FFA, Grow Like That! Keith Kisling, Past FFA Member, Vo-Ag Teacher and FFA DadMon, 29 Apr 2013 09:17:09 CDT
The theme of the 2013 Oklahoma FFA Convention to be held April 30th through May 1, 2013 is "FFA, Grow Like That!" There are thousands of former FