Ken Odde, former Kansas State University Department of Animal Sciences and Industry (ASI) department head and current professor, was presented the Jay B. Dillingham Award for Agricultural Leadership and Excellence Award by the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City on May 15.
Ken Odde has spent his career serving the animal industry including the last 11 years leading the Kansas State University Animal Sciences and Industry Department. During his tenure as department head, undergraduate enrollment grew from 793 students in 2007 to 1,226 students in 2017 while also increasing faculty and research productivity. Also under Odde’s leadership, $32 million in new and renovated facilities were added to the department.
His road to K-State was distinguished and successful. After he earned his bachelor’s degree at South Dakota State University, he served as an officer and platoon leader in the U.S. Army before obtaining a master’s degree and simultaneously completing DVM and PhD degrees at Kansas State University. After 11 years in research and teaching at Colorado State University and eight years with Pfizer Animal Health and AgSpan, he became head of the Department of Animal and Range Science at North Dakota State University, serving in that role for two years. He joined the KSU ASI department in 2007 as department head and then in 2018 transitioned into a faculty role with a research and teaching appointment.
His philosophy in educating undergraduates is to provide not only lecture education, but “hands-on experience” as well. He says this is critical to developing “animal-industry” ready graduates. To prove his commitment to this philosophy, 16 K-State students have completed internships at Odde’s ranch in South Dakota.
Odde has authored or co-authored more than 250 refereed journal papers, proceedings and abstracts, experiment station publications and technical bulletins. He has also been an invited speaker at scientific, veterinary and producer meetings in more than 30 U.S. states and six foreign countries.
He has been a leader in his professional societies as well. He served as secretary, president-elect and then president of the Western Section American Society of Animal Science from 1992-1994. He also served as American Society of Animal Science Foundation Trustee from 2000-2002. In 2012, he was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Animal Science. This organization was created to increase advocacy for federal funding of research in animal agriculture. He served as president of this organization in 2016-2017.
Odde and his wife, Arlene, maintain active roles in the management of their South Dakota ranch. The couple has three grown children and six grandchildren.
Also recognized was Lowell Mohler, former director of Missouri Department of Agriculture. “These individuals have had a positive and lasting effect on our community,” said Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City Chairman Robert Thompson. “They are strong examples of what being an advocate for agriculture can accomplish.”
The two were recognized during a luncheon May 15 at the Chamber of Commerce Board Room in Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri.