as a battalion commander,” Kard said. Kard began as an infantry private and retired as a division primary staff colonel. Among other roles, he served as an Army Ranger and a master parachutist. Kard said he credits much of his success as a professor and researcher to the discipline and leadership skills he learned in the Army. “As an air defense officer, I received a significant amount of combat training and leadership training,” he said. “I had to improve my troops’ chances of surviving a deadly force situation.” Kard said while he was parachuting from airplanes and excelling as a soldier, he also was setting the framework for his career as a researcher studying wood-destroying insect pests. Kard received his bachelor’s in biological science at San Jose State
Infantries Entomologist leads the charge against household pests
University. He earned a master’s in plant “Dr. Kard’s position is 70 percent pathology from Virginia Polytechnic research,” said Phil Mulder, head of the Institute and State University as well as OSU Department of Entomology and his entomology doctorate from North Plant Pathology. “This endowed proCarolina State University. fessorship is funded by multiple donors Prior to joining OSU’s entomoloassociated with Oklahoma pest control.” gy and plant pathology faculty, Kard “Brad has been important to me worked for the U.S. Forest Service because often when I’m out of the for more than 13 years. He spent this office he fills in as the department head time in Gulfport, Mississippi, studying and does a commendable job,” Mulder wood-destroying insects such as carpensaid. “The staff enjoys him, and despite ter beetles, bees and termites. having a strong military background, he Kard said through his work with the does not rule with an iron fist.” U.S. Forest Service, Kard’s endowed He is considered one of the he developed a professorship positop five termite researchers passion for termite tion requires him in the world. research. Kard to work alongside Brad Parker researched termites small business owner of Parker Pest Control and termite control owners, pest manmethods such as termiticides. agement professionals, international “If a chemical company comes researchers, students and university up with a molecule, then for that colleagues every day. chemical to be approved by the U.S. “Brad works with researchers outside Environmental Protection Agency, it the U.S.,” Mulder said. “He has parhas to go through years of testing,” ticipated in research in Australia, Asia, said Brad Parker, owner of Parker Pest Central America and Europe — almost Control. “Dr. Kard tested termiticide anywhere these pests are found.” efficiency, duration and any impacts it Kard also serves the Oklahoma may have on the environment.” Pesticide Safety Education Program. Parker said getting a pesticide apHe has helped to train 2,100 pesticide proved by the EPA takes 12 to 15 years. applicators and 80,000 pest manageIt takes more time and money to get a ment personnel. pesticide approved than a pharmaceutiWith the help of Kard, the Pesticide cal, he added. Safety Education Program has lowered “Brad is not afraid to make tough customer complaints by 90 percent in decisions when it comes to testing pesti- Oklahoma’s structural and household cides,” Parker said. “He is well known in pest management industry. the chemical testing industry not only “Brad has been very active in our in the U.S. but also internationally.” association,” Parker said. “He presents In 2001, Kard accepted the Endowed at our seminars because he’s an expert Professorship of Structural and Urban on the material and is highly appreciatEntomology position at OSU. ed in our organization.”
Parker said he works with Kard through BASF, a global insecticide company. Parker provides BASF with termite-infested houses on which to test pesticides and use patterns. After the soil around a house is treated with a termiticide, Kard will set up a termite monitoring program and conduct research on treatment effectiveness. “Brad is a leader in the industry,” Parker said. “He is considered one of the top five termite researchers in the world. To this day, he continues to present fundamental termite research.” Since the 1990s, Kard has published more than 200 scientific and technical papers as well as presented more than 700 programs and short courses. “We have nicknamed Brad ‘The Colonel’ because of his military background,” said Charles Luper, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service pesticide safety education associate. “But, ask anyone in the Noble Research Center what they think of Kard, and you will realize he is respected and well-liked by his colleagues in our department.” Luper said Kard is a hands-on professor and colleague who dedicates himself to his students and research. “His day to day isn’t just sitting in an office doing paperwork,” Luper said. “He’ll get his hands dirty and even crawl under houses when needed.”
