ARDMORE, Okla. — Noble Research Institute presented Robert Smith with the 2016 Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award during a special presentation yesterday at the organization's all employee meeting.
The Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award is given annually to one of the 1,500 farmers and ranchers who work with the Noble Research Institute's Agricultural Division. As part of its mission, the organization provides farmers, ranchers and other land managers - called cooperators - with no-cost consultation services and educational programs in an effort to help them achieve their financial, production, stewardship and quality-of-life goals.
"Robert is a small-scale progressive producer who uses all the information and resources available to make informed decisions," said Hugh Aljoe, producer relations manager. "We are proud of lasting relationship we have forged with Robert and the Smith family, and we are proud of all that he has accomplished."
Criteria for the Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award are based on accomplishments within the farmer or rancher's operation, their community service and their willingness to assist other producers.
Smith and his wife, Joyce, live in Noble, Oklahoma, and run a small cow-calf operation of 40 head on 200 acres. He utilizes prescribed fire and intensive grazing for brush control and land management, which also lessens his need to feed hay in the winter.
"It's an honor to receive this award," Smith said. "I'm pleased to see the progress I've made through the guidance of the Noble Research Institute. Patience is key, along with the Noble Research Institute's efforts, to building a successful operation. I sincerely appreciate the Foundation's commitment to helping producers and advancing agriculture."
Smith became a cooperator in 2004 and an Integrity Beef Alliance Program founding member in 2007.
"Every year has been profitable for him, except for one when he had to repair a tractor engine," Aljoe said. "Robert is proof that small-scale producers can have positive return to the operation when land and resources are well-managed."
Smith shares his knowledge and experience to his peers in the agriculture industry by hosting educational events for both the Noble Research Institute and local county extension. As a fireman by trade, he also contributes to the Noble Research Institute's prescribed fire programs.
Smith and his wife have three children, Steven, David and Mary Beth. He is a member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, Cleveland County Cattlemen's Association, McClain County Cattlemen's Association and Noble Assembly of God church. Smith is also a retired volunteer firefighter for Slaughterville, where he served for 30 years. He also served as an Oklahoma State University Firefighter School instructor for 10 years.
As winners of the Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award, Smith will receive a plaque and belt buckle; his wife, Joyce, will receive a bracelet. Their names will be placed on a permanent plaque that is displayed in the Agricultural Division Building lobby on the Noble Research Institute's Ardmore campus.