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Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1542

This week on Oklahoma Horizon, we look at the value of education.
Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1542

Oklahoma Horizon TV Show 1542

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Oklahoma FFA Association

National FFA Organization

Central Tech


CareerTech Hall of Fame

Show Details

Show 1542: Oklahoma Horizon TV
Air Date: October 18, 2015



Rob McClendon: Here’s what’s coming up on your “Horizon.” Well, in preparing for today’s show on the value of education, I looked at several websites that attempted to put an ROI, which is the abbreviation for return on investment, on educational outcomes. And while I am fully aware that if you can’t measure something, it is hard to accurately judge it, but I also know education changes lives in many ways that are immeasurable. Today, our focus is on how a single individual standing in the front of a classroom can impact generations. 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, if you’re lucky you’ve had one – a teacher that impacted your life. It may have been as simple as showing an interest in you when others hadn’t or as complex as opening doors to new worlds of thought and discovery you never knew existed. Today, we’re going to meet some individuals who have dedicated their lives to the education of others and we begin be heading to the far reaches of western Oklahoma. Here’s our Austin Moore.

Austin Moore: If you were to mistake Tanner Thompson for one of his agricultural education students, you would be forgiven, not only because he looks and in fact is young, but because this sixth-year teacher is usually working beside his students rather than lecturing them from the front.

Tanner Thompson: Agricultural education excels because it is hands-on. We’re teaching a lot of the principles that are being taught in the core classes, reinforcing what those science and math teachers are teaching, but we are doing so in a way that the students can grasp what is going on. They can get their hands dirty and understand those same principles but in a very realistic manner.

Austin: Lessons learned in this manner tend to stick. They stuck so well to former Cheyenne FFA student and current congressmen Frank Lucas that he still calls on them today.

Frank Lucas: The skills that I had an opportunity to develop in this particular program – yes, there was public speaking, and yes, we spend a lot of time discussing livestock breeds and health issues, and we discussed how you manage your business as a young farmer or rancher starting out. But all of those skills serve a purpose. The techniques you learn here, maybe not everyone is going to go to a four-year comprehensive university. If you are then everything that you have had in the program will help you. Maybe you are going to go to a community college or a junior college, a two-year program, and then use the skills that you enhance there to move forward, or Oklahoma has an outstanding CareerTech System.

Austin: For Lucas and his classmates, that foundation was laid by ag teacher Gary Kirk.

Gary Kirk: So I only had one rule: Don't make Kirk mad. And it’s up to you to figure out what makes me mad. So therefore, I didn't have any problems.

Austin: For 35 years, Kirk used sows, cows and especially tractors to nourish western Oklahoma's most important crop.

Kirk: I always had kids that loved the mechanics part, so I had that to work on. We'd overhaul ’em, whatever. I had kids just liked to clean. I had the kids want to do the body work. I had kids that just want to do the painting. So I had a little somethin’ for everybody.

Austin: Those tractors are still around and make occasional public appearance. Marvelous machines, but also a testament to the work Kirk and his students did side by side.

Austin: So one of the things we always hear when we talk to ag teachers is that that one-on-one time with students that they use in working on projects is also a really good time to relate life lessons. Can you relate any that you learned from Mr. Kirk?

Lucas: A lot of good advice about everything from the opposite sex to taking care of one's reputation and image in the community to studying hard and having a plan to focusing, yeah, a whole bunch of topics. Ironically, as I think back about it now, he wasn't really that much older than me – 14-year-old freshman. This was his second teaching post. He couldn't have been 26 or 27. But he seemed like an awfully mature, worldly guy to me in 1974.

Austin: I visited with Mr. Kirk at Baptist Integris Hospital in Oklahoma City where today he is battling both leukemia and melanoma.

Kirk: Had an old ag teacher tell me one time, he said, "Here’s my philosophy of teaching." He said, he said, "I teach ’em about life, and if there’s any time left I teach ’em about agriculture." So I kind of followed that philosophy all through the years.

Austin: I found another of Kirk's kids just a few miles away. On the 45th floor of Devon Tower, I spoke with Vice President of Public and Government Affairs Allen Wright, who says the lessons he learned in Kirk's classroom echo throughout his work today.

Allen Wright: Problem-solving. I mean, nothing on a farm happens like it does in a textbook. And nothing in that environment is linear and just easily solved. And so you’ve got to think through and adapt and adjust and also deal with reality. And so my experiences in vocational agriculture and being exposed to those experiences have helped me a great deal. And then, you know, the leadership experiences in FFA, it was great leadership training.

Austin: But for Wright, it was the life lessons that rooted most deeply.