Quitman, Texas VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 65
Weed scientist uses hard work and passion to excel isha Manuchehri grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington, with no strong ties to agriculture until taking a weed science class in college. Manuchehri, a 30-year-old Oklahoma State University assistant professor, said she originally did not love her college undergraduate courses until she found herself enrolled in a Principles of Weed Science class — the same class she teaches now at OSU — and has been passionate about the field ever since. Manuchehri graduated from Washington State University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural food systems. Manuchehri chose to continue in the WSU weed science master’s program focusing on assessing the competitiveness of spring crops against wild oats. Following an adviser’s suggestion and her sense of adventure, Manuchehri said she sold or gave away most of her things in 2012. With two suitcases in hand, she moved to Lubbock, Texas, and started her doctorate in plant and soil sciences with an emphasis in weed science at Texas Tech University, she said. “Because of her background, people are intrigued by Misha,” said Jodie Crose, a plant and soil sciences master’s student who works with Manuchehri. 66 | COWBOY JOURNAL
such a passion for what she does. Misha “She’s not from Oklahoma. She’s from is a perfect model for extension because Seattle and grew up a city girl. That can your job revolves around what producmake people skeptical, but as she’s gotten out into the community and worked ers need. “She has such a strong passion to with producers, she’s become a novelty help people even outside of agriculture, in a way.” and she’s a really good communicator,” Manuchehri graduated from TTU Crose added. as the department’s outstanding senior Manuchehri’s passion shows in her with a Doctor of Philosophy in plant work ethic with producers and students, and soil science in 2016. She began Crose said. Manuchehri is approachworking full time for the Oklahoma able, thorough, and likes to make sure Cooperative Extension Service because goals and expectations are established she felt the job fit both of her passions and achieved, Crose said. — working with farmers and teaching, Manuchehri always works with a big Manuchehri said. smile on her face and is a happy person “Manuchehri came right out of her in general, Crose added. doctoral program fresh into a faculty “Misha always seems to be really position,” said Randy Taylor, OCES happy, no matter assistant director. First and foremost, she’s very how busy she is or “That’s hard enough as it is. The teaching selfless. She has such a passion what’s going on,” for what she does. said Bryan Vincent, part is well-defined Jodie Crose a sales agent and as far as teaching plant and soil sciences master’s student consultant for responsibilities, but Nutrien Ag Solutions. “She really enjoys it’s not easy to walk into a course and what she does. That’s a great quality. teach for the first time. “For her to hit the ground running in She is very passionate and enjoys working with people and it shows. Her smile her extension role and to be so focused beams from her face like a light.” and successful so early is impressive,” Manuchehri’s appointment while Taylor said. working for OSU is 15 percent teaching Crose said Manuchehri’s passion for and 85 percent extension. her field makes her great at her job. She works with producers as well as “First and foremost, she’s a very conducts research about different weeds selfless person,” Crose said. “She has
and the effects of herbicides on producers’ operations. “She’s been a big asset to me in some of the stranger weeds I come across in identifying them and helping me with what to use to control weeds and protect the crop,” Vincent said. Aside from her knowledge and passion, Manuchehri distinguishes herself from other extension specialists because she calls and asks producers’ thoughts about their crop systems and discusses potential solutions, Vincent said. “It is refreshing when Misha calls and asks for my advice and opinion,” Vincent said. “She wants to see what she could do differently than other past weed scientists.” Manuchehri said when she is not at work, she enjoys her time with her dogs and her husband, Seth Byrd, OCES cotton specialist. Manuchehri met Byrd, who is originally from North Carolina, at the 2015 Southern Weed Science Society conference while they were both doctoral students. They started dating a year and a half later and were married in September 2018. Manuchehri’s motivation to help others is selfless and purely from a desire to help others succeed, Crose said. Her willingness to learn and to help others, even if the problem is outside of her
Misha Manuchehri identifies weeds to help producers improve their crops. Photo by Mary Frost. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 67
Above left: Misha Manuchehri (front) and Jodie Crose spray plots for the annual symptomatology clinic. Above right: Misha Manuchehri (front) and Jodie Crose mix herbicides in preparation to spray for the symptomatology clinic. Photos by Mary Frost.
