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Class XIV Curriculum

Northeastern Oklahoma Agricultural and Industry

 Seminar XI

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 a.m.
Scribe: Carol Cowan

Most of Class XIV members, Dr. Joe Williams, Dr. Sue Williams and Marcy Luter left OSU early on Wednesday morning for the start of seminar XI. Two vans were loaded and the trip to Bartlesville began. The drive was an enjoyable one with time for visiting and catching up since our last seminar.  The van was riding in was the experienced van since we were the older and wiser group with the exception of Wes, who stayed with the younger group! As part of our OALP experience, we enjoyed driving down roads many of us had never been on before. Some from our group saw an eagle in flight right by the roadway.  Dr. Joe mentioned that was appropriate for today since it was Veteran’s Day.           

We arrived at Bartlesville, met up with the rest of our class and began our morning with John Cothren making introductions. Our one and only veteran, Dr. Joe Williams was acknowledged. We also saluted the American Flag with all of us saying the Pledge of Allegiance.    

Our morning session began with Brent Bonner talking about SPIRITed Leadership.  Mr. Bonner is Senior Consultant of Accounting Excellence for ConocoPhillips. He was a 1999 Oklahoma State University graduate and has been with ConocoPhillips for 8 years. Mr. Bonner referred to himself as a humble accounting guy. In his words his great passions are orange and ride’em Cowboys!          

Mr. Bonner introduced us to Bartlesville as a mid-sized town of 36-37,000 people, and the county seat of Washington County.  The town has a strong backing in the performing art , and has a fine performing arts center.  Price tower in Bartlesville is the only skyscraper Frank Lloyd Wright designed.  The American Legion World Series counter to what we say.  Talk the talk and walk the walk.  Their greatest success is communication around organizational values.  You have to get people to hear! 

Since Mr. Bonner’s topic was title SPIRITed Leadership, he explained that is an acronym with the following descriptions.  (This conveys their purpose to use their pioneering spirit to responsibly deliver energy to the world.)

Safety:  We operate safely.  People:  We respect one another, recognizing that our success depends upon the commitment, capabilities and diversity of our employees.

Integrity:  We are ethical and trustworthy in our relationships with all stakeholders

Responsibility:  We are accountable for our actions.  We are a good neighbor and citizen in the communities where we operate.  

Innovation:  We anticipate change and respond with creative solutions.  We are agile and responsive to the changing needs of stakeholders and embrace learning opportunities from our experiences around the world.   

Teamwork:  Our can do spirit delivers top performance.  We encourage collaboration, celebrate success and build and nurture long-standing mutually beneficial relationships.

ConocoPhillips ethics policy requires individual responsibility.  They require their employees to re-certify their ethics policy on a yearly basis.  Top level accountability is also very important.  They require their CEO’s to attest to their financial correctness.  Corporate ethics have to be strong internally and externally.    

Mr. Bonner was questioned by many in the class over various topics.  One question concerned how ConocoPhillips deals with criticism of making so much money when oil and gas is priced so high.  His answer was that if the company doesn’t make these profits, they can’t find the resources they need for supply and demand.  They must make money to invest and explore and look for alternative sources. 

To motivate our way of thinking, Dr. Sue Williams presented: Kings and Kingmakers:  Public Policy and Power in Local Politics.  Dr. Sue, as most of us call her, is Department Head for the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Oklahoma State University.   Refer to their website      

Dr. Sue began her presentation by saying only the involvement of informed citizens has any chance of making representative government more representative.  Without locally based leadership, economic development won’t happen.  A paper listing Developing Effective Leaders Teaching Modules was given to us.  The website for it is: 

People must be aware of community issues, see these issues, see these issues as important to them, and believe that they can make a difference in addressing these issues.  Public policy is a set of principles that direct action.  Dr. Sue stated the four cardinal rules of citizen involvement.  They are: 1) People need to be aware of the issue and the effect of that issue on them or their business, family, and community.  2) People must realize or believe that they have a reasonable opportunity to make a difference.   3) People need to have a basic understanding of how to make a difference in community issues and projects.  4) People require access to accurate information they can trust.    

