A tribute to Dr. Jim Trapp
Back in 1976, former basketball great Rick Barry hit a then-record 60 straight free throws. In addition to being known as a great shooter, Barry was recognized for his unique underhanded toss at the free throw line.
That Barry’s mark has since been eclipsed (current record holder Michael Williams hit 97 in a row in 1993) doesn’t take away from the impressiveness of the feat.
Turns out, another incredible streak was established that same year. Jim Trapp joined the Oklahoma State University faculty in 1976 as a member of the department of agricultural economics. Now, after 41 years of dedicated service, including most recently as associate director of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Dr. Trapp’s remarkable streak is ending with his upcoming retirement.
Of course, I’m happy for my colleague and friend. Who wouldn’t be? But, I’d be remiss if I overlooked this opportunity to pay tribute to Dr. Trapp and the legacy he leaves behind in pursuit of the next chapter in his life.
Like Barry, Dr. Trapp has relied on his own one-of-a-kind style as he rose through the academic and administrative ranks within the university. An agricultural economist by trade, he became a Regents professor and headed the department of agricultural economics for six years before taking over Extension.
In leading the state’s Extension’s efforts for the last 11 years, Dr. Trapp has never wavered in his commitment to the land-grant mission.
One of the enduring examples of Dr. Trapp’s devotion was Oklahoma’s celebration of Cooperative Extension’s centennial anniversary. One of the largest such observations in the nation, it featured a year-long slate of festivities such as an historic re-enactment of the Extension demonstration train, educational fair showcasing Extension programming, a time capsule and a commemorative centennial quilt.
Although many of the centennial events were fun and interactive, Dr. Trapp used them as opportunities to highlight just how many ways Extension enhances the lives of all Oklahomans.
Perhaps not surprisingly to those of us who know him, although Dr. Trapp is preparing to step away from his leadership role, he has definite ideas about Extension’s future.
He believes one of our biggest current-day challenges is gaining the trust of a new generation of residents who already have so much information at their fingertips that it’s difficult to tell what’s true and what isn’t. This means Extension’s mission and all the unbiased, research-based information it provides is as important as it’s ever been.
While I don’t think any of us in Extension would disagree with Dr. Trapp’s conclusions, his words are a terrific reminder that what we do matters a great deal. Even as we face the ever-present challenges of adapting to our environment and meeting the constantly shifting needs of the people we serve, it’s clear Extension remains relevant and necessary.
Our work can literally be life changing for someone. Perhaps we don’t hear it said often – or ever – but it’s the truth and that knowledge should excite, motivate and inspire us.
While all the applause, thanks and congratulations we shower on Dr. Trapp is well earned and well deserved, I think one of the best ways we can show our deepest gratitude for his years of service and dedication is to carry on the legacy he has so carefully established.
Let’s continue what Dr. Trapp has started and continue the tradition of ensuring Oklahomans have the resources they need to live their best lives.