OSU New Frontiers donor names space in memory of her mom
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
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The Lee family cultivated a love of the land, nature, animals and agriculture that stemmed back through multiple generations. For Tammy Lee of Bandera, Texas, that love was further enhanced through her experiences at Oklahoma State University.
“I didn’t grow up in what you’d consider as production agriculture,” Lee said. “I think it’s more of what you’d describe as Old MacDonald’s farm plus a lot of horses. However, my family loved our land, grew almost every fruit and vegetable that grows in Oklahoma, and my mom had a 2-acre flower garden that would rival the Myriad Botanical Garden. For me, coming to OSU and continuing that legacy that’s rooted in agriculture was just a natural fit.”
Her experiences are what led her to support the New Frontiers campaign to build a new state-of-the-art teaching, research and Extension facility for OSU Agriculture and name the rodeo coordinator office in memory of her mom, Mary Lee.
Lee said her mother was the most influential person in her life.
“She worked extra hours to ensure I was able to pursue my dreams of attending Oklahoma State, and it wasn’t always easy,” Lee said. “She was proud of what I wanted to accomplish and believed in me so much, she practically willed it into existence. Her strength and fortitude inspire me still, and I often find myself quoting her when times get tough.”
Lee chose to name the rodeo coordinator office because of her family’s love for rodeo while growing up. One of Lee’s brothers was a calf roper, and the other one was a bull rider. Lee and one of her older sisters were involved with barrel racing and pole bending, while her oldest sister was a saddle bronc rider.
“We spent our summer evenings taking care of the family farm, ensuring our horses were in tip-top shape and heading to the rodeo on the weekends,” Lee said. “When I had the opportunity to select a location in the new building, the rodeo office was my first choice.”
Lee couldn’t think of a better way to honor her mom than naming the rodeo coordinator office as the Mary Lee Rodeo Excellence office.
“She was always focused on being the best at everything you do, whether you were attending class, mucking the barn or competing at the rodeo,” Lee said. “She supported our families’ individual interests as long as we were committed to doing it right and having a personal brand for being excellent. That meant we had to practice, do our research, study and put the time in to prepare.”
The Mary Lee Rodeo Excellence office will be located on the first floor of the new facility in the Student Success Center. This location will provide a welcoming destination for students to study alongside their peers and access important resources that will enhance student success. The Student Success Center will be equipped with 16 individual computer workstations, a flexible collaborative workspace, a graduate student ambassador support area, staff offices for program coordinators and direct access to flexible meeting rooms and tutoring rooms.
The New Frontiers Agricultural Hall will strengthen OSU research, teaching and Extension missions while addressing two key challenges of attracting and retaining scientific leaders and students and equipping collaborative teams with state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories.
Lee said the agricultural industry has the enormous challenge of increasing production 70% by 2050 to feed a rapidly expanding population. In addition, there will be fewer acres of farmland as urban communities continue to expand, she added.
“To reach that goal, it’s critical to have the best and brightest faculty, research and Extension services to continually evolve agricultural-related technology of crops, soils, livestock production and conservation of our natural resources,” Lee said.
As an OSU Ferguson College of Agriculture alumna and the manager of production ag marketing for John Deere, Lee served as the emcee for the New Frontiers groundbreaking event on April 23, 2021.
“It’s always enjoyable to see successful alumni return and take part in activities, but it’s magnified greatly when you see so many alumni like Tammy invest in the vision of our college,” said Thomas G. Coon, vice president and dean of OSU Agriculture. “It has been exciting to share the naming opportunities with donors and see them select a space where their name will be on display in the building, and for many, that has evolved into a way to create a family legacy and honor a mentor or loved one.”
Lee hopes students as well as other alumni will follow in her footsteps and give to the New Frontiers campaign.
“It’s never too early to start giving back,” she said. “Even the smallest donation can make a huge difference, and you may even inspire others to do the same.”
For more information, visit New Frontiers for campaign progress, construction updates and donor stories.