STILLWATER – Oklahomans William L. Ford, Virgil Jurgensmeyer and the late Paul Jackson will be honored as 2012 DASNR Champion award recipients by Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources on March 28.

The DASNR Champion award recognizes and honors those who are not graduates of OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources but who have brought distinction to the division while demonstrating a continuing interest in and commitment for agricultural sciences and natural resources.

“Bill Ford, Virgil Jurgensmeyer and Paul Jackson have exceptional records of providing meaningful and lasting benefits for all of Oklahoma as part of the state’s annual $28 billion production, processing and related agricultural output, and as leaders in their communities,” said Robert E. Whitson, DASNR vice president, dean and director.

William L. Ford

Ford, a 1960 graduate of Shawnee High School and president of Shawnee Milling Co. since May of 1979, currently serves on the DASNR Dean’s Advisory Council, providing insights that help ensure division programs are tackling issues and concerns of importance to Oklahoma.

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

Whitson said Ford was instrumental in the creation of the CASNR Student Success Center that houses a student career resources facility, a multimedia-equipped student board room and accessibility to staff who provide individual student guidance and coordinate programs relevant to the personal, professional and academic development of current students, prospective students and alumni.

“Oklahoma is known throughout the world as a producer of quality agricultural products,” Ford said. “It behooves all of us to help our wonderful students see the benefits to themselves, the state and the region in pursuing agribusiness careers. Literally, they are our future.”

Ford said he felt “humbled and privileged” to be named a 2012 DASNR Champion award recipient.

“Shawnee Milling Co. exists in no small part because of the combined efforts of OSU professors, researchers and educators over the years that have led to continuous advances in Oklahoma grasses, crops, livestock and related agricultural products,” he said.

Ford has served on a number of civic and agricultural boards, including the North American Millers Association and the Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association, and is a past chairperson of the Oklahoma Baptist University Board of Trustees. Ford served on active military duty in the U.S. field artillery from 1964 to 1966; he then served as a reservist until 1972, retiring with the rank of captain. He is a member of the U.S. Field Artillery Association Board of Directors at Ft. Sill.

He attended the University of Oklahoma, played baseball for the OU Sooners for four years and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from OU in 1964 and 1967, respectively. Ford has been married to the former Nancy Montgomery of Purcell for 44 years. They have three children and nine grandchildren.

Virgil Jurgensmeyer

Jurgensmeyer is the chief executive officer of J-M Farms in Miami, a mushroom production, processing, packaging and shipping facility that employs approximately 500 people and serves nine states. He served for many years on the Industry Advisory Committee of the OSU Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center.

“Virgil is a leader in the mushroom production and processing industry, and his Oklahoma-based company competes with the major mushroom businesses in the United States,” said FAPC Director J. Roy Escoubas, “Virgil’s broad respect as an agricultural producer and successful business leader has made his insights tremendously valuable. A founding member of the FAPC, he has always been sensitive to both immediate issues and long-term planning of the center and our many programs that serve Oklahoma agribusinesses.”

In 2011, the Jurgensmeyers – who have been married for 59 years – generously made a $250,000 gift to DASNR to create the Virgil and Marge Jurgensmeyer Endowed Professorship in Food Product Development. The $250,000 gift will be matched by the generosity of T. Boone Pickens’ 2008 chair and professorship match as part of the $1 billion Branding Success campaign. The state legislature previously committed to matching Pickens’ portion, resulting in a total impact of $750,000.

“We believe in education,” Jurgensmeyer replied when asked about the endowed professorship. “We also believe the FAPC is a great way to help young businesses.”

Jurgensmeyer is active in many community organizations such as Rotary, Tar Creek Advisory Board, Miami Zoning Board, Miami School Enrichment Foundation and Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He served for 15 years as a member of the Oklahoma Board of Agriculture, and remains active in the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and National Mushroom Council.

He has always “talked the talk and walked the walk,” taking steps to ensure his commitment to agriculture and a better Oklahoma found its way into the lives of his three grown sons and grandchildren.

“I’ve always felt it was important to devote time with our children and grandchildren, teaching them how to be good stewards of the land so that it will be there for their children and grandchildren,” Jurgensmeyer said.

Paul Jackson

Even after his passing, Jackson remains renowned for his accomplishments as a wheat producer, conservationist and humanitarian. A third-generation Oklahoma farmer, he successfully managed and expanded an operation that began with the purchase of a parcel of land near Apache by his grandfather in 1912.

For more than a quarter century Jackson worked with DASNR scientists and educators from the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service to continually develop improvements in wheat varieties used by state producers.

“His work in the field has been praised and honored for decades by a variety of public and private organizations; however, it may be his commitment to helping young people and the disadvantaged that helped set him apart, and is a major reason why he was inducted into the Oklahoma Agricultural Hall of Fame by then Gov. Brad Henry in 2003,” said Bob Westerman, assistant vice president for DASNR program support.

Jackson, along with his wife Dosia whom he married in 1951, worked tirelessly for decades in support of youth groups such as 4-H and FFA, and they were strong supporters of the Ag In the Classroom program. Jackson also was a leader in Apex, a group that helps physically and emotionally handicapped persons find jobs and improve their self-esteem.

An OSU Master Agronomist Award recipient, Jackson devoted a life of service to agriculture. In addition to being a longtime member of the DASNR Dean’s Advisory Council, Jackson was a member of the Oklahoma Crop Improvement Association for more than 40 years; Oklahoma Seed Trade Association, Oklahoma Farm Bureau and Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association for more than 35 years; Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association for more than 25 years; and the Oklahoma Wheat Research Foundation, Oklahoma Farmers Union and Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program for more than 20 years.

Jackson is survived by his wife, three grown children and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“All three honorees have been cooperating partners with many of our faculty, educators and staff, giving of themselves and their time to enhance DASNR programs that are such a vital part of the university’s land-grant mission,” Whitson said. “DASNR has always been blessed with many great supporters across Oklahoma, and the annual presentation of the DASNR Champion award is one way in which we honor their commitment.”