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A crash course in contrast

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It’s been a long time, but I am in the process of getting reacquainted with hot weather. A native of northern Missouri, I spent last summer on a ranch a thousand miles north of here in north central South Dakota. Summer up there meant highs in the upper 70s to low 80s, cool nights, low humidity and a nice breeze. I am starting to learn that summer in Ardmore is a different creature entirely. Summer in southern Oklahoma means heat, chiggers, poison ivy, fire ants and tornadoes.

I don’t point these things out to complain but rather to make two contrasts. The first one is simple: southern Oklahoma is a lot different from where I have spent time in the past. Home for me is a beef cattle and row crop farm in northeast Missouri. My house is positioned in between several large corn fields, our soil isn’t red, our forage base is dominated by cool season grasses and we don’t have sand except in a sandbox. Tornadoes aren’t a weekly occurrence, and we don’t have armadillos or feral hogs. I experienced a whole new environment as a ranch intern in South Dakota, but it was nothing like Oklahoma either.

The second contrast is one of opportunities. As a Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture, I have access to a unique set of chances to learn not found anywhere else. In just my short time here I have already learned about mob grazing, plant secondary metabolites, honey locust management, feral hog control, training goats to eat juniper trees, whitetail deer habitat, plant identification, pasture forage estimates, market hedging strategies, pecan trees and forage sensors. In the weeks ahead there are sure to be many more new things heading our way. There are certainly numerous other places doing lots of good work in agriculture, but for breadth of experiences and opportunities the Noble Research Institute is hard to beat.

As summer at the Noble Research Institute gets underway, I am certainly excited about the new things that I am seeing, learning and doing. These opportunities are special enough that I don’t even mind the heat. Well, almost.

Southern Oklahoma contrast with South Dakota
Southern Oklahoma has proven to be a stark contrast from South Dakota, where I interned last summer. The Oklahoma picture makes it appear that I’m not doing any work, but I really did trim a lot of locust trees that day.

Garth Gatson is a 2015 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from Vandalia, Missouri.