Mar 11, 2020
Dr. Nels Peterson, Professor of Agricultural Education, announced his retirement after 11 years of teaching at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. He will be remembered for his infectious passion for teaching.
The North Dakota native was born and raised in Turtle Lake on the family farm and ranch. Nels pursued higher education by attending North Dakota State University, where he received a B.S in Agricultural Education in 1976. Following graduation, Peterson returned home to continue the family tradition with his wife, Kathy.
Although his family legacy means everything to him, Peterson couldn’t stay away from the opportunity to shape young minds. Nels returned to the classroom to teach high school students. In 1994, he took a job as an Extension Agent for 15 years. During these 15 years, Peterson continued his education by obtaining an M.S in Education Administration in 1997 and a Ph.D. in Adult and Career Education in 2009 from North Dakota State University.
As an Extension Agent, he focused on Agricultural, 4-H, and economic development, and was fortunate enough to take students to the National Land and Range Judging Contest in Oklahoma City. Through opportunities presented to him at the national contest in Oklahoma City, Dr. Peterson learned of Panhandle State. He took his position as Professor of Agricultural Education at Panhandle State University the following year in 2009. During his time at the university, he has made an impact on all students. Students have always counted on being given a hard time followed by his hearty chuckle, but knowing that he would help them succeed as long as they tried.
University President, Dr. Tim Faltyn said, “Dr. Peterson has been so valuable to the success of the Department of Agricultural Education. His love for his students shines through his work and his knowledge will be greatly missed.”
Dr. Peterson has served as the Collegiate FFA advisor, and for the past three years, he served as the Academic Advisor for the Rodeo team. Dr. Peterson always has an eager attitude to connect with students and has made an impact on every student he has come into contact with.
Dean Shawna Tucker stated, “Dr. Peterson has been an invaluable asset to the Vocational Agricultural Education program at OPSU for the last 11 years. He has also served as the Associate Dean for the College of Agriculture, Science, and Nursing for the past 2 years. He is very collegial and hard-working. Nels has worked tirelessly in organizing the OPSU Interscholastic FFA competition each year. This contest brings approximately 600 students to campus each year. He has served as the faculty Rodeo Advisor. Dr. Peterson is an exemplary member of the Agriculture faculty who leads others by keeping his students at the center of all he does. His heart for service to the students is second to none. His good humor and fun-loving attitude will be missed!”
Dr. Peterson commented, “I say two things the first day in the Foundations of Ag Ed class. “Welcome to the first day of the job, you’ll love the rest of your life,” and “I expect that each of you will one day be named as an outstanding teacher.” One of my major professors in graduate school said that it is imperative to set the bar high and communicate the expectations, because we tend to meet the expectations set before us. I’m proud of the young men and women with whom I have been privileged to work with. There isn’t any better.”
Dr. Peterson and his wife have four sons and grandchildren that they love to spoil. As he looks back on the years, Peterson reflected that his wife and family had been his strongest supporters. After retirement, he plans to continue spoiling their grandkids and traveling to all the places they haven’t had the chance to see yet. When asked his favorite part about Oklahoma Panhandle State University that he will take into retirement, he had no hesitation saying, “Above all, it has been the students.”
“To be part of the organization that takes in young freshmen students, and to see them grow as students here at OPSU, graduate and become young professionals, and our peers is extremely humbling and gratifying. I hope that my legacy is that through the women and men that leave OPSU as Agricultural Educators, they can pass on some of the passion for teaching and learning to their students, and future generations.”
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