Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive December 2014 Show 1449 Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1449

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1449

This week on Oklahoma Horizon, we’ll look at local food in our neighborhood schools and find out who is lurking deep in the Kiamichi Mountains.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1449

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1449

For more information visit these links:

Oklahoma Farm to School

USDA Food and Nutrition Service

National Farm to School Network

Blue & Gold Sausage Co.

Metro Technology Centers

Metro Career Academy

CareerTech

American Banjo Museum

Honobia Oklahoma Bigfoot Conference

Show Details

Show 1449: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: December 7, 2014

 

Transcript

Rob McClendon: Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.” Well, Oklahoma is a land of abundance, yet when it comes to the food on our children’s school lunch plates, very little of it is from around here. Today, we’re going to take a look at that issue as well as meet some people working to solve it.

Student: It’s pretty good.

Rob: In our “Oklahoma Standard,” we recognize a company that helps student organizations around the state. Plus, we’ll also visit a farmers market that is completely student-run.

Sawyer Austin: We are growing our own vegetables out in the garden.

Rob: And then it’s time for some fun. We’ll take you to the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown. And then we will end our day in southeastern Oklahoma looking for Bigfoot. Stay with us for “Oklahoma Horizon.”

Male Announcer: “Oklahoma Horizon” is made possible by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Female Announcer: Oklahoma’s investment in CareerTech provides more than nationally recognized technology education and training. It produces solid financial returns for the state’s economic future. Oklahoma CareerTech, elevating our economy.

Male Announcer: And the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, helping good people grow good things. And now, from the CareerTech studios in Stillwater, here’s your host, Rob McClendon.

Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” Well, we have come a long ways since the days when ketchup was considered a vegetable on our children’s school lunch plates. Today’s school lunches are not only more nutritious, they’re also more locally grown thanks to a program called Farm to School. As our Alisa Hines reports, the Farm to School program not only exposes children to locally grown meat and produce, it also gives state farmers a new marketing avenue.

Alisa Hines: Fresh fruit is on the menu.

Krista Neal: We are having Oklahoma-grown watermelon that we get through the Farm to School program.

Alisa: Krista Neal is the nutrition services director at Stillwater Public Schools and says fresh fruits and vegetables just taste better.

Neal: Yeah, I think there’s a difference when the food is locally grown especially with our cantaloupe and our watermelon. We get the nicest, freshest fruit when we get things that are grown in Oklahoma.

Eli Parsons: It’s pretty good.

Alisa: Middle school student Eli Parsons thinks so, too. Katie Strack is the program coordinator for the Oklahoma Farm to School program and says the program is beneficial to both farmers and schools.

Katie Strack: Farm to School is really important because it provides farmers an opportunity to sell their produce to the schools and the schools to serve fresh, local produce to the kids.

Alisa: And Katie says if it tastes good, the kids will eat healthier.

Strack: We all know that childhood obesity is a big issue, both within our state as well as nationwide, and Farm to School provides the ability to serve local produce to the kids so that they have fresher options, healthier options. Local produce just tastes better because it’s fresher. We all know that tasting a tomato out of the garden versus something that’s been shipped from miles and miles away, there’s a world of difference in that, and the kids taste that, too. There’s endless health benefits to eating local produce. We have more nutrients because it’s picked and it’s fresher. It’s not sitting on the store shelves and ripening there or ripening in a truck. And so, you know, we’re able to get those nutrients into the kids a lot easier that way.

Alisa: According to Krista, the program helps the kids know how their food is grown.

Neal: We know kids will eat better if they know where the food comes from. So if you grow it, you eat it. And if we can get kids to learn that food comes from dirt – food comes from the ground, food comes from that school garden or that farm down the road -- if they, if we can get them to try things that they grew or that they know where it came from, they’ll eat more fruits and vegetables, they’ll eat more produce, and that will help them have healthier weights and healthier eating habits.

Alisa: And could even affect the eating habits of their whole family.

Strack: If the kids are seeing that produce on their tray at school, they’ll hopefully go home and tell Mom and Dad about it, and then they can go to that farmers market and maybe buy from the exact same farmer that’s supplying to the schools. So it’s really a win-win-win for everyone.

Alisa: Taking food from the farm directly to the school to get that taste of fresh grown.

