As I wind down my tenure as president of the Noble Research Institute, I find myself filled with the bittersweet sense that accompanies change: melancholy for what I am leaving behind yet energy from the potential of the new season.
These seven years at Noble may be the most rewarding and inspired era of my career. Projects and programs were developed and launched from virtually every segment of the organization. Moments of significant change were handled with perseverance and kindness. New opportunities were explored as we sought — as our founder taught us — to cast our eyes toward the horizon so that we could anticipate solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.
As I run through the snapshots of memories in my head, it is not the work or even the successes I see. It’s the people. It’s the men and women who have filled every day with remarkable moments of joy and camaraderie, the individuals who have made these years possible. And I’m filled with overwhelming thankfulness. So in this, my final president’s message, I’d rather devote these words to saying “thank you” than “goodbye.”
First and foremost, I must thank the Noble Research Institute’s governing body. Thank you for entrusting me with responsibility to steward the Noble legacy. Thank you for the willingness to take bold steps and attempt daring projects. Thank you for the hard conversations, the compromise and, ultimately, the friendship we’ve forged. It has been my pleasure to serve you all.
Thank you to each and every employee of the Noble Research Institute. Your passion for agriculture and devotion to your work will undoubtedly lead to great success. You inspired me daily with your ingenuity and integrity. You have left an imprint on my life, and I will treasure all the little moments we shared.
To my Leadership Team, thank you for the tremendous amount of hard work. The long meetings and even longer days. The short timelines. The seemingly insurmountable assignments. You delivered each and every time. You are the men and women who make this organization go. There are no words to express my gratitude for your endless dedication.
Thank you to my wife, Kathy. For decades you’ve stood by me. You’ve tolerated midnight business calls and countless last-minute changes of plans. You’ve moved across the continent and around the world with me, all while wrangling our four children and managing our lives with military precision.
You found a way for us to stay close even when we weren’t in the same time zone. You’ve been my partner, my sounding board and my best friend. You’ve done it all with grace and class. And when I said I wanted to go to Oklahoma so I could change agriculture, you said, “Go for it.”
When I see you, I still see that college sophomore who took a chance and went with me on a blind date to a Missouri Tigers football game. We cheered on our team together that day, and you’ve been cheering me on ever since. Thank you for walking with me through this life.
And finally a note to my two young grandsons. Thank you for being the constant reminder of why I pursue this never-ending journey in agriculture. Someday you will read these words and understand why I went to Oklahoma, why I worked so hard, why I was gone so much.
I believe that agriculture is the cornerstone of our lives and society. It must be cultivated through collaboration, research and technology. It must be protected so that the soil and the land can be productive for your generation and for the ones to come.
The fruits of agriculture’s labors are guaranteed to no one. They are not a birthright but a privilege that each generation must earn through sweat equity. Noble is a touchstone of change and innovation for agriculture. It was here that I was able to help build a better world for you both even though I may never fully witness the results of my efforts.
See, boys, here’s one of those life lessons from Grandpa: You never accomplish as much as you want and you may never see all the outcomes, but there is untold satisfaction in planting seeds with the knowledge that the future harvest will enrich the next generation.
So now it’s time for Grandpa to come home. I’m not done supporting agriculture, but I have a few more things I want to teach you.