Extension director named Distinguished Educator
Washington County Extension Director Randy Pirtle was awarded the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service's most prestigious field staff honor on Jan. 18, the statewide organization's Distinguished Educator Award.
"The Distinguished Educator Award was designed to truly honor excellence in our profession," said Jim Trapp, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension associate director. "We expect fewer than 4 percent of our educators and specialists in the field will win this award during their career."
Pirtle has served as Washington County Extension's director and agricultural educator since 1986, helping county and state residents improve the quality of their lives and the lives of their families. He originally joined the Washington County Extension Office in 1985, serving a year as co-coordinator for 4-H youth development programs.
As OSU Cooperative Extension director for Washington County, he provides leadership and mentoring to three full-time educators, program assistants and office staff, as well as student interns. Administrative duties include the management of staff, funds and facilities for the county office, as well as analyzing and reporting the beneficial impact of county Extension activities.
In his role as agricultural educator, Pirtle primary focus is on helping residents and local organizations use research-based educational information to solve issues and concerns of importance to them in the areas of production agriculture, urban agriculture and 4-H youth development.
He created and manages the OSU Cattle Conference and Trade Show, a 15-year annual event in Dewey that attracts more than 5,000 beef producers; started the county's Master Gardener Program in 1999, which has trained more than 250 volunteers who provide more than 250,000 hours of service annually; and maintains research and demonstration plots to showcase beneficial management of and the science behind pasture weed control, fescue pasture fertility, turf disease control, wheat varieties, oat varieties, cattle fly control, vegetable varieties, pecan varieties and beef cattle supplementation programs.
"Randy has always been one of our best educators in terms of making use of mass media to provide science-based information to those who need it," said Dixie Ferrell, OSU Cooperative Extension director for Oklahoma's northeast district.
Pirtle publishes and edits the award-winning bimonthly newsletter "Bullhorn," which serves more than 800 area producers; writes an award-winning weekly agriculture news column, "Agri-Directions," and award-winning weekly horticulture news column, "Yard and Garden Tips," both of which are published in the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise; and hosts an award-winning weekly agricultural radio show on KWON in Bartlesville.
Since 1994, Pirtle has written articles for the Conoco-Phillips weekly newsletter, reporting how financial investment is being utilized in 4-H and FFA youth programming. Since 1998, he has written and published an annual weed and brush control guide for area agricultural producers: "The OSU Pasture and Range Guide."
"With the recent retirement of some of our area specialists, Randy has stepped in and written monthly articles for our award-winning 'Timely Topics' newsletter, which is distributed statewide," Ferrell said.
From 1987 to 1998, Pirtle served as the host of "Green Country Gardening," a 20-minute cable television program that provided the latest science-based information on topics relating to home horticulture from April through September. Pirtle hosted 264 episodes in all, and received national recognition for the educational effort.
He has been the recipient of many honors over the years, including the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Distinguished Service Award and recognition by the National Association of Equine Affiliated Academics for his livestock programs.
Pirtle has served as an Oklahoma Youth Expo superintendent since 2008. He was elected to serve as the southwest region director for the American Hampshire Association in 2011.
Pirtle and his family operate a family farm near Copan and still have a partnership in cattle, cropland and pastureland in western Oklahoma.
A Cowboy alumnus, Pirtle earned his Bachelor of Science degree in animal science from OSU in 1985. He earned his Master of Science degree in agricultural education from OSU in 1989.
Tulsa County Extension Director Charlotte Richert also was named a 2012 recipient of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Distinguished Educator Award during recognition ceremonies on Jan. 18 at OSU's Stillwater campus.