Extension director receives national honor
Oklahoma State University's Merritt Taylor has been honored as a national Research Center Administrators Society's Distinguished Service Award recipient for 2011.
The director of the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources' Wes Watkins Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Lane, Taylor has served the RCAS in several offices including proceedings chairman, secretary, vice president and national president.
"Merritt is fully deserving of this prestigious honor, which officially recognizes service, leadership and outstanding contributions to RCAS over an extended period of time," said Robert L. Westerman, DASNR assistant vice president for program support.
The RCAS is composed of superintendents and directors of agricultural research stations and centers throughout the United States.
"RCAS strives to advance the acquisition and dissemination of scientific knowledge concerning the nature, use, improvement and interrelationships of research and new technology for the benefit of people," Taylor said. "It's a very great honor to receive this award."
As director of the Wes Watkins Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Taylor is responsible for the budgeting, planning and operation of the center; supervision of its employees; and providing leadership for the center's public-service commitments as part of OSU's land-grant university mission.
"While crop diversity has always been emphasized at the center, a current focus is on sustainable and organic cropping systems, especially crops that can be marketed with the Farm-to-School program, crops used for biological fuels and biological disease control programs, crops with nutrition and pharmaceutical values, and cover crops that can be used for soil improvement," he said.
The center is the only state or federally owned property in Oklahoma that has land certified as "organic" according to the guidelines of the USDA National Organic Program.
In addition to his center duties, Taylor has served as a public participant in Oklahoma's 2008-2010 Comprehensive Water Plan, on the Atoka County Rural Water District No. 2 Board of Directors and represented southeastern Oklahoma on a number of OSU and state agricultural committees and planning groups.
Prior to becoming the center's director in 1996, Taylor served as a professor and Texas A&M Cooperative Extension area economist of management and marketing for South Texas District 12, comprised of 22 counties south of San Antonio.
His professional affiliations include the American Agricultural Economics Association, Western Agricultural Economics Association, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, International Agricultural Economics Association, Texas Vegetable Association, Oklahoma Vegetable Association, Texas and Oklahoma Watermelon Association, National Watermelon Association, Entomology Society of America and Southern Branch of American Society of Horticulture Sciences.
Taylor earned his Bachelor of Science degree in animal science and his Master of Science degree in agricultural economics from New Mexico State University in 1969 and 1976, respectively. He earned his doctoral degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University in 1982.