Wright: Well, I think that’s where Gary was special. And, you know, the best teachers always are, you know. Those are the people that open your mind and really kind of go beyond the subject matter. You know, we had as an organization of FFA, we had officers and organized meetings, but Gary would spend a lot of time with us teaching us about life. And he took those opportunities to do it and just spent a lot of time trying to help us grow and think beyond just what was happening right now which is a typical young person's point of view.

Austin: Back in Cheyenne, the community has rallied around Gary Kirk. Blood drives in his honor are working to fill the bank. And every day volunteers drive him the two and a half hours to Oklahoma City and back again for his ongoing treatment schedule. The love this town feels for its ag teacher is amazing, but it is hardly unexpected. In fact, that bond between teacher and now community is what led Tanner Thompson to Kirk's old classroom.

Thompson: That’s really the driving force behind why I'm here in the classroom on a daily basis – is to connect with those kids and to be a lasting part of their life. I don't want it to end when they graduate high school. I want to continue to see that through and make sure that they’re exceling at whatever they want to do.

Austin: That is why Gary Kirk may be in a fight for his life, but he isn’t fighting alone.

Kirk: You don't know who you reach when you’re teaching these kids. And it kinda showed me that I done more good than I thought I did.


Rob McClendon: Well, joining me now is studio is our Austin Moore. Well, Austin, I was struck when watching your piece that many of the lessons Mr. Kirk was teaching, they weren’t lessons taught in the classroom, they were lessons taught outside the classroom.

Austin: Absolutely. Mr. Kirk has never shied away from teaching his students something he thought they needed to know whether it was in the textbook or not. One of my favorite stories that he related to me is that when he graduated high school, the first time he was told he had to go pay taxes, well, he was floored. He didn’t know where to go, what to do. So every year, he took the seniors down to the courthouse, walked them through every office in that courthouse, told them what they needed to know there, who they needed to talk to and what they were going to accomplish at that time.

Rob: Wow. How is his health?

Austin: Well, it’s a challenge. Obviously fighting two forms of cancer simultaneously is not ideal. I guess one way to look at it is he is getting to fight them at the same time, they didn’t have to extend this fight out, they’re kind of taking care of it all together hopefully. But, you know, he’s got the right support team behind him, he’s got the community all behind him, and hopefully with the right attitude it’s all gonna turn out OK.

Rob: Yeah, we wish him well in his battles and I know there are literally generations of people that wish him well in that community.

Austin: Absolutely.

Rob: All right. Thank you so much, Austin.

Rob: Now, when we return, I sit down with some young people who know first-hand the impact an ag teacher can have on their life.



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, not only do teachers influence students’ lives, but students also impact the lives of their teachers as well – a relationship that is well documented on an instructor’s wall at Central Tech in Drumright. J.D. Rosman has our story.

J.D. Rosman: Design and print – for 37 years, Danny Hoggatt has been helping students shape and create their future.

Danny Hoggatt: I told a friend one time that being an educator is kind of like being a pastor of a church, in a lot of ways, you know. You’ve got to put the meat on the table every day to make a point where they want to come back every day. And at the same time hold their interest, you know, but yet have a good time while you are doing that, you know.

J.D.: Something Danny’s digital printing and imaging communication program seems to do.

Hoggatt: We do silk screen printing, have several graduates that work at Eskimo Joes in Stillwater. And we do vinyl graphics now, which is a lot of fun.

J.D.: Yet the story on being here with a wall filled with memories.

Hoggatt: Yeah, this started the first year I went to work here, and I put every one of these that you see in here up myself. Kids are always asking, “Why don’t you let us put some of your pictures up?” I say, “No, no, no.” You know, it takes me about an hour to do one panel, but it’s a pretty important deal.

J.D.: Over 2,000 pictures, of each and every student he ever taught – like Debbie Gregor who now teaches with him.

Debbie Gregor: Well, when you go in there and you look at it, it’s unbelievable how many lives that he’s touched. Unreal. And you know it didn’t matter if you were a jock in high school or vo-ag. It didn’t matter. Your picture was just the same as everyone else’s right up there on the wall.

J.D.: A wall of the past, with memories that bring old friends together.

Hoggatt: Graduates come back regularly. In fact, last year I had young man come back, I hadn’t seen him in about 18 years, walked in and had his son with him, he was about 8 or 9 years old, and immediately after he hugged me, and we talked for a minute he came directly in here, and he says, “Is my picture is still in your office?” And I said, “Yep!” So it’s, uh, you know, this is usually the first place they come, you know, when they come back because they want to make sure their picture is here.

Gregor: He cares. He’s very compassionate. He truly wants to help people, you know, be successful. And he loves what he does.

J.D.: He’s touched the hearts of thousands, yet they touched his even more.

