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Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center

Nelson honored during Oklahoma State University Awards Convocation

Jacob Nelson, a Sand Springs, Oklahoma, native, was the staff recipient of the Leave the Ladder Down award during the University Awards Convocation at the OSU ConocoPhillips Alumni Center held Nov. 30 in Stillwater. This award is given to a faculty member and staff member who have successfully mentored and encouraged others to reach their fullest potential.

By Mandy Gross, FAPC Communications Services Manager

(Stillwater, Okla. – Dec. 12, 2016) Jake Nelson, meat-processing specialist and facilities manager for Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, is known not only for his expertise but also his ability to make others experts as well.

In honor of his achievements, Nelson, a Sand Springs, Oklahoma, native, was the staff recipient of the Leave the Ladder Down award during the University Awards Convocation at the OSU ConocoPhillips Alumni Center held Nov. 30 in Stillwater. This award is given to a faculty member and staff member who have successfully mentored and encouraged others to reach their fullest potential.

“This award was really a very pleasant surprise to me at multiple levels,” Nelson said. “First, to be recognized and categorized as a mentor by students you’ve worked with is something that makes you feel good. It always feels good to have appreciation given to you, and it motivates me to do better at showing appreciation to others who help me. I’m glad OSU leadership puts forth the effort to distribute these type awards. OSU is a great place to work, and I’m honored to receive this award.”

Nelson has worked at FAPC, a part of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, since opening in January 1997. His appointment was shared between OSU’s department of animal science and FAPC until he became a full-time employee of the center in 2004 and promoted to facility manager in 2011.

Roy Escoubas, FAPC director, said Nelson has been an asset to the center since inception.

“Mr. Nelson is one of the most knowledgeable food scientists that I know, capable of blending science and technology to a degree that is hardly ever practiced by a professional food scientist,” Escoubas said. “He has a very rare ability to put basic and applied science together to captivate those in the science and applied trades. However, the most important trait that he brings to bear, particularly here on campus, is the ability to teach, captivate and motivate students.”

Gretchen Mafi, professor and Ralph and Leila Boulware Endowed Chair in OSU’s department of animal science, has known Nelson for more than 20 years and worked with him for more than 10 years.

“I can say, without any doubt, Jake is more deserving of this award than anyone I know,” she said. “Jake gives unselfishly every day to help others achieve their goals.”

Recently, Nelson provided support in coordinating the OSU Processed Meats Judging Team and teaching the processed meats class during a shortage of animal science faculty.

In addition to mentoring his colleagues and faculty members, Nelson enjoys mentoring students.

“Students follow him into any task; he is a leader,” Escoubas said. “He works with students and becomes an excellent role model for them. He is an answer resource for them, even when they move to permanent positions in the industry. He doesn’t just give an answer to the specific question, he shows them how to get the answer.”

Wesley Griffin, animal science graduate student, said he had the privilege of taking the processed meats class under Nelson and being on the Processed Meats Judging Team, and it drastically changed his career path.

“Mr. Nelson did an outstanding job teaching a class, where he had students very captivated and involved,” Griffin said. “We went on a few industry tours, which are very important for food and meat science majors. Mr. Nelson made it possible for students to experience daily plant-life activity.”

The processed meats class and experiences being on the judging team peaked Griffin’s interest in processed meats, and he was sure he wanted to pursue a career in the processed meats industry.

“It is through the judging experiences and teaching that Mr. Nelson has impacted my future in a positive way and prepared me for the processed meats industry,” Griffin said.

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Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 36,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 25,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, Oklahoma State has graduated more than 260,000 students who have been serving Oklahoma and the world for 125 years.