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Dillon Davidson uses his agricultural experience to grow global markets. Photo by Avery Callis.

International Initiatives: MIAP alumnus promotes global trade

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Media Contact: Sophia Fahleson | Digital Communications Specialist | 405-744-7063 |

In his adopted home state of Nevada, Oklahoma State University alumnus Dillon Davidson continues what he started in Stillwater, Oklahoma: a mission to expand awareness and elevate the agricultural industry.

“Agriculture has been in my blood since birth,” Davidson said. “I love being around it and advocating for it.”

Raised in rural Upper Sandusky, Ohio, Davidson developed a love for the agricultural world, which took root early through active involvement in 4-H and FFA.

Davidson’s path led him to Ohio’s Wilmington College where he was a member of the Aggies and a founder of the Collegiate Farm Bureau. Here, he built his leadership skills while exploring different facets of agriculture.

Unsure of his purpose initially, Davidson helped create his own degree by specializing in international agriculture with a business focus.

“My undergraduate professors helped develop my passions and allowed me the opportunity to educate people on how agriculture works and its immense importance,” he said.

Studying areas like foreign language, political science, and international agricultural development expanded his horizons as did study-abroad course experiences in Kenya, Tanzania and Costa Rica.

After earning his undergraduate degree in 2017, Davidson headed to the Ferguson College of Agriculture to pursue a Master of Science in the Master of International Agriculture Program.

Davidson was involved at OSU as a graduate teaching assistant and student organization member. He also conducted research on crop production efficiency with the late Bill Raun, Regents Professor of plant and soil sciences.

While most of his peers in MIAP pursued international projects, Davidson used his previous global experiences to focus his master’s thesis on more traditional agricultural practices within OSU’s plant and soil sciences department.

Karen Hickman, professor and director of the environmental science undergraduate program, believed in Davidson and encouraged him to challenge himself, he said. Her support guided his decision to cultivate his thesis and apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture outlet program, Davidson added.

“Developing my thesis pushed me to dive deeper into determining my purpose and passions,” Davidson said.

Upon earning his master’s degree with an economic and trade focus in 2019, Davidson headed to Reno, Nevada, to join the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

He became the NDA’s industry and global trade coordinator, but his dedication and innovative spirit paved the way to his current role as senior trade officer, Davidson said.

“My main focus is expanding awareness of Nevada’s food and agriculture across the country and internationally,” he said.

“What pushes me is creating new programs Nevada has never had before and becoming the face and spirit of such initiatives,” Davidson added.

One program he developed is the Nevada Craft Beverage Passport to promote breweries, wineries, distilleries and tap rooms statewide.

Davidson’s initiatives inspire colleagues, said Casey Jones, president of Primo Animal Health.

“Dillon is always willing to step up and figure out what needs to be done,” Jones said. “He just wants to help out in the best ways he can.”

Their partnership has since expanded to boost western U.S. agricultural exports worldwide, Jones added.

Supporting local businesses is pivotal, Davidson said, as demonstrated by his guidance of Jones’ company.

“Dillon has taken pride in continually exporting Nevada agriculture and finding new businesses and struggling farms to ensure no one is left behind,” said Nathaniel Brown, a Nevada Department of Transportation analyst.

In addition to Davidson’s NDA role, he volunteers his time with Urban Roots, a Reno nonprofit educating the community about urban farming.

His active participation on the nonprofit’s board left a lasting impact on Daphnne Ekmanis, former Urban Roots farm director.

“Dillon loves his work and it shows,” Ekmanis said. “He is ambitious, not just in agriculture but also in uplifting entire communities. A lot of board members are quiet, but he was always at meetings ready to lend a hand, which inspired us to give more of ourselves.

Davidson’s giving spirit stems from his core values.

“Whether it be your community or your people, giving back is not always about money,” Davidson said. “Giving back your time and engaging with others matters most.”

As first vice president of the North American Agricultural Marketing Officials, Davidson will become the youngest president in the organization’s history and the first representing Nevada.

“Something that sets Dillon apart is his ability to do the work of someone who had been in his position for 50 years,” Jones said. “And he’s only 28.”

For Davidson, being able to pursue his passions circles back to using his voice and leveraging his platform to enact positive change, he said.

“People don’t realize how multifaceted agriculture is and how many areas of life revolve around and gain support from it,” Davidson said. “Those of us in this field have a voice, and people think theirs isn’t strong enough, but it will make a difference.”

As Davidson looks ahead, he is guided by the principles he inherited from his rural Ohio upbringing.

Through advocacy, innovation and a lifelong connection to agriculture, Davidson exemplifies OSU’s mission of cultivating leaders who will shape a brighter, more sustainable future for agriculture worldwide, Jones said.

Story by: Molly Moody | Cowboy Journal

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