Rob: Now, we do have a link to the Farm to School website. Just go to okhorizon.com and look for it under this story. Well, the USDA has named Oklahoma a national leader in the effort to improve student access to free and reduced price school meals. Oklahoma is one of six states to receive the distinction that removes much of the paperwork and hassle that local school districts have had to juggle in the past.

Well, a little later in our show we head down to the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown for a little picking and a-grinning.

[Music.]

Rob: But when we return, we visit a company that’s been helping students for over 40 years in our “Oklahoma Standard.”

Male Announcer: You’re watching “Oklahoma Horizon,” featuring some of the good things that are happening in the great state of Oklahoma.

Rob McClendon: Well, for over 40 years the Blue and Gold Sausage Co. has been producing sausage that not only tastes great, but gives student organizations a way to raise money. In this week’s “Oklahoma Standard,” our Andy Barth takes us for a peek into a day in the life of Blue and Gold Sausage.

Andy Barth: As morning begins in Jones, Okla., work at the Blue and Gold Sausage Co. is already underway.

Brett Ramsey: For the first 30 years of our existence it was all sausage that we created here. We still create all of the sausage here.

Andy: Brett Ramsey is the second generation to run the company and says his family’s product is one of a kind.

Ramsey: Part of it has to do with the attention to detail in putting together a wholesome product. We have always been very judicious about how we build product. But in terms of food safety and wholesomeness and consistency, I think that’s probably a place where we add value that makes it stand out a little bit.

Andy: Production at Blue and Gold is seasonal, and Ramsey says when it’s sausage season, it’s all hands on deck.

Ramsey: When we’re busy, we’ll have 40, 45 people employed here, either on the production line or handling the product on the dock or our drivers that are out delivering product to our groups.

Andy: And one of those drivers – James Zachary.

James Zachary: Everybody seems to like our product. It’s fresh. It’s frozen this year, and everybody seems to enjoy that. They’re not worried about it thawing out so fast before they get it delivered.

Andy: Blue and Gold Sausage sells its product through youth organizations, and Ramsey says because their client base is so diverse, their drivers cover a lot of ground.

Ramsey: Amarillo, Boise City, just this side of Kansas City, Russellville and towards Arkansas. That gets us into almost any of our groups that we want to.

Andy: And today, Zachary’s travels take him down the road to the El Reno FFA chapter. The students excitedly work together to unload their special orders, an annual tradition that FFA adviser Eric Bilderback says spans generations.

Eric Bilderback: Actually when I was in high school, as an FFA member here at El Reno actually, we sold Blue and Gold Sausage. It was our major fundraiser and allowed us, when I was an FFA member, to attend a variety of activities. And it does the same thing to our program, along with other programs around the state.

Andy: And Ramsey says they support groups like FFA because of the positive influence they offer to students.

Ramsey: Here in Oklahoma they’re single-handedly creating the leadership that we need to move forward as a state.

Andy: And aside from offering groups an easy fundraiser, Blue and Gold Sausage gives back to its customers by supporting their projects -- a win-win for everyone.

Ramsey: Our marketing and promotions campaign is almost too simple. We give money back to the groups that, uh, that help us make a living here, and, and we support them.

Andy: And Bilderback says Blue and Gold Sausage answers the call to curious consumer needs.

Bilderback: The consumer, whether that consumer be here in Oklahoma or, or anywhere in the country there’s a need or they feel there’s a need to know where their food comes from. And that’s one thing that’s very important about Blue and Gold Sausage is that the consumers, or our customers, Blue and Gold’s customers, one and the same, they know where their food comes from, where their product comes from. And that actually makes the, makes it an easier fundraiser.

Andy: And while fundraising is always good, FFA member Bree Elliott says the taste is what really counts.

Bree Elliott: I love it. I look forward to this time of year every year.

Andy: Blue and Gold Sausage – filling orders while fulfilling dreams.

Rob: Blue and Gold Sausage helping students for more than four decades, which makes them an “Oklahoma Standard.”

Female Announcer: Still to come on “Oklahoma Horizon,” look what’s lurking in the woods of southeast Oklahoma. But first, learning lessons by growing things.

Rob McClendon: Well, closing the gap between the people who grow our food and the people who eat it is especially hard in urban areas. That’s why Metro Tech’s Career Academy has started its own student-run farmers market. Joining me now is our Alisa Hines.

