CASNR honors its own, its best

     In the presence of distinguished alumni, supporters and students, the 2001 Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources banquet honored the college's best March 30.
     The majority of CASNR honorees were students recognized for their academic success. These dedicated students took home $685,000 in scholarships, a $10,000 increase in scholarships from last year's banquet.
     There's a reason for the increase in scholarships, said former associate dean Paul Hummer.
     "Year in and year out OSU produces the top agricultural graduates in the country, which is a tribute to OSU's outstanding faculty," said Hummer, who retired in 1998. "It gives me a new burst of energy to see the students I used to work with do so well."
     One of the students Hummer helped is plant and soil sciences graduate James Enis, a 2000-2001 Top 10 CASNR Senior.
     Enis, a former Navy serviceman from Wilburton, Okla., served OSU well in his four-year stint, receiving Phi Theta Kappa and Golden Key honors along with a slew of crop-judging awards. But he doesn't take credit himself.
     "Without the plant and soil sciences staff, there's no way I would have been able to receive this honor," said Enis, who plans to become an OSU plant and soil sciences graduate student and pursue advanced degrees. "There's no doubt that it's an honor to be considered a Top 10 Senior, especially knowing some of my classmates are so bright."
     Perhaps the brightest star of the graduating 2001 class is Kent Gardner, the 2000-2001 CASNR Outstanding Senior.
     Majoring in agricultural economics, the Sharon, Okla., native was an OSU legacy when he enrolled, having three siblings who graduated from the university. 
     Now Gardner has built his own legacy, one that will more than likely not be duplicated. He received everything from 1997-1998 CASNR Outstanding Freshman to the prestigious 2000 Harry S Truman Scholarship.
     Along with Gardner and Enis are eight other outstanding seniors to complete the year's Top 10. They include Christopher Azbell, environmental science major with a policy option from Tecumseh, Okla.; Kaleb Hennigh, agricultural communications major from Laverne, Okla.; Jamie Liston, agricultural education major from Moore, Okla.; Megan McElroy, animal science major with a pre-veterinary option from Snyder, Okla.; Regina Rowe, biochemistry and molecular biology major from Stratford, Okla.; Elizabeth Siefert, biochemistry and molecular biology major from Vancouver, Wash.; Rosslyn Spencer, agricultural economics major with a veterinary business management option from Chickasha, Okla.; and Kimberly Stuart, agricultural economics major from Stillwater, Okla.
     "The talent in this college is exciting," said Ray Wulf, president of Oklahoma Farmers Union, the organization that sponsored activities during OSU Ag Week 2001. "The problem is getting them to stay in agriculture.
     "Farming is absolutely, positively the most rewarding and honorable occupation in the world. But the word 'farming' detours a lot of kids because they think it's less lucrative. We need to show students agriculture is the way to go. We need to keep OSU's talent in agriculture," Wulf said. 
     "People who choose agriculture as a career are normally good, wholesome folks people who are family oriented."
     Hummer agreed.
     "The reason agriculture will always succeed is because of family values," said Hummer. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a student in another college who has the family values that college of agriculture kids have.
     "Your more successful students have had their parents behind them the entire way."
     Like Melissa Majors.
     Majors' parents, Duane and Patricia Majors, came from Sutton, Neb., to surprise her and to watch her receive the highest honor bestowed upon a CASNR underclassman, the Charles and Magda Browning Outstanding Freshman award.
     "The entire time I sat there thinking, 'If I get this thing, I sure wish Mom and Dad could be here,'" said Majors.
     Until after the banquet, Majors was unaware that her parents saw the entire thing, even when she and 220 other CASNR students received Fleming continuing student scholarships.
     Majors was not the only person to be surprised. Elizabeth Whitfield received the college's Outstanding Support Staff award.
     "I couldn't believe it," said Whitfield, senior secretary for the department of agricultural education, communications and 4-H youth development.
     Whitfield was one of three faculty and staff honored at the banquet. 
     Other honorees were horticulture and landscape architecture assistant professor Greg Bell as 2001 Agriculture Ambassadors' Outstanding Adviser and animal science professor Dave Buchanan as Alpha Zeta's Outstanding Teacher.
     Alpha Zeta also honored agribusiness major and Morrison, Okla., native Ryan Leuter as the organization's outstanding freshman.
     Alpha Zeta, the honorary agricultural fraternity, received honors of its own. The organization earned the Outstanding Club award based on its leadership, community service, fund-raising, social and educational activities as well as its activities above the local level.
     In addition to awards and scholarships, a few deserving students received recognition for their internships. 
     Agribusiness major Ryan McMullen of Burns Flat, Okla., was honored for his work as this year's agricultural legislative intern. 
     The Frank Lucas Agricultural Policy Internship was presented to Julie Arntz of Lawton, Okla., environmental science major and CASNR's most recent recipient of a Truman Scholarship.
     A night like the 2001 CASNR banquet is possible thanks to the support and hard work of CASNR faculty, staff and students. OSU honorees and future honorees have many to thank.
     "The hardest job is that of the scholarship selection committee. This year the committee and college departments reviewed 920 applications," said Louann Waldner, CASNR director of student 
career services. 
     As more scholarships become available and CASNR students continue to succeed, the annual banquet will honor its own, its best.

By R. Fred Minnick Jr., Jones, Okla.,
and Amy Wallace, Altus, Okla.

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