specialty, is what makes her good at her job, Crose added. In past projects, Manuchehri has helped a pecan producer, which is an unusual project for a weeds and small grains specialist, because the system types and equipment are different, Crose said. Manuchehri spent a dedicated amount of time in troubleshooting, learning and consulting, Crose added. “I like a challenge,” Manuchehri said. “Weed management is a really challenging field because we still don’t understand much about weeds and there’s a lot to learn. Weeds are interesting because they’re so competitive.” Manuchehri is knowledgeable and humble, which makes her an excellent communicator with producers, Crose said. From students to industry members, Manuchehri explains well and talks to each individual on an understandable level, Crose said. “She’s patient, so whenever someone doesn’t understand, she’s willing to step back and explain things in a different way, whether that’s to a student or a 68 | COWBOY JOURNAL
farmer,” Crose said. “Helping without insulting can be challenging, and she’s good at that.” Vincent works with Manuchehri on projects ranging from weed identification to multi-year studies with different weed-control measures to finding an area to conduct research or a specific weed Manuchehri wants to study. Vincent said he always enjoys working with Manuchehri because her communications skills are great. She is prompt and passionate about her job, Vincent added. “Misha’s a very pleasant person,” Vincent said. “She’s not shy or reserved. She’s willing to speak her mind, but she’s very pleasant about it and extremely knowledgeable in her field. Therefore, it is easy for her to express herself and not make people feel stupid.” Because of her background, Manuchehri said she has a different perspective in some situations since she lacks a history in agriculture. Manuchehri brings creativity to weed science and problem solving, she added.
“I love it when students come into my classroom and aren’t afraid to share their ideas,” Manuchehri said. “Sometimes my ideas are nuts and aren’t good ideas, but I’d like to think that some of the time I come up with a few good ideas because I do not have that ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ perspective.” Taylor said Manuchehri balances all her projects and teaching and is a great team player with OSU plant and soil sciences faculty members. She does her job with a high level of energy and commitment, Taylor added. “She is professional while being relatable,” Crose said. “I think it helps people respect and trust her.”
Ada Pfeiffer (left) and Jerry Pfeiffer live and work on their farm in Orlando, Oklahoma. Photo by Karen Hiltbrand.
cowboys like us The Pfeiffer family makes OSU a tradition
wenty miles west of Stillwater, Oklahoma, along State Highway 51 stands a Pfeiffer Farms sign. Turn right on North Pine and follow a gravel road that leads to the home and farm of a family whose two favorite things are agriculture and America’s Brightest Orange. Jerry and Ada Pfeiffer, natives of Orlando, Oklahoma, and owners of Pfeiffer Farms, are no strangers to the Cowboy Family. The Pfeiffer name has become recognizable across the
Stillwater campus, specifically in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, for the family’s involvement and support at the OSU Sheep and Goat Center. “I can’t remember a time before Oklahoma State,” said Jerry Pfeiffer, owner of Pfeiffer Farms. Raised on an Angus farm near Orlando, Jerry Pfeiffer attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College as a member of a livestock judging team before attending OSU, he said.
While a student at OSU, Jerry Pfeiffer was a member of a livestock judging team coached by Bob Kropp, where he spent his time absorbing industry knowledge and making irreplaceable connections, he said. The luckiest connection he made was his wife, Ada Leven Pfeiffer, he said. An OSU animal science alumna herself, she was a member of the 1981 National Champion Livestock Judging Team. “It’s the atmosphere at Oklahoma State that makes the difference,” said VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 69
Sheep and Goat Center, the family supports multiple judging teams and offers student internships. Angel Molina, 2018 agribusiness alumnus, worked for the family for three years while he attended OSU. “The Pfeiffer family has a tremendous work ethic,” Molina said. “They possess a heart of service, are humble, and are genuinely great people.” Molina said much of what he learned throughout college and the connections he has made can be attributed to the Pfeiffer family. Kelsey (left), Kass Pfeiffer Newell and Karisa Pfeiffer each play an integral role in the family “They are truly a testament of how operation. Photo courtesy of Legacy Livestock Photography. welcoming the Cowboy Family is,” Ada Pfeiffer, Jerry’s wife. “You get to be involvement with the OSU livestock Molina said. part of a family.” judging teams, they host an annual winKass Pfeiffer Newell is following Throughout their 36 years of marter workout where collegiate teams from in her mother’s footsteps and servriage, Jerry and Ada Pfeiffer have raised across the country judge classes of goats, ing the OSU Animal Science Alumni three OSU Cowboys — Kelsey, Kass Jerry Pfeiffer said. Association as secretary. and Karisa — on their family farm. “One of our favorite things to do is “I grew up watching my mom serve “It’s never been a question where host judging teams during their winter on the board, and we always went to the to go to school,” said Kelsey Pfeiffer, workouts