Susanne Wasson is a self-described “enthusiastic champion” of Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, including ongoing efforts to provide state-of-the-art research and teaching facilities.
A 1988 OSU graduate with degrees in agricultural economics and accounting, Wasson’s career achievements and commitment to the betterment of division programs were recognized during Oct. 25 ceremonies in Stillwater, where she was named a 2019 recipient of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Distinguished Alumni Award.
“I first met Susanne at a National FFA Convention soon after I came to Oklahoma State,” said Cynda Clary, associate dean of the college. “Watching her passion as she talked about the university and seeing her connection to students was inspiring.”
Support for the college’s students has always been a high priority for Wasson. In 2012, she and her sister Diana Sowder established the OSU J. Robert Wasson Scholarship in Agriculture to honor their father, a 1964 OSU graduate who was a rancher in Poteau, Oklahoma. That is but one example of many.
“I remember Susanne as an excellent undergraduate doing the agricultural economics and accounting double major when I first joined OSU,” said Joe Schatzer, interim head of the department of agricultural economics. “She was active in many things on campus. Since leaving OSU, Susanne has been a tremendous supporter in many ways and for many programs at the department, college and university levels."
Wasson earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics at Texas A&M University after graduating from OSU, and then joined the staff of Dow AgroSciences, now called Corteva. She started in finance, then moved into sales and then went back to her ranching roots, joining the company’s range and pasture business operations, before eventually taking on a wide variety of developmental and leadership roles. Today Wasson serves as president of Corteva’s crop protection business platform.
Corteva Inc. is a major American agricultural chemical and seed company that was the agricultural unit of DowDuPont prior to being spun off as an independent public company. Even before the spin off, Wasson organized her fellow Cowboy alumni within DowDupont to create an OSU scholarship.
“Dow would match scholarship money its employees would give, and the total scholarship dollars just grew and grew over the years, with Susanne being instrumental in that,” said Joe Williams, a retired OSU agricultural economics professor who was once Wasson’s teacher.
But perhaps Wasson’s most significant gift is the leadership and mentorship she has long provided to those pursuing a career in agriculture.
“We hire a large number of young women,” said Drew Ratterman, Corteva’s commercial effectiveness and development leader. “Susanne serves as a wonderful role model, to them and to the gentlemen who join our company.”
Wasson has been recognized as a champion of diversity in the workplace. She is involved in numerous civic and community organizations. Wasson has served as the National FFA Organization Sponsor’s Board chairperson and on the board of directors for CropLife of America.
“Susanne has had a truly outstanding career,” Schatzer said. “She is an amazing role model for current and future students.”
Sowder also is quick to laud her sister. “I’m so proud of her,” she said. “Susanne has always been generous with her time and talent.”
Such as when Wasson helped create the FFA Blue Room, an interactive exhibit that examines the convergence of agriculture and technology, all the better to help inspire and prepare any number of youths who might be the agricultural industry’s next generation of problem-solvers.
“About 35 years ago, I started a business card collection of my agricultural economics students, which grew to more than 800 cards and listed where they were employed and what their jobs entailed,” Williams said. “Susanne was always doing so much and moving up so fast that I had to replace her card frequently.”