New OSU Ag Dean Excited to Tackle Water ChallengesMon, 21 Jul 2014 15:38:31 CDT
Dr. Thomas Coon comes to Oklahoma with experience in research, extension and teaching, the three key principles of land grant institutions. Coon is the new Vice President and Dean of Division of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University. Recently Coon sat down with Farm Director Ron Hays of the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and talked extensively about his academic and research journey that has led to Stillwater and the opportunity to lead the Division of Ag at OSU.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the full conversation between Ron Hays and Dr. Thomas Coon.
Coon comes to OSU from Michigan State University, where he was director of Extension and a professor in the department of fisheries and wildlife. At Michigan State, he directed more than 600 staff and faculty on campus and in Michigan's 83 counties. In that role he developed a deep appreciation for the extension educators.
"Our educators are incredible people, they are inspiring to me," Coon said. "I really enjoyed that work because it put me in contact with people that have a big heart, that have a very curious mind and they cannot help but teach."
"There is something in their DNA that those extension folks are dedicated to helping people learn and put to use really good solid research based information," he said.
Coon grew up in Iowa and he has gained research experience in California, Utah, Missouri and Peru. In moving to Oklahoma he was intrigued by the environmental challenges with water.
"As we look at where we are going with agriculture in this country and what are the challenges we are going to be facing, climate is going to be a part of it," Coon said.
Coon was most familiar with the strong reputation of OSU's fisheries and wildlife program, but he also excited to be a part of a university that is strongly supported.
"The programs here in the College of Ag Sciences and Natural Resources and in our experiment station and extension, these are really strong programs and it's a state where they support us," Coon said. "The agricultural leadership supports us, the state leadership supports us, they see the value of their land grant institution and see the value of the agriculture and natural resource programs that are going on here - research, teaching and extension."
"That's a great environment to work in to have that kind of support and yet to be pushing the envelope," he said.
Even as he gets acquainted with DASNR and Oklahoma, Coon already envisions a robust future for the division that includes having a meaningful influence on a variety of statewide and national issues such as water, climate, bioenergy and biomaterials, and livestock production.
"There is this commitment to doing this really solid research, understanding systems as well as we can and then find ways to put it work, to give that information to people in a way that they can use it on their farm, on their ranch, in their river, on their lakeshore, in their backyard, in their community parks," Coon said. "Wherever it applies, it has application and so we have a passion for getting that information, we also have a passion for putting it to work."
Coon will spend the early weeks of his tenure traveling extensively across Oklahoma, meeting people, learning about the state and becoming familiar with its agricultural economy and natural resources. In his new role at OSU, he sees a lot of his job is telling that story.
"The more I can tell that story to more people and help them to see how it impact their lives," Coon said. "I think that's the most important thing I can do right now is to make people are aware of know what their land-grant university is doing for them and they feel that they have a voice in suggesting where we ought to looking."
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