Mike Thralls Memorial Scholarship Applications Sought

Caring was evident in the words, the actions and the smile of Mike Thralls.

He cared for the land, he cared for people.

February marked six years since his passing. However, Thralls is remembered daily in the wonderful memories he sowed in family, friends and colleagues, and also annually through the Mike Thralls Memorial Scholarship. Two $500 scholarships are awarded each year to students who are either current high school seniors that will be pursuing a degree in agriculture or natural resources at Oklahoma State University, or students currently enrolled at OSU in the Ferguson College of Agriculture and are graduates of an Oklahoma high school.

Thralls served agriculture and conservation in so many ways including serving through the years as the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and as the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture. He also served as President of the National Association of State Conservation Agencies (NASCA).

The award encourages applicants who are students involved in 4-H, FFA, farming and/or ranching and have expressed an interest in conservation. The students selected each year exhibit outstanding character, professionalism and a commitment to serve their community.

Applications are due to the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts no later than May 15, 2021. The scholarships will be announced June 1, 2021. Scholarship winners will be notified via email or telephone. If possible, awards will be presented in person at the winners closest conservation district. All funds will be paid directly to Oklahoma State University.

“When presenting the scholarships, I look out at the audience and see all the people Mike worked with in Conservation,” said Mike’s wife, Donna Thralls. “They were Mike’s co-workers but most of all friends.  They also are my friends, too.  It is like belonging to a family, the Conservation family. He would be very proud for the recipients in all that they have accomplished and what they want to further do for agriculture and conservation.”

Thralls received numerous awards through the years, including the Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award presented by NASCA, and the Oklahoma Water Pioneer Award at the Governor’s Conference hosted by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.

In 2017, Thralls was inducted into the Oklahoma Conservation Hall of Fame.

Looking back, after graduating from Billings Public Schools, Thralls acquired a degree in animal science from Oklahoma State University and on Aug. 21, 1970 married Donna Cinnamon of Garber, Okla.

His obituary in 2015 stated, “Mike’s life was one in which he glorified his Christ and edified his family, his community and his state. As such, his legacy is that of service. He considered himself fortunate to share with his neighbors in the honored livelihood of farming and ranching.”

The word “share” is very significant.

“’Share’ describes Mike because he loved his Lord very much and living a Christian life you just want to share and give to others,” Donna Thralls said. “That’s what he believed and tried to do every day.”

Being a producer wasn’t something he did for himself. He allowed his passion for the land to extend into numerous forms of service including membership in many associations such as the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, The Noble County Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Farm Bureau and The Noble County Community Board for Ag Stabilization and Conservation Service. 

Thralls served as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission for 17 years.

It was said of Thralls, that, “Mike worked for conservation improvements within the state of Oklahoma and nationally with multiple conservation organizations. Besides reflecting his inborn stewardship for the land, whatever good Mike was fortunate to be a part of, he would tell you, was due to God’s grace and the character and professionalism of the people with whom he worked.”

As the father of five children, he took great joy in helping with 4-H and FFA projects, and all that those organizations had to offer.

“Mike taught a lot of his principles to our five children, and I am so happy to see them applying them in their lives,” Donna said.

That sharing continues on through his family and the families of others, including the scholarship recipients.

“Mike believed in a person furthering their education and doing the best they can,” Donna said. “He enjoyed learning new things and applying new things.”

Plus, with his words and actions, always came a smile that was a perfect reflection of the heart of Mike Thralls.

The Application Process for the Mike Thralls Memorial Scholarship:

Applicants should submit a 500 word essay on a conservation subject of their choice along with their full name, address, telephone number, email address and a copy of their most recent high school or college transcripts to OACD no later than May 15, 2021. Applications can be mailed or emailed to:

PO Box 2775
Oklahoma City, OK 73101