and feed them while they are Animal Science Gala,” Newell said. herdsman at Pfeiffer Farms and 2012 here,” he said. As involved as the family is, they do animal science alumnus. “We grew up Darin Annuschat, herdsman at the not have any plans of slowing down, loving OSU.” OSU Sheep and Goat Ada Pfeiffer said. The Pfeiffer family is known across Center, has worked with They are truly a testament “We try to attend of how welcoming the the country for raising show goat weththe Pfeiffer family for as many functions as Cowboy Family is. ers and does with competitive genetics, numerous years. we can because it’s just Angel Molina Kelsey Pfeiffer said. Like many families “They are really part of our lives,” Ada former intern at Pfeiffer Farms in the show livestock industry, their big into helping with Pfeiffer said. “We don’t story began with a 4-H project, he said. collegiate livestock judging,” Annuschat feel like we have to. We are proud to.” Six-year-old Karisa Pfeiffer had two said. “If Kelsey knows he can help make Like their parents, Kelsey Pfeiffer pygmy goats and her few pygmy goats a quality livestock judging class, he is and Kass Newell found their significant led to the purchase of a doe and wether, more than willing.” others while at OSU. Morgan Neilson Taffy and Bullet, to show in 4-H when Kelsey Pfeiffer said because they are Pfeiffer, Kelsey’s wife, is a doctoral cashe was 9 years old, Ada Pfeiffer said. close in distance and in history to OSU, nidate in animal science with a focus in The Pfeiffers then purchased four addithey get to stay connected and want to meat science and serves as the coach of tional does. From there, they purchased stay involved in the future. the meats judging team. Dalton Newell, 100 more does, and the rest was history, One of the most prominent influKass’ husband, is a 2014 animal science she said. ences the family has had at OSU is alumnus now pursing a degree in veteri“We were looking for another outlet their support of the OSU Sheep and nary medicine at OSU. in the agricultural industry for a hobby, Goat Center through providing their “All of us knew we were going to go but it ended up being more than a hobknowledge, genetics and animals to the to OSU,” Kass Newell said. “It’s in our by,” Ada Pfeiffer said. program, Annuschat said. blood — it’s tradition.” Since then, Pfeiffer Farms has grown “When I started, the program just to one of the largest show goat herds had a handful of Boer goats, and in in the nation. The Pfeiffer family also 2015 the Pfeiffers donated 20 doe kids,” raises cattle and sells livestock across the Annuschat said. “The Pfeiffers are country through online and live prothe primary donors and supporters of duction sales. OSU’s goat program.” KAREN HILTBRAND Because of the family members’ Seven Mile, Ohio In addition to helping the OSU 70 | COWBOY JOURNAL
Grant allows AFS students to pursue careers in food safety n expanding population means an increase in the need for food and a growing demand for food safety specialists. A $246,000 grant awarded to Oklahoma State University in 2017 offers students a chance to meet the demand, said Danielle Bellmer, OSU Food Manufacturing and Safety Fellows program faculty adviser and one of the principle investigators for the grant. The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources received the
grant through the Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship grant program. Eligible land-grant universities can apply for the grant to help fund students wishing to complete graduate programs in food, agricultural and natural resource sciences. The grant CASNR received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2017 allows six students to be in the program. The fellows program is designed to offer students the opportunity to pursue
Conner McDaniel presents her research and earns first place in the CASNR Three-minute Thesis competition this fall. Photo by Todd Johnson.
further education, even if they may not have been able to, Bellmer said. “In addition to providing training in food safety, another goal is trying to fill spots in the program with underrepresented students,” Bellmer said. These students could be minorities, women, or students from non-traditional backgrounds, she said. Students who are eligible to apply must have completed a bachelor’s degree in a food science-related field, she added. Once in the program, students participate in four specific experiences: an industry audit internship, participation in workshops hosted by the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center, food safety case studies, and monthly professional development meetings. The grant funds support these experiences, which are in addition to the students’ graduate program requirements for their master’s degrees. All four components of additional experiences are designed to prepare students for jobs in the food safety and manufacturing field, Bellmer said. The industry audit internship has students accompany, observe, and participate in the audit process, allowing students to witness food industry regulations and requirements. The workshops give students the chance to learn and gain experience about various topics in the food industry, she said. Conner McDaniel, a second-year fellow in food science, said the workshops are the highlight of the program for her. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 71
Dennis Pletcher (back left), Tony Kountoupis, Conner McDaniel (front left), Reann Garrett, Parker Wilson and Magnus Scott Jr. receive assistance from a grant. Photo by Joy Hendrix.