Barry L. Flinchbaugh, Extension Specialist at Kansas State University, developed the: Kings and Kingmakers model of public policymaking in which he depicts how power and policy are organized in every community in a pyramid.  Starting at the top are the Kingmakers.  They have the financial and intellectual resources to influence and even determine public policy.  Next are the Kings who are the elected and appointed leaders in government and organizations and have a strong and direct interest in public policy. Next are the Active Citizens who are the joiners, or civic-minded member of a community/below them are the Interested Citizens, who are fairly well informed on community, state, and national issues.  Making up the bottom of the pyramid are the Apathetic Citizens.  This level represents they don’t give a damn bunch.  In this model, mass opinion is influenced by the powerful elites: communication flows downward; and the masses have only an indirect influence on public policy, until they move up the pyramid and get the attention of the Kingmakers.    

Dr. Sue involved us all in a card game, where our random groups were dealt a hand of cards.  We had to develop our own pyramid following the suits of the cards with Aces as Kingmakers, Kings as the Kings, Queens as the Active Citizens, Jacks as the Interested Citizens, and 10-2 as the Apathetic Citizens. Clubs signified economic development, hearts were transportation, diamonds were tourism and area beautification, spades were main street development, and Jokers were unknown interest/allegiance.  This gave all the groups a chance to trade/exchange/ beg/borrow cards that would benefit their own group.  It showed us how we need to have resources and people in all categories to make our group productive.    

A quote by Representative Barbara Roberts was given:  “You are only one cause, one concern, one tragedy, one moral indignation, one economic crisis away from political involvement”. Closing notes included: one person can make a difference.  Influencing public decisions requires an alert person, the right circumstances and willingness to invest time and work.  Citizen involvement makes democracy work and lastly a quote from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world-indeed, it is the only thing that ever has".   

Each member of the class was given a voucher for lunch at the ConocoPhillips Corporate Cafeteria, and was enjoyed by all.     

Wednesday, November 11, 2009 p.m.
Scribe: Jared Cullison

After a great lunch at the Conoco Phillips Corporate Cafeteria we returned to meeting room to begin afternoon session. 

We started out with presenter Marcy Luter a Management Development Specialist from the Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater Oklahoma.  Mrs. Luter’s presentation Strength Assessments was a great one.  It was a program that was used to point out an individual’s strengths.  We did this with the help of a questioner put together by the AP polling group.  After the test was taken the program gave you your top 5 strength categories and the definition with the traits of those categories.   With our information Mrs. Luter then presented how to interoperate the information and how to put it to use in our leadership roles.  It was a fun and eye opening program that will help in our ever changing leadership positions.

After a short break we departed for the Hughes Ranch, where we met Robert and John Hughes.  Our first order of business was to tour the ranch which is a true gem.  The ranch is home to over 3700 wild mustangs, these mustangs are the ones that are culled off the wild herds due to age.  Once on the ranch the stallions are castrated and they are all checked for health status and released to roam the ranch.  According to John Hughes to be able to get the program on his ranch the government requires that a set and particular infrastructure be constructed.  The government has strict guidelines that they must follow such as fence height coral construction.  Once the infrastructure is complete they bid on the contract.  Each contract is for a 5 year period this contract is for $1.25 per horse per day 365 so for each horse the Hughes receive $456.25.  This money helps pay for feeding, medical, pasture and infrastructure maintenance.   The Mustangs are fed Alfalfa in the winter, and summer pasture is Native and Bermuda which is burned every other year and sprayed and fertilized every year.  The Hughes also have lease land that they run stocker cattle on after all they started out as cow calf ranchers and its hard to take the cow out of a rancher. 

After our tour and question session we were invited to supper at one of the Hughes ranch barns, where we had a nice hamburger meal prepared and donated by Pam and Steve Snelson.  After which we traveled to Miami to the Microtel for the nights lodging.