Alisa Hines: Farmers markets are becoming very popular around the U.S. as people are trying to eat fresh and healthy. At one school in Oklahoma City, students are hoping this craze will catch on in their area.

Jona Kay Squires: OK, smile, 1-2-3.

Alisa: With a scissor snip, the Metro Tech Career Academy Farmers Market is open for business. Jona Kay Squires is the horticulture instructor and says it’s a typical farmers market.

Squires: What you’re seeing here today is the farmers market, and we can’t count on the weather so we moved it inside. And you’re seeing vendors from all around the state of Oklahoma. Some have come as far as Duncan, Okla., to -- we have -- I have former students that are here, third-generation agriculture producers. There’s a gentleman over here, he’s a lawyer by day – he’s an agriculture farmer 24 hours a day. We kind of have a joke about that. Our students are having, you know, their projects and the things that they’ve either grown in the garden as well as things they’ve done in the classroom.

Alisa: And Jona Kay says it’s that hands-on experience that helps the students really grasp the concept of entrepreneurship.

Squires: I guess because for the students to learn, you know, it’s, it’s just the whole opportunity. They get to put all of those things together. They get to actually go from production to consumption, become the business, the entrepreneur. They get to work side-by-side with other producers, entrepreneurs. We can talk about it all day long in the classroom, we can show ’em, field trips, bring in guest speakers, but until they actually do it physically and understand all those components, they don’t understand it and get it. So I guess to be honest with you, you know, we feel like that was the best way for them to get it. And for our community, actually, economically, you know, we hope we’re encouraging some other great things from it.

Alisa: Student Sawyer Austin loves the experience.

Sawyer Austin: We are growing our own vegetables out in the garden by the greenhouse. We’ve propagated them and everything all our own. It’s taught me a lot about how to keep a garden up – what to use, what not to use, what not to do in a garden.

Alisa: And for student Evan Mander, it’s teaching him how to keep things growing.

Evan Mander: I’m learning how to grow something and not kill it. Because I can kill – if you put a perfectly well plant in my hand, I can kill it just by looking at it. It gives me responsibility to where I, like my cattle – I’m responsible for them. If they don’t have water, they don’t live. If I don’t feed them, they don’t live. So it just builds more to where you’re having more responsibility when you get out of college and high school and you’re, when you’re in the adult world.

Alisa: Even though they’ve been preparing for this day, it’s kind of surreal to the students.

Squires: I don’t think it’s all come to them until today and being involved in it. And I’m curious to see that growth with them as we continue each one. Because I think some of ’em are nervous, some of ’em are scared. What we’re seeing is a lot of ’em are getting excited about what’s going to be my job? Or can I help do this? Or do you want me doing this, this skill? So I -- you’re seeing their confidence build from that, and you’re seeing them understand that it’s a lot bigger project, but they can actually give a lot more to it and that they’re open to a new experience.

Customer: Thank you so much.

Squires: You can’t put a price tag on that. You know that’s that education by tuition by learning, and I think that’s the best part, and I think that’s what CareerTech does really exceptionally well. We take all that cumulative book knowledge, technical knowledge, and we get to take it to a real experience and a real opportunity. And I, and I’m passionate about that, and I’m passionate about the fact that, you know, agriculture – none of us can live without it. Gotta have it every day. And that’s the good thing -- I get to tell them, I mean, everybody needs you – you know what I mean? Where would you be without it? So they get to be a part of that, and I think that takes, that gives ’em that confidence and it gives ’em a skill set to really be able to achieve some pretty phenomenal things.

Alisa: And there is one very important reason to have the farmers market at their school.

Squires: There’s an economic investment. There’s a healthy food investment. Where this school and where we’re at, we’re in one of the worst ZIP codes in the state of Oklahoma. And that was kind of the thing that we talked about was – our kids complain about our lunches, we complain about having healthy foods, but healthy foods that tasted good, and so that kind of was the springboard, kind of also helped us start the project.

Alisa: Healthy foods grown locally by local students.

Mander: Come to our farmers market every Friday from 10 to two.

Rob: So how did they get started?

Alisa: Well, the school applied for a $50,000 Cox Connects Community Impact Grant that’s given annually, but the first year they applied for it, they were turned down. So they went back to the drawing board and came up with the farmers market they now have, which includes an outdoor, portable kitchen where visitors can sample the food grown and cooked right there at the school, which won them the grant the second try.

