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More than Plows, Cows, and Sows

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Pecan production is a big deal here in southeast Oklahoma, specifically in my small town of Madill, Oklahoma, which is home to Savage equipment. Savage is known for their pecan equipment and is the largest producer of pecan equipment in the world. Having been close friends with the Savage family while growing up, I had the opportunity to get the basic knowledge of this industry. When Center for Pecan and Specialty Agriculture manager Charles Rohla asked me to help at this year’s Oklahoma Pecan Growers Association Convention, I was elated to expand my knowledge on this specialty crop. Even though I intend to return to the beef cattle industry following graduation, this summer I have been given the unique opportunity to learn more about a native crop of Oklahoma and the exceptional people involved in pecan production.

A major advantage of a convention is the opportunity it provides to network with a multitude of people in a variety of businesses. The convention started Thursday merely with booth setup and moving in equipment. I set up tables, helped carry things and helped move booths. This may seem boring, but I found that it provided me with a great opportunity to network with professionals in a very personable way. As my dad would say, “It gave me a chance to exercise my jaws.” As Friday rolled around, there were multiple educational talks, the trade show and the banquet. The banquet was a unique experience for all the Ag Scholars simply because we got to be the Vanna Whites of the baked good auction. Mrs. Mount even let us try one of her $10 cookies, which I assure you, were worth every penny!

However, Saturday had to be the most thrilling day. Ask any of the scholars and we will all tell you that if we are given the opportunity to get hands-on experience outside of the office, we’ll be there. So, going out on the field day and actually getting to see the operation at Hauani Creek Ranch and the manufacturing process at Savage Equipment might have made me a little more excited than your average 20-year-old should be. Savage Equipment is truly an American success story, and it is exciting to see such a renowned company producing their product not only in the U.S. or even Oklahoma but right here in my little hometown. Companies like Savage are paving the way for technological advancements in the agriculture industry and niche markets. Pecan production is becoming a booming sector in the specialty crops industry. With producers like we have in Oklahoma at the forefront, I believe we will continue to see the pecan industry grow and flourish.

Shiann Burns is a 2015 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from Madill, Oklahoma.