Throughout the case study portion of the program, students analyze and solve real-world food safety problems. The monthly meetings for the faculty and students in the program are opportunities for the students to discuss ideas and share progress on their respective projects, Bellmer said. Dennis Pletcher, also a second-year fellow in food science, said the additional experiences the program provides
have been the most enjoyable part of the program. “I have the ability to participate in workshops that offer certificates for training in many areas the food industry likes to see on résumés,” Pletcher said. Without the financial support associated with the program, Pletcher, like most of the fellows, would not be able to pursue his master’s degree at this time, he said.
Ravi Jadeja, a faculty adviser for the program, said the program offers handson experience in the industry. “Most companies hire recently graduated students and are required to spend around $15,000 in additional training to prepare them for jobs,” Jadeja said. The program is working toward graduating experienced students to work in the food safety industry in Oklahoma and beyond, he said. As a result, OSU is on the forefront of the food safety industry, Jadeja said. The five-year grant will continue to fund assistantships for students until 2022, but the faculty members hope to reapply and receive this grant again so they can fund students in the program for years to come, Bellmer said.
Artesia, New Mexico
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72 | COWBOY JOURNAL
Barbara Pass (right) was an avid OSU fan with her mother, Martha Pass (left), and sister, Joyce Taylor. Photo courtesy of the OSU Foundation.
Alumna endows estate to The Botanic Garden at OSU o the staff and volunteers of The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University, “The Sisters” were a well-known pair. Sisters Barbara Pass and Joyce Taylor volunteered together at the gardens. The two women were just as much best friends as they were sisters, Taylor said. In January 2018, Pass died from Crohn’s disease, but she left behind a gift to benefit The Botanic Garden for years to come. “We are so pleased to have Barbara’s
donation,” said Lou Anella, director of The Botanic Garden at OSU. “We are immensely sad to have lost her as a friend and volunteer, but we are honored to receive a majority of her estate and plan to keep her memory alive by utilizing the funds well.” Pass left behind an endowment to The Botanic Garden that is expected to generate about $40,000 annually for the gardens, Anella said. This income will help fund internships and pay for general operating expenses and repairs.
Pass was an active ambassador when it came to the gardens, volunteering at least once a week, Anella said. Laura Payne, volunteer coordinator at the gardens, said Pass accumulated more than 130 volunteer hours annually at the gardens. Pass and Taylor grew up in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and each knew they would attend OSU, Taylor said. The sisters’ father, Hartwill Pass, worked in agronomy at OSU, and Taylor said she recalls helping him tend VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 73
to small garden plots in their backyard and becoming a certified public accounand accompanying him to his retant, Pass worked at the Oklahoma State search-related work. Department of Education. At this point The sisters’ parents encouraged their in the 1970s, companies were beginning daughters to study hard from an early to use digital technology, Taylor said. age, Taylor said. “Barbara enjoyed studying account“I have a vivid memory of standing, but it wasn’t her true passion,” ing in the Taylor said. People would tell you how much of a bank with After Pass hard worker Barbara was and how she decided to go back my father was dedicated and single-minded. when I was to school at OSU Joyce Taylor 5 years old and graduated with Barbara Pass’ sister and holding a second master’s a carton of pennies, nickels and dimes,” degree in computer science, she received Taylor said. “I remember setting the car- an offer to work for Sandia National ton on the marble counter and having Laboratories in automating the compajust enough money to open my college ny’s benefit processing, Taylor said. savings account. Sandia is a contractor for the U.S. “My dad scrounged around in his Department of Energy and has roots pockets while holding 3-year-old tracing back to World War II. Barbara, and then he opened an account The base in Albuquerque, New for her, too,” she said. Mexico, was established in 1945 and Pass started as a math major when was a site of weapons development, she attended OSU, but soon switched to testing and bomb assembly for the accounting. After receiving her bacheManhattan Project. lor’s and master’s degrees in accounting Pass then moved into software
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engineering for Sandia, where her main project was working as a contractor for the U.S. Air Force. She helped develop the graphical user interface to make computers more user-friendly and worked on numerous confidential projects, including traveling several times to Russia to work on geographical mapping and digitization. Pass was also in the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves. She served in the finance corps for 20 years before she retired as a lieutenant colonel. “People would tell you how much of a hard worker Barbara was and how she was dedicated and single-minded,” Taylor said. While living in Albuquerque, Pass had her own hot air balloon named “Bee in a Breeze.” She and a crew flew together for more than seven years. Upon retiring in 2010, Pass left her balloon in New Mexico and moved back to Stillwater to be with her mother, Martha, and sister, Joyce. After moving back to Stillwater, Pass
