27 participants of Class XIV (“Class XIV”) of the Oklahoma Agriculture Leadership Program (“OALP”) checked in early on August 13th at the OSU Wes Watkins Center to begin a two year adventure with Joe Williams, OALP Director (“Dr. Joe”) steering the boat. Class XIV received information packets and paperwork, briefcases compliments of American Farmers & Ranchers, and portfolios at check-in.
Dr. Joe welcomed Class XIV and shared the OALP background and history to ensure that Class XIV understood the foundation of the program and its objectives, which focuses primarily on developing leaders for Oklahoma, in particular for agriculture and rural areas. Dr. Joe then discussed who had previously led the OALP, the expenses involved with its operation, the expectations of OALP participants, and the importance of recognizing donors and expressing appreciation for the individuals and companies that support the OALP.
Class XIV spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon introducing themselves with a 5 minute presentation entitled “This is Who I Am” which for some included props, PowerPoint presentations, and lots of stories. From those presentations, we gleaned some insight about each participant which was reviewed at the end of the presentations as follows:
Michael Marlow – Mr. Eager Beaver, the Monsanto Man, the Agronomist
Jared Cullison – The Noodler, the Herdsman, the Scot and the Sioux Man
Dana Bessinger – The Teacher
John Leonard – That Organic Guy
Burton Harmon – The Story Teller, Mr. Biodiesel
David McMullen – Boss Hog
Brandon Winters – The Coop Man
Jackie Walther – The Angus Paparazzi
Carol Cowan – The Basketcase, the Southern Girl, the OSU Tuition Supporter
Chad Selman – The Harvester
Scott Neufeld – Mr. Tool Box, Legacy Man
Gary Kafer – The Man of Many Hats
Brent Thompson – The Family Man
Tim Taylor – The Welder, the Hay Man, Tim Tool Time Taylor
Allen Entz – The Hydro Tourism Department, the Auctioneer, the Firefighter
Scott Sproul – Man in Search of a Cow
Rose Bonjour – Redbud, Bug Man’s Wife
Lisa Blubaugh – The Insurance Agent
Ryan Luter – The Poop Man, Deep Roots
Annette Riherd – Speedy, Ms. Tivo and TP
Charles Rohla – The Nut Expert, the Man of Many Degrees, the Breeder
John Cothren – Bag Man, the JD Dealer
Kent Switzer – The “B” Hive Man
Wes Crank – The Centennial Farmer, the Non-Teacher
Daniel Skipper – The Razorback, the Go Between Man, the Agronomist
Mechelle Hampton – The One with the Most Diverse Career Path
Mary Steichen – the Wino, the Scribe
Dr. Joe – Smokin’ Joe (as modified)
The final presentation of the day was by Jake Nelson and Pat Regier from Class XIII. They reflected on their Class XIII experiences, gave advice to Class XIV, and discussed the wisdom gained from their OALP journey. Class XIV particularly enjoyed Jake’s “letting go of the bone” story and Pat’s “Seeing beyond STS” insight.
Dinner was held at the Wes Watkins Exhibit Hall with the Advisory Council, the Selection Committee, OALP Alumni, OSU faculty and staff, and supporters of OALP. It was a great opportunity to renew old friendships, meet OALP participants current and past, and acknowledge the support from individuals and companies for the OALP.
What a terrific way to begin a new journey!
Thursday, August 14, 2008 Scribe: Ryan Luter
The second day of Class 14 was a fun-filled and exciting day for the class participants. The objectives of the day were to develop unity and team building skills within this group of agricultural leaders and provide the first real opportunities to see one another in action. The group met at 7:30 a.m. outside the Quality Inn on West 6th Street in Stillwater. With welcomed rain and lightning to the northwest of Stillwater, the group traveled to Camp Redlands for a morning of activities. Jared Cullison served as the chair for the day and led the way to Camp. Arriving just before the rain, the group started the morning off with a name game in the main mess hall at Camp Redlands, with Patrick McKenzie and Megan Pope of OSU Outdoor Adventure facilitating the activities.
The group began with slowly passing the ball in sequence to another class member as they called out their name. After one run through, Patrick challenged the group to speed up the process and consider ways to increase the efficiency. After bringing the circle closer, our time improved, but Patrick compared our creativity to a stone and chisel. Slowly, the group increased to merit an Apple IIe comparison, before realizing that we could all place a hand on the ball and name their person in virtual unison to accomplish the goal. With everyone’s brains warmed up, we started off with a form of Chess tag, where we were allowed only to make moves similar to a knight in the game of chess. Next, we needed to warm up some muscles and we began by making an imaginary visit to the former Camp Redlands Bakery where toxic, radioactive peanut butter used to be processed and produced. After mentally donning a full set of radioactive protective clothing, including leather pants, gloves, socks, shoes, head gear and more, our muscles were warmed up for some more serious challenges of the mind and body.
