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SDSU Animal Science Professor Receives USDA Teaching Award

"Three people standing in pasture with cattle."
Cody Wright (left) received the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Excellence in College and University Teaching Award for Food and Agricultural Sciences.

For his engaging teaching methods and commitment to students, South Dakota State University animal science professor Cody Wright is a recipient of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Excellence in College and University Teaching Award for Food and Agricultural Sciences. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities presented the award to Wright Nov. 10, 2019, in San Diego.

“Dr. Wright has a unique ability to contextualize course content into learning experiences to which students readily relate and value,” said Don Marshall, associate dean for academic programs of the SDSU College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. “He stays well informed of industry practices, trends and issues, and brings that information into the classroom to illustrate real-life applications of important concepts.”

Wright teaches Ruminant Livestock Production, Livestock Feeds and Feeding, Current Issues in Animal Science, Cow-Calf Management, and Vitamins and Minerals. He also coordinates internships for students in the Animal Science Department, works with students on independent study projects and assists students with undergraduate teaching experiences.

“The most rewarding part of being a professor is hands down the students,” Wright said. “Getting to know them and helping them understand the key concepts and practices that will be beneficial in their careers energizes me. There is nothing better than having a student experience an a-ha moment.”

Wright’s teaching philosophy revolves around creating and fostering a positive learning environment, establishing high expectations and demonstrating the relevance and application of course material. 

“I believe that to be effective, the learning process needs to be a team effort between the instructor and the students. Indeed, effective teaching is much more about facilitating learning than imparting knowledge. In my courses, I strive to help students build bridges between basic and applied sciences and help them recognize relationships between theory and application,” Wright said.

He also likes to have fun in the classroom and hopes students enjoy it, too. He strives to create an environment where students are comfortable asking questions and conversing with him. 

“Dr. Wright is an excellent professor that will go out of his way to engage with students,” said Clay Baldwin, a senior who is majoring animal science and agricultural science. “He is very approachable and always willing to help.”

Wright started working at SDSU in 2001 as an SDSU Extension beef specialist. In 2007, he started teaching an undergraduate course in the fall and a graduate course every other spring. Then in 2011, his appointment changed to a large teaching appointment and smaller research appointment. Wright received his bachelor’s degree from SDSU, a master’s degree from Kansas State University, and a doctorate from North Carolina State University, all in animal science.

He is one of five regional awardees recognized as outstanding professors of agriculture, natural resources, veterinary and human sciences. Individuals are nominated by their college/university for the award and are evaluated by a panel of nationally recognized teachers and scholars. The panel chooses two national recipients, two early career awardees and up to six regional awardees. Recipients are chosen based on their ability as instructors, educational innovation, service to students, professionalism and scholarship.

Wright will receive $2,000 to be disbursed to SDSU and used for the purposes he designates in support of strengthening instructional programs in food and agricultural sciences. The award program is a partnership between APLU and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.