Wednesday, November 12, 2009 A.m.
Scribe: Wesley Crain

We began our day by being at the Picher Housing Authority before 8:00 a.m.  Chairperson John Leonard introduced us to John Sparkman of the Picher housing Authority.   Mr. Sparkman said that we would be his last group because he was retiring.   Then he gave us a history of the area and problems that it is facing.  

The mining began in the area in the early 1900’s and was big into the 1940’s.  They mine lead and zinc and a major portion of the ammo used in World War I and World War II was mined here.  The government had good incentives for the mining industry here because they used the materials being mined.  The mining was continued until the 1970’s.  The mining covers 43 square miles and has 1200 mine shafts and 400 are open today.  The mines are from 120 to 490 feet deep and there is over 300 miles of underground caverns and these have filled with water.   A recent study says that there is a 50% chance that from today until 50 years from now that they will collapse.  In the late 70’s the EPA began ‘snooping’ around and in 1983 declared the area a superfund site.  Two hundred million dollars were spent on a water diversion project, but it has not worked.  On September 11, 2000, a town meeting was held and of the 600to 800 people in attendance 80% of them wanted to move the town.  In 2004 the state bought out 55 families for $3 million.   Later Senator Inhofe helped to get money from the federal government to finish the buyout.  On May 10, 2008, a major tornado hit Picher destroying a portion of the homes.   There are about 50 people living in Picher and the buyout program should be completed next year. 

We then toured some of the area.   We hiked up one of the chat piles.  There is 45 million tons of chat left with two thirds of it gone.  It takes about 15 years to remove one pile and there are15 piles left.  It is only economical to haul chat within a 300 mile radius.  We then saw a mine cave in and a creek that is contaminated from underground water.  The water goes into Grand Lake and you are asked not to eat more than 4 ounces of fish from that lake.  We returned to the Picher Housing Authority and regrouped to go to our next destination.  If you want to view the pictures of the May 10, 2008 tornado go to the website: 

At 9:36 a.m. chairman John Leonard introduced us to Brent Rendel a Class XII member and a fourth generation farmer. Brent farms with his father and own 500 acres and lease another 3500 acres.  With double cropping they raise about 5500 acres of crop a year.  They grow corn, soybeans, wheat, milo, sunflowers and canola.  He showed us his field of sunflowers and told of the problems raising sunflowers, the types of sunflowers and the marketing of sunflowers in the northeast Oklahoma area.  

Brent told us about getting OSU to help do research in northeast Oklahoma and about partners in research.  Brent is very big on using optical sensors in wheat for nitrogen application.  We then moved to one of Brent’s soybean fields and Brent gave us some statistics on Ottawa County.  You could tell that he was very proud and motivated to be a part of agriculture in the area.  He gave us some information about cash and share crop rents and the value of the land.  There are really no large farms in the area and cash rents are usually under $50.00 an acre.  A combine was coming down the road and we had to move and Brent showed us the way to the next stop. 

At J-M Farms we were introduced to Scott Engelbrecht (Class XII) and Terry Jurgensmeyer (Class XI).  J-M farms were started in 1979 with Jurgensmeyer and McClain and in 1981 or 1982 McClain was bought out by Jurgensmeyer.  Scott has worked for J-M full time since 1993 and part time since 1991.  The original plan was to market 2 million pounds of mushrooms a year and now they market 20 million a year.  The main facility employs 200 people and the total number of employees is 600.  The company has a lot of satellite operations and spin off operations such as composting and salad preparation.  The Jurgensmeyer philosophy is to turn problems into solutions and profits.  After getting hair nets and wrist bands on we split into two groups and toured the mushroom farm.  The first part of the tour was the composting.  Compost is made from wheat straw, gypsum, chicken litter and water.  The second process is pasteurization so only the right organism grows.  Third is the spawning or planting the seed, pressing and putting peat moss on it.  Next is the harvesting and processing of the mushrooms.  85% of mushrooms are picked, processed and shipped on the same day.  Number 1 mushrooms sell for $1.30 a pound and #2 sells for $.30.  The total crop length for mushrooms is nine weeks.  After completing the tour we continued on to our next stop.

