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okPORK PAGES official magazine of the Oklahoma Pork Council |

Volume 20 | Issue 2 | Summer 2016

Braving the Beautiful and the Terrifying

Kristin Alsup recounts her adventures in Vietnam and the Philippines with OALP

Contents Summer 2016

3 | Executive Review 4 | President Speaks 5 | New Board Members Elected 6 | Oklahoma Youth Expo 8 | Meet the All-Stars 10 | Okla. Pork Congress Recap 12 | okPORK Goes to Washington 14 | California Dreamin’ 15 | Ag Day at the Capitol 16 | Braving the Beautiful & Terrifying 22 | Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ Festival 23 | Legislative Reception 24 | A Meal to Say Thanks 25 | Fun at FFA Convention 26 | 20 Years of Progress

On the Cover A view of Tagatay in the Philippines, one of the stops on the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program international trip.

okPORK PAGES Summer 2016 | Volume 20 | Issue 2 BOARD OF DIRECTORS OFFICERS President | Cathy Vaughan, Rosston President Elect | Phil Olipahnt, El Reno Vice President | Joe Popplewell, Stillwater Treasurer | Sara Linneen, Holdenville BOARD MEMBERS Keith Reiner, Enid Paris Robinson, Holdenville Tina Falcon, Tecumseh Robbie Woods, Enid EX OFFICIO Dr. Scott Carter, Stillwater Wathina Luthi, Gage Brett Ramsey, Jones Rob Richard, Stillwater STAFF Executive Director Roy Lee Lindsey, Jr. | Office Manager Donna Jackson | Communications Specialist Kristin Alsup | Event and Outreach Specialist Lloyd Hawkins | OKLAHOMA PORK COUNCIL 901 North Lincoln Blvd., Suite 380 Oklahoma City, OK 73104-3206 Phone 405.232.3781 • Fax 405.232.3862 Toll free in Okla. • 888.SAY.PORK WEBSITE | okPORK PAGES is the official publication of the Oklahoma Pork Council and is published four times per year in March, June, September and December by the Oklahoma Pork Council. Programs are made available to pork producers without regard to race, color, sex, religion or national origin. The Oklahoma Pork Council is an equal opportunity employer. All Pork Pages inquiries should be directed to the okPORK office or Writer | Kristin Alsup Designer | Nikki Snider Editor | Donna Jackson

Photo by Kristin Alsup 2 | okPORK PAGES

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Are You Doing Everyting You Can?


by Roy Lee Lindsey

I’m often asked why it’s important to have a presence at the state capitol every day during the legislative session. I always tell folks you just never know what will pop up in a bill at the last minute. This session we saw an example of something that might have been missed if we hadn’t been at the capitol. Early in session, bills were introduced dealing with game wardens and whether or not they could access your property. We were aware of those bills but they didn’t directly impact us so we weren’t watching them every day. With more than 2,000 bills introduced for this session, plus the more than 1,500 left from last session there is no way we can watch everything. Several weeks ago, we got word one of the game warden bills had been amended in committee. The amendment no longer dealt with game wardens but now impacted feral swine and the hunting of feral swine at night. While the proponents of the amendments claimed this would make it easier to hunt feral swine at night, the amendments included requiring licenses and permit fees that don’t exist today. Our position is it’s best to remove obstacles to killing feral swine. New license requirements and fees creates obstacles as opposed to removing them. Our lobbying team at the capitol went to work and met with the author of the bill in the House and House leadership about our concerns. We also met with the folks proposing the changes. While we weren’t able to come to an agreement with the proponents of the changes, we convinced the author of the bill that our concerns were valid and changes needed to be made. When the House finally voted on the bill, it no longer included language about licenses or fees for hunting feral swine and the 90 day permit for hunting at night had been extended into an annual permit. It was our belief this makes it easier to remove feral swine and it eliminates the obstacles originally proposed in the amendments. The first week of May, the Senate voted to approve the bill as it was presented by the House, which included all our recommendations. As of May 6, we are waiting to hear from the governor’s office whether she will sign or veto the bill. While this doesn’t happen with most bills, this type of change does happen occasionally. As I shared earlier, there were more than 3,500 bills in the hopper when this session started in February. As of the first of May, maybe 600 are still alive somewhere in the process. Obviously, all those don’t deal with pork industry issues, but folks can still make changes to those bills and it is imperative we have people at the capitol watching what’s going on.

There is a reason okPORK dedicates a significant portion of resources to public policy. The National Pork Producers Council tells producers they are protecting your freedom to operate. I like to think that’s exactly what okPORK does on a state level. It is very important for everyone in our industry to be involved in okPORK’s legislative efforts. That involvement can be by serving on our Board of Directors, buying a ticket to our Bacon & Bourbon Dinner, helping out on Ag Day at the Capitol, or just by being a member. Past President Keith Reiner talks about the importance of participating in the legislative process at a federal level in a story found later in this issue of Pork Pages. He’s sharing the essence of why he’s involved and why everyone else should be. The ask okPORK has of each of you is - are you doing all you can to support okPORK’s public policy efforts? We’re clearly on the front line between you and issues that could dramatically impact your business. We need your help to be able to maintain the vigilance that allowed us to catch this effort to make hunting feral swine more difficult. Will you help us today? • | 3


Hello! It’s Nice to Meet You


by Cathy Vaughan

I grew up in Alamogordo New Mexico where I went to school at New Mexico State University. I graduated with a B.S. in Agriculture with plans to be a Science and Technology teacher. My parents were both school teachers and my grandparents had horses and farmed pecans. That was the extent of agriculture for me. Travis was my fiancée at the time and graduated from NMSU with a bachelors in Agriculture- Agriculture and Extension Education. He interviewed with Murphy Family Farms at a career fair, traveled to Laverne, Okla., toured the farm operation where he interviewed again and in June 2001 took a job as a production trainee with Murphy Family Farms. I had one semester of student teaching left in NM and a wedding to plan. I graduated in December 2001 we got married in January 2002 and I moved to Oklahoma. My first month in Laverne, northwestern Oklahoma had one of the worst ice storms in 100 years. We lost power for 10 days in town. At the time I wasn’t working, so I simply stayed safely at home under blankets while I listened to a battery operated radio. Not once had I ever experienced anything like that storm while I lived in New Mexico. Travis left each and every morning to go to work – the hog farms were all running on generators. He experienced the warm showers and a full day’s work – the pigs still had to eat! During the first three years I lived in Oklahoma, I was a substitute teacher at the local school and was hired as the Middle school and High school cheerleading coach. I met tons of great people associated with the school system and hoped a teaching position would open. Occasionally I would fill in at the Murphy Family Farms office as the receptionist – simply answering phones. My husband loved his job and was moving up in the company. In 2004, I began to fill-in regularly in an accounting role at the office, which was now Murphy Brown LLC. Accounts payable needed help processing invoices and work orders – which turned into how I truly became a part of the industry. In 2005 my husband and I had twin daughters. I was able to be at home during the day with them and work in the evenings at the office in accounting. In May 2005 I was hired full time with Murphy Brown LLC as a production/accounting assistant. I continued to help with invoicing but started to work with the production manager on wean projections and the marketing and placement of wean pigs in the Midwest. About 18 months later I took a position in Human Resources. I was then responsible for college recruiting, new


