2019 Commerce Magazine Book_Cmmrc_PROOF1 - Page 23

AGRICULTURE AWARDS AGRICULTURE AWARDS Next Generation of Agriculturalists Farm Family of the Year GK & Stephanie Rossander Jim and Barbara Kirby A A s agriculture continues to change year by year, new generations also thankful for OSU being a successful agriculture school that of agriculturalists must develop new ways of handling problems. helps others pursue that same profession. GK and Stephanie Rossander represent the younger generation that has decided to continu e in the agriculture industry despite its challenges. GK, who came from a family of farmers, has bought much of the land he owns today from his family. “We have purchased three plots from family members,” GK said. “One piece has been owned by the family for 75 years and the other for 103 years.” Stephanie did not grow up in an agricultural environment but gradu- 44 ated from Oklahoma State University with a double major in fi nance and accounting. She now works for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education in Stillwater and is incredibly involved in the farm business. She attends livestock sales and always picks high sellers. GK says she has a natural eye for quality. GK and Stephanie both balance careers, family, cattle, a hay busi- ness and reselling of farm equipment. They serve as a great example for young farmers who are starting out. Agriculture has changed than in the past. “We have to know how to use our minds and technology instead of our hands,” GK said. “We must identify diff erent ways of doing things more effi ciently to increase productivity and quality.” The ag industry requires someone with special characteristics who is able to adapt to constant changes. Market conditions can have a direct impact on the business and the owner must be able to make wise purchasing decisions. GK said. GK and Stephanie are not sure yet if any of their three young chil- dren will take over the farm when the time comes, but they aren’t very worried. As much as they would love the farm to stay in the family, they would understand if it was not what they choose. “All I want for my kids is that they do something that they are pas- sionate about and that they love what they do,” GK said. GK is incredibly close to his grandfather, George Moore, and credits him for teaching him about how to be successful in the agriculture industry. “My biggest accomplishment is making my Granddad proud,” GK said. “I have purchased land and carried on a family business, and there are not many individuals my age willing to put in the sacri- fi ces it takes to be in the ag industry.” Although the ag industry comes with hard times, it also comes with the reward of seeing the hard-earned fi nished product. GK and Stephanie are optimistic about the future of agriculture and will his future wife, Barbara. Married a year later, the couple chose to live a life dedicated to agriculture and each other. Jim and Barbara both grew up on farms in Oklahoma but throughout their lives have had the opportunity to experience it in diff erent states and a diff erent country. The Kirbys have worked throughout their lives in plant breeding, livestock, crop planting, research, and educating and interacting with students. Jim graduated in the last class of Oklahoma A&M with a degree in agronomy and soon went into the Air Force for three years. After being stationed in Texas, Jim was called to go on an isolated tour in 1961. The fi rst of their four daughters was just over a year old, and their second was on the way. He returned after a year, and the family moved to allow Jim to earn his doctorate at Iowa State University. After their time in Iowa, Jim took his fi rst job in Indiana for four years before moving back to work at Oklahoma State University. Barbara started a job at OSU in education evaluating applications for teachers and sending them to the state department, and Jim worked in agronomy department working on plant breeding and They currently own a little more than 108 acres of land and live on the same farm on which Jim grew up, where they acquired their fi rst 83 acres. They looked for other places to purchase, but nothing felt right but Jim’s parents’ farm. It doesn’t just take manual labor and time to make a farmer and his or her farm successful. genetics while also teaching a few classes. Jim worked on several dif- “They need to be inquisitive,” Jim said. “They have to do a lot of thinking, maneuvering and trying new things.” ferent crops including peanuts, cowpeas and soy beans. He and his continue to encourage others to join them in being agriculturalists colleagues were awarded the National Peanut Research of the Year The Kirbys love the life they live but are the fi rst to say that farm life of a new generation. Award for varieties they had developed. is not an easy life. There is always something to do, and there is little BY K A MIK A R AL STIN During the Kirbys’ 30-year involvement at OSU, they took a two-year leave to perform research in Morocco. The research project was led by the University of Nebraska and involved fi ve universities including OSU. While Jim was working on chickpeas, Barbara was working on time to get away. There is also new technology in farming that Jim and Barbara are not very familiar with that has made farming easier but also more expensive. They also noted the inconsistency in Okla- homa’s rainfall and temperature and its eff ect on farmers. records, keeping the research organized and up to date. Their three- “There’s still no place I’d rather be,” Jim said. year plan was cut short when they were contacted by the Dean of Every day is diff erent on the farm, and each season requires a dif- “It takes common sense and business acumen to be successful in the Agriculture at OSU about the dire need for professors at OSU. The ag industry,” GK said. “It takes someone who can evaluate the return Kirbys then returned to Perkins, where they continue to farm today. on their farm. They cherish their land, 60 cattle, 20 Southdown ewes “There used to be a lot of farming of wheat and oats,” Jim said. “Agri- and the community. After living in diff erent states and out of the on products and services.” The Rossanders are thankful to live near Stillwater because of the support of the community. It is a community that realizes the impor- tance of agriculture and the weight it can be on families. They are ferent set of responsibilities. The Kirbys, however, have made a home culture has moved more to livestock and the support of livestock.” country, the Kirbys have loved nothing more than being a part of the Although they have been retired for 19 years, Barbara still doesn’t agriculture community of Oklahoma. consider them retired because of their work with cattle and sheep. 45 BY K A MIK A R AL STIN drastically with time, and many things must be done diff erently “Stillwater benefi ts from having a college that leads in agriculture,” t a Valentine’s dance at Oklahoma A&M in 1957, Jim Kirby met