Former Casper College rodeo coach and teacher Tom Parker was one of six winners of a national agriculture lifetime award, presented posthumously to his wife after Parker’s death earlier this year.
Parker died of cancer in March. He was 69. He’d been a coach for 27 years and an instructor for 22 years at the college, part of a 37-year educator career. Linda, his wife, accepted his posthumous National Association of Agricultural Educators Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this month in Nashville.
He was awarded the prize for “his many contributions to the profession of agricultural education,” according to a college press release.
“Tom is incredibly deserving of this award, and we have always been very proud of him at the college,” college President Darren Divine said in a statement. “Tom’s leadership, both nationally and at the college, speak to the quality of the man he was, and to the positive influence that shaped so many lives.”
Parker was named rodeo coach in 1990. Three of his women’s teams qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo. In 2011, the men’s team won the regional title and competed at CNFR for the first time under Parker. The success that year sparked several years of consistently high rankings in the region.
“Tom was first and foremost always a teacher,” said friend and Casper Sen. Bill Landen, who taught at the college and was Parker’s boss in the athletic department. “Even in the classroom and in the rodeo arena, he was a teacher. He loved to work with young people. What I was so impressed with Tom, he cared about all his student-athletes as people, not just as somebody who competed in the arena. It was important to him that they do better in life.”
Heath Hornecker, the agricultural department chair at Casper College, said in a school press release that Parker was his instructor when he was a student at CC but also was his mentor.
“He was the truest Casper College Thunderbird there was. He was a wonderful man and cowboy,” Hornecker said.