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Jodi Cline
2017-2018 Adult Program Chair
Class XXVI and Lifetime Membe

Class 31’s Commencement and final session was held in Guymon on April 12-14, 2018.

The planning committee's goals for the session were to enhance participants’ knowledge of the past, present and future roles of agriculture in Oklahoma and its social and economic impact; develop an understanding of Oklahoma's current conservation practices related to agriculture such as crop rotation, water issues, etc.; and to create a meaningful, memorable, fun commencement experience.

Special thanks to the planning committee members Steve Baggerly, Class XVII, Soila Medina, Lucinda Masterson Ray, Class XII, and Jim Webster, Class XII.

Scroll down to read reflections from Class 31 and click here to see photos from the event.

Victor McCullough
Senior Pastor
Quayle United Methodist Church
Oklahoma City

We Had the Time of Our Lives…

On a journey that began with introductions at the Gaylord Pickens Museum – Home of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame some eight months earlier, the last session for LOK Class 31, aka “The Best Class Ever,” was held in the Oklahoma Panhandle and Guymon. The primary goal for this session was to enhance our knowledge of the roles and related issues of agriculture in Oklahoma and the industry’s past, present and future social and economic impact.

On Thursday, part of the day was spent at Hitchin’ Post Ranch in Kenton with the Apple family. This family, in particular LeRoss Apple, was terrific in hosting our tour of the Black Mesa, the Tri-State markers, the vast farm and ranching operations and many other hidden treasures of the local area. The sights and terrain of this area were like none I had ever viewed in my newly adopted Sooner State. What a breathtaking sight to see fellow classmates atop some of the most magnificent elevations in Oklahoma!

In Guymon, the class discussed and learned about large-scale ranching and agriculture production, techniques for water conservation, and the newest technological advances for irrigation and farming. Also, there was a tour of Seaboard Foods. Although class members were very appreciative of the hospitality and information given regarding the pork industry, it appears many of us, quite frankly, learned more than we wanted to know about hog processing.

The thoughts of hogs and horses and cattle were quickly laid aside by the delightful impressions of eclectic memorabilia, Alma Folkloric dancers, and an unforgettable (Scott Stone-looking) Elvis singing “Best Class Ever” during a fabulous reception and dinner at Draper Headquarters. Kudos to the host committee!

On the eve of our LOK Class 31 Commencement, eyes began to water as classmates exchanged laughs, hugs and meaningful gifts. The exchanges merely foreshadowed the touching closing celebration at the University House Banquet Hall on the campus of Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Now this class of high-achievers is blessed and charged to begin a marvelous legacy of solidarity, support and significance that cannot be erased.

Many Thanks and Much Love to Marion and Jodi!

Jason Hawkins
Executive Director, Community Development
Oklahoma City Energy FC | Prodigal LLC
Oklahoma City

Class 31’s April experience came with a sense of anticipation, excitement, and sadness as we approached not just a trip to Guymon but our graduation as a class as well. Before arriving in Guymon the class made a stop in Woodward to enjoy the entertainment and fine dining of Big Dan’s, which is owned by Dan and Caryl Parsons (Caryl being part of the BCE). Once in Guymon, the Guymon LOK team provided an overview of multiple farming topics, which for many of us city slickers came as quite the education in economic impact for our state of the various industries covered. From agriculture to cattle and conservation, to agri-tourism to a test of your ongoing love for bacon capped off by visiting Panhandle State University, the trip was packed with more things than one could have ever imagined in the Panhandle of Oklahoma. For those not raised in a farming community, it was educational regarding what that life is like and also gave us a much better understanding of the role that politics plays there.

It definitely left everyone in the class with a whole new respect for the role of our farmers in our community. Mixed in on this great trip were some of the events used to put a cap and gown on us as the BCE. From Elvis, (I mean Scott Stone) appearing to serenade Marion and Jodi, to the gift exchange with our classmates, the last events truly encapsulated the time that we had spent together and brought back so many fond memories. We capped off the trip with our official graduation, which began the next leg of our journey as the BCE.

To go through this experience this year in particular, with all that is going on in our state, just brought our class that much closer. From talking to a classmate who was a legislator to seeing a classmate who chose to become a legislator in the middle of our program, it was draining and uplifting all at the same time. To walk hand-in-hand with a superintendent as they went through this year to having classmates face some of their difficult times in life, remaining one strong BCE created admiration for each other and the program and taught us that we are better together. I think I speak for each of my classmates in saying we were absolutely humbled to walk this journey hand in hand with all the leaders of Class 31 and the Leadership Oklahoma program.

C. Allen Wesley
Economic Development Representative, OK | N. TX
U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration

The importance and impact of agriculture on the state of Oklahoma is an obvious one. Oklahoma is unique in that this state has more cattle than people. The sheer volume of production translates into global impact in the agriculture sector. However, that is only one part of the narrative and to truly understand the challenges, successes, and impact, one must submerge themselves in the process and in the people of the panhandle.

It is in the panhandle of Oklahoma that the proverbial magic takes place... there is a culture of hard work and long hours. There is a pride in ranching and sharing its practices generationally. There is a history of the west and the discovery of new terrain. There is pride in ancestry, there is preservation in methods, and while technology has its place, you will find that many "real cowboys" are still utilizing techniques of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers.

Sure, a tour of "Seaboard" will provide an alarming illustration of commercialized processing. However, the real joy and jewel is in the men and women who choose to live a lifestyle of consistent work, limited access, and constantly changing terrain and temperature.

Summarily, agriculture has been and will continue to be ingrained in the DNA of the state of Oklahoma. The challenge will be in preserving the people and their choice versus a company whose success removes the option.

We may gain jobs but we may lose history......


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