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2017 DASNR Champions: Merlin & Lillian Schantz

Although Merlin and Lillian Schantz began farming together in 1985, the Schantz Family Farm began in 1908.

On their centennial farm near Hydro, Oklahoma, they use a diverse cropping system with field crops like wheat, cotton, peanuts and grain sorghum, and over the years have expanded into horticultural crops such as hot peppers, turnips, carrots and greens.

“They have actively participated in agronomic education efforts and have contributed valuable public service because of their unique efforts in the fields of soil conservation, range management and crop production,” said Brian Arnall, associate professor in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. “In many cases, the Schantz family has provided land, equipment, time and effort in helping OSU carry out research and demonstrations on their farms.”

Merlin and Lillian were recently recognized at DASNR Honors night as 2017 DASNR Champions, a recognition given to those who are not graduates of the agriculture college, but who have brought distinction to DASNR and demonstrated a continuing interest in agriculture and natural resources.

In 1996, Merlin was accepted as a member of Class VIII of the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program to further his overall understanding of agriculture, not only in Oklahoma, but also across the United States and internationally through an educational trip to China in 1998.

During Merlin’s OALP experience, Lillian was responsible for keeping the farming operation functioning at a high level while caring for their four young children at home. During her time at the helm of Schantz Family Farm, she was able to both maintain the farm and progress its innovative nature.

Lillian holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

Avid supporters of OSU and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the Schantzes have graciously provided land for demonstration and research plots for several decades and annually host new OALP participants at their farm.

“The agricultural community in Oklahoma, and in particular the OSU community, has greatly benefited from the multiple interactions over the decades with the Schantz family,” Arnall said. “They are genuinely interested in advancing agriculture though innovation and educating others.”

Merlin is a member of the Oklahoma Vegetable Association, having served as vice president and president. In 2016, he received the Master Agronomist Award from OSU’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and received the department’s Distinguished Horticulture Service Award in 2014.