Hoggatt: They’re my kids. You don’t, uh, you don’t spend two years with a student and not care about ’em, you know. So this is why I do it, you know.

J.D.: Pictures on a wall, for Danny, serve as a reminder of why he does what he does.



Female Announcer: Still to come on “Oklahoma Horizon,” honoring some teaching greats; but first, Oklahoma FFA.



Rob McClendon: Well, nationwide FFA has right over 610,000 members spread out over 7,600 chapters. And these students from around the country will be gathering in Louisville, Kentucky, next week for the 88th National FFA Convention and Expo. Joining me in studio are two state officers – Kelby Corbett from the southwest district here in Oklahoma and Markel Harris from northeastern Oklahoma. Well, I guess my first question to both of you is why did you become involved in FFA? Kelby?

Kelby Corbett: I joined the FFA my eighth-grade year. Growing up, my parents both exhibited livestock, so my mom exhibited cattle and my dad hogs. And so it was just destined that I would be involved in the animal industry and livestock industry as well. So I started showing pigs when I was about 8 years old and continued on. And in my eighth-grade year when I enrolled in FFA I just traded my green jacket for a blue jacket.

Rob: Yeah, and Markel you grew up in a more metropolitan area. How did you get involved?

Markel Harris: In my eighth-grade year I had the option to go into FFA, and my grandfather was a member of an Arkansas FFA chapter, and he said all his passions for FFA there were, he showed horses and competed in different things, that you should do this, you’ll really, really enjoy it. So I listened to him, and I joined FFA.

Rob: It should be said FFA offers a lot of things both to urban students and to rural students.

Corbett: Definitely. So our organization has over 24 career development events. My ag teacher was like, we’re starting a new team and I think that you’ll be good on it. And I decided to take the chance and sat on it my junior year. Basically this contest was the ins and outs of food development and marketing and things like that within this contest. And so we got to make our own products and we actually were state champions that year as a first-year team.

Rob: I know for, really, chapters all across the state, service projects are a big part of what you do. Tell me about some of things that you’re involved in here in Oklahoma.

Corbett: This was implemented a couple years ago – the state office team encouraged each chapter in the state of Oklahoma to donate at least one animal to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. These animals would then be processed into pork and beef sticks to go home to Backpack Challenges, which is something that I had in my home chapter. And the Backpack Challenge was a program that sends home backpacks with children who may not be able to get enough nourishment over the weekend. And last year’s officer team set the goal of over, of each chapter donating at least one animal, and they exceeded that goal with over 381 donations. And so we were super excited. We kind of sat down with the food bank this summer and got the final tally, and we were so excited. But every chapter had taken part in this and then some. And so we are glad to be helping Oklahomans across the state.

Harris: A new thing we added this year as an officer team is the Cents Makes Sense, which we asked chapters to add on the extra 25 cents to their meat sales, which will all be gathered up as a whole and given to the Food Bank of Oklahoma, which will help support the Beef for Backpacks and the Pork for Packs to kind of like help pay for the processing for those packs to get taken care of and sustainable.

Rob: Now, I know something that is important to anyone that’s ever gone through the FFA, something they’ve all done is memorize their creed, and this is the 85th anniversary of that creed, and I know a chapter in Burlington, Okla., was instrumental in honoring the man who wrote it.

The FFA Creed by E.M. Tiffany: I believe in the future of agriculture with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturalists.

Andy Barth: Bradshaw and student Bayli Hyde traveled to the National FFA Center in Indianapolis to look for information surrounding the creed and its author.

Travis Bradshaw: There were many letters dating back to the ’50s and ’60s of people who had written the FFA asking for information on E.M. Tiffany, and we thought, “What a great opportunity to answer some of those questions.”

Andy: And they did. Bradshaw met with Jackson Tiffany, the son of the creed’s author, and learned about the man behind the words written so many decades ago.

Jackson Tiffany: I would like to tell you about the work of my father, Erwin M. Tiffany.

Andy: A story being told in a Kansas museum and documentary, all created by Bradshaw.

I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining, in the life abundant and enough honest wealth to help make it so.

Bradshaw: The insight and the passion for somebody to write a creed over 85 years ago and to have it still stand true today, with only a couple of changes, you know, that’s, that in itself is inspirational.

Rob: Now, this also the 50th anniversary of the merger between the FFA and the NFA. Tell us if you will Markel, a little bit about the NFA.

Harris: The New Farmers of America were organized in Tuskegee, Alabama, and got their membership in 1935. They provided African Americans to be involved in agriculture and vocational agriculture and leadership activities just as FFA members were. And NFA and FFA merged in 1965.

