Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive March 2014 Show 1413 Rodd Moesel - Leadership in Agriculture

Rodd Moesel - Leadership in Agriculture

Rodd Moesel receives the Governor's Outstanding Achievement Award in Agriculture for his lifelong commitment to and work in the ag industry.
Rodd Moesel - Leadership in Agriculture

Rodd Moesel - Leadership in Agriculture

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Rodd Moesel

Oklahoma Agricultural Hall of Fame

Show Details

Show 1413: Rodd Moesel - Leadership in Agriculture
Air Date: March 30, 2014



Rob McClendon: Well, each year as part of Ag Day festivities at the state Capitol, the governor’s office honors an Oklahoman with its Outstanding Achievement Award in Agriculture. And this year’s winner is a gentleman whose love of growing things is only rivaled by his love of helping others. For Rodd Moesel, growing up meant growing things.

Rodd Moesel: My family had a truck cropping operation in Pauls Valley, Okla. As they made any money they would buy used greenhouses and got in the greenhouse business. After a few years, I guess eight or nine years in Pauls Valley, moved to Oklahoma City, and that’s when I really started being old enough to really remember, remember and do everything. But so, grew up in Oklahoma City and had a greenhouse operation called Moesel’s Hort Haven.

Rob: And from that family business sprang an interest in all things green.

Moesel: Mom had been a 4-H’er, been a national winner in 4-H, so I grew up hearing the stories about 4-H. And we moved to Oklahoma City right when I turned 9, and so we called to find out where the 4-H Club met and they gave us an address on N.E. 23rd Street. And so Dad drove me over there for my first 4-H Club meeting, and we went looking, and he was new to the city, didn’t know, and anyway, it turned out the address was the Governor’s Mansion. And we drove past several times before Dad pulled in and asked the highway patrolman where this address was, and they said, “Well, that’s right here.” So my first 4-H Club meeting was at the Governor’s Mansion when Henry Bellmon was governor for the first time, and my club president was Pat Bellmon, vice president was Gayle Bellmon, and the secretary was Ann Bellmon.

Rob: And so began a life that became a mixture of plants and public service.

Moesel: I was an introverted little kid, scared of everything, and one of the things 4-H does is it encourages young people to reach out, to speak, to make presentations and get involved.

Rob: So while still in junior high, Moesel became a regular fixture on Oklahoma City television.

Moesel: I’d grown up helping people at the family nursery and greenhouse my whole life so I knew quite a bit about gardening. And it was, so I guess a lot of people were fascinated by a little kid who could tell ’em when to plant and what to do. And so I was on weekly for two or three years with Lola and Wayne and Bill and did a gardening segment. And so, got comfortable with that and then ultimately I ended up, Channel 4 called and wanted me to start being on “Danny’s Day.” And that was on like at mid-day so I would sneak out of school for a little bit at the middle of the day and would go do “Danny’s Day” once a week with Mary Hart or Danny, one of the two of them, and did that for a couple of years.

Rob: And it was thanks to 4-H that Moesel then spent a year in our nation’s capital, courtesy of the president.

Moesel: Somehow the president came to speak to National Club Congress, and we got to meet, and he got interested and invited me to be involved in Young Voters for the President. So I ended up in Washington, D.C., working on the Young Voters for the President campaign and then the inaugural, working on the inauguration after that and so forth. So I spent probably a little over a year in D.C. before coming back to start my freshman year.

Rob: At Oklahoma State University where Moesel used his horticulture know-how to pay for college.

Moesel: Our family didn’t have much money so to help pay for going to school I started a business making terrariums. We talked First National Bank of Oklahoma City and a number of other banks into giving terrariums, cause they were hot at the time, when people opened a bank account. We ended up doing thousands of terrariums, and that helped raise my tuition money and all to get through college.

Rob: And a business was born. Today, Rodd and his wife, Donna, own American Plant Products and Services, a wholesale company with annual sales over 6 million, raising foliage plants and selling greenhouse structures and equipment around the nation to both big and small.