wanted to become an ambassador at The were avid OSU sports fans and attendBotanic Garden and convinced Taylor to ed as many games as they could with go through the ambassador classes with their mother, who had season tickets to her, Taylor said. basketball games since the 1940s and Pass was familiar with succulent garfootball tickets since the 1950s. dening after living in New Mexico and “People always ask, ‘what do you do helped to develop the succulent garden since you’re retired?’ and I’ve always told at The Botanic Garden. them we’re pretty busy at the gardens “Barbara had a huge impact on the and attending all the OSU sporting succulent garden and was fond of work- events,” Taylor said. ing with them,” Anella said. “We were The Botanic Garden was originalable to grow the ly created for The gift Barbara left to the gardens studio use by garden to a different level with was more than we could have expected the “Oklahoma and is genuinely appreciated. her help.” Gardening” Laura Payne Pass and TV show, volunteer coordinator for The Botanic Garden at OSU Taylor also Anella said. contributed to resurrecting the garden’s The gardens are composed of different rock garden. sections, and many of the gardens are “We spent weeks and hours liberatrectangular-shaped to make it easier to ing the garden from overgrown weeds,” change plants for different “Oklahoma Taylor said. “The rock garden was alGardening” TV episodes. ways our special project that we worked Over time, the gardens have become on together.” a place for the public to enjoy, as well, In addition to being active ambashe said. sadors at the gardens, Pass and Taylor “2017 was a hard year financially for
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the gardens, so Barbara and I had talked about leaving an endowment to help out in the future,” Taylor said. “Lou also had so many great ideas for the gardens, and we wanted him to be able to enact them in the future without having to worry about money.” The garden’s staff salaries are funded by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and by OSU. Community members can volunteer at the gardens through the ambassador program and help fundraise additional money for the gardens through plant sales, Anella said. “The gift Barbara left to the gardens was more than we could have expected and is genuinely appreciated,” Payne said. “She is deeply missed.”
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OSU makes effort to conserve monarch butterfly habitats onnecting southern Texas to northern Minnesota, Interstate 35 offers a main travel route through the Midwest; however, the corridor provides a passage for more than just vehicles. “Monarch butterflies migrate primarily along the I-35 corridor from Mexico to Texas, Oklahoma and up to Southern Canada,” said Kristen Baum, professor of integrative biology at Oklahoma State University. “The I-35 region is important for the monarch butterfly migration and breeding.” In November 2014, two conservation groups began a petition to list monarch butterflies on the endangered species list after an 80 percent population decline in the last two decades. “The population size is estimated by flying over the monarch butterfly wintering grounds,” Baum said. “Conservationists noticed a sizeable decline while doing so, which triggered the concern for petitioning to put the butterflies on the list of threatened and endangered species.” When states along the I-35 corridor reached an agreement to support monarch butterfly habitat, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation decided to delay summer mowing along the rights of way to allow monarch butterflies to reproduce on milkweed plants located outside the safety zones. To support the research agreement, ODOT changed its mowing procedures in 2016. “ODOT tries to follow two procedures, safety mows and full mows,” said Madison Schein, ODOT spokeswoman. “However, it all depends on the location and safety of drivers.” The clear and safety zone spans from 76 | COWBOY JOURNAL
the pavement shoulder’s edge, where cars can pull off, to about 15 feet. “ODOT has two mowing procedures, a safety mow, which is throughout the summer that goes up to 15 feet from the median, and what we call a full mow after July 1, which includes the entire right of way,” Schein said. The clear and safety zones are mowed in rural areas as part of a safety mow, which is done to encourage pollinator habitats during the spring and summer months, Schein said. “The rights of way in urban areas are mowed during the season due to high traffic volume and usability,” she said. In 2015, OSU began a collaborative project with ODOT to research different mowing regimes to provide information regarding how milkweed plants respond to the frequency and timing of mowing, Baum said. Milkweed plants, specifically the Green Antelopehorn Milkweed, are the main food source for caterpillars and also provide nectar for butterflies in Oklahoma, said Dennis Martin, extension turfgrass specialist at OSU. “This is our third year of conducting the research,” Martin said. “We marked the mowing plots in 2015 and began the trials in 2016.” The research is being conducted on plots along State Highway 51 on the west side of Stillwater and north on I-35, Baum said. Milkweed plants are counted and classified by their phenological stages so researchers can understand plant condition, she said. In a collaboration between two teams, Baum and Martin provide the consistency across every year of research since the project began. “Dr. Baum’s team handles the biology