Rob: Certainly a good organization and one that has a long legacy and one that we actually have a story about on our website at if you’d like to see that. Kelby, Markel, thank you both for being here.

Markel: Thank you.

Kelby: Thank you for having us.



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, members of the Latta FFA Chapter were honored for their work recycling water by a local conservation group. The chapter used a $2,000 grant from the National FFA to install a rainwater collection system they now plan to market.

Rob McClendon: For FFA adviser Seth Reeves, when it comes to rain every drop counts.

Seth Reeves: I just wanted to start looking at ways that we could, here at the ag building, teach people and show people an actual model on how to reclaim and harvest some of these natural resources to use in the future with the drought.

Rob: Using gutters and barrels, Reeves’ FFA chapter devised an inexpensive system to save every raindrop.

Seth Reeves: Most buildings already have gutters on them, so why not divert those gutters into the tanks so that they can start collecting this natural resource?

Rob: A simple system that helped Reeves’ FFA chapter win an award for their conservation efforts.

Reeves: Our goal is to, as a chapter, to start marketing this through our natural resources class next year and start pushing this and promoting this as a way of, “Hey, this is another form of collecting drinking water for not only your animals and plants but also for human consumption.”

Rob: Harvesting water to save water – one barrel at a time.



Rob McClendon: Well, some longtime educators are to be inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame this week. Phil Berkenbile, Dean Denton, Dale DeWitt, Bea Paul and Greg Pierce all spent their careers helping students.

Rob McClendon: Phil Berkenbile is the former director of the Oklahoma CareerTech System and a long-time ag educator where he taught Brian Campbell.

Brian Campbell: I think I took away how important it was to, to impact a young person’s life and not get so hung up on the actual contest and the outcome of that contest – more about the outcome of that student’s life.

Rob: Retired business and information technology instructor Dean Denton is a nationally board certified instructor and impacted all he trained.

Christy Whitfield: He never said you can’t do this, but he would push you to that next level, and I think that that’s what we want to do in CareerTech is continue progressing and moving to the next level.

Rob: Dale DeWitt served in the House of Representatives after retiring as a high school ag educator.

Mindi Clark: Mr. DeWitt always found a way to help us become successful by teaching us the work ethic it needed, that was needed in order to be successful.

Rob: Bea Paul taught students at Autry Technology Center and Chisholm High School in Enid.

Cheryl Cooksey: She had that gift, that gift that many of us wished that we had – the ability to look at a student and see that untapped potential. Potential and gifts that they didn’t even know they had.

Rob: And Greg Pierce is the former superintendent at Pontotoc Technology Center in Ada.

Luther Harbert: Greg wasn’t one to blow a lot of smoke. He was even-keeled. He was a solid, concrete individual who was the same day in and day out.

Rob: Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by the Oklahoma CareerTech system.



Rob McClendon: You can keep up with us throughout the week. Just head to 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, since we’ve been looking at the impact teachers have on our lives, we thought it only appropriate to end our show with a young lady whose appreciation for her ag instructors is reflected in her FFA. Here’s Oklahoma FFA’s Megan DeVuyst.

Megan DeVuyst: When thinking about what my ag teacher means to me, there’s a story that I like to tell that goes a little bit like this. The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, the president of a large company, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued – what’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher? He reminded the other dinner guests what people say about teachers – those who can do, those who can’t teach. To prove his point he turned to one of the other dinner guests and said, “You’re an ag teacher, be honest, what do you make?” Having a reputation for honesty and frankness, the ag teacher replied, “You want to know what I make? I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I teach them how to think on their feet and work as a team. I make them question. I make them criticize. I make them apologize and mean it. I teach them how to appreciate the food on their table and balance a checkbook. I make them understand that if they use their brains, set their goals and follow their dreams they can accomplish anything. I make them understand that if someone tries to judge them by what they earn, they must never listen because the question was never learned.” The ag teacher paused and then continued quietly and deliberately, “You want to know what I make? I make a difference. What do you make?”

Rob McClendon: Getting a job can be hard for anyone, but especially difficult for those with a disability. Next time on "Oklahoma Horizon," we look at some unique programs designed to help every Oklahoman enter the workplace.

If you would hold the door open for your friends, hold the door open. If you wouldn’t, don’t. [laughs] We’re not special people. We just want to be treated like people in general.

Rob: Working with a disability, on Oklahoma’s show for the heartland, "Oklahoma Horizon."

Rob McClendon: Well, that is going to wrap us up for today, but you can see more of any of our stories on our website at; follow us throughout the week on Twitter at OKHorizonTV; or just become a "Horizon" fan on Facebook. I’m Rob McClendon. Thanks for including us in your day. Hope to see you back here next week.