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OSU Animal Science Professor Receives Distinguished Teaching Award

Oklahoma State University animal science professor, Deb VanOverbeke, was recently honored by the American Meat Science Association (AMSA) with their Distinguished Teaching Award.
OSU Animal Science Professor Receives Distinguished Teaching Award

Dr. VanOverbeke receives a Distinguished Teaching Award from the American Meat Science Association.

STILLWATER, Okla. – Oklahoma State University animal science professor, Deb VanOverbeke, was recently honored by the American Meat Science Association (AMSA) with their Distinguished Teaching Award.

The award, established in 1965, recognizes only one individual a year for their excellence in teaching of undergraduate and graduate meat science courses and influencing the lives of students in a highly positive manner.

VanOverbeke is one of only four OSU professors to receive the AMSA award in its 50 year history. 

Gretchen Mafi, animal science professor, nominated VanOverbeke for the award.

“Dr. VanOverbeke is far more than a teacher, she is a mentor and a friend to all of her students,” Mafi said. “She accepts only the best, as she constantly pushes her students to use their talents to learn and understand the material.”

The criteria, while focused on teaching, encompasses all parts of teaching including classroom, extra-curricular, workshops and research, VanOverbeke said.

“We are very proud of Dr. VanOverbeke for receiving the distinguished teaching award from the American Meat Science Association,” said Clint Rusk, animal science department head. “Not only is it an endorsement of Dr. VanOverbeke’s outstanding teaching, which we already knew, based upon student feedback over the years here at Oklahoma State, but also it’s a feather in our cap as a department to have such amazing faculty.”

VanOverbeke said she spends a lot of her time with students outside of the classroom while she advises the Block and Bridle Club. She is also the former advisor of the Meat Science Association Club and the CASNR Student Council.

“It’s really about the students,” VanOverbeke said. “It’s getting to interact with students and helping them find where their passion is and then driving for it, that’s what makes it fun.”

VanOverbeke teaches two undergraduate courses and two graduate courses each year.

She said teaching is what drew her to OSU’s Animal Science Department.

“I wanted to be in the classroom with students,” she said.

VanOverbeke strives to help students become engaged in the classes she instructs. She said developing student interest in the class and material is the key to success.

“It’s about finding a way to help them realize they do have a role in the food system, even just being a consumer,” VanOverbeke said. “Seeing that click, that’s the exciting part that keeps you going. When you can see someone say ‘I actually do get it and I do fit in this system’ or ‘This is what I want to do,’ that is the cool part.”

She also advises nearly 90 undergraduate students and 11 graduate students. 

While advising students, VanOverbeke encourages her advisees to step outside of their comfort zone and explore opportunities they might not think would fit them.

“One of the biggest challenges we deal with is when we get students who come from their home state and say ‘I’m going back there,’” VanOverbeke said. “‘Well you have to open up’ is what I tell them. You don’t have to stay in one place forever.”

Due to her interest in leadership in the animal science department, last year VanOverbeke was asked to serve as the undergraduate advising coordinator.

“[As students] come in for enrollment she assigns them to faculty she feels will help them be successful based upon their interest and the faculty member’s expertise,” said Rusk.

VanOverbeke has a 30 percent research appointment, as well as advising and directing graduate student research.

“She is not only good at teaching in the classroom, but she also is very good at advising our graduate students and directing their research programs. She is thought of nationally and internationally as having a very strong reputation in both of these areas,” Rusk said.

On a university level, VanOverbeke was chosen by her peers as the secretary for the University Faculty Council. She assists with numerous Extension programs including Beef Quality Summit, Pork 101 and the Meat Animal Evaluation Contest.

VanOverbeke and her husband, Kirk, have two children, Esther and Joshua and currently reside in Stillwater, Oklahoma.



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