Panhandle State Agriculture

According to “The Heritage of the Panhandle” by Kathryn Sexton, the year was 1907 and residents of the Panhandle area felt there was a need for a farmer’s institute.

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A great number of talented instructors have impacted and continue to impact students’ lives as well as the Agriculture program that came from such a modest beginning.

Panhandle State Agriculture

It was approximately two years before Pan-Handle Agricultural Institute was created in 1909 by the Oklahoma State Legislature as a secondary agricultural education center for the Panhandle region. A great number of talented instructors have impacted and continue to impact students’ lives as well as the Agriculture program that came from such a modest beginning.

Faculty members at Panhandle State are known for touching students’ lives, but the impact they make on the community surrounding the University is also great. Raymond Peck is a true example of the value professors and field specialists bring to local producers. Peck graduated from PAMC in 1943. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps until 1946 when he returned to the University. Peck was a professor and Head of Agronomy at Panhandle State for over 30 years. At one time, Mr. Peck was labeled as one of the top experts in the Agronomy field. He supervised research and was involved in several joint assignments between Panhandle State and Oklahoma State University (OSU). For a period of 27 years, Mr. Peck was actively engaged in conducting simulated hail damage studies on field crops, hosting workshops and schools for the Crop Insurance Industry. Mr. Peck passed away in 2005.

As with Raymond Peck, some of the most influential leaders at Panhandle State were once students. Dr. Estes Firestone, Professor of Animal Science and Biology, was associated with the University from 1938-1942 as a student and from 1942-1983 as a faculty member until his retirement in 1983. He graduated from PAMC in 1942 with a B.S. in Animal Science. His tenure was interrupted when he served three years in the navy during WWII. He also received his master’s degree from OSU and his doctorate from Colorado State University. He was very active on campus serving in many capacities and beloved and respected by both the faculty and student body. The Firestone Meat Laboratory was officially dedicated in his name in 1984.

Like many, Milton England’s legacy will live with Panhandle State forever. Milt served as Head of the Animal Science Department for approximately 30 years of his 36-year tenure on the Animal Science faculty. Livestock Judging was an important part of his life; he coached the teams at Panhandle State for 25 years. He served 32 years as Executive Secretary for the Alumni Association and was known as “Mr. Alumni.” He set the direction for the association and held it together through many lean years. Milton was instrumental in organizing, promoting and fundraising for Alumni sponsored events. Some events include the Panhandle State News, scoreboards, highway signs, campus chimes, Life Membership Program, Hall of Fame Program and the Panhandle State Foundation, which was his pride and joy. Milton England passed away on November 17, 1996, but left an abundant and thriving Alumni Association.

Just as Milton England had an instrumental part in the successful livestock judging program, Dr. Kenneth Woodward had a great part in the success of numerous judging teams at Panhandle State. Kenneth and his wife, Maxine, graduated from Panhandle A&M College in 1957 with degrees in animal husbandry and home economics. Kenneth received his master’s degree in animal science from OSU in 1959. They returned to the panhandle and became involved in the family farming and ranching operation. In 1965, Kenneth accepted a position with Panhandle A&M College as an Instructor in Animal Science. He also coached the Panhandle State Livestock Judging Team. During this time, Kenneth served as President of the Panhandle State Association of Alumni and Friends. After six years at Panhandle A&M, the Woodward family moved to Iowa where Kenneth earned his doctorate in animal growth and development. In 1976, Dr. Woodward returned to Oklahoma Panhandle State University to continue teaching and coaching the livestock judging teams. Dr. Woodward was actively involved in the establishment of the agri-business major that dramatically increased the number of students receiving degrees in agriculture. Maxine worked in the Registrar’s Office until 1982 when she accepted a teaching position in Texhoma, Okla. In 1982, Kenneth became the department head of Animal Science, then Dean of Agriculture in 1995. With Maxine’s help, Dr. Woodward has hosted numerous reunions over the years for students who were agriculture majors, judging team members or others involved in agriculture programs.

In 1996, Dr. Kenneth and Maxine Woodward were inducted into the Panhandle State Foundation Distinguished Contributor’s Honor Roll and into the Panhandle State Association Hall of Fame in 1998. Dr. Woodward has been a Panhandle State Foundation board member since 2000 and served as president from 2006-2008. Both Kenneth and Maxine are currently retired but remain active in supporting their community, Panhandle State, and its students.

Supporting students has always been a constant among Panhandle State faculty. Dr. Floyd James “Jay” Lark grew up in Raton, New Mexico, with a flock of siblings and cousins. He earned a doctorate and taught on both the high school and college levels, finishing his career with 27 years as director of Agricultural Education at Panhandle State. He served as the Collegiate FFA Advisor as well. Known as “Doc” to his students, he was a passionate teacher and especially enjoyed road trips to national competitions and conferences.

Gwen and Jerry Martin have remained active in the institution to a highly-admirable degree by dedicating 50 years of service to Panhandle State. The couple is from a little town in southeastern Oklahoma called Antlers, where they went to grade school and high school. During their senior years in high school, Jerry was the president of FFA and Gwen was the President of FHA as well as Queen of their FFA Chapter. After graduation, Jerry Martin went to OSU for one semester before joining the Marine Corps. Jerry then proposed to Gwen and they were married on her birthday in 1953. He served a tour of duty in Korea after their marriage and upon his discharge, he enrolled at OSU.

Jerry earned three degrees (BS, MS, & Ph.D.) at OSU while Gwen worked in the Agriculture Economics Department. Upon graduation, Jerry got a job at Murray State College in 1961. Gwen also worked there in the registrar’s office. Jerry was there for six years when Freeman McKee, the president at Murray and nephew of Marvin McKee (the Panhandle State President at the time) asked Jerry if he would like to go to Panhandle State with him for a new job. That was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with the University that continues to this day. Jerry was hired jointly by Animal Science and Biology Schools to teach and he conducted Beef Cattle Research in conjunction with OSU before retiring in 1994. Jerry taught biology, comparative anatomy, histology and physiology along with all the animal science courses offered at one time or another during the fall, spring and summer sessions.

Actively involved in Aggie Athletics, Jerry ran the clock and Gwen kept the score book at all basketball games until they retired in 1994. They were also the cheerleader sponsors from 1980 until 1990. Jerry was the FAR representative for the athletic department, was athletic director once, and interim athletic director once. Gwen worked all the years prior to retirement as Chief Clerk in the Business Office, Interim Business Director twice and the president’s secretary. Jerry was the first and only Dean of Agriculture from 1972 until retirement in 1994.

Retirement was short lived as both Jerry and Gwen began working again a mere five months after they retired in 1994. Jerry has taught Animal Nutrition and conducted the Bull Test, while Gwen is the administrative assistant for the School of Agriculture.