Wednesday, November 12, 2009 p.m.
Scribe: Burton Harmon

Dr. Mark Osborn spoke with us during lunch at Charlie’s Chicken. Dr. Osborn was born and raised here in Pitcher. He felt it was important to do a public service, so he got involved. There were three things that needed to be done to the superfund site: clean up tar creek, fix the superfund site and stop the flooding. He also quoted Abraham Lincoln, “I want to do good so that people know I lived.” The Quapaw Indians owned most of the land around Pitcher. In the 1930’s Pitcher had 22,000 people living there. They mined the bullets for World War I and II. In the 1960’s they stopped mining. In 1980, water filled up the mines with a PH of 3. In 1990, the PH was 7, so the water has cleared up some. In 1970, the lead levels were 30-40. In 1980, they were 25. In 1990, they were down to 10. A lead level in a child less than 6 years old, greater than 10 affects their IQ. If it gets between 50 and 100, they can slip into a coma and die. In

1994, Rebekah Jim, a counselor at Pitcher, pulled a tooth of a student. The tooth was sent to Harvard and had a lead level greater than 10. The EPA came and tested all of the kids and 44% of the kids had lead levels greater than 10. So, the EPA spent $150 million and took out 18 inches of soil in every yard that had children and replaced it with new soil. In the year 2000, Gov. Keating’s Tar Creek task force said, we must test every kid every year. The lead levels had not decreased. They decided they could not fix the problem at Pitcher so they took a survey and 85% of the population wanted to be relocated. There were 705 structures when they started relocating; now there are only 30.  

We toured EFI-A satellite growing operation for J&M Farms. Steve Engelbrecht, the owner, spoke to us. They opened April 23, 2003. They own 160 acres. To date, they have raised 23 million pounds of mushrooms. They have 46 employees, mostly Guatemalans. The pickers size each mushroom when they pick them and they pick 100 pounds per person per hour. This year they will pick 3 ½ million pounds of mushrooms. They spent $5000 a month heating their greenhouses. They have added outdoor wood burning stoves and have saved $3000 a month. They burn the used mushroom beds at about 1 per day. Mushrooms are actually pretty interesting. They double in size every 24 hours. They apply the left over stumps to the soil and they are high in potassium. Finding a work force is not a problem. In fact, the day we were there, they had 12 people show up looking for a job. They are paid by the pound based on the quality, they get about $10-$12 an hour. There are 3 teams and they work 4 days on and 2 days off. Mushrooms are picked 7 days a week from 6:30-4:00. He has to make the workers take days off, otherwise they would not stop. 

We then toured Green Country Soil. Mike Peters is the operation general manager and he has worked there 13 years and he likes his work. They package soil, mulch, and rocks. They ship 12,000 semis a year out and they get 12,000 semis a year in. They have a robot that bags 7000 bags of mulch a day. The mulch comes in several colors, black, brown, red, and he has done a special order of orange for OSU. He gets calls all of the time about dogs eating the mulch, but his mulch is nontoxic. They have 40 employees at the Miami site. They produce products year round and they stockpile 30,000 pallets of materials for the spring.  

We then went to CMC Cattle Operation. They have 250 commercial cows. They also have 250 registered cows and they sell half of their bulls at a special bull sale. They also started a feedlot and they had 375 head of calves on feed in July. They have 8 large pens that run approximately 800 head. Their feedlot focuses on carcass data that they get back from packers. Their calves on feed are all age and source verified.  

At supper, we listened to Nidia Lopez talk about her journey from Mexico to the U.S. It was a very interesting journey and very touching. I am not going to try to reproduce it, because I can’t do it justice. I am glad she made it to America.

