OALP XIX Seminar 8

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Class XIX of the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program started its eighth session at 8:00 a.m. at Langston University. Mr. Clark Williams of Class XI gave us an overview of the Langston University history and current College of Agriculture programs. The Agriculture Department has about 100 students with four majors:  agriculture business, animal science, plant and soil sciences, and natural resources management. Williams also told us about a very unique scholarship program that they are a part of in conjunction with the USDA. This scholarship is called the 1890 Scholarship, which is a four year full ride scholarship that pays homage to the land grant university program of 1890.

Our next speaker was Dr. Tilahun Sahlu, head of the world-renowned E. (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research. The mission of the Institute is to develop and transfer enhanced goat production system technologies, with impacts at local, state, regional, national, and international levels. The Institute strives to fulfill this mission through excellence in a results-driven, highly productive research program; an effective, client-oriented extension approach; and dynamic international activities that stress development and human capacity building. Dr. Sahlu later introduced us to Dr. Steve Hart who is a retired Langston University and E. (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research extension scientist. Dr. Sahlu and Hart visited with us about what makes them unique and their history. The E. (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research was founded in 1983 and since its inception has had a small close-knit group of researchers and scientists. Today, they have eight scientists and rely on visiting scholars from around the world to help conduct all the work they do. They explained that goats are the number one livestock species worldwide and there is growing interest in the United States. Some of the uses for goats include meat, dairy, hair, and vegetation management just to name a few. Later, we toured the laboratories and barns that are located on the Langston campus.

The class then drove to Stillwater to visit the Oklahoma State University Soil, Water, and Forage Analytical Lab led by our very own Mrs. Kendall Henderson. She gave us a very detailed tour and explanation of what her and her staff do every day. I think we were all impressed that their little lab performs an average of 60,000 samples every year for the producers and landowners of Oklahoma. We then drove to the Wyndham Garden Hotel where we settled in to hear from Amy Anderson who is a counselor at Oklahoma State University. Anderson talked with us about communication, interpersonal relationships, and stress management. She provided us with an interesting perspective into mental health, stress, and how we communicate with people in our lives.

After lunch, we traveled to Turning Point Ranch, a therapeutic horse ranch on the west side of Stillwater. This past spring the ranch was devastated with flooding like much of our state. We were tasked with helping them clean up so they could get back to business in just a few short weeks. We were greeted by Mr. Losco Hunter an alumnus of OALP and he introduced Natalie Watkins who gave us an overview of some of the wonderful things the ranch does for its visitors.  We then began our work.  Two class members mowed grass, several people ran string trimmers, and many washed white plastic fences.  We also cleaned horse stalls, painted warning strips on steps, and re-attached roof insulation.  Cantrell Haley, the Stable Assistant, told us that the work we did returned their grounds back to the luster it had before the flooding. We then returned to the hotel to freshen up for a picnic at Dr. and Mrs. Arnall’s house.  After eating, we enjoyed conversations, foot races, tossing the football, and having a cornhole tournament.

Friday, July 12, 2019

We started the day at the USDA Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit.  Kem Kadavy welcomed us and spoke about the history of the hydraulic lab.  We learned that the lab started in the 1930s in South Carolina.  The lab later moved to its current location on Lake Carl Blackwell near Stillwater.  He showed us videos of dam experiments and other research practices.  We learned that Oklahoma is #1 in the U.S. for flood control dams, followed by Texas at #2.   After our introduction and history, we moved to the outdoor lab where Kem showed us how they test soil types for their erosion properties.  We then walked to the dam to see how they pull in water from the lake by gravity.  We then saw many different set ups for flood control experiments.

We returned to the hotel to hear Dr. Shannon Ferrell speak about the basics for estate planning and business succession.  Dr. Ferrell told us that approximately 55% of Americans have no estate planning and 64% of farm/agribusiness owners have no plan.  In addition, 88% of farm/agribusiness owners have no retirement plan.  He then showed us some models based upon his research on how having not only an estate plan, but a viable estate plan, could work.   He also told us that when you split the farm evenly between children (farm kid/city kid), this method always ends in farm failure based on his model.

After lunch, we heard from David Lane who spoke about making relationships stronger.  One of the things that David focused on was communication.  He explained to us that it is important to use “you” not “we” statements.  There are three different styles of learning:  auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.  He showed us video clips of examples of the different types.  He also told us how powerful stories, metaphors, and analogies are in communication.

After David finished, we had reflections.   Everyone shared what he or she thought of the seminar with some passionate opinions on some of the speakers.  All of us enjoyed having the spouses involved again.  We spoke about the upcoming seminar before we adjourned.


Courtney P. Brown, Class XIX