Moesel: The more sophisticated the greenhouse, the more it’s our niche, I guess. So the two most important greenhouse ranges in the country are Monsanto at St. Louis and Noble Foundation at Ardmore, Okla. And we had a chance to do the Noble design and build the Noble Foundation facility, which is just remarkable. And then we, that’s led to the opportunity to do lots of seed company and research universities all over the country. So the more sophisticated it is, the fewer people that have the team and the talent to do that, and we like to think that we’re in that group. And then we love helping new businesses start. Right now there’s a whole bunch of folks starting with hoop houses and dual basics, and we love helping new businesses get started.

Rob: All together Moesel has designed and built over 50 teaching greenhouses around the state, which is just part of his commitment to helping everyone understand the role agriculture plays in all of our lives.

Moesel: More and more of our people live in city areas and they don’t get to, even their grandparents aren’t on the farm, so we’ve missed, you know, we’re getting enough generations away that they have no experience to tie into the farm experience. Well, the best way for traditional agriculture to communicate with folks is through the gardening experience because when people garden, they learn that they have to share some with the insects and some with the diseases, and they have to deal with droughts, and they have to deal with floods, and they have to deal with winds. And so all the same issues that farmers face, the gardeners face. And so the more you can get people gardening, the more you can then use that experience to help people understand the problems that a wheat farmer faces or a canola farmer faces or that a cattle raiser faces out on the ranch. So you know, we’re all dealing with real life. That’s a way to help people understand. It’s not just on the shelf at the Safeway or the Homeland or Crest, it’s, it does, you know, the farmer’s battling to get that food ready for them.

Rob: A role Moesel takes seriously, making a point to venture outside Oklahoma’s borders to work with other growers around the world -- helping others, while learning himself.

Moesel: An acre of greenhouse production or an acre of even outdoor truck farming production is equal to many acres of crop production because we’re doing the very same things, just a lot more intensively.

Rob: And Moesel credits his commitment to the Oklahoma agriculture and his dedication to helping others to a life philosophy he learned at home.

Moesel: A lot of that you get from your parents I think, and my parents were very giving, they were into outreach, doing every program they could for every garden club and church group and community garden and so forth from down at Pauls Valley. So we saw that model. And then my dad was in a real bad tractor accident when I was a little kid at Pauls Valley and so, Pauls Valley will always be home because the way the people of Pauls Valley responded. I mean, the people came and plowed the fields, they planted the crops. I mean, Dad was in the hospital for months and for a while we didn’t know if he was gonna live. I was, at that time, in first or second grade but I remember all that. And we had no money. I remember the, we thought, Mom and Dad had prepared us for there wasn’t gonna be anything for Christmas. Well, it’s probably the best Christmas we ever had cause one group came and bought a Christmas tree, another group came and bought gifts, and Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus came and woke us up during the night. You know, all kinds of amazing things. And so I guess that whole experience taught me the importance of community and the impact we can have on each other. I don’t know the names of any of those people, but they changed my life and, you know, set a tone that, you know, you wish other people, not could have the bad tractor accident and so forth, but could experience that kind of reaching out. And that kind of love and support for one another, that makes a difference.

Rob: A difference Moesel hopes to make in other people’s lives in everything he does.

Moesel: It’s been a remarkable life. I mean, I’ve been blessed with an amazing wife, an amazing mom and dad and just amazing friends from the first 4-H meeting on. It’s just been remarkable. So, you know, you look back and you wonder what you’d change, but in the end there’s nothing you’d change. It’s just been a real blessing.

Rob: Rodd Moesel, the winner of the 2014 Governor’s Outstanding Achievement Award in Agriculture. Moesel is also passionate about small business. In fact, he was instrumental in establishing the Governor’s Council on Small Business. Just one of many reasons we honor Rodd Moesel as an “Oklahoma Standard.”