With a light drizzle still falling, we moved to a covered patio where the group paired up to play a game of Last Tank Standing. With blindfolded individuals inside a designated battlefield, partners outside the battlefield directed their partner to collect ammunition and fire at opposing tanks. After each member had the opportunity to direct and serve as a tank, the partnerships then tested the precision of their directing skills by maneuvering their blind-folded partner through a construction zone. Obstacles were strewn about that made the journey very difficult to “pickup their kids” and deliver them home safely.
The group was continuing to become more comfortable with one another as we met obstacles and worked with each other to solve problems. Next, the group divided into two groups approximately 15 per group and wore blindfolds while each holding a place on an endless rope. We were then challenged to produce the shape of a square, followed by a heart and figure eight. During this time, the groups also had a couple of individuals who could use their sight to see the shape, but could not provide any verbal support. Sight proved to be a valuable resource, but the group also learned a little rope Morse Code. With perfected blind shape makers, the facilitators encouraged both groups to come together and maneuver the two ropes to form a house. What a challenge this proved to be with the final positioning being directed by a mute person, answering questions posed by blindfolded individuals, with a series of clapping!
We weren’t finished yet! Fortunately without blindfolds, the group attempted to set a helium stick (tent sticks) on the ground with all 30 members simultaneously holding two fingers on the stick, at a level parallel to the ground. You wouldn’t believe how this thing would just rise clear above our heads! With a couple of team members directing timed movements downward, the group was able to set the helium stick on the ground despite a little frustration before it floated away.
For the next few minutes, the group reflected on the value of having leadership, sight, hearing, and the ability to serve as a follower in a group of leaders. One group member noted that “sometimes, the best leader has to be a follower” for the ultimate success of the group. One other observation was that just because the group was originally separated into two groups didn’t mean we weren’t all on the same team in trying to achieve the goal. The competitive nature of society sometimes pits us against each other, when in the end; we are all on the same team.
The one last activity of the morning tested the planning and BALANCE of the group. As we loaded onto an imaginary boat one at a time, we had to be extremely careful not to the rock the boat and anger the fresh water whales at Lake Carl Blackwell. After several big rockings and near capsizes, Captain Patrick required David McMullen to act as Rose in the Titanic and shout, “Jack, I’ll never let you go,” and Scott Neufeld, acting as Jack yelled, “I’m king of the world!” What a site this was! After loading the boat with all 27 passengers (OALP participants), the true essence of the day was captured as we all balanced the boat for over one minute while singing several stanzas of Row, Row, Row Your Boat!
After a quick bite for lunch from the Red Rock Bakery, it was off to the high ropes course challenge, where the group was introduced to Jonathan Mooney to help out with getting class members onto the zip line and ready for the ride of their lives! The view was great from the top of the 50 – 55 foot ropes course challenge, but some might have missed it clinging to telephone poles! The encouragement from class members and courage exhibited by so many people to conquer their fears was really inspiring. After about 3 hours of members taking their turn through the challenge and zipping 300 feet toward the lake, we reflected on the lessons and cohesion observed during the day.
The group then finished up the activities and headed back to the hotel for a meal before heading to Dr. Joe and Dr. Sue Williams’ home for dessert. A couple of group members ended up on a date (because the rest of the group didn’t tell them they had changed restaurants!) at Joseppi’s while everyone else met at El Vaquero, a popular Mexican restaurant.
Dr. Sue and Dr. Joe hosted a fine spread consisting of pecan, cherry, blackberry and peach pies with homemade whipped topping and ice cream. For many, it was way too much to eat, but quite a treat nonetheless. The atmosphere was very relaxed and there was no lack of conversation among the group members. The evening concluded around 9:00 pm.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Scribe: Brandon Winters
All of OALP Class 14 met in the lobby of the Wes Watkins building. We then proceeded to the east side of the Animal Science building where we took a group photo. After that, we went back to the Ag North building where we took individual pictures. Dr. Joe instructed us that we needed to be at Ag Hall in room 201 by 9:15 a.m. to begin our meetings for the day.
All of Class 14 met at Ag Hall in room 201 and listened to Dr. Robert Westerman speak about the general over view of the various Ag departments and the funding that makes up the departments. He talked about the 9 departments in the division, and the 3 centers which were the FAPC, OK Bio Fuel Center, and the Water Resource Center. Dr. Westerman talked generally about the DASNR program and the funding that goes into each area of the program. Additionally, he briefly spoke about the Sunup program that will start airing on TV October 4, 2008.
