Sometimes, you just have to dig deep and do what must be done; that is the hallmark of Ponca City’s Brad Parker, who was honored recently by Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources as a 2018 DASNR Champion award recipient.
The DASNR Champion award recognizes individuals with exceptional records of providing meaningful and lasting benefits to Oklahoma as part of the state’s production, processing and related agricultural industries, in addition to being outstanding leaders in their communities and supporters of OSU’s land-grant mission.
“Brad Parker, owner and operator of Parker Pest Control has consistently and continually given back to his community, industry and his father’s OSU education connection,” said Phil Mulder, head of the department of entomology and plant pathology.
Parker’s father Richard, though better known as Dick Parker, earned a master’s degree in entomology from OSU and then began Parker Pest Control in 1963. At the age of 13, young Brad started helping with large termite-control jobs, continuing throughout his teenage years, working evenings and weekends and honing his skills in the trade before heading off to school at Northern Oklahoma College.
Two years into Brad Parker’s collegiate education, his father and mother sustained severe injuries in a car accident. He left school, returning home to Ponca City to run the family business. Always innovative and service oriented, the younger Parker welcomed his father back to Parker Pest Control 13 months later; together, they patented several pest control inventions, including the P.E.S.T. machine for cockroach control and a spray-drift-resistant herbicide applicator device.
The business would prosper, expanding across Oklahoma and into Kansas. A merger with a small pest control company in Durant would open doors for eventual expansion into Los Angeles, California. Having recently sold off the West Coast operations, the company headquarters remain in Ponca City, with operations in Stillwater, Enid, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Wichita.
“Brad’s record of innovation has led his company to regularly be selected to test advancements for product development research and Environmental Protection Agency registration,” Mulder said. “Company employees often work with OSU’s structural and urban entomology personnel when participating in experimental-use-permit research studies across Oklahoma, generating data that can lead to registration of new pesticides tested by our scientists. That is a benefit to all of Oklahoma as well as the nationwide pest management industry.”
In addition, Parker ensures his technicians are trained through OSU’s Pesticide Safety Education Program and that the company’s OSU-trained applicators are certified by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. He was instrumental in the establishment of OSU’s Endowed Professorship in Structural and Household Pest Control.
“Kevin Shelton, Charles Luper and Charles Konemann of our pest control and pesticide safety training team and I, along with ODAFF Food Safety and Consumer Protection field inspectors, have literally trained thousands of pest-management professionals, which would not have been possible without Mr. Parker’s investment,” said Brad Kard, OSU entomologist and holder of the endowed professorship.
Kard added the benefits of the professorship are nationwide and international in that students and cooperating professionals he and his fellows have trained are working and conducting research across the United States and beyond.
As president of the Oklahoma Pest Management Association, Parker spearheaded a $10,000 start-up grant to expand the OSU Pinkston Educational Facility site to enable cutting-edge applicator training concentrating on bed-bug management.
“Brad ensures OSU research and Cooperative Extension professors are always on the program and interacting with members at the association’s annual meeting, thereby enhancing and promoting cooperative efforts between the association and university in tackling key pest-related issues and concerns,” Mulder said. “His efforts to facilitate OSU outreach has been going on for more than three decades.”
Parker also is an Entomological Society of America Associate Certified Entomologist, with Kard serving as his proctor through the many years of rigorous study and training required.
“The nationwide certification is a testament to Brad’s commitment, but it is also indicative of his entire life in terms of his responding to a challenge,” Mulder said. “We’re very proud to be a cooperating partner with Brad Parker, and OSU’s land-grant mission is the better for it.”
DASNR is comprised of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and two state agencies: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and the statewide Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system.