Spotlight on Oklahoma State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. This article originally appeared in our Fall Ranch House Journal. Never miss another agricultural college feature, subscribe to the magazine here.
By Taylor Gazda
Since the day I was born, my life has revolved around the cattle industry. As a baby gift, I received a lifetime membership to the National Junior Angus Association and an Angus heifer calf by the name of Spooky.
Though my life has always revolved around agriculture, my education hasn’t. I grew up attending a small private college preparatory academy in the heart of Athens, Georgia. My classmates didn’t know a dairy cow from a beef cow, and were disgusted by the processes of artificial insemination and pulling a calf. Things that were so normal and interesting to me, were repulsive and lame to them.
“Mom, wouldn’t it be so cool if there was a school for cow people only? Mom, wouldn’t it be so cool if my classmates liked cows as much as I do?” These were questions that six-year-old me asked daily when picked up from school. Little did I know, this school I had imagined did exist, and 14 years later I would set foot on its campus for the first time.
In fall 2011, I started my college career at the University of Mississippi. I know what you’re thinking… No, Ole Miss isn’t an ag school either. I spent a year and a half surrounded by the same group of people I had gone to grade school with, uninformed about agriculture. I wanted to transfer, I needed to transfer – but where?
Seventeen miles off of Interstate-35, in a little town where the folks are referred to as pokes, you’ll find the university that brought me back, the college that gave me endless opportunities and the unspoken bond best described as the Cowboy Family.
Oklahoma State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is truly second to none. With 16 majors and 60 study options, CASNR provides a multitude of avenues to enrich the minds of our industry’s future leaders. From the expert professors to the hands-on industry opportunities provided to students, CASNR is dedicated to expanding minds and inspiring purpose.
BEEF BEYOND THE CLASSROOM
While OSU certainly meets the expectations academically, they exceed those expectations by providing students with unique jobs opportunities such as those at the OSU Purebred Beef Center. OSU’s elite purebred beef operation was founded in the 1920’s and now consists of approximately 300 head of Angus, Brangus, Hereford, Limousin and Simmental females. Unique to most purebred ranches, OSU’s beef center is employed solely by students, allowing them to gain experience in the production and promotion of high quality purebred seedstock genetics. In addition to the students representing OSU at the Tulsa State Fair and the National Western Stock Show, they prep and host the center’s annual production sale, The Cowboy Classic.
Recently, Dr. Gretchen Mafi, professor and meat judging coach at OSU, served as a guest on SiriusXM College Sports Nation’s talk show, The Playbook. The show’s hosts, Chris Childers and Jason Horowitz reached out to Dr. Mafi after having a discussion on the show about unique competitive collegiate teams that might not be considered sports. Listeners of the show proudly recognized animal evaluation teams as being somewhat of a “sport” for ag kids.
OSU ranks at the top of the standings when it comes to the success of its judging teams, as the university is the home to 18 National Meat Judging Championships, 15 National Livestock Judging Championships and eight AQHA World Horse Judging Championships.
The opportunities and skills that the students acquire by participating on these teams are those that add versatility to their résumés as they enter the professional sector.
While I only scratched the surface on the experience one would receive as a student at Oklahoma State University, I feel it’s most important to touch on that unspoken bond I mentioned before. At the end of your four years, you’ll walk away with more than just a piece of paper. You’ll walk away with experience, you’ll walk away with knowledge and you’ll walk away with memories, too – but most importantly, you’ll walk away with a family who will forever be loyal and true.