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Becoming Fluent in Oklahoman Agriculture

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Feral hogs, branding laws, drought, grasshoppers. For most producers in Oklahoma, these words stir up feelings of frustration, stress or dread. As a native Pennsylvanian, these were terms and issues that I hurriedly familiarized myself with when I started my time as a scholar, realizing the importance they play in agriculture in this region. I have spent the past months soaking up equally large doses of information about the beef industry and heat from the Oklahoman sun, barbeque and Tex-Mex. There have been countless opportunities to expand my knowledge of these subjects. One of these was attending the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association Convention this past week.

Thursday and Friday, we sat in on the Cattlemen's College Sessions and explored the trade show. The speakers covered a wide array of topics from a current market report to branding laws, feral hogs, current weather patterns and wind energy. There was an opportunity for everyone to learn something about a topic that has an effect on their operation, and hopefully take new ideas and information back home. For me, it was a chance to learn more about the issues that I saw producers facing on farm visits over the summer or that were basic to my projects in the office.

Conventions, of course, do not just focus on learning more about the latest information for the industry but also serve as a chance to network and spend some time with other industry enthusiasts. I enjoyed taking some time to discuss the presentations with other Noble employees and scholars, as well as to meet some of Oklahoma's beef producers.

We also took a few minutes in between meetings to celebrate Conner's birthday. The two days spent in Oklahoma City for the convention were an overall great experience that I learned a lot from. It was just one of the countless opportunities this summer that has allowed me to be part of the Oklahoma agricultural community and has made it a great home away from home.

Alyssa Sheppard is a 2014 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from New Derry, Pennsylvania.