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OPSU Agronomy Professor Receives the NACTA Educator Award

Panhandle State Communications on 06/23/2020

Dr. Curtis Bensch, Professor of Agronomy at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, was elected to receive the 2020 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Educator Award.

Dr. Bensch received his B.S. degree in Agronomy from OPSU in 1991, an M.S. degree from Oklahoma State University in 1993, and a Ph.D. in Agronomy from Kansas State University in 2001. He taught agriculture courses at Murray State College in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, from 1993 to 1997 before attending Kansas State University, where he earned his doctorate and taught the undergraduate Weed Science course as well as coached the collegiate Weed Science judging team. Dr. Bensch returned home to the Oklahoma panhandle and has been teaching at Oklahoma Panhandle State University for 18 years, where he serves as Department Head of Agronomy.

NACTA is a national professional society that focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning agriculture at the postsecondary level. NACTA strives to recognize those individuals whose efforts represent the very best in agricultural higher education. The NACTA Educator Award is a criterion-based award reviewed by a committee of NACTA members.

Dr. Bensch was nominated for the 2020 NACTA Educator Award by Dr. Kevin Donnelly, Professor of Agronomy from Kansas State University. Dr. Donnelly is a distinguished educator who has been a mentor to Bensch both at Oklahoma State University and then Kansas State University. The presentation of the award will be at the 2020 NACTA Conference (June 16-18), which will be a virtual conference this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Bensch says, “I am honored to receive this award and to have been nominated by an agronomy professor of such distinction. I appreciate all that the NACTA society does and how they promote and reward instructional excellence in agriculture.”

University President, Dr. Tim Faltyn stated, “We are so proud of Dr. Bensch and the work he has done as an expert in the field of Agronomy. He is a major force for success as chair of the Department of Agronomy. Curtis and his passion are what make Agronomy at OPSU the best in the nation, this award is well deserved.”

Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Dr. Julie Dinger commented, “Dr. Bensch sets the bar for excellence in teaching and learning Agronomy. His reputation for being tough but fair in the classroom and as a coach are legendary among his current and former students.”

Dr. Bensch teaches numerous courses, including Plant Science, Soil Science, Plant and Seed Id, Mathematical Applications in Agriculture, Soil Fertility, Weed Science, Grain Oilseed, and Pulse Crops, Biotechnology, Integrated Pest Management, Range Management, Plant Physiology, and Pasture and Forage Management. He advises approximately 30 agronomy majors at the university and coaches the collegiate NACTA Crops Judging team, which has been very competitive at the national contest.

Dean Shawna Tucker stated, “Dr. Bensch is an exceptional professor of Agronomy, as well as an excellent, award-winning Crops Judging coach. He has the heart of a true educator. He demands rigorous, quality work from his students, but he is willing to do his part and put in an extraordinary amount of work to ensure their success. He delivers lessons in a way that makes the material interesting, relevant, and fun. Those of us in the College of Agriculture, Science, and Nursing are very proud to call him a colleague and friend. Congratulations on this prestigious award, Dr. Bensch!”