Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service's presents top field staff award
Caddo County Extension Director David L. Nowlin has been named the 2013 recipient of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service's most prestigious field staff honor, 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."
A member of the Caddo County Extension Office since 1993, Nowlin has time and again demonstrated significant positive effects in helping people improve the quality of life for them, their families and communities, especially in the areas of agriculture, youth programs and economic development.
Some of his career highlights include:
--Organizing more than 200 cutting-edge educational meetings for county cattle producers;
--Assisting more than 600 producers with no-till cropping issues since 1999;
--Providing nitrate toxicity education to 1,630 agricultural producers, including a special focus on the county's more than 30,000 acres of annual forage sorghum production;
--Conducting 230 risk management meetings to help farmers and ranchers market their products more effectively, while promoting increased understanding about market factors and marketplace interconnectivity from local to global scales;
--Helping county ranchers release more than 25,000 musk thistle weevils as a way to control the invasive plant species;
--Working with local and county government officials to make available pesticide container recycling collection sites for farmers and related agri-business operators;
--Playing a pivotal role in the creation of the Caddo County Farmers Market;
--Working with the local Sirloin Club to raise more than $650,000 in support of youth livestock projects; and
--Finding ways to help peanut producers reduce fungicide application costs, among others.
Among the more vital and long-lasting benefits was his restarting of the Caddo County Cattlemen's Association when he first joined the county Extension staff in 1993. Caddo County is one of Oklahoma's foremost producers of cows and calves, the number one agricultural commodity in the state, accounting for 46 percent of total agricultural cash receipts, according to National Agricultural Statistics Service data.
"It was important, given Caddo County's extensive number of cow-calf herds," Nowlin said. "Native American Farmers and Ranchers Cooperative is another important program that was developed in cooperation with Langston Extension Educator Randall Ware. The program provides training for Native Americans to get into the cattle business."
Nowlin took the lead in setting up the OSU Master Cattleman Program in Caddo County, which seeks to enhance the profitability of beef operations and the quality of life of beef cattle producers by equipping them with vital information on all aspects of beef production, business planning, risk management and marketing. The Master Cattleman program includes an educational curriculum based on the Oklahoma Beef Cattle Manual produced by the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, as well as a producer-certification process.
Nowlin's commitment to helping residents solve issues and concerns of importance to them played a part in the introduction of no-till production practices in the county. In 1998, local farmer David Roland was trying to plant peanuts on an extremely sandy hill.
"The only way to get traction and keep the sand from blowing away was to plant directly into wheat stubble," Nowlin said. "We learned from Mr. Rowland's innovative no-till experiment. Today we hold no-till tours each summer and examine local peanut and cotton fields to gain a better understanding of how effective weed control methods have been, which also provides farmers and crop advisers a better idea of which herbicides to use."
In 1994, a county commissioner survey indicated Caddo County had more than 150 illegal dump sites of at least one-half-acre in size. Nowlin was asked by the county commissioners to take the lead in writing the Caddo County Solid Waste Disposal Plan.
"Today, most of the illegal dump sites have been cleaned up by county commissioners and local residents, and a countywide trash-off is conducted each year to promote a clean Caddo County," he said.
Nowlin served as a facilitator for the Oklahoma Water Resource and Research Initiative Listening Sessions in 2010, and assisted the group in developing discussion topics relative to key water-use and -quality issues for a series of town hall meetings that occurred in 2011.
His professional affiliations include the Oklahoma Association of Extension Agricultural Agents, in which he has held the offices of president, vice president and treasurer-secretary; the National Association of County Agricultural Agents; and the American Society of Agronomy.
He is a past president of the Anadarko Rotary Club, active in the First United Methodist Church and annually organizes the Caddo County Junior Livestock Show and the Fall Fair Livestock Show.
Prior to joining the Caddo County Extension Office, Nowlin served as an agronomy service manager with Cargill Inc. from 1982 to 1992 and an agricultural crop consultant with Crop-Guard Inc. from 1981 to 1982.
A Cowboy alumnus, Nowlin scouted peanuts in first Hughes County and then Caddo County from 1973 to 1976 as part of the OSU Integrated Pest Management program while pursuing his bachelor's degree in agronomy. He served as a multi-county OSU Cooperative Extension IPM specialist while earning his master's degree in plant pathology from 1978 to 1981.