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2018 DASNR Champion: JD Waggoner


OSU honors JD Waggoner of Billings as a 2018 DASNR Champion

It was Oklahoma A&M when JD Waggoner attended classes, but Oklahoma State University when graduation ceremonies were held, as the Billings native experienced the name change to OSU. (Photo by Todd Johnson, OSU Agricultural Communications Services)

JD Waggoner of Billings was raised on a farm his family homesteaded in 1903, and it was to this Oklahoma Centennial Farm that he returned after a decades-long career in the oil and gas industry.

“He is proud to say he has a diploma from both Oklahoma A&M and Oklahoma State University, as the university was making the transition to being OSU the year he graduated,” said Jeff Edwards, head of the department of plant and soil sciences.

Honored by OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources as a 2018 DASNR Champion during Oct. 19 ceremonies, Waggoner is the youngest of eight children. JD, along with his brother Richard, who is one year older than he, were the only ones in their family to graduate from college.

“My education began in a one-room schoolhouse a mile east of our place,” he said. “There were no buses. We had to walk. No electricity. The floor of our basketball court was dirt. One teacher for all us students, regardless of grade. I went there for four years.”

Waggoner then transferred to the Billings public school system and graduated from high school in 1952. He went to Northern Oklahoma Junior College in Tonkawa, graduating in 1954 before attending Oklahoma A&M where he chose mechanical engineering as a career path.

“Dr. Smith was my favorite teacher, and a great ambassador for OSU by example,” Waggoner said. “I took a 5-hour course, Mechanics and Dynamics. There were four or five of us who got together to study, and Dr. Smith said if you guys need some help, call me. Whenever we would run into problems, we would; he would come down and help us for an hour or so. I remember that, his enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile.”

A mechanical engineering/petroleum option major, JD was awarded his bachelor’s degree in May of 1957, even though he had already been working in industry since January, having completed all his coursework the preceding December.

His career in the oil and gas industry took him across the globe: Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and South America. JD worked for several companies, including serving as a regional operations manager for Sun Oil. JD enjoys telling how it was his wife Shirley who “saw the world on the three or four trips” on which she was able to accompany him.

“I was always working, which meant I was in a lot of meetings with foreign officials,” he said. “She got to see and experience local cultures much more than I did. Shirley particularly enjoyed China with its thousands of years of history. My favorite was and is the United States. I was always just happy to get home.”

Following his retirement from Oryx Energy in 1991, JD and Shirley moved to north-central Oklahoma and the family farm, beginning a new relationship with OSU.

“JD is an insightful partner of DASNR, especially in regards to our wheat research programs, and we were proud to nominate him for the 2018 DASNR Champion honor,” Edwards said. “JD also ‘raises a few cattle,’ as he says, and has been an avid user of research-based OSU Cooperative Extension forage and livestock recommendations.”

The DASNR Champion award recognizes individuals with exceptional records of providing meaningful and lasting benefits to Oklahoma as part of the state’s production, processing and related agricultural industries, in addition to being outstanding leaders in their communities and supporters of OSU’s land-grant mission.

“JD has graciously allowed us to run test plots on his land, helping us to identify improved wheat varieties developed by OSU for his region of the state, thereby benefiting his fellow farmers and ranchers, and helping our Wheat Improvement Team to fulfill its state and federally mandated mission,” Edwards said.

DASNR is comprised of the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and two state agencies: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and the statewide Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system.

By Donald Stotts