Rob: Sounds good. All right. Thank you so much, Alisa.

Alisa: You’re welcome, Rob.

Rob: Now, some of the people involved in the farmers market are part of Metro Tech’s dropout recovery program. And we have a full feature on that work being done to turn around young people’s lives streaming on our website at okhorizon.com. And I promise you it’s a story that will warm your heart.

Rob McClendon: Want to share something you’ve seen here today? Well, all of our episodes are streaming on our YouTube channel at OklahomaHorizonTV, or you can subscribe to our weekly free podcast on iTunes.

Rob McClendon: Well, in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, the American Banjo Museum attracts visitors from all over. And we were there as they celebrated their fifth anniversary in Bricktown.

Rob: They’re a-pickin’ and a-grinnin’ at the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

[Banjo music.]

Johnny Baier: Well, we have the entire evolution of the banjo. The banjo as we know it started in America when African slaves brought it here in the mid-1600s. White people didn’t start playing the banjo until about 200 years later. So the banjo has a great history in the African American culture.

Rob: And as it developed within the United States, the banjo became intertwined with popular music.

Baier: As music evolved, the banjo evolved with it. We went through the period of minstrel seeds, the classic period, when guys played the banjo in concert halls, to the jazz age of the roaring ’20s when they were doing the Charleston and all that crazy dancing. Post WWII we had Earl Scruggs bring the banjo back to life with blue grass. These days you have things like Mumford and Sons taking the banjo to a worldwide audience. It’s an ongoing evolution, and we’ve kind of become the center of the banjo universe because we are embracing all things banjo.

[Banjos playing.]

Rob: So how did Oklahoma become banjo central?

Baier: Well, the banjo has no geographical center of its universe. So it wasn’t born in Oklahoma City. It wasn’t born in New Orleans. It wasn’t born anywhere in particular. But Oklahoma has had a traditional banjo with the Guthrie Jazz Banjo Festival that started back in the ’90s. So a lot of attention was focused on Oklahoma City.

Rob: And with a little help from a banjo enthusiast, a museum was born.

Baier: Then, there was a benefactor by the name of Jack Kinine, who had a banjo collection that he wanted to share with the public. So as part of the Guthrie Jazz Banjo Festival, he developed the infancy of this museum back in 1998, and from there we grew and grew, and when it came time to look for a new home we decided to stay in Oklahoma because that’s where our identity came from.

Rob: Now, in the heart of Bricktown in Oklahoma City, you’ll find the largest banjo collection on public display in the world – over 300 instruments that span the ages.

[Music.]

Baier: We have instruments from the 1840s that were there at the true infancy of when a banjo was being manufactured rather than a homemade instrument. A man named William Boucher in Baltimore made that transition. His banjos are so rare it’s beyond belief; we have the only Boucher banjo on exhibit.

Rob: A significant piece of Americana with an even bigger story.

[Music.]

Rob: And here you’ll find instruments from the simple to the exquisite.

Baier: They took the decorative excesses of the 1920s and applied them to the banjo in this model called the Big Chief. The back of the resonator is a Native American in full head dress, the carving on the side of the neck is a peace pipe and the back of the peg head is carved in an eagle that spells out Ludwig Big Chief.

Rob: And you don’t have to be a banjo aficionado to enjoy the museum.

Baier: If I say one name about the banjo that everyone recognizes, it’s Earl Scruggs. Earl Scruggs is our first inductee into the five-string category of the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame.

Rob: And a favorite song?

Baier: If there’s any one song that people of the United States associate with the banjo, it’s Dueling Banjos.

[Banjos playing.]

Rob: Picking the strings on America’s foremost foot-stomping instrument here in the heartland.

[Music.]

Rob McClendon: You can keep up with us throughout the week. Just head to okhorizon.com, where you can see more of any of our stories, read our reporters’ behind the scenes blogs, see what others are saying about us on Twitter and face the facts with our regular updates. So reach out and touch us anywhere at anytime.

Rob McClendon: Well, there are many a story about what lurks in the woods of southeastern Oklahoma, but probably none better than the one our Courtney Maye has.

