Oklahoma State University’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture will be under new leadership beginning March 2, but it will be a familiar face to faculty, staff and students.
Justin Quetone Moss will step in as the new head of the department within the Ferguson College of Agriculture at OSU, and he said he is excited about this new opportunity.
“I’ve been hanging around the third floor of Ag Hall for a long time, first as a student and later as a member of the faculty,” said Moss, who currently serves as a professor and Huffine Endowed Professor of Turfgrass Science in the department. “I have a great appreciation for the faculty who were here while I was a student. I really have to give them credit for opening up so many opportunities for me. I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to give back and be a positive influence on the faculty, staff and students in our department.”
Thomas G. Coon, vice president for agricultural programs at OSU, is looking forward to Moss taking on the mantel of leadership in the department.
“Dr. Moss has an outstanding record as a researcher and has mentored a number of graduate students through his program,” Coon said. “I’ve witnessed him as a leader, both within his research team and with student advisees. He has an innovative approach to addressing turf management and irrigation issues in urban communities and has pioneered new partnerships to deliver his Extension programs.”
Moss said he sees a lot of positive aspects of his new position.
“I’m looking forward to being more involved in the teaching aspect of our department and helping students learn and be successful,” he said. “One day, these students will be alumni and I want them to feel like they can come back home, just like I felt. I want to help them discover how they can be impactful and open the door of horticulture to the public.”
Moss will oversee more than 100 students within the department, including both undergraduate and graduate students. There are three tracts of study available – horticulture, landscape architecture and landscape management. There are four options of study available under the horticulture tract, including horticulture business, horticulture science, public horticulture and turfgrass management.
One of the challenges he faces in his new leadership role is helping people understand what horticulture is.
“My challenge is to do a better job of marketing ourselves and letting people know who we are and what we have to offer through our department at OSU,” he said. “People don’t always have a clear understanding of what horticulture is, so we need to help them learn. I didn’t know about all the different careers available through horticulture until I was a student. We need to connect more with prospective students and underserved communities. I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Moss earned all three of his degrees at OSU. He holds both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in horticulture and his doctorate degree in crop science. In addition to his Extension and research responsibilities, he also served as interim director of the Oklahoma Water Resource Center and the Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute. He was instrumental in working with the turf development team that has released three new varieties that are found around the world, including fields with both Major League Baseball and the National Football League.
“Dr. Moss’ leadership comes at a pivotal time for our horticulture and landscape architecture programs. We have some exciting opportunities for growth, and he is well positioned to engage students and faculty in addressing those opportunities,” Coon said.