aspect of the insects and milkweed assessment,” Martin said. “My team handles the vegetation aspects and how changes in management practices interact with what ODOT does to have safe rights of way for the public.” Martin’s team trains ODOT personnel to mow and apply herbicides properly in the clear and safety zones. The right of way is for vegetative purposes, to provide a pleasant view for motorists, and to stabilize the soil so erosion does not wash it away and compromise the paved surface, Martin said. “The monarch habitat program does not affect the clear and safety zones,” Martin said. “Citizens must understand the concept of the clear and safety zone. Mowing is done at least four times a year to keep the vegetation short and allow for suitable lines of sight and sight distance by motorists.” Motorists have expressed concerns about sight distance in the rights of way. However, the new mowing regimes should not affect sight distance, which is what motorists need to safely operate their vehicles, Martin said. “Safety is our No. 1 priority,” Schein said. “We are always evaluating the rights of way for visibility because we want our drivers to be safe.” SH-51 can be called a “controversial corridor,” Martin said. The majority of OSU alumni who travel SH-51 to Stillwater prefer the grass be mowed short for a pleasant look, he added. To provide good roadside management, six different mowing regimes are being considered for the monarch butterfly research program, Martin said. These regimes consider the best time of the year to reduce fire potential and nurture milkweed growth, he said.
“The overall process of good roadside management involves site preparation, proper vegetative selection, proper vegetation installation and establishment to assure invasive plants do not get loose, and administrating proper sprays or mow downs to achieve the goals,” Martin said. The Green Antelopehorn Milkweed sets seed in late June to July, so mowing early in the summer is ideal, but learning when to mow is the question, Martin said. Once the roadside is cut, the possibility increases for caterpillar habitat growth during late summer months, Martin said. “Meeting the needs of everyone and everything involved is complicated and challenging,” Baum said. “We need to find and provide information on the growth and migration of the monarchs while keeping a healthy and safe ecosystem. We are looking for long-term decisions that will provide long-term support for these habitats.” The goal of this program is to find a balance, Baum said. Safety is one of the biggest concerns, so the safety zone will be mowed regularly regardless of the ongoing research. “We really do enjoy this partnership with OSU, and we do appreciate the feedback we have received from the research,” Schein said. “We go in and evaluate the findings to see how we can use the results along with assuring the safety of our drivers.”
Milkweed plants provide nourishment for Monarch butterflies during the migration period. Photo by Vanessa Wiebe. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 77
ROASTING SUCCESS FAPC helps in-state company edge the competition
trong, black liquid streams into the pot — freshly brewed coffee — an aroma that captures the attention of many adults before the start of a work day. However, for some, the art of coffee roasting is work. US Roaster, a company established in Oklahoma City, develops coffee roasters to be sold to companies around the United States and occasionally around the world. Dan Jolliff, owner of US Roaster Corp., grew up around coffee. His dad owned a coffee-roasting business, so Jolliff helped with deliveries and anything else he could, he said. In 1979, Jolliff started Coffee Pros, a coffee-roasting business with his dad and younger brother. Putting his brother in charge of Coffee Pros, Jolliff left the company in 1997 to start a new business: Roasters Exchange. With Roasters Exchange, Joliff traveled around the world fixing coffee roasters for companies, he said, using 78 | COWBOY JOURNAL
the experience to start building his own coffee roasters. “In 2003, I started building roasters,” Jolliff said. “I built a roaster, and a friend of mine saw it and wanted me to make one for him. Then, a couple more people saw it, and they decided they wanted one for themselves.” At that point, Jolliff reached out to the Oklahoma State University Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center to help him improve his line of roasters, he said. He then worked with FAPC engineers to make a better roaster. Together, they created “The Revelation.” This roaster is the world’s first industrial roaster to meet Southern California’s air emission standards. FAPC works with food production companies throughout the state to add value to Oklahoma, said Chuck Willoughby, FAPC’s business and marketing relations manager. Willoughby estimates FAPC has helped from 1,200 to 1,500 companies.