employee training, benefits and worker compensation. It was at this time that I started representing the company within the community. I became a member of the Chamber of Commerce and was responsible for the community activities within the company. This is the part of my job I can do every day and never get tired of it! The human resources role turned into a Safety Coordinator role – which is where I am today! Training employees and working hard to keep them safe in their jobs is a huge part of my job. The other half of my job is community/industry relations. I am an Operation Main Street speaker, so I often have the opportunity to talk about what I do and what we do in the industry. I love that part of my job. I was honored to be selected to participate in the Pork Leadership Institute (PLI) program sponsored by National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council in 2013. I can easily say it was the year I became “hooked” on the pork industry. I was – and still am – in awe of what the pork industry does here in the United States, but also around the world. Raising pigs in my little part of northwestern Oklahoma you don’t often realize the global impact of your actions. During my year as a part of PLI we traveled to Panama City to see first-hand how U.S. trade works. I was proud to see U.S. Pork sold in grocery stores and served in restaurants. I know I had a role in that, no matter how small. In 2014 I became a member of the okPORK Board of Directors. I have traveled many times on behalf of the pork industry to Washington D.C. to talk with leaders about what we do in the industry. During the last few years I have learned so much about our industry, however one thing sticks in my mind more than any other. The number one takeaway I have learned is that we MUST talk about what we do. We have to be louder than the activists. continued on page 5

Linneen & Robinson Elected to Board The 2016 Oklahoma Pork Congress welcomed two new members to the Board of Directors. Sarah Linneen and Paris Robinson are both first-time Board members and are looking forward to learning the ropes and leading okPORK forward. If you haven’t had the chance to meet them keep reading for a brief introduction to new additions to the Board of Directors.

news and get their perspective on topics. I can bring both my own perspective and the growers perspective to the board when discussing innovative solutions for current challenges. I also hope to positively promote the swine industry in Oklahoma and surrounding areas by serving as a recruiter to encourage young people to become involved in this exciting industry.

Sarah Linneen I am enthusiastic about being part of the pork industry and being a board member of okPORK would allow me to interact with my industry peers, as well as serve producers. This would provide me the opportunity to keep myself nationally and locally updated on industry events while lending my hand in industry initiatives. My position with Tyson Foods allows me to visit producer farms and interact with them on a daily basis, which enables me to keep them apprised of industry

Paris Robinson Paris Robinson has grown up in the hog industry. Her family has 13 Tyson hog farms and are one of the top pork producers in the state of Oklahoma. After graduating from Oklahoma State University in May 2014, she decided to follow in her family footsteps and manage Tree Farm, a 2,400 unit, farrow to wean farm. She has been running Tree Farm for a little more than a year and plans on one day being as successful in the hog industry as her father and uncle. •

President Speaks, continued from page 4 We know we do the right things with our animals, for our employees and for the environment. We simply have to tell people that! I hope I am able to help those conversations in my role now as President of okPORK. Our goal as a Board is to make Oklahoma the best place to raise baby pigs. I love knowing what I do in a small town helps to feed the world. We have big things ahead of us this year with State Question 777, which as you know is also known as Right to Farm. I hope that you will help me spread the word about our industry no matter which part of the industry with which you are involved. In all pork production – whether you work for a large company or you are a family producer – we all have an important role. You may work at the feed mill or as a truck

driver, the farm manager or the herd tech, you might even be the “safety lady” like me. We all have important roles to ensure we raise high quality pork for both our U.S. and world consumers. It is our duty as stewards of our animals, land and industry to stand up and get involved. SQ 777 is an important first step to doing so. My family and I are pork producers and work for Smithfield Hog Production Division in Oklahoma. My husband found his career “home” in this industry which is the reason I moved to Oklahoma. Now I have been part of the industry for 11 years. My husband and I are proud of what we do. We love Oklahoma. We are blessed to live in such a great state. I will always be from New Mexico but Oklahoma is now home. • | 5

Oklahoma Youth Expo story and photos by Kristin Alsup


he Oklahoma Youth Expo comes each spring and with it comes a ton of fun for families across the state. The excitement around the okPORK office is palpable as well. There are several ways okPORK gets involved and most of the staff is able to get in on the action in one way or another. Pork Chop Shop Open only twice each year the Pork Chop Shop is open for the duration of the Oklahoma Youth Expo and serves up the famous pork chop sandwich all day to hungry livestock exhibitors. In addition, one can also get a pulled pork sandwich or a pork burger. The chop stick is also hanging around waiting to be snagged and turned into fuel for a shot at the big ring. If you aren’t hungry, a person can get a caffeine fix or hydrate for the day. The Shop has something for everyone, so in the future if you should find yourself at OYE make sure you stop by and snag something. Livestock Show and Sale The reason for the season as one might say is the livestock show itself. There is no doubt that every swine exhibitor who chooses to spend Spring Break working with their animals is hoping to make it through the sift ring and hear okPORK Executive Director Roy Lee Lindsey call their name as a class winner over the loud speaker.


Lindsey spends each of the days of the show sitting ring side helping to keep the show moving and in working order. As a part of the Swine Committee he also helps to break the entries into classes and get the sale order worked out so each of the winners who made it has the best possible spot. The Sale of Champions is the end result for those who are among the top of their breeds. More than $1 million was spent supporting the exhibitors at the 2016 sale. okPORK partnered with Blue & Gold and Byford Auto Group to buy the Reserve Grand Champion Barrow exhibited by Gavin Straka from El Reno. While Straka wasn’t the only exhibitor okPORK supported, he was the highest in the sale order. Legislative Showmanship Contest Several of the exhibitors from across the state are asked to be a part of the Legislative Showmanship Contest which brings more than 80 of our state legislators into the arena. Each of them are paired with an exhibitor who helps them understand how to show their animal and why. Some of the legislators take to it quickly while others spend the time simply following their pigs around in circles. Lindsey was the judge this year and Senator Mike Schultz of Altus was the winner in the hog ring who then went on to win the overall contest. •

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT Vote Yes on State Question 777 and protect your Right to Farm. Connect with Oklahoma Farmers Care to learn more. | 7


Meet the All-Stars!

he 2016 Youth Leadership Campers have been selected and are gearing up for their “farm-to-fork” look at Oklahoma’s Pork Industry. They will spend the week of June 26 – July 1 exploring all aspects of the pork industry. The selection committee was very impressed with this year’s applicants and is excited to meet the 12 campers. Stay tuned to okPORK’s social media outlets for updates during camp week. And don’t miss the next issue of okPORK PAGES for a full recap of YLC.

Libby Buckmaster – Porter, Okla., Junior – Libby is a homeschool student who shows swine through the Porter 4-H club. She has exhibited pigs at the last 4 OYE’s and was named the Outstanding 4-H member for Porter 4-H in 2015. Her family has a herd of Large Black (a heritage swine breed) and she also works for her neighbors caring for their show swine operation. She plans to be involved in agriculture in some way after college. I want to meet and build relationships with young people that have the same dreams and passion as I. I think the things I experience and learn will be helpful to me all my life. Halie Clark – Mangum, Okla., Senior – Halie has many 4-H and FFA projects. She wants to be a vet-tech and is very active in her family’s beef operation. She recently bred her show gilt to start a swine breeding program. I am willing and anxious to learn new leadership skills, rooted in agriculture, and focus on my future in the agriculture industry. Brooklyn Evans – Sand Springs, Okla., Senior – Brooklyn is an ag teacher’s kid who’s been around farm animals all her life. She began showing swine in the 8th grade and is very interested in genetics and loves to follow bloodlines and decide what genetics to use in breeding. She plans to enroll at Oklahoma State University and enter the Food Science program and specialize in meat evaluation. I am looking for a chance to immerse myself in the swine industry and come out with a better understanding of how to help progress the future of the swine industry. Jaydon Maehs – Morrison, Okla., Junior – Jaydon has been showing hogs for two years and has bred one of his gilts so his production swine operation began in March. He is active in his FFA chapter, has a business management CDE, and participates in many FFA contests yearly. Jaydon plans to attend Oklahoma State University and pursue a degree in agriculture or possibly forensic sciences. I hope YLC will advance my knowledge of the pork industry in Oklahoma and allow me to meet fellow FFA members from this state that share my interests.


Hayes Maher – Mooreland, Okla., Senior – Hayes has been an active swine showman from a very young age. He is also active in leadership in 4-H and FFA. He was inducted into the Woodward County 4-H Hall of Fame in 2011 and was able to attend National FFA Convention in 2015. He plans to attend Oklahoma State University and wants to remain active in production agriculture. My longtime involvement in the show pig industry has provided me with many benefit such as responsibility, husbandry, and management skills. The YLC offers a unique opportunity to expand my knowledge into the commercial side of the pork industry. Logan Maher – Mooreland, Okla., Junior – Logan has been showing swine through 4-H and FFA for as long as he can remember. He currently owns a commercial boar and part ownership in two Chester sows. So his swine operation is well underway already. He plans to attend Oklahoma State University and choose an agriculture major. I would value the opportunity to go behind the scenes and observe the pork production continuum. Makala Parsons – Luther, Okla., Junior – Makala is active in her FFA chapter’s activities and community projects. In addition to showing swine, she pursues CDEs in archery and vet-tech. Makala’s involvement has caused her to begin thinking about a career in agriculture and she hopes to attend Oklahoma State University or Redlands Community College. Attending this camp will be a great learning experience and will provide me a unique experience to explore the swine industry. Tre` Smith – Sand Springs, Okla., Junior – Tre` has been showing hogs for two years and will be breeding his Spot gilt soon to begin a production swine operation. His other FFA project is called “Operation Egg” where he provides eggs to a local women’s and children’s shelter. He works with other FFA students to care for five laying hens. They have donated 43 eggs to the shelter. Tre` hopes to attend Oklahoma State University and chose

a major in agriculture. His exact career path is undecided and he hopes what he learns at YCL will help him clarify that decision. I would like to hear from the people who are in the trenches everyday providing a top quality product for businesses and more importantly, everyday families. I would like to know why they do what they do and what it will take for me to have a career in agriculture. Keylon Stogsdill – Welch, Okla., Junior – Keylon is very active in 4-H and FFA. He is currently the county 4-H treasurer and on the Teen Advisory Board for the Coffeeville State Fair. After college he plans to raise show pigs and go to OSU and major in Animal Science and Ag Education. I want to be able to teach the generations to come about the importance of agriculture and what they need to make agriculture better for their kids and grandkids. Lorri Terry – Blair, Okla., Junior – Lorri has shown pigs since she was nine years old and is involved in public speaking and shooting sports projects. She plans to become a nurse anesthetist and then return to the family farm after college. Leadership skills and friendships are the things I plan to take home from YLC.

Matt Whelan – Stigler, Okla., Senior – Matt is an accomplished swine showman and judge. He exhibited the Supreme Champion Gilt at the Tulsa State Fair in 2009 and was the Overall High Individual at the Big 3 Livestock Judging Competition in 2014. He plans to attend Connor’s State and then move on to Oklahoma State University and major in Agronomy. My career path is still open at this time but I want YLC to be an opportunity for career exploration. Tyler Wilkinson – Cement, Okla., Junior – Tyler has already had a busy 4-H and FFA career. He shows swine, is on the livestock judging team, gives speeches and is part of the shooting sports team. Tyler plans to attend Oklahoma State University and major in agricultural engineering. Going to this camp would provide me with a great opportunity to meet people and give me the chance to see the commercial swine industry - a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Oklahoma Pork Open Golf Ad GO L F T O U R N A ME N T Keep your eyes open for info upcoming about The Pork Chop Open Sponsorships are available. Tee Box Sponsor: $200 | Lunch Sponsor: $600 | Beverage Sponsor: $600 | Player Gift, Hawgarita or Jerky Sponsor: $500 | Also Hole in One or Door Prize sponsors can sponsor with donations of actual equipment or supplies. Questions or Ideas, contact Lloyd Hawkins at | 9


Recapping Pork Congress


he single most exciting day to be an okPORK member took place on February 26 this year. The Oklahoma Pork Congress brings together all of our friends and members for a day of learning, sharing, eating, meeting and fun. The morning meeting brought together a panel of okPORK’s close friends and partners. Ag in the Classroom, the Oklahoma Blood Institute, The Oklahoma Youth Expo, Oklahoma 4H Foundation and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma all had representatives available to talk about programming and partnerships with okPORK. Program updates were shared from the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council, okPORK and from McSpadden & Associates. The Right to Farm Panel discussed the upcoming State Question and what it means for the pork industry as well as agriculture as a whole. During the Business Meeting two new members were added to the Board of Directors – Paris Robinson and Sara Linneen. Dr. Kevin Folta traveled from Florida to share his keynote message. A strong advocate for Genetically Modified Organisms, Dr. Folta’s message was clear – we have to share what we do. We must continue to tell people what we are doing is not only safe and good but that we do it to feed the world because we care. Four honors were bestowed upon deserving people during the delicious banquet dinner. The 2016 okPORK Ambassador was Kim Peterson of Guymon. Rep. Ben Sherrer of Choteau received the Outstanding Legislator Award. Gayle Mortenson humbly accepted the Distinguished Service honor and Butch Young was the 2016 okPORK Hall of Fame inductee. State Question 777 Auction With the upcoming election approaching and State Question 777 on the ballot, the okPORK Board of Directors felt it necessary to show support to the fundraising efforts. The decision was made to change up the auction portion of Pork Congress and donate all of the proceeds to the Vote Yes on 777 campaign. When all of the items sold and the dollar amounts were tallied the auctions brought in more than $30,000 in support for the Right to Farm. How incredible is that?


What else can we do? What are you doing to spread the message about State Question 777? Do your neighbors know why you want them to vote yes? Does your church family know? Oklahoma’s agricultural legacy is facing an uncertain future and if we stand together and share our messages we can help to secure a bright future for agriculture in Oklahoma. Donors The Oklahoma Pork Congress is made possible only through the help of gracious sponsors and donors. Without the assistance of these people the success of the gathering would simply be impossible. The staff and Board of Directors would says a heartfelt thank you to the following sponsors and donors: PIC – Banquet Sponsor Pork Checkoff – Lunch and Keynote Speaker Sponsor Blue & Gold Sausage – Afternoon Break Sponsor DNA Genetics – Printed Program Sponsor Large Auction Items Sponsors: Allflex Beer Distributors of Oklahoma Blue & Gold Sausage DNA Genetics Grissoms Hog Slat Kretchmar Distributing, Medford McSpadden & Associates Schnake Turnbo Frank | PR and Thunder Up Pedicabs Smithfield QC Supply Associate Members! okPORK is proud to include Sandyland Environmental, Blue & Gold Sausage, and DNA Genetics as Associate Members. Each one brings a different perspective to okPORK and helps our organization to continue to be a dynamic and active one. If you are interested in supporting Oklahoma’s pork producers with an okPORK associate membership, call (405)2323781 or visit | 11


Goes to Washington by Kristin Alsup

Legislative Action Conference


hen farmers from Oklahoma get the chance to hit the town in Washington D.C. there is an air of anticipation and plans made weeks in advance. Twice each year okPORK participates in the Legislative Action Conference hosted by the National Pork Producers Council. Farmers from each of the participating states gather to discuss the goals pork producers have for the upcoming legislative sessions. They then take those issues and talking points directly to the offices of the legislators from their states. okPORK always includes an article explaining why Legislative Action Conference is important. It has been based on second-hand knowledge written by the staff who wasn’t in attendance. Even though the author of this article was in attendance at LAC, it is important to share the reasons why pig farmers take time away from the farm to visit the Capitol - from the farmer’s perspective. Two members of the okPORK Board of Directors attended and both Keith Reiner and Tina Falcon were willing to share why they went as well as why they believe others should. Keith Reiner: I was asked, “Why is it important to go to LAC in D.C. with the Pork council?” And, after I got back in my own skin I had at least 50 answers to that single question but I was asked to keep it short. I’ll start out with the personal reasons:


1. If you don’t vote, don’t complain about your government. Simply stated, you have no right to enjoy or complain about my country if you aren’t going to get involved. 2. If you don’t like legislation and you haven’t called your congressman or representative to voice your opposition, shut your pie hole. 3. Those legislators work for you, remember that. They work for you. Don’t let them think for a minute they don’t and contrary to popular belief they want to know what you think; they will engage with you. 4. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I get to go to D.C.! That is Washington D.C. The place which is home to the greatest body of government in the WORLD and while there I get to speak with the people who run it. Those very people – love them or hate them – we elect and I get to do that. Plus, I have the opportunity to walk the halls of our founding fathers, the same places where Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Hancock walked. I get to see Abe Lincoln’s office, where J.F.K was buried, where Martin L King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, where Ronald Regan and Tip O’neil argued. I get to see in real life things as a child I only watched on TV and wondered how great it would be to visit there. THAT D.C. Hell YA I want to go and I’ll go every time I am asked. I love going there. You could go one hundred times and not do the same thing twice.

Now for the professional reasons: 1. Cities are getting bigger while rural America is shrinking. We are electing people to office that have no idea what is going on in our industry and it’s not getting any better. If we don’t go talk to these young politicians who is going to guide them in the correct direction. Well, I’ll tell you who. Those same people who want to put us out of business, that’s who. 2. Time is valuable but they will make it for you. They want to know what is going on. We discussed for almost an hour a certain piece of legislation with a staff member. He had no idea, not a single clue, what it was about. He took the time to engage us, he was the one with 50 questions for us. He wanted to know the what, why, how and where. When we left the office that House Bill along with some other issues we discussed are safely and pretty much a non concern on how his vote will go if it was brought up on the floor. 3. Issues that affect your everyday life – at work and at home – are at stake. If you are not there to defend them, who will? I walk into one Senator’s office, looked up on the wall and there I saw a photo of an F/A18D on the flight deck of the USS Coral Sea CV43. I said to him, “I remember that day sir, I was a young 2nd class petty officer when you landed that day.” He responded by telling me he was a freshman in the House of Representatives then and it was 30 years ago this month. The world is truly a small place. Here I am 30 years later, standing next to the same guy telling sea stories about the military to a powerful Senator from Oklahoma like we are just too old vets exchanging stories. Well we are. That’s the point of going to D.C. HELL YEAH I THINK WE SHOULD GO TO D.C.

Tina Falcon: I went because I think it is a wonderful opportunity to represent the state of Oklahoma because I am proud to be an Oklahoma hog farmer. I believe other people should make an effort to go at least once – if not more. Seriously, the opportunity to see that part of government. You get to see those things that otherwise you would be unable to see on the hog farm every day. I would encourage everyone to think about, look into it and try to find a way to meet our legislators. It is very exciting to see how all of the processes work and I believe it is a beneficial experience. Not only is it beneficial to the individual, but also to okPORK, NPPC, agriculture as a whole, the legislator and their staff. Not only does it help everyone understand each other better, it is also a ton of fun! You get to have the incredible experience of being in Washington D.C. You get to see all of the beautiful buildings, the history and the gardens. It is a wonderful place to visit. This time, my absolute favorite part about going to D.C was getting to take a private tour of the Capitol Building with Congressman Mark Wayne Mullin. I enjoyed every aspect from getting to see the Lincoln Room, the secret tunnels and stairs in the floor and in the wall. We had the opportunity to stand on the speaker’s balcony and look out across the city; standing where the Pope stood. We also were able to look out onto the actual floor of the House of Representatives from the room where the they hang out before they vote and that was the icing on the cake for me as far as the trip. Congressman Mullin rocks. So, in the end? You should go. Represent who you are, where you come from and what you do. If you don’t – no one will. Not only will you get the chance to share your thoughts but you will also get to have an extremely memorable experience. | 13

California Dreamin’

about an okPORK Summer Q&A with Lindsay Tasos, Summer Intern


hen the word ‘summer’ is spoken a flood of ideas and feelings often come gushing into our minds from our memories. Whether you think about vacations, time at the lake, grilling out in the yard or the kids being out of school – there is definitely something special about summertime. For Lindsay Tasos this summer is about learning what it is like to work for okPORK. Starting on May 16, Tasos will be an intern working with okPORK. She will be busting her tail alongside the other okPORK staff at each event this summer. We hope you either met her at the Oklahoma Pork Congress or will get to this summer. However, to get the introduction started, here are is a quick question and answer with Tasos to help you get to know her. okPORK: Where are you from? Tasos: Madera, California okPORK: What do you miss most about being at home? Tasos: Easy. I miss my family. Even as an adult it’s hard to only see them a few times a year. I guess I miss my pigs too. okPORK: What do you like most about Oklahoma? Tasos: I love that the people here are so polite and friendly. I couldn’t imagine starting and finishing college in a more amazing state! okPORK: What is your favorite memory of being little? Tasos: Hmm. The first moment I stepped in a show ring. I was about six years old and it was with my first Hampshire gilt, Star. I don’t remember if we won but I do remember wanting to be a part of the swine industry for the rest of my life after that moment. okPORK: What is your area of study and how did you wind up studying that? Tasos: I’m currently an Animal Science, Agricultural Communications double major at Oklahoma State University.


I’m going to graduate in December. I actually started college as a pre-vet major but all the chemistry wasn’t my calling. It was then I took my agricultural communications classes and realized I have a gift for writing, marketing and design. I kept my animal science major because I wanted to stay familiar with the science side of the livestock industry. Hopefully after graduation I will find a job that allows me to use both degrees. okPORK: What do you want to do when you graduate? Tasos: Well my dream job is to work for the Oklahoma Pork Council after I graduate. But If that doesn’t happen I’m hoping to be in the livestock industry and have a job that focuses on marketing. okPORK: What is your favorite movie EVER? Tasos: Gordy! And not just because it has a pig in it. I think I can still quote the whole thing. okPORK: If I was to jump in your car – what would be on the radio/in the cd player/mp3 player? Tasos: Josh Abbot Band. okPORK: What was the last book you had trouble putting down? Tasos: Just call me that crazy Harry Potter fan. (okPORK: We would NEVER do such a thing!) okPORK: What made you apply to work for okPORK? Tasos: The swine industry has been a part of my life since before I was born. I’ve grown up raising and showing hogs since I was a little girl. I’m almost 23 now and clearly can’t show any more, why not use my marketing and communication skills to promote this great industry? Why not do it in my favorite state? And, the pork council people aren’t half bad either. ;) I’m so excited to be working with you guys. I can’t wait!


ach year okPORK is one group of a rotunda-full of groups who attend Ag Day at the Capitol. There are always samples from all sorts of fun agriculturally related products. As the booths began to take shape, you could see everything from small evergreen trees to woodchips, salsa to barbecue sauce or candles to jam depending on where you looked. Members of the okPORK Board of Directors and staff were in attendance ready to share some pork love with the legislators, their staff and other attendees. Wafting from one side of the room there was a most heavenly smell and only the okPORK folks knew from which booth the smell originated. Did I mention they were passing out bacon? With free bacon up for grabs, it was like candy canes on Christmas. “Ag Day is always a fun day at the Capitol. Members of every agricultural organization in the state are at the Capitol spreading the positive message about what we do and how it benefits Oklahoma,”said okPORK Executive Director Roy lee Lindsey. “For the third year in a row, okPORK members passed out bacon samples – ok, they were whole strips of bacon. In just over an hour, we gave out 50 pounds of bacon, one piece at a time.”

In addition to the bacon samples, okPORK members visit almost every legislator’s office and shared some information about okPORK and what we do in Oklahoma. “As I visit offices throughout the rest of the session, I see our okPORK ink pens and note pads setting on desks throughout the Capitol,” Lindsey said. “Our members get to interact with their legislators and other legislators from across the state. okPORK staff and our lobbying team do a great job of representing us at the Capitol but they are nowhere near as impactful as having okPORK members – the people who work on the farm every day – visiting legislators at the Capitol.” Once again, Ag Day at the Capitol was another huge success. No one forgets the hand who serves them bacon unexpectedly. Whether you work on a farm, own a farm, visit a farm or want to see a farm – who have you told? Are you engaging with other people who love farming and food? If not, stop by one of the okPORK social media sites and see what you think. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterst and Google+ all have a slightly different audiences and you can find one to fit your needs! | 15

Braving the Beautiful and the Terrifying

story & photos by Kristin Alsup

Kristin Alsup recounts her adventures in Vietnam and the Philippines with OALP

“Sometimes you have to accept the fact that things will never go back to the way they used to be.�


he above statement is not particularly profound. It is basic logic, right? However, when I ran across it several days ago online, it helped put a feeling into perspective. The feeling had been lodged in my chest since Class XVII of the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program came to a close. How do you travel to the other side of the world and come home unchanged? My personal opinion is this: if you manage to travel with a group of 26 people around the world and you come home unchanged, you did it wrong. The entire group gathered at the hotel near the Oklahoma City airport to spend the evening together before our scheduled arrival at the airport around 4 a.m. With the excitement running high and the sleep at a minimum the group herded into the airport, struggled through security and prepared for the long flights ahead. From Oklahoma City we flew through Atlanta, into Seoul, South Korea and then on to Vietnam where we landed in Hanoi.


Culture Shock Arriving in Vietnam and getting through Customs there was interesting and hot. The air movement was non-existent and while where we were stationed waiting for the officials to deal with the paperwork did not allow for photography, there was Wi-Fi and each member of the group was busy letting their people back home know of our safe arrival. It was very late, or early morning depending on how you look at it, when we finally met our guide and boarded the bus for the hotel. The highway to the hotel looked like a highway and the bus we rode looked like any bus you’ve chartered – but the buildings lining the streets boasted signs and wares which while somewhat familiar were also completely foreign. It was at this point my brain FINALLY said, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” Each day of the trip was packed from beginning to end, but I woke up early nonetheless – which knowing how much I HATE mornings is really saying something – to get downstairs and see what I could near the hotel. I wasn’t brave enough yet to venture too far from the hotel, unsure yet how to react to people and how they would react to me, but as the city around me woke up I was in awe. The simple things which were so profoundly different about how families traveled to work and school, how people prepared breakfast on the street in front of their business, the way people covered their entire bodies to shade it from the sun had me making constant comparisons to my own life. As a group we traveled and visited the site of Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, while we walked we were given explanations in history and culture which could span thousands of years in a few minutes. We saw government buildings and the modest home Ho Chi Minh had built for himself. We visited the museum where you could learn more about the life and contribution “Uncle Ho” had on Vietnam and why he is regarded so highly among those in Vietnam. We visited the Temple of Literature, heralded as Vietnam’s oldest university which was founded in 1076. This was by far my favorite stop in Hanoi. All of the different religions and belief systems collided in this one space. The architecture was intricate and each design held a deeper meaning to one part of the Vietnamese culture or another. There were shrines to the founders, which students came to offer a sacrifice to and pray for blessings of knowledge and luck in their education. The people involved in the ritual gave no notice to those standing near them and their complete attention was focused on what they were doing. Is this real life? The next stop on our tour accorded me one of the funniest moments of the trip. As we visited the Tran Quoc Pagoda, also known as the One Tower Pagoda, we learned of its history and its ties to the female Buddha. This pagoda was built as a place to come and pray for sons. Of course, as part of a group full of progressive American women there were several members of the

group who made quiet jokes about praying for daughters just to mess with folks, causing young Vietnamese girls to look slightly amazed and also start them giggling. It was at this time while I was taking photos that I was descended upon by the nearest pack of giggling young girls and surrounded. Photos – they wanted photos with me – this strange looking American woman apparently had to be documented for their friends. I can only imagine what I look like to them and I can’t help but crack up laughing as I imagine the conversations they were having amongst themselves. We walked through the city and learned about shopping and the markets there. Crossing the street was a lesson in overcoming the fear of dying or in trusting your fellow man. The food in the markets was either beautiful and delightful smelling or terrifying and stomach-wrenching once the smell hit your nose. The beauty of the architecture was in stark contrast with the extreme crowding of people into small living spaces and utter filth you encountered constantly on the street. While watching a traditional water puppet show that evening, inspired by folk tales of flooded rice paddies in a language I couldn’t understand, I found my mind wandering. The people were so interesting, the history was fascinating, the culture was engaging and I found myself wishing I could simply melt into the streets and learn more about this strange city. What is it like to live in this place? At the exact same time I wondered if I was simply exploiting the strangeness of the people around me for my own entertainment. Is this why people have attitudes about Americans when they travel? The next day was the single hardest day of the trip – | 17

mentally. We visited a boarding school for children who are developmentally disabled. We were told this is often because of the lingering effects of Agent Orange; we were also told this is simply where the children are brought no matter why they are challenged. Having worked with the people who are developmentally disabled for years, I wasn’t sure what to think when we arrived. The group of students we colored with and interacted with reminded me of people I worked with in Stillwater. What bothered me? The way the staff paid very little to no attention to them while we spent time with them and the obvious signs of abuse the students showed to each other. I have no idea what I could have done differently while I was there. Seeing the problems and having no voice or power to affect change started a war inside my head which may never end. It was after leaving the school when we hopped on a short flight to Da Nang and then saw ancient Indian style art. Some parts of Vietnam lived as part of the Indian Culture dating as far back as 192 A.D. and the Cham Museum housed art from the 7th Century to the 15th Century. The terracotta statues seemed


almost forbidden and yet were right there where you could touch them. Finally some agriculture The next day was our first real day getting to spend time with agriculture. We jumped on bicycles and rode eight miles through rice paddies and through the local farms where families were given plots of land to raise food for their families and to sell what they could. When the bike ride ended we rode water buffaloes in a sample rice paddy and learned about the entire process of handfarming rice with the help of the animals. We also learned about hand-processing the rice into edible products – rice, rice milk, rice paper and rice noodles. We made our own lunch “in the field” as farmers in the area would do. The sanitary conditions were questionable and all I can say is it was delicious but I am incredibly thankful I didn’t wind up sick. When lunch ended we took to the boats and learned about fishing with nets and harvesting water coconuts. We then fished with nets from the shore.

I can’t even begin to imagine making a living this way. I think about how some people crave to see American agriculture revert to a system more similar to this and I wish they could see how many issues with which these people struggle. The following day our group descended on Ho Chi Minh City. The contrast of the southern hub to Hanoi was immediately apparent. Ho Chi Min City is much more modern and westernized, even while holding onto the history of the city through its many changes. During our time there we traveled outside the city limits and visited a dairy farm. In my opinion, this was the single most impressive agriculture stop. It was a modern dairy, much like what we see here but the milkers were very different. The recycling of water used to keep the cows cool is unlike anything I’ve seen before. The use of bamboo for forage was interesting. Once the questions were translated the answers were full-bodied and knowledgeable – proving that farmers everywhere are invested and caring about their animals, their environment, their workers and the world they feed. Meetings with the delegation from the U.S. Consulate and

the Senior Agricultural Attaché about Vietnamese agriculture and U.S. Trade relations couldn’t have been more interesting. However, had you told college-aged me that they were interesting, I would have told you it had to be a lie. I would have been wrong. Beauty and Truth are in the eye of the beholder Tours of the city and museums during this stay were both beautiful and hideous, wondrous and terrifying. Visiting the War Remnants Museum brought into broad daylight the discussions about the Vietnam War – or as they call it the American War. The 180-degree difference in discussions, blame and demonization were hard not to argue. The Central Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral are exquisite works of architectural art left over from French occupation and were a balm to the brain, heart and soul. Vietnam is a very two-sided country and it was never more easily seen than in this one single afternoon. The next day we took a boat cruise to the floating market of Cai Be where you could see people who live their lives on board | 19

boats selling wholesale products. Think of a grocery distributor on the water and you will have a good idea of what I mean. There were even “food truck” boats which would pull up and tie off to your boat, able to sell you pho and a fresh coconut drink. Rowboats took us up tiny rivers and past small villages. We visited the market where all sorts of handicrafts were made and sampled local candies. We were offered and sampled snake wine. Our homestay was settled and we mounted bikes once again to experience the village. People laughed at us. We laughed at ourselves. We cooked dinner alongside our hosts. A performance of local music ended our evening. No one would ever mistake us for locals in the Mekong Delta. Phu Quoc Island was a shining beacon of beauty when we arrived the next day. A small island in the Bay of Thailand and as we flew in the excitement was palpable, yet it was already dark and we couldn’t see much. As we headed for the resort – we weren’t sure we weren’t being kidnapped. The streets looked like back alleys and wound through some sketchy looking buildings. Once we turned into the gates a gorgeous bungalow resort stared back at us. Like mushrooms sprouting on the hillside the little rooms with outdoor bathrooms beckoned us to sleep. While on the island we visited a pearl farm, pepper farm and Coconut Tree prison. We found a couple of restaurants run by American ex-pats who were friendly and welcoming. We got sunburned and played on the beach. Getting lost on a tiny island where few people are fluent speaker of English is a rush. Jumping in a cab and taking windy alleys is even more fun. However, it was time to get back to Ho Chi Minh City to travel the Cu Chi tunnels and once again be inundated with anti-American propaganda dating back to before


the Vietnam war. We were shown the traps and tunnels used against the Americans and how the Viet Cong traveled without being caught. We were told about how the Vietnamese were honored once they killed enough Americans. It was too much for me. I couldn’t even get into seeing things and being able to understand them first-hand because the propaganda was too much. At times I couldn’t help but stand back and think about how you know history is true. Will the younger generation of Vietnam believe all of the things said about Americans in these museums, books and posters? Will we be the horrible monsters who kill women and children for fun? Thank goodness for the evening spent eating dinner and cruising on the river. With the help of the beautiful view of the city’s skyline, some local music and dance and a wonderful breeze the melancholy of the day passed. It was also a beautiful way to say goodbye to Vietnam. Goodbye Vietnam, Hello Philippines! Saying hello to the Philippines was interesting. As we flew in, we were able to see the density of Manila from the air. We landed, loaded the bus and started hauling it to Tagatay, stopping for food at Jollibee along the way. Once in Tagatay – the view was breathtaking. Behind there was a lake. Inside the lake was an island, with a lake inside it, with an island in that lake. It was very special and I could have stayed there forever. While in the area we visited with the U.S. Wheat Associates and the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, visited a pineapple farm and a coffee farm. It was then we headed to Los Banos for the evening and had a wonderful dinner of roasted pig and took a tour of the city.

The hotel in Los Banos was disgusting and terrifying. We all stayed outside in the open air atrium as long as possible. Cats were everywhere and nothing seemed safe. We were ready and rearing to go when it was time to head to the International Rice Research Center. The Rice Research is supported by partners around the globe and helps to improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, keep rice production environmentally sustainable and to help reduce poverty and hunger. While rice will fill bellies – it doesn’t always provide the nutrition needed. The conversations here remind me how blessed I am by the American food system. I am proud every day to be a part of it and it is something I fiercely hope to help protect. Walking around in the Makiling Garden seeing rare plants and then in the giant mall of Manila was such a contrast. To be in a rainforest type setting and into a place like the Mall of America the next – it was enough to set your head spinning like a top. That evening it was time to say goodbye to the trip. We sat together in a large group in the airport in Manila and did our reflections. As we did so – I found myself tearing up. Saying goodbye to this trip, to the group, to the communal world we had been living in was not easy, but I knew nothing would ever be like it again. Who am I now? Where am I? Each night I had wandered through the streets, visited shops, ate foods, drank strange concoctions, smelled strange products and saw brand new sights. We endlessly talked. We talked to each other’s families through Skype and butted into every conversation someone else was having. There was no privacy. There was no sense of what people kept calling “the real world.”