Wednesday, November 13, 2009
Scribe: Gary Kafer

Don Dixon Farm—Butterball Contract Grower

We left Microtel 2 minutes early thanks to Sir Neufeld and arrived on time at the Dixon farm. Speakers were as follows:

  1. Don Dixon, owner

  2. Roy Ball, Extension Educator, Craig Co

  3. Josh Payne, Area Waste Mgmt Specialist, Muskogee Co

  4. Ernie Callison, Welch State Bank, Welch, OK

Although we were standing as a group, the group acted as a panel to discuss the poultry industry with us. Mr. Dixon who has been in the poultry business for 10 years shared details about his operation, which consists of two first stage houses 50 X 270 feet and two final stage houses 50 X 630 feet. He constantly has turkeys on the farm rotating from small houses to larger ones. Birds are moved using a trailer with conveyer belts.   

Birds are one day old when brought to the farm and they stay until fully grown at 19 weeks. Each house holds 9,000 birds and therefore will have 36,000 birds on the farm at all times in various stages.  

Mr. Payne spoke to us about the problems and/or benefits of poultry litter. With the poultry industry having transitioned over the years to larger farms and more concentrated areas, litter disposal has become more of an issue. On the up side, litter has transformed poor grassland to a much better grazing level. Over the years, producers have always followed the regulations. Currently, they are required to go to continuing education, take soil test on land the litter is to be spread, have an animal waste management plan, in addition to meeting other requirements. The State Attorney General continues with litigation against the poultry integrators for high phosphorus levels in the Illinois River (see attached article).  

Mr. Ball and Mr. Callison talked about the financial woes of the industry and certainly the litigation is not helping. The economy has caused Pilgrims Pride to declare bankruptcy and has caused integrators to cut back on the number of birds sent and the frequency they are sent to the producers. As a result the producers have less income. By far the majority of poultry farms are financed with FSA guarantees. In the past, barns were paid for in 15 years, now many have to be extended. Mr. Callison said that a recent audit classified all loans at his bank that have been extended.  

The two main issues discussed obviously were the economy and waste management. “As with many issues, it will take a holistic approach and not just one group to correct the problems,” Mr. Payne said.   

Port of Catoosa 

Speakers present were Jeff Yowell, Marketing Media, Dick Greenville, Director of Logistics and Business Development, and Allen Avery, curator of the museum.  

On Dec 16, 1956, ground was broke for the construction of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. On Jan 21, 1971, the first barge arrived from New Orleans. These barges continue to import and export today travelling through 18 locks to make the passage. Each lock is 600 feet long and 110 feet wide. A barge can move through a lock in 30 minutes or less. Usually there are 8 barges together. One barge can carry cargo equal to 60 semi-trailers. There are four types of barges transporting goods up and down the water way system. A tank barge transports liquids, an open rake barge transports coal, rock, or scrap metal, covered hopper barges transport grains and dry chemicals, and deck barges transport heavy equipment. Of course there is a long list of items transported.  

This navigation system did not restrict flooding which was a great problem in 1943 but rather the lakes and control dams that were put into place did. However, the navigation system did provide a constant water flow to assure transportation by barge could be conducted throughout the year starting at the Verdigris River to the Arkansas, then to the White and on to the Mississippi. The construction cost was $1.2 billion.  

Today, there is a 2,800 acre industrial park surrounding the docks. There are approximately 70 companies assembling equipment, breaking down steel into truck size components, and storing products, in addition to the normal exporting and importing. The port can move goods via trucks (up to 1,000/day) and by rail with 15 miles of track on site. 

OALP class members were given tours of the industrial park with steel, grains and fertilizer seeming to be the main players although a wide variation of companies.  

This port is all about marketing the waterway and economic development. Learn more at 

International Seminar Team Report  

We finished seminar XI hearing from Team #1 on Spain and Morocco’s Geography and Climate. This information was to help the class to be informed and prepared for the upcoming trip in Feb 2010. Some key points made are as follows: 

  1. Spain is the size of Texas less the panhandle

  2. Water is a huge controversial subject

  3. Industries include mining coal, iron, copper, lead, zinc (hope they do a better job than in Picher), tungsten, uranium

  4. Morocco is the size of California

  5. Industries include fishing and mining phosphates, magnesium, lead, silver, copper

  6. Time zone is 6 hours ahead of Oklahoma