“Some companies we work with numerous times a year,” Willoughby said. “Others might reach out to us only once or twice when they have hit a bump in the road. “Whether that is in their production process, marketing, or whatever else, we help them through it and they are on their way,” Willoughby added. In the time FAPC and US Roaster have worked together, FAPC has helped the Oklahoma company gain two instate grants from the Oklahoma Applied Research Support program to help them develop the new roasters, Jolliff said. The US Roaster and FAPC relationship also helps FAPC by getting the students involved with the company, Willoughby said. Tim Bowser, FAPC engineer who works with US Roaster, said the relationship has been important for the OSU students. “US Roaster has supported us so much by employing our students,”
G FAPC and US Roaster have worked together for more than 10 years. Photo by Brett Budke.
Bowser said. “We are always looking for new projects for our engineers to work on, and US Roaster welcomes our students’ help.” The students help Jolliff develop and design new roasters, Bowser said. “Dan and US Roaster have been great for the students of FAPC,” Willoughby said. “Our students get real, hands-on experience, which is valuable to the growth of our students.” Students who work at FAPC get jobs shortly after graduating because of the experience they receive in working at a place like US Roaster, Willoughby said. “Every one of the Oklahoma State students that I have gotten to work with has been great,” Jolliff said. “The ability and intelligence of the engineers coming out of OSU is amazing.” In addition to gaining professional experience, students get paid for their work at US Roaster, Bowser said. Jesse Bowser, OSU engineering student, is on staff for US Roaster. Jesse
Bowser said he has enjoyed his time with US Roaster and has learned a lot in the three years he has worked there. “My favorite part about the job is the freedom I am allowed,” Jesse Bowser said. “Dan gives me the opportunity to be creative, and he trusts that my ideas will work.” The relationship between US Roaster and the FAPC staff has gone past business and turned into a real friendship, Jolliff said. “Tim is a mentor to me,” Jolliff said. “I know he is somebody who has my back, and I can trust him.” Many of the clients FAPC works with love OSU and enjoy being affiliated with the university, Willoughby said. US Roaster is a great example of a solid business relationship and a lifelong friendship, he said. FAPC and US Roaster still work together on different roasting techniques, including different sensors that monitor roasting with less human input to make
it simpler for coffee roasters to achieve more with less effort, Tim Bowser said. US Roaster, with the help of OSU graduate and undergraduate engineers, is developing a new roaster unique to any other roaster in the world and could help take US Roaster to the next step, Jolliff said. “This company would not be as successful as we have been if it were not for the FAPC grants we received,” Jolliff said. “If you’re willing to put the money up and really invest in your business, FAPC is going to support you and help you get to where you want to go.”
Stillwater, Oklahoma VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 | 79
CASNR Alumni News WINTER/SPRING 2019
he College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources prepares its graduates to succeed at the highest levels of their chosen career path. In recognition of this, the CASNR Alumni Board annually selects alumni as recipients of the CASNR Early Career Achievement Award. The board is seeking nominations for alumni who have attained prominence through their efforts in agriculture, natural resources, life sciences, or related areas of
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science, business, education or government and public service early in their careers. To be eligible, a nominee must possess an undergraduate or graduate degree from CASNR and have earned a bachelorâ€™s degree within the past 15 years. Award recipients will be honored during the CASNR Awards Banquet in the spring. Nominations are due by Dec. 31, 2018. Visit casnr.okstate.edu/alumni for more information about alumni awards or to nominate a deserving individual.
The CASNR Alumni Homecoming festivities took place at the Charles and Linda Cline Equine Teaching Center on Oct. 26, 2018. Photo 1: Blaire Atkinson (left) and Congressman Frank Lucas; Photo 2: Stephanie Cooper; Photo 3: Lewis Cunningham (left), Fred Schmedt and Nancy Schmedt; Photo 4: Thomas Coon (left) and Milt Morris; Photo 5: Tack Hammer (back left), Rachel Eggleston, Trent Gibbs, Emma Bishop, Raylee Soell, Callee Hammer, TamLynn Link, Treasure Gibbs (front left), Kaylee Doughty, Elizabeth Chambers, Jake Hammer and Trey Gibbs from the Oklahoma 4-H Music Corps; Photo 6: Lauren Millang (left), Megan Silveira, Jacob Auer, Dalton Miller, Matthew Staples and Haden Comstock. Photos by Jackson Mayberry.
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Cowboy Journal Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership 448 Agricultural Hall Stillwater, OK 74078-6031