Ode to the Ag Teacher

     This one may get long.  If so, and you don’t like it…..go somewhere else on the endless internet and read something worthwhile.  

       Oh, you’re still here.  Well, let’s paint a happy little picture and have fun.  I headed to college at OSU to be an ag teacher–fall of 89 to May of 93.  It’s all I ever wanted to do.  Not the loftiest of goals but maybe the best.  OSU=FUN!   I graduated as an ag teacher.  I taught ag-ed for 15 years in Oklahoma.  3 years at Billings–I learned a lot and met good, good people.  9 years at Waynoka–learned even more.  I needed to move on but those were fun times that haven’t quit.  Those people fit with Tammy and I.  Maybe I need to write a book about my thoughts of Waynoka.  It is a unique community. 

      Then 3 years at Fairview.   We won a lot and there were so, so many good people.  The kids were awesome.  We moved there for Kela and it worked.  It just didn’t fit me and I didn’t fit them.   But, I am really proud of how many ties we still have there.  If you do enough right, the wrongs seem smaller. 

       Then a profitable break from teaching for 6 years pushing green paint.  Third or fourth best job that I ever had.  (Jack & Jill grocery store and Okie State meats lab will always be 1 & 2.)   It was so good.  Like a dream.  RUSM?  Driving brand new John Deere stuff.  But there were parts that just wasn’t me.  No harm.  And I can still sell stuff.  

        And now, I am finishing year 7 at Shattuck.  Obviously it is good or I wouldn’t have done year 2.  Oh, and if it wasn’t worthwhile, I would now be single.  So, basically, I have a very good perspective on the ag teaching career in the state of Oklahoma.  

         This is a hard-to-do-job when you have a strong work ethic and you know what you are doing.  It’s impossible if you don’t have the drive to do right.  You don’t have to know everything but you damn sure better be ready to try to learn everything.  If you are a lazy POS, well….you better start looking for an alternative career.  I’m not saying that an ag teacher is the hardest working person in a given school system, but a good ag teacher is always friends with that janitor, maintenance person, coach, etc. that burns a little hot as well.  

          This is an eff-ed up career that you cannot compare from state to state.  Hell, for that matter, you can’t compare from town to town or school to school.  What fits?  If it fits the person, fits the school, fits the community, well then..If it fits, it works.  I guess it’s time to name names.  These people are friends and I hope will still be friends with me. 

        How do you compare a Bobby Listen to say a Randy Pullan?  You don’t.  Bobby Listen won SO many pig shows and a pile of livestock judging contests.  I don’t remember seeing him at a speech contest, yet I’m sure he attended one.  Randy Pullan will beat your ass in any species of livestock showing, with a limited budget and has helped so many kids for so many years.  I would compare them as they were both bad-ass for their respective communities.  I would rank them as we would have gladly had either of our kids in their respective programs.  

         How do you compare a Travis Bradshaw to a Tom Lamle?   One’s old and the other acts old.  One is health conscious, the other….we are all good friends.  I’ve tried to get both to take jobs that I ended up doing.  Basically, they are both smarter than I am.  How do we rank them?  I would have gladly had either of our kids in their respective programs.  

       How about my buddy at Ponca City?  Kevin Frazier.  The general public does not grasp what he has built over the past ALMOST 50 years at PO HI.   Lots of state winning banners?  No.  However, wicked tough at the level that they see fit.  Oh snap!!  His program fits the school, fits the community and it all works.  I could not replicate what he has done.  How much Blue & Gold do they sell?   I can answer that.   More than the rest of us.  

      Now back to the Waynoka years.  I love Waynokans.  But lets examine the ag teacher situation in Woods County at that time.  Barclay Holt was at Freedom.  And he and his crew were trying to win EVERYTHING, yet they were like a little dog humping big dogs.  No chance.  Yet, never underestimate those little dogs as they tend to get stuff done.  Speaking, showing, judging, grass boards, etc.   They made grass boards so cool that Staats and I had to get our crap together and start building those boards.  I was a young, just a little bit confident kid at Waynoka.  Alva had Staats and Randy Nation.  Barclay and I could deal with Staats.  That damn Nation on the other hand.  Shit!!!

      Here’s what I learned about dealing with Nation in Woods County.  1–you better get ready to get beat at showing hogs, 2–get beat at livestock judging and 3– get beat at anything that he decides to compete.  AND you better have your ethics in check.  Because somebody was always watching.    When you have to deal with a Randy Nation on a regular basis, you either quit or get better.  I’ve tried to get better yet here we are.   Waiting on Lisa Nation to post another set of pictures of judging wins, premium sale pigs and Corgi dogs.   Wait.  What?  Corgis are cool as hell.  I doubt that my presence in any competition changed his demeanor.  

      I love talking to other ag teachers like C.L. McGill, Billy Scott, John Lastly, Vince McGolden, Ryan Burns, Mark Sneary, Chip Laubach, Jay Muret, Devin Delozier and Tim Harland.   Sure, some of them are old.  Some are older than me.  Here’s what I love about them.  They truly have a passion for the job.  Every conversation that I have with them…….I have these three thoughts.  One–They do a better job than I do.   Two–they are letting me hang with them.  If I’m quiet and keep my mouth shut…. (basically, don’t be a Kelln)    And three—after listening a bit, I think—-I’ve got kids that will work to beat their ass!  

         Not exactly sure of the year, even though I do know where the notebook is.  Hadn’t opened it since.  We were at a summer conference (aka normally a waste of tax payer $s).  circa 2002 or 03 or IDK pick a year.    The day started with a round table discussion and we were supposed to rotate from table to table.  The first, only and LAST round table that I was at consisted of my dumb ass, Randy Henderson, Jona Kay Squires, Dale Dewitt and Dennis Delozier.  I do not know if anybody else learned anything at that table, yet we stayed together as a group that day.  Young listening to old.  Female to male perspective.  Story after story. Topic after topic.  Of all the secrets in my little black book… I learned what I already knew that day. One of the best days of my life.  Defining.  I’ll gladly talk about it with you but I just might shed a tear.  I’m not even sure what it meant to the others.  Do not care.  But dudes, that was the moment that I realized that the rug tied the room together.  It was that cool and that simple.  And now, we don’t have the space to describe this rug.  Although, let’s end this.  

        Best OK ag teacher ever?  That’s the question.  I could go old school.  I could go new school.  I could tell you stories of how hard it was to deal with the Kurt Murray days in Burlington.  The various regimes at Kingfisher or Elgin.  There were some Newcastle and Fairview deals that were dominant.  Adair has been dang hard to get around for a couple of generations.  

        One name.  Team AgEd is on the clock…..Don’t care what school you put this dude in (SE, NW, whatever) , he will have success.  The best ag teacher (teacher) that I have ever seen.  Showing, speaking, proficiencies, community, shop projects, whatever… me, it’s a real neat deal.  If you give me Mike Robison and you take the field… I’ll win.  Best all around ag-ed teacher that I have ever seen.  You can disagree but the bad asses in the field are going, I like that pick.

        I probably ought to be a GM for some billion dollar sports team.  If I was, I would trade down to the ?26th? pick and then select…….cue the music.  The point is, it’s not necessarily what an ag teacher wins or loses, it is what they bring for the kids in their community.  Ag teaching is such a diverse career and each community has different wants, needs and desires.    




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