A new school year means new opportunities, and for 12 students in the Oklahoma State University Ferguson College of Agriculture, their opportunity is the year-long membership with the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Encounter.
OALE is a program designed to expand the knowledge of the agricultural industry in Oklahoma for today’s young adults. Expansion and extension of the educational component of the Oklahoma Junior Livestock Program through production agriculture, is a major goal of the Oklahoma Youth Expo board of directors and staff. It is only through a stronger concentration on education that future leaders are developed.
This past month brought forth the selection of OALE Class XIX which consists of these Ferguson College of Agriculture seniors: Cameron Catrett, Toby Denny, Macey Goretska, Mattie Haynes, Bobby Marchy, Emile Mittelstaedt, Audrey Ochsner, Jack Palla, Cooper Rogers, Zachary Tague, Kelsey Vejraska, and Whitney Walker.
On September 21, 2021, Class XIX members embarked on a two-day trip to Northwest Oklahoma.
Though it was the first trip of their journey, it was nothing shy of incredible. Class XIX travelled from Mulhall to Woodward and everywhere in between.
Class XIX members visited J&L Oil services where they got to tour an oil rig site in Shattuck.
They began their trip with a tour of Pfeiffer Farms in Mulhall where they listened to John, Kelsey and Karisa Pfeiffer discuss the history and daily operations of their family farm and show goat operation. Shortly after, Class XIX visited Enid Brewing Company, a Made in Oklahoma brewery. where they were able to walk through the facilities and learn about the brewing process.
Further west, they met Ryan and Kristi Sproul of Fairview. The Sproul’s facilitated a conversation about Oklahoma agriculture and why our future leader’s involvement and voices matter for the security of our industry. Kristi, a past OALE member of class IV, discussed her role as the Senior External Affairs Coordinator at Public Service Company of Oklahoma. Class XIX members were able to ask questions and get a firsthand look at Oklahoma’s growing wind energy industry.
“This trip provided a great opportunity to expand my personal knowledge about energy, specifically wind energy, in Oklahoma agriculture,” said Whitney Walker, OALE Class XIX member. “I am grateful for Kristi’s knowledge and how willing she was to teach us about this sector.”
Class XIX members toured a local wind farm near Fairview where they listened to wind energy leaders and were able to step inside a wind turbine. Sproul also shared the many positive effects wind energy has on Oklahomans and how wind farms serve local rural communities.
They ended their first day with long-time friends and supporters of the OYE, Jimmy and Marilyn Harrel.
Together they welcomed Class XIX to Leedey where they stopped at the Herrel’s original homestead, Bar X Ranch. There, Marilyn informed students about the Herrel family history and how they came to settle in Northwest Oklahoma.
“It meant the world to me that Mr. and Mrs. Herrel were willing to let us see the homestead that has been in their family for generations,” said Bree Taylor, OALE Class XIX member. “The history inside the old cabin and the emotion surrounding the entire acreage was truly impactful.”Jimmy and Marilyn later joined the class for dinner graciously hosted by Robetha Fariss and her family. Class XIX members heard from the Herrel’s and Fariss about the rich history and inception of OYE. Stories were shared, laughs were had, and memories were made.
The next day began with a tour of the newly-opened Rock Creek Distillery in Shattuck owned and operated by the Schultz and Swanson families. Class XIX got to witness the making of RCD’s bourbon, rye whiskey, Dead Parrot Rum, and Schultz Vodka. Also in Shattuck, Class XIX visited J&L Oil Services where they met Lance Schultz and Jason Swanson. He guided them through a local oil rig site where Class XIX met crew members and asked questions about Oklahoma’s petroleum industry.
Wind energy industry leaders spoke to Class XIX members and led them through a wind turbine in Fairview.
Class XIX later journeyed on to Woodward where they met with leaders and staff of both Bank of Western Oklahoma and Farm Credit of Western Oklahoma. Class XIX members, Toby Denny and Emile Mittelstaedt, spoke to their peers and the staff about their Summer 2021 Washington, D.C. trip sponsored by Farm Credit of Western Oklahoma.
“Farm Credit of Western Oklahoma truly cares about Oklahoma’s rural and agricultural youth, and it shows,” said OALE Class XIX member, Emile Mittelstaedt. “It was neat to tour their facilities and get to share how they continue to support students, even at the collegiate level.”
Jason Swanson of Rock Creek Distillery educated Class XIX members on the distilling process of their local rum and vodka.
After proceeding to the historic Woodward Stockyards, they headed northwest to their final stop in Buffalo where they met with Buffalo Feeders manager, Tom Fanning. Class XIX got a full tour of the 32,000 head capacity feedlot and learned about cattle nutrition and trading from both producer and market perspectives.
“Everything we got to witness and everyone we got to meet was incredible,” Walker said. “There are so many successful leaders in agriculture that were shaped by the OALE program, and I know we are all humbled to follow in their footsteps.”
Stay tuned as Class XIX travels to Southwest Oklahoma October 25-26, 2021!