Ron Sholar named 2012 OSU Distinguished Ag Alumnus
For 2012 Oklahoma State University Distinguished Agriculture Alumnus Award recipient Ron Sholar, his commitment to security has never been less than a 100 percent all-in endeavor, be it the nation's food supply or America's military responsibilities.
"As both an alumnus of and longtime faculty member with the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Ron Sholar has always embodied the land-grant mission of making the world a better place in which to live," said Mike D. Woods, DASNR interim vice president, dean and director. "He is truly deserving of this award, our highest honor for alumni."
Sholar earned his Master of Science degree in agronomy and doctoral degree in crop science at OSU in 1973 and 1984, respectively. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural science at the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1971.
"Growing up, I had a real passion for agriculture and knew I wanted to make that part of my career," Sholar said. "During my three decades as an OSU Cooperative Extension crop specialist, I was fortunate to have the opportunities to provide practical ways by which producers could use the latest scientific advances to solve issues and concerns of importance to them and their operations, and by extension, enhance the quality of life for their families and communities."
Sholar joined the faculty of OSU's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources in 1975, starting as an Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service area agronomist in Muskogee. He moved to the university's Stillwater campus in 1978, serving within the division's department of agronomy and working extensively with peanut and soybean producers, as well as related agribusinesses and public and private organizations.
"From the time that I first met our local county agent in rural Tennessee, I knew that I wanted to work in agricultural extension," Sholar said. "I never really wavered from that plan and I am still happy with that decision. I thought it was a really important calling to service, to help farmers with their operations as they did the hard work of providing food for a hungry nation and world."
It was the same commitment to service that led to Sholar's 39 years of active and reserve military service, where he eventually rose to the rank of major general. His last assignment was the position of deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Command and its 206,000 citizen-soldiers.
He is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College and is a recipient of the Army Distinguished Service Medal. His military duties included five trips to Iraq, as well as Afghanistan and a number of other countries.
Sholar has held a variety of leadership positions within the military prior to his retirement in May of 2010, and often speaks about the contributions of today's citizen soldiers as "making a difference, both at home and around the world."
"Military service is about the sense of fulfillment in knowing we serve with honor; we do our job and we accomplish the mission assigned to us," Sholar said. "We support combat soldiers but also apply civilian skills that are not necessarily part of our active duty force, from something as straightforward as drilling a desperately-needed local water well to activities as complicated as assisting in the establishment of public service institutions."
Today, Sholar serves as executive director of the Oklahoma Oilseed Commission, assisting state growers to enhance and expand their industry, and as executive director of the Great Plains Canola Association.
"It's an exciting time," he said. "Oilseed crops represent a new industry that has the potential to diversify and strengthen Oklahoma agriculture, which provides many billions of dollars annually to the state economy."
Sholar's wife, Linda, is a retired teacher in the Stillwater school system where she taught for many years.
"My wife has a legion of loyal and appreciative former students and parents, and she has been my partner in everything I have done," he said. "Coming from a farm herself, she knows the challenges of farm families and has always supported my work in agriculture. Linda being an Army wife for almost 40 years led her to develop real compassion for military families and their struggles. She has worked hard to make things better for them."