OSU Extension specialist receives prestigious award
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
A long-time professor and Oklahoma State University Extension specialist has been recognized for his work and dedication to a program that improves crop and livestock production in the state.
Regents Professor Hailin Zhang, who also is an OSU Extension nutrient management specialist, received the coveted Southern Region Excellence in Extension Award during an online presentation Aug. 25.
Zhang has been an integral part of OSU Extension for 24 years and serves as director of the university’s Soil, Water and Forage Analytical Laboratory. He directs a comprehensive, statewide soil testing and animal waste nutrient program to help Oklahomans, their families and communities address important issues through science-based recommendations and active engagement.
“My position with OSU Extension gives me a great opportunity to work with people from all walks of life. I enjoy being able to apply my knowledge and provide assistance to people in need,” Zhang said. “Receiving this award means not only that my effort is recognized by my peers, but it also serves as encouragement for me to do even better in the future.”
The Soil, Water and Forage Analytical Laboratory is the only full-service agricultural laboratory in Oklahoma. Zhang said the center tests more than 60,000 samples annually. Farmers and ranchers use the test results to make informed decisions on fertilizer and lime use, as well as fine-tuning their feed rations.
“Our service has contributed to better crop and livestock production in Oklahoma, as well as reduced the impact of agriculture on the environment,” he said.
Zhang also has increased public awareness of OSU’s soil testing program among nontraditional stakeholders by working with OSU Extension horticulture educators through the Master Gardener program.
Damona Doye, director of OSU Extension, had high praise for Zhang’s work, referring to him as a model Extension specialist
“Through highly effective teamwork, his innovative and impactful programming has addressed the needs of a diverse group of stakeholders and has involved many partners within and outside Extension,” Doye said. “He effectively interacts with producers, local Extension educators and other state specialists and research faculty. He recognizes needs and develops timely responses that address those needs by seamlessly integrating Extension and research.
“In addition, Dr. Zhang has effectively combined several areas – soil testing, nutrient management and forage analysis – into an extremely cohesive and comprehensive program and uses every opportunity available to promote soil testing,” Doye said.
As a result of Zhang’s efforts, lawn and garden soil samples from homeowners have more than doubled. He also has successfully integrated water quality components into his program. Doye said Zhang secured funding for a portable hand-held sensor to quickly evaluate and ensure the safety of potential garden sites.
Zhang has been named a fellow in both the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy and has received the prestigious Extension and Education Award from both of those international organizations. He earned his bachelor’s degrees from Nanjing Agricultural University in China, and his master’s and doctorate were attained at Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota, respectively.