Courtney Maye: Honobia’s a small community of just eight families. But for one weekend every fall, it becomes Bigfoot central.

Courtney: Deep in the Kiamichi Mountains in southeast Oklahoma, the legend of a furry creature better known as Bigfoot is celebrated each year in the small town of Honobia, where some say Bigfoot is legend, and others believe it’s real.

Farlan Huff: I decided to see if there were bigfoot in Oklahoma. And I went to an area where I thought maybe they would be here. And I stayed in a hunting cabin, and I did get visited that night. I heard the deep mumbling voices, I heard their footfalls. There was a stick dragging in the gravel, and I thought, “Well, what are their plans with that?”

Courtney: Farlan Huff says this encounter is one of three he believes he has had. And world renowned Bigfoot researcher Jeff Meldrum, who spoke at the festival, says southeast Oklahoma has the right qualities for this species to survive, if in fact, it does exist.

Jeff Meldrum: This area has those, those characteristics of, of climate and habitat that would provide an opportunity for a primate like this to make a living.

Courtney: Yet whether or not this creature does exist, the annual Honobia Bigfoot Festival does – bringing in crowds of a thousand people to the small community and generating a lot of money. Event coordinator Tom Hefner.

Tom Hefner: This event is very, very important to the community itself. It brings a lot of people which spend money here, which we really need. We have actually have people coming to our festival from all over the United States.

Courtney: From across the country, yet enjoying the same Bigfoot fun – and local bands for the grownups – all fitting for royalty present.

Miss Bigfoot 1984: It is an honor to be a Miss Bigfoot.

Miss Bigfoot 1950: And we represent the people.

Miss Bigfoot 1984: Yes, we represent the people, and we uphold the sash and the rules of wearing the sash.

Miss Bigfoot 1950: And we still run the 5K, not quite as fast as we used to.

Miss Bigfoot 1984: I came in fourth, though – today.

Miss Bigfoot 1950: I didn’t even place, but ... [laugh].

Courtney: Yet what is a Bigfoot Festival without Bigfoot himself? Head of security Artie Carnes says there is no way the security team will let him get past them.

Artie Carnes: Our job – security – is to make sure Bigfoot does not come here and interrupt. And so far nobody has seen him. We are doing a good job.

Kids: We found Bigfoot.

Security Guard: No Bigfoot’s come on the property – we did our job.

Bigfoot: I’ve had a blast at the festival today. I’ve, I’ve posed for numerous pictures with the kids and the family. And I’ve just walked up and down and showed off my Bigfoot strut.

All right.

Courtney: And festival speaker Ron Morehead says southeast Oklahoma has plenty of Bigfoot witnesses.

Ron Morehead: There’s a lot of bigfoots reported here. A lot of creature sightings – a lot of interaction going on.

Kid: I got to see a bigfoot.

Courtney: And now count the people here today to that long list of witnesses because Bigfoot says they deserve it.

Bigfoot: Well, I’ve been hiding in the middle of the forest obviously, and I wanted to come out today because of all these Bigfoot enthusiasts. They deserve to see a part of Bigfoot today.

Courtney: Yet at the Bigfoot Festival, whether someone is a believer, a witness or just here to have fun, Hefner says the goal of the festival is the same – to raise money for local scholarships.

Hefner: We are trying to raise money to help students in the local area. That’s our main thrust of this, and we’re trying to have a good time here at the festival and conference while we’re doing that.

I haven’t found him in the woods yet, but one day I’m going to. [Laugh.]

Rob: Well, certainly looks like a lot of fun.

Courtney: Oh, it was! And the people there are just great.

Rob: So did you spot him?

Courtney: I didn’t, and I only met a couple of people who say that they have. But whether real or not, the economic development surrounding the Bigfoot Festival certainly is.

Rob: Yes it is. Thank you so much, Courtney.

Courtney: You’re welcome, Rob.

Rob: Next time on Oklahoma Horizon, it’s called STEM, a simple acronym for subjects that could determine our nation’s future.

Well stem is very important for Oklahoma because it’s our future. But we have to make sure that we have the skills and the workforce to fill those kinds of jobs.

Rob: Science, technology, engineering, and math, on Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, Oklahoma Horizon.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’m Rob McClendon. Thanks for watching. See you back here next time.

Male Announcer: Thank you for watching “Oklahoma Horizon.”