Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
OSU Cooperative Extension honors Greg Highfill of Woods County as a 2017 Distinguished Educator recipient
Left to right: Misty and Greg Highfill accept Greg's Distinguished Educator Award from Jim Trapp, OCES associate director. (Photo by Todd Johnson)
A state agency that is part of Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, OSU Cooperative Extension county educators and specialists have a state and federal mandate to develop science-based educational programs that help Oklahomans solve local issues and concerns, promote leadership and manage resources wisely.
Highfill joined the Woods County Extension Office in September of 2012, with responsibility for agricultural programs and 4-H youth development. He added the duties of county extension director in August of 2016.
Prior to joining the Woods County Extension staff, he served as Oklahoma’s Northwest District Extension area livestock specialist – headquartered out of Enid – from October 1985 to September of 2012, and as Woodward County 4-H Agent from August 1984 to October 1985.
“When Aubra Wilson hired me as the Woodward County 4-H Agent in 1984, there was no way I could have imagined I would spend my entire professional career in OCES,” Highfill said. “A wonderful set of blessings came together to allow me to find jobs I loved and be surrounded by professionals who made it a joy to come to work each day.”
Say his name and beef cattle conferences and programming come readily to mind for many if not most Oklahoma producers, if not livestock industry leaders and Extension staff throughout the state and region.
“From my perspective, people who know Greg recognize him as a cornerstone of our organization,” said Dave Lalman, OSU Cooperative Extension beef cattle specialist and holder of the OSU Hitch Family Professorship.
Lalman attributes Highfill’s ability to identify, design and deliver impactful programs to his untiring efforts to engage meaningful with stakeholders and clientele, and to his vision, passion and organizational skills.
“The Wheatland Stocker Conference, Oklahoma Steer Feedout program, Commercial Receiving Lot Conference, Northwest Oklahoma Cow-Calf Conference, Wheat Pasture Research Field Days and Youth Meats Educational programs are all marquee Extension programs, and among the most memorable and important in terms of helping Oklahoma agricultural producers and related agribusinesses succeed,” he said.
Case in point: The above programs are often used as examples whenever someone inquires how state, district and area Extension specialists and county educators work together, Lalman said.
OSU Cooperative Extension agricultural economist JC Hobbs likewise lauds Highfill’s ability to promote teamwork, especially among multi-disciplinary lines that bring needed expertise to address concerns and issues of importance to rural Oklahoma.
“As new Extension educators have been hired, Greg would develop group in-service training programs and one-on-one individual training sessions with them to ensure these individuals were equipped to provide needed assistance to their county clientele,” Hobbs said, adding that Highfill was providing such benefits that he many times was asked to speak or lead sessions at Extension educational meetings in other states in addition to Oklahoma.
Over the years Highfill’s Extension colleagues approached him about helping them in another way by stepping into leadership roles with the Oklahoma Association of Extension Agricultural Agents, including a 4-year term as first vice president, then president-elect, president and past president. The system is designed to ensure OAEAA is always able to call upon experienced leadership.
“Greg’s positive, professional attitude and his enthusiasm and tireless work ethic are infectious and sincere,” Lalman said. “He has always cared deeply about the quality of Oklahomans experience with Extension.”
For Highfill himself, his view of the Extension mission has always been straightforward, to help producers and youth gain the educational information and resources they need to meet their professional and personal life goals.
“In Extension, we always measure our successes by how we help others to succeed,” he said. “That is a pretty good way of going about things, when you think about it.”
The Oklahoma Cattleman’s Association honored Highfill with its prestigious Distinguished Service Award in 2003. Over the years, Highfill also has been honored with awards from OAEAA, the OSU department of animal science and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.
A Cowboy alumnus, Highfill majored in animal science and was active in the department’s Block and Bridle Club, Food Industry Club and OSU Meats Judging Team. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1982. He earned his Master of Science degree in meat science from Kansas State University in 1984.
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