TSU Professor Makes Positive Difference Through Agriculture

Dr. Rudy Tarpley
Photo provided by Dr. Rudy Tarpley

Rachel Snyder

STEPHENVILLE (April 24, 2018)- Tarleton State University professor Dr. Rudy Tarpley spends his days in the agriculture building on campus, teaching students and helping new graduates navigate the waters of Tarleton’s masters program for agriculture. For Tarpley it is a dream come true.

“I’ve always had teaching in my blood,” Tarpley said.

As a professor, Tarpley teaches primarily graduate classes, including teaching methods and history and philosophy of ag extension education. Tarpley also currently serves as the graduate program coordinator and works with about 70 graduate students.

“Whenever a student is interested in entering the graduate program, I am their first contact,” Tarpley said. “I help walk them through the application and admission process. So I am the first line of offense.”


Even though Tarpley planned on becoming a teacher in junior high, he originally planned on becoming a math teacher. Then he met his high school ag teacher, who took the agriculture classes on trips and worked with the students after school and at their homes to help them with projects.

“He really made a difference in my life, and, by the end of my freshman year, I suppose I changed my career goals,” Tarpley said. “I knew I wanted to teach, and this agriculture and FFA, stock showing, judging, leadership, those are real ways you can reach out in the community and make a positive difference. I’ve never looked back.”

Tarpley earned his bachelor’s in agricultural and extension education from New Mexico State University and taught high school agriculture for five years. Then, he earned a master’s and PhD from Mississippi State University in agricultural and extension education as well.

“Then I just started teaching teacher education,” Tarpley said. “So, for most of my career, I have been teaching teachers how to teach.”

Tarpley taught at the College of the Southwest, Texas Tech University, Eastern New Mexico University and then Utah State University until the job as the head of the Tarleton Department of Agriculture came open. Tarpley held that position from 2010 to 2017 when he “scaled back” to his current position.

“Tarleton, in our profession, is in my opinion, the place to be,” Tarpley said. “Largest ag. Ed program in the world. Great teachers, lots of them. Being the department head resonated with me.”

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