Ross Seed Supports Future of OSU Agriculture
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In 1918, Ross Seed Company opened their doors and began serving Chickasha and fulfilling the town’s need for seeds, feed and many lawn and garden necessities. It all began with two brothers, Ed and Leo Bitsche.
The Ross name came when Henry Ross married Ed Bitsche’s niece, Marie Decker. Each of their seven children would work in the shop during their time in high school and college.
Most notably were Joe and Walter Ross. Both were World War II veterans and Oklahoma A&M graduates. During Walter’s senior year, he was part of a record-setting 1948 National Champion Crop Judging Team. Joe and Walter each graduated with a degree in agronomy. Joe would go on to run the Chickasha store until his retirement in 1993, and Walter helped expand Ross Seed by opening a second location in El Reno, Oklahoma, in 1949.
Walter Ross (left) examining crops in the field
Now, two of Walter’s children, Tom Ross and Julie Ross-Martin, operate the branch, representing the fourth generation to be deeply involved in the business.
Ross Seed’s connection to Oklahoma State University is longstanding, with many family members and employees receiving degrees from the institution. Both Tom and Julie are OSU graduates, as is their Chickasha co-manager Steve Calhoun.
“The Ross’ and their family were some of the first Oklahomans to welcome me to the state in 2004,” said Dr. Jeff Edwards, department head for plant and soil sciences. “As the new small grains Extension specialist, I quickly realized their commitment to OSU and Oklahoma agriculture. Whether it was support for an OSU Extension event or assistance in locating hard to find seed, I could always count on the Ross family to be there — loyal and true."
“Their support of our mission and programs has continued. In 2016, they endowed the Walter L. Ross scholarship in plant and soil sciences, which provides scholarship support to students with financial need,” Edwards said.
The Ross family’s deep connection has inspired them to give back again, in the way of a $100,000 pledge to OSU Agriculture’s New Frontiers campaign.
New Frontiers is a $50 million campaign to create a new teaching, Extension and research facility for OSU Agriculture. The facility will transform OSU Agriculture’s efforts to become even more collaborative, bringing all of OSU Agriculture’s expertise to bear on the challenges and opportunities facing the state of Oklahoma. Plans call for an Academic Pavilion, Student Services Pavilion and Laboratory Pavilion.
“We have many ties to the Ferguson College of Agriculture, from seed research and marketing, to educating our family members and employees with agronomy, animal science, agricultural economics, and other agriculture degrees,” Julie said.
She added that it’s important the college provides the necessary learning, Extension and research space to accomplish its mission.
“Financially supporting the New Frontiers campaign is a way for our family business to pay forward some of the many benefits we have received from our longstanding relationship with OSU.”
Visit OSUGiving.com/New-Frontiers to learn more about the campaign and see how you can help support the future of OSU Agriculture.