M. K. “Curly” Cook, Ph.D. was inducted into the Panhandle State Association”s Alumni Ambassador Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 17, 2004, in Goodwell. In nomination of Dr. Cook to the Hall of Fame, Alumnus Dan Daniel wrote, “Curly Cook is and has been a cowboy, an innovator, a humanitarian, and educator, and probably the best Extension Animal Scientist to ever pull on a pair of boots. It is a great feeling to nominate him for the Hall of Fame Award at an institution that I love so very much.” Dr. Cook and his wife are Life Members of the Panhandle State Association, the alumni arm of Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell.
M. K. “Curly” Cook is the youngest of six children of Cecil I. and Anna Mae Cook, born on September 26, 1934, in Logan (Beaver County), and was raised on a wheat and livestock farm. Curly was educated in the Beaver County schools, graduating from Beaver High School in 1952.
Curly attended his freshman year of college at Oklahoma A & M University and transferred for his sophomore year to Panhandle A & M College, Goodwell. He worked his way through college by working at the college beef barn and, after his marriage, he was employed by Rentie Hamilton of Texhoma as herdsman for the Cross S Ranch.
Curly married Sandra Blankenship of Guymon on June 6, 1955, at the end of their junior year at PAMC. They have two children, Kimberly Cook Dunlap of Decatur, Texas, and M. Currey Cook of Anchorage, Alaska, and two grandsons, Chuck and Jake Dunlap
Following graduation from Panhandle A & M College in 1956, Curly managed the Hisson A&M Farm, Sand Springs, and then returned to Cross S Ranch in Texhoma as ranch manager. Curly and Sandra moved to Georgia in October, 1959 in ranch management near Barnesville, Ga.; then the Cooks moved to Athens, Ga., for Curly to start graduate school in 1960. When he completed his masters in Animal Nutrition, Curly began his employment with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service.
Dr. Cook’s career with Extension spans 31 years, with roles as Mitchell County Agent, Area Livestock Specialist, and State Extension Animal Science Specialist. During this period, he also attended graduate school at the College of Veterinary Medicine receiving his Ph.D. in Rumen Physiology from UGA in 1975, was promoted to Head of Extension Animal Science Department in 1981, and in l989 became Associate Director of the Cooperative Extension Service in charge of all agricultural and natural resources programs.
Dr. Cook’s educational responsibilities included teaching beef production practices to County Agents and cattlemen as well as preparing magazine articles, bulletins, circulars, slide sets and videos. Dr. Cook retired from the University in May 1992.
During his service to the citizens of Georgia and the State, Dr. Cook served in numerous leadership roles: Chairman & Vice-Chairman, Southern Extension Section, American Society of Animal Science; one of the pioneers in organizing and forming the National Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) which is still very active and has strong leadership in the livestock industry; organizer of the 4-H Horse Program; director, vice-president and president of the Georgia Association of County Agents; vice-president and president of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association. His appointment to the chairmanship of the Agri-Center Planning Committee by Governor Joe Frank Harris was one his favorite endeavors. Through the work of this committee, the Georgia National Ag-Center was constructed.
Curly and Sandra are both retired to a small farm in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, where he continues to raise commercial cattle and hay. He stays busy with research projects with the University of Georgia and with major seed companies.
Although Curly is retired from The University of Georgia, he stays involved with the College of Agriculture. He is presently serving as President of the University of Georgia, College of Agricultural, Ag Alumni Association. He still works to improve the quality of the education for all the young people with agricultural interests.