Mike Thralls Memorial Scholarship Applications Sought

Share and nurture.

Mike Thralls didn’t just cast seeds of knowledge out and then turn and walk away. He made sure the information he shared about conservation/agriculture set deep roots that would be sustainable. He nurtured what he sowed.

February will mark five years since his passing. This April will mark five years of recognition of the Mike Thralls Memorial Scholarship winners. Two $500 scholarships are awarded on an annual basis 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 is 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 March 29, 2020. The scholarships will be presented on Conservation Day at the State Capitol on April 15, 2020.

“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.”

Hunter Jordan, of Jet, is a past recipient and a senior at OSU studying Animal Science Business.

“The Mike Thralls Memorial Scholarship meant so much to me,” Jordan said. “I definitely appreciated the financial support for my senior year at OSU but the meaning was deeper than that. I was honored to be awarded this scholarship, because I am also actively involved in farming and see the importance of conservation of resources. I shared that connection with Mr. Thralls and certainly was honored to be awarded his memorial scholarship.”

Seth Stone, of Chandler, is a past recipient and a freshman at Oklahoma State University.

“The Mike Thralls Memorial Scholarship is important to me because it has allowed me to meet people in the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts and hear how Mr. Thralls influenced and inspired them,” Stone said. “The Mike Thralls Scholarship has also allowed me to pursue double majoring in Agronomy along with Agriculture Engineering.”

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.”

There again is the word share.

“’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, his acts of sharing always came with a smile, and 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 March 29, 2020. Applications can be mailed or emailed to:

PO Box 2775
Oklahoma City, OK 73101