I learned far too much about how a few unchecked complaints can upset an entire group who is generally happy. I once again learned there is no pleasing everyone. I learned that French fries can change the course of an entire day. I saw that mountains in America were often molehills or didn’t exist at all in other places. I discovered I wasn’t alone in thinking most of the things the “Jonses” have aren’t that important. It wasn’t long after we came home that people began asking if I was getting back to normal. I couldn’t figure out how to answer the question. My sleeping patterns were off for weeks – in all honesty – I don’t know that they, like anything else, will ever be the same. Already being a night owl, it was a weirdly pleasant experience. More than sleeping patterns though, it was like a part of who I was shifted to accept the new information and experiences which didn’t fit with the person I had been before. There was no breaking; just a slight shifting and whisper of goodbye as part of the person I used to be disappeared and someone new emerged. Learning to embrace the newness of the person I am now, living in the same space as the old me has been an interesting experience. The world I live in is much harder to adapt. It is much harsher and less friendly. OALP Class XVII graduation was proof that Vietnam was the end of our group when not even the entire group was able to make it to graduation. When we said goodbye at the OKC airport the bubble had burst. I thank you for helping breathe the bubble into existence and I can’t wait to see where the lessons I learned lead me, and where they can help me lead others.• | 21

Photos by Kristin Alsup

Roberts Ranch of Oklahoma

Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ Festival


o people who eat meat, there’s nothing like the smell of walking into the middle of a town square and running into a wall cloud of 70 plus competition barbecue teams cooking all at the same time. While it is an odor you can almost touch – it is one you can taste. Thanks to the efforts of Roberts Ranch of Oklahoma since 2008, among others, Enid has been home to an event centered on the Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned contest called the Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ Competition. To help kick off dinner on Friday night, the Roberts Ranch folks pass out free pork burgers to anyone who shows up. Have you ever heard of giving away 450 burgers in less than one half hour? According to Tom Layne the Roberts Ranch Human Resource Manager that is exactly what happened. “They have embraced the entire event as an opportunity to get out in the community and educate the public on pork production,” the event’s coordinator Lynne Benkendorf said. “In addition to handing out free pork sandwiches on Friday of the event, their staff are great ambassadors, they welcome teams as they arrive, help in all the details from pre-planning to facilitating multiple activities during the event.” While barbecue might be on the agenda, raising money for local charities is top of mind for Benkendorf. Beneficiaries of the $19,000+ raised include the Enid Noon Ambuc, March of


Dimes and the Enid Area School Art Programs. The Smokin’ Red Dirt festival includes the Little Miss Red Dirt Pageant, the Pioneer Cellular Student Art Show and a People’s Choice contest with ribs cooked to perfection for the public to taste. This year in addition to helping provide some trophy money, okPORK also participated in the competition. The People’s Choice aspect of the competition always takes place on Friday night and promises a plate full of delicious ribs to those who come out in time. okPORK took the name 777 and shared the message about the Right to Farm vote while passing out ribs. While it wasn’t a win for team 777 – Purple Voodoo took home the People’s Choice honor for the third year running – it was still a fun event to get both okPORK and State Question 777 information out to all the people who attended the event. “We sold out of 300 racks of ribs in less than an hour,” Benkendorf said. “We served 750 people. I estimate between the People’s Choice and the free Roberts Ranch burgers we had close to 1500 in attendance Friday and probably another 1500 for lunch on Saturday.” Have you ever been to a barbecue competition? Have you ever participated? If not, don’t miss the opportunity next April when the Roberts Ranch Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ comes around again. The smells, the tastes, the friends and the fun are a salve for the soul. •

Photos by Nikki Snider

Legislative Reception


hen something isn’t broken, there is no reason to fix it, right? Well, it is when you are talking about the okPORK legislative reception. For the third year in a row okPORK joined with the Oklahoma Beverage Association and the Beer Distributors of Oklahoma in a delicious celebration. The combined associations share a similar desire to get to know the people involved in the Oklahoma State Legislature and in return hope they will get to know the people in the associations as well. Three years ago Swine, Suds and Soda was born to help the desire become a reality. Each of the associations benefit from the event – both from interaction with the other associations and the interaction with legislators and their staff. “One positive example from this interaction came about in the 2015 legislative cycle when all three groups worked on legislation aimed at making it easier to provide training for employees to obtain a commercial driver’s license,” said okPORK Executive Director Roy Lee Lindsey. “The members in all three groups rely on trained CDL drivers and we all struggle to find enough drivers. This legislation was truly a joint effort and was easy for us to work together because we had shared time together at our reception.” To accomplish the mission of getting to know each other

better a party was scheduled for March 30, at the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club for 5:30 p.m. People began to show up from each of the associations early and gathered about in groups to introduce one another to the others they knew. The food was put on the buffet tables and the bars were stocked with all of the libations needed for the reception. As the Legislators, their families and staff began to arrive everywhere one looked you could see people smiling and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. While the 2016 reception was much calmer from a weather perspective – we had a tornado warning and lost power during the 2015 reception – the attendance by legislators was very good and we had the opportunity to have some one on one conversations with legislators in a relaxed setting about what’s happening in our business and how they can help us be successful. This is a fun event with great food and very productive conversations. “Having partners in this event is a true bonus for okPORK,” Lindsey said. “In addition to allowing us to split the costs of the reception three ways, it gives our members the chance to interact with other industries and see the challenges they have.” • | 23

A Meal to Say Thanks okPORK Provides Meal to Elementary Teachers


he farmers who make up the Oklahoma Pork Council start each day believing in a set of ethical principles. One of those principles is a belief in creating a strong community to better the lives of those with whom they live. One of the ways okPORK helps in this effort is by donating pork to community events in local communities around the state. okPORK Outreach Specialist Lloyd Hawkins reviews each and every request for support and evaluates who is in need of the most help. He then works with each of the requests and does what he can to accommodate the request to the best of his ability. Often Hawkins stays to help serve and talk about pork, pigs and farming with the people to whom he is donating pork. For instance – okPORK donated pork to was Soldier


Creek Elementary School in Midwest City, Okla., for teacher appreciation Friday. Hawkins delivered a full meal of steamed broccoli, roasted potatoes, salad and pork tenderloin. The teachers came through the teacher’s lounge and were ecstatic about the food and very happy to talk about what they knew about animals and farming. Some were very aware about pig farms while others knew very little. However, one thing you can say is that as they walked away everyone had a better understanding of pork and what it means to raise pigs. No matter the event, food brings people together. With a little support and a few kind words pig farmers can make a big difference in a lot of different worlds. •

Fun at FFA Convention W

hether or not you have ever donned the blue corduroy jacket, more than likely you know exactly what I am talking about. The iconic symbol of inclusion in FFA is something those who donned it never take for granted. So, when you see the thousands of blue corduroy jackets descend on Oklahoma City each spring you can be sure lives are changing. okPORK once again took the opportunity to be a part of the action in the Expo Hall. Armed with a ton of funny hats, sunglasses, silly masks and other funny props in addition to several cameras, a laptop and an iPad the photo booth was set to draw high school students to the okPORK booth.

