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Cynda Clary, Louis Gardner, Rio Bonham, Betty Gardner and Tom Coon pose for a photo at the 2023 Ferguson College of Agriculture Scholarship and Awards Banquet. Rio is holding a large statue that he was awarded.
Rio Bonham (center) was named the 2023 Louis and Betty Gardner Outstanding Senior at the 2023 Ferguson College of Agriculture Scholarship and Awards Banquet. He is pictured with, from left: Cynda Clary, Louis Gardner, Betty Gardner and Tom Coon, vice president and dean for OSU Agriculture.

Bonham named Ferguson College of Agriculture Outstanding Senior

Friday, April 7, 2023

Media Contact: Jami Mattox | Digital Manager | 918-744-1884 |

Rio Bonham of Tishomingo, Oklahoma, was recently named Oklahoma State University’s Ferguson College of Agriculture 2023 Louis and Betty Gardner Outstanding Senior. 

Bonham is majoring in biosystems engineering. He is a 2019 graduate of Madill High School and is the son of Marc and Dana Bonham.

The Louis and Betty Gardner Outstanding Senior Award is the highest award given to a senior in the Ferguson College of Agriculture. The Outstanding Senior receives a bronze sculpture and a scholarship. The award is supported by an endowment established by Brent and Kent Gardner, both previous recipients of the award, in honor of their parents, Louis and Betty.

During his time as an undergraduate student, Bonham has served the Ferguson College of Agriculture and Oklahoma State University in various capacities. He has been involved in undergraduate research during his entire career in the Ferguson College. Working with his research mentor, Dr. Ali Mirchi, his research has focused on water and soil moisture sensors. He has earned honors as a member of the Freshman Research Scholars Program, Wentz Research Scholars Program and the Niblack Research Scholars Program.

“Being involved in research throughout college has helped keep me grounded in what I want to do moving forward in my career,” Bonham said. “It’s hard to see purpose in some of the classes you take early in your college career, but research allows knowledge from all your courses to have a place. Undergraduate research has instilled in me a real sense of confidence.”

During his time as an undergraduate student, Bonham participated in the Ferguson College of Agricultural Student Council and was a freshman/transfer member and Student Government Association senator. He also held various positions in the OSU student branch of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He is a member of the Alpha Epsilon Honor Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers and the Agriculture Future of America’s leadership development programs.

Bonham serves as a student ambassador for the OSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and the OSU Henry Bellmon Office of Scholar Development. He is also a teaching assistant in the biosystems and agricultural engineering department.

“Rio has made the most of his time here at the Ferguson College,” said Dr. Cynda Clary, associate dean of the Ferguson College of Agriculture. “He has managed to stay involved in the college and university while undertaking a large amount of undergraduate research that will have a large impact for years to come. Rio has demonstrated a great combination of academic excellence, involvement and service to the Ferguson College of Agriculture.”

The Ferguson College of Agriculture emphasizes hands-on learning and prioritizes a well-rounded student experience. The college’s award-winning faculty members are dedicated to developing students and are passionate about adding value to the total educational experience. With a diverse set of majors and study options, plus more than 60 student organizations, the college is committed to expanding minds and inspiring purpose. Learn more at

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