Oklahoma State University is honoring six individuals whose embodiment of the ideals and mission of the university’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources has provided significant benefits to their career fields, their communities, the people of Oklahoma and OSU.
“They make us proud and we want everyone to know it,” said Tom Coon, vice president for OSU agricultural programs. “They’ve literally made the world a better place for people, both directly and indirectly.”
The honorees will be officially recognized during October ceremonies. The late Paul Schatte of Ponca City is the 2020 recipient of the Champions for OSU Agriculture Award. The award recognizes individuals who are not graduates of the university’s Ferguson College of Agriculture but who have brought distinction to the division and demonstrated a continuing commitment to agricultural sciences and natural resources.
Schatte served as an executive and leader with Head Country Food Co. for more than two decades prior to his death in July, taking the business from a slow-growth operation to one recognized nationwide for its barbecue products. Schatte was highly influential in the success of the OSU Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center even before he was appointed by the Oklahoma Speaker of the House to the center’s Industry Advisory Committee.
“Head Country was a FAPC client and made use of many of our services, and Paul was always one of our biggest champions and supporters,” said Roy Escoubas, center director. “FAPC programs benefited greatly from his firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing small food processors and insights about Global Food Safety Initiative systems; in turn, we were better able to assist other food processors throughout the state in solving their specific operational and business concerns.”
Richard Carter, Greg and Kristen Hart, and former OSU professors Michael Kenna and Ken Pinkston were named 2020 recipients of the Ferguson College of Agriculture Distinguished Alumni Award. The honor recognizes graduates who have contributed significantly to society, and whose accomplishments serve as a model for current and future students.
Carter earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education from OSU in 1966 and 1968, respectively. He was a vocational agriculture instructor at Guthrie High School and 35-year faculty member at Iowa State University. Carter initiated the establishment of the Joe Legako Excellence in Agricultural Education Scholarship within the OSU’s Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership in 2013.
“The scholarship honors Dr. Carter’s own agricultural education instructor while he was growing up in Watonga and is part of our Student Teacher Assistance program,” said Rob Terry, department head. “Additionally, Dr. Carter funded the inaugural Teacher-in-Residence Program through a grant within the department in 2018. The program continues today and benefits both students and visiting teachers.”
Carter was recognized by the National Association of Agricultural Educators Inc. with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 – one of only six individuals nationwide to receive the award. His influence has extended beyond agriculture teacher education. Several of the academic programs in agricultural leadership at universities across the nation can be traced to courses he developed and educators he mentored.
Greg and Kristen Hart are alumni of the OSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, both graduating with honors in 1979. His highly successful career with John Deere led to senior management positions in the company’s Europe, Texas and U.S. Northwest sales branches. Kristen Hart was named the Young Engineer of the Year for Kansas in 1984. She has excelled professionally while working for civil and mechanical engineering firms there and in Oklahoma. They have been influential voices in OSU engineering-related advisory groups over the years, helping to hone teaching, research and outreach efforts.
The Harts endowed the Greg Hart and Kristen Kollmann Hart Scholarship in 2010. More than 40 undergraduate scholarships have been awarded from the fund. They also worked with the John Deere Foundation to raise more than $40,000 to purchase and update classroom equipment at OSU. The couple are founding donors of the OSU McKnight Center for the Performing Arts.
Kenna has been a leading turfgrass researcher with the U.S. Golf Association since 1990. His Cowboy roots go deep, having served as an OSU Extension turfgrass specialist from 1985-1990 and earning both his master’s and doctoral degrees in crop science at OSU.
“Dr. Kenna’s continued contributions to our turfgrass development program have been significant over the decades, helping to identify needed high-priority research areas and funding sources,” said Jeff Edwards, head of the OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. “He has written many letters of support to grant agencies on behalf of our researchers. The germplasm and breeding techniques he helped develop while at OSU continue to provide significant benefits to variety improvement programs undertaken by other universities and industry.”
Kenna is currently working with division faculty and others at OSU on research related to pollinators on golf courses. He was recently elected to the board of the Oklahoma Invasive Species Council.
“Dr. Ken Pinkston epitomizes all things OSU: He is a die-hard Cowboys and Cowgirls fan, an alum who earned his bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees in entomology from OSU, and a former, longtime member of our department who had profound effects on the success of his fellow faculty, students and members of industry,” said Phil Mulder, head of the OSU Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. “He was the heart and soul of our department for years.”
Pinkston and his wife Charlene’s contributions to establishing and garnering financial support for the OSU Endowed Professorship of Structural and Household Pest Control and to the department’s teaching program continue to play a pivotal role.
“One of the most telling aspects of the regard in which Dr. Pinkston is held is the number of people who have contributed to OSU entomology programs and facilities in his name,” Coon said. “Even at 77 years of age and retired, he continues to inform and make people smile through his Facebook page.”
The OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is comprised of the Ferguson College of Agriculture and two state agencies: OSU Extension and the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system.