Once the students were in the booth - and getting dressed for their funny photos - it was easy to talk about what projects they were involved with this year and which ones they were looking forward to in the upcoming year. Youth Leadership Camp, Youth Pork Quality Assurance Plus and the Veterinary Feed Directive were topics easy to slip into conversation. Who doesn’t love a photo booth? Hopefully some of the hand-outs on the VFD made it to the hands which needed them. Hopefully more FFA members will certify with PQA and apply for camp. Either way? We have a ton of adorable photos of FFA members and everyone had fun. Let’s hope they remember that. | 25





20 Years o

okPORK Then and Now | By Nikki Snider

he Oklahoma Pork Council looked very different in 1996. The small office was located on North May Avenue in Oklahoma City. The only staff member was Gene Parsons and, with the support of his wife, Jeanine, he handled all the OPC functions. The budget was small and thus programming was limited. Today, okPORK occupies a 3,600 square foot office on North Lincoln Boulevard and the budget has more than doubled. The increased revenue brought opportunities for increased impact. So how did this evolution occur over the past 20 year? Well, let’s start with the numbers. A Look At The Numbers $325,000. That was the OPC budget in 1996. That was the year Oklahoma’s pork industry began to change (grow) dramatically. These changes brought the Pork Checkoff revenue to a high of $825,000 in 2008 The Pork Checkoff revenue in 2016 was approximately $700,000. It is the structure of Oklahoma’s pork industry that determines the amount of Pork Checkoff dollars okPORK receives. The explosive industry growth of the early 2000’s was slowed a bit when integrators decided to move baby pigs to the feed source instead of bringing the feed source to them. The PEVD epidemic of 2012-2013 brought another contraction to the industry that greatly affected okPORK’s dollars and has kept them from ever returning to their highest point. Some Things Never Change Regardless of the year or the budget, OPC/okPORK’s commitment to youth in Oklahoma has been strong and unwavering. “OPC was working with the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation when I started in 1998. I know this commitment went back as far as the Oklahoma Swine Breeder’s and Oklahoma Pork Commission association days,” said Roy Lee Lindsey, okPORK executive director. “No matter the size of the budget, we’ve been committed to supporting youth programs. In times when we’ve had extra dollars we’ve done more. In the lean years, we’ve had to scale back but we never let those commitments completely


fall away. One testament to that commitment to youth programs is a plaque given to okPORK by the 4-H Foundation celebrating 50 years of donating to their organization. It’s hard to gather data as far back as 1996 but it’s estimated that okPORK has given well over $200,000 to Oklahoma’s 4-H and FFA programs. In addition to the dollars given, the executive directors and staff, past and present, have supported the logistics at the youth swine shows at Tulsa State Fair and the Oklahoma Youth Expo. Today Lindsey serves as the superintendent of both shows. Another program that began prior to 1996 and remains today is the Pork Chop Shop at the Oklahoma State Fair. Dutch Miller, a past OPC executive director, began the food service project as a way to raise money for programming when the checkoff dollars were very low. Today the Pork Chop Shop remains as the top source of revenue to support okPORK’s “non-checkoff ” activities. It would be impossible to count the number of pork producers, volunteers, staff and board members that have given their time to sling some pork chop sandwiches at the fair. We know that volunteer number is large and keeps increasing and we are grateful to each and every one who’s helped. The People From a lone executive director supported by his wife to a high of 5 full-time staff members there have been many OPC/ okPORK staff members behind the programs over the years. When he started in 1998, Lindsey was able to hire a full time secretary and Dr. Bill Luce worked with OPC on a very part-time basis helping with educational programs and livestock shows. In 1999 he was able to hire the first staff member to handle marketing and communications. The next year they added a part time communications position to assist in that area and that soon became a full-time position. So for many years the organization operated with four staff members. In 2005 the Community Outreach Specialist position was created to give arms, legs, and a face to all the contributions okPORK makes in Oklahoma communities. The organization has seen a great benefit from moving beyond just simply mailing

of Progress a check of support to now having someone to attend events, actually serve a meal, and get to know the people we support on a personal level. In 2012, okPORK staff reduced back to four and the marketing efforts were outsourced to Schnake, Turnbo & Frank PR agency. This reduction was due to a combination of staff members moving on to other jobs and the budget beginning to shrink back some. “One of the things I’m proudest of in my time at okPORK is the great people we’ve had on staff and the amazing things they’ve accomplished for us and what they’ve gone on to do,” Lindsey said. “They are too numerous to name individually here but it’s great for me to be able to look at where our staff members are today and know they got their start here and how they continue to represent us well wherever they are today.” The Board of Directors has also been a key driver of OPC/ okPORK over the years. And, it too looks different today than 20 years ago. In 1996 the board had nine members, two from each quadrant of the state and one member representing allied industry partners. Today the board has nine members, three from the west half, three from the east half and three at-large members. In addition, the board has long been supported by Ex-Officio members. Term limits were added to the Board Structure in 2000 and now each term is three years and members can only serve two terms in a row and then must set out for one year before seeking reelection. In 2015, Joe Popplewell of Stillwater was the first board member to be reelected to the board after serving two terms previously. “As I think about all the board members I’ve worked with over the years, I’m so grateful they are willing to take time off their farms to help us shape programs, sharpen our focus, and manage our dollars,” “As a staff we get to know the board members very well and they are simply some of my favorite people in the world.” We have also had two Oklahoma pork producers serve on the National Pork Board. In 1999 Richard Alig of Okarche, Okla., was appointed to complete a vacated seat on the NPB and served for one year. And in 2010 Wathina Luthi, of Fargo, Okla., was elected to the NPB. She will leave the board in July after serving two terms.

Purpose & Mission In 1996, the main goal of OPC was to talk about pork products and get people to eat more pork. It became clear as the industry expanded in the late 1990s that there needed to be an effort to focus more on pork production and the people who produce pork. “A handful of people were very concerned about the expanding industry and modern production methods. And they began to raise quite a ruckus in the newspapers and at the Capitol.” said Lindsey. “Our Board quickly realized that selling more product wouldn’t help them at all if the public was against how they produced it. So, we began to tell the story of pork production and pork producers.” A mission statement for the industry was created in 1999 “Creating Opportunities, Caring for the Environment, Feeding the World, Committed to Oklahoma.” This statement was used in many radio, billboard, and TV ads to tell Oklahomans what the pork industry really stands for. “Oklahoma was the first state to engage in any industry image efforts and today’s national WE Care initiative has many of the same tenants that we used in the early 2000s,” said Lindsey. “I’m really proud of how we’ve been able to make an impact on how people perceive the pork industry in this state.” Twenty years has brought a lot of growth, many great people and programs and the chance to represent the pork industry to countless Oklahomans. Here’s to the next 20 years. May they bring even bigger and better things to okPORK and the pork industry! • | 27

901 N. Lincoln Blvd., Suite 380 Oklahoma City, OK 73104-3206

Prep: 15 min | Cook: 10 min | Serves 6 Ingredients 8 ounces smoked Spanish chorizo, links with casings removed 1 pound 96% lean ground pork 1/3 cup bread crumbs, dried 1 large egg, beaten 1 small yellow onion, minced 1/3 cup green bell pepper, minced 1 clove garlic, minced 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 6 hamburger buns, split 6 tablespoons thousand island dressing 2 cups shoestring potatoes, (potato sticks) 6 green lettuce leaves

Cooking Directions


Finely chop chorizo in a food processor or with a large knife. Gently mix together ground pork, chopped chorizo, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, green pepper, garlic and salt. Shape into 6 patties about 3/4-inch thick. Refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat, about 450 degrees F. Grill burgers, with the lid closed, for 5 minutes. Turn and finish cooking for 4 to 5 minutes more, until cooked through or until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees F on a digital meat thermometer. Remove from grill. Toast buns on the grill, about 1 minute per side. Build burgers on buns with 1 1/2 tablespoons dressing, 1/3 cup shoestring potatoes and one lettuce leaf. Serve immediately.

okPORK PAGES Summer 2016  

Official publication of the Oklahoma Pork Council.

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