Dr. Clarence Watson visited with us about the Land Grant Institutions and showed us what made up the triangle as far as State Instruction, Federal Research, and County Extension. Then, he began talking about the Justin Smith Morrill Act of 1862. This act was signed by Abraham Lincoln, initiating a way for public land to be donated for services through states and territories including funding in every state. In 1890, the Morrill Act was established in the south east part of the United States. In 1944, the United States wanted to improve the American School Act (Morrill Act) and provided 29 tribal grants in order to move in the upper Midwest. Dr. Watson also spoke about the Hatch Act of 1887 that opened up tremendous opportunities to develop land for state and federal experimental stations, which would allow agricultural improvements. In 1890, the State Experiment Station began to be put in place. In addition, the Hatch Act funds went into the Economic Development Agency and provided annual funds for research, agriculture, and for both State and National use. He also spoke about the Cooperative Extension Stations that were established in 1814. They helped provide land grant possibilities, academic information, and extension services for the states and how the funding was regulated by the USDA. He talked about how the Oklahoma Ag Experiment Station was established in 1890, and he added the additional comment that the OAES Barn was the oldest building at OSU experiment station, which was built in 1892. Dr. Watson then spoke to us about DASNR (Department of Ag Science and Natural Resources) and how it provided Ag Economics, Ag Education, Ag Communication, Bio Energy Center, Water Resource Center, and the FAPC Center with total expenditures of $52 million and the states biggest supporters for funds. He spoke a little more about the 3 centers. The Water Resources Center and how it helped with turf grass, wheat improvement team, molecular genetics, and precision AG (like the green seeker, and precision ranching.) The food and Agriculture Products Center (FAPC) and how it provided food safety and helped businesses get started with new ideas for the food and Ag side of business. He emphasized how each one of these areas of Agriculture plays a vital part in the local, national and international Agriculture. Also, how DASNR helped in teaching, research, and extension services for Agriculture today.
Dr. Ross Love spoke quickly about extension services, the cooperative Ag extension and the 4 programs areas of the OCES. Dr. Love spoke on how the OCES stood for Agriculture, family and consumer services, 4-H youth development, and community and rural development. The OCES staffing consisted of 605 people with a $41 million dollar budget.
Dr. Weeks spoke about leadership and had us do some group activities using our views on the term leadership. Dr. Weeks said, “A good leader is someone we follow, learn from, and has credibility and honesty.” After we divided into groups and came up with our ideas of what makes a great leader, she gave us the actual definition of a great leader. Being a leader is a process of influencing a group of people to a common goal, underlining the word process, influence, group, and goal. She than began telling us that the underlined words like goal represented a better leader, group represented everyone that followed, influence represented like and understanding and credibility, and how process represented learning from other leaders.
To Meditations for Lunch (Learning Proper Dining Etiquette)
Mrs. Debby Strickland spoke to us about dining etiquette. She began by showing us the proper way to wear our name tags, hold our wine glass, and how to handle a small plate for appetizers in the reception area only. She advised that to be proper, you should never carry reception glass or appetizer plate into the dining area. She then had us proceed into the dining area and stand behind our chairs to share the appropriate way to set in our chairs. We are to approach the front of the chair at the right side. Once everyone at our table had sat down, we then proceeded to place our napkins in our laps and waited until the staff came by to ask what we would prefer to drink. After receiving drinks, we were served soup. Mrs. Strickland began advising on the proper way to eat soup while instructing us to use utensils from the outside in unless a soup spoon has been provided. Never pick up the cup or bowl and drink the soup. She said always use our spoons and scoop the soup from the front inside of the soup bowl or cup. Move toward the back lightly scraping the bottom of the spoon against the back edge to prevent dripping. When we were served a dinner salad, Mrs. Strickland began to instruct us that we should use the outside fork and place the fork on the plate between each bite in order to prevent eating too quickly. Furthermore, she told us that we should always wipe our mouth with the napkin before taking a drink of our beverage. She also instructed us prior to dining and while dining to always look inside our glass while taking a drink so that we are careful not to spill anything on us. When served the main course, she informed us not to slice the meat to big and no more than 3 bites in one cutting. She even covered the tiniest details on the proper way to un-wrap the butter putting the whole square on the plate, and then folding the wrapper in half placing it under the edge of the plate or coffee saucer. Mrs. Strickland suggested only butter a small portion of the bread that we can fit into our mouth properly and never clean off your plate using the bread. She stated, be sure to pace yourself when eating so that you do not eat to slow or fast. Once dinner was completed, we were served a dessert along with coffee. Mrs. Strickland informed the class about various matters pertaining to proper dining etiquette.
Dr. Joe made a few announcements about the up coming session. We visited among our group to come up with ideas in order to acknowledge and thank the speakers to come. His final announcement informed us about filling out our class evaluations, turning in our scribe notes before the following Wednesday and writing our thank you letters to the speakers that we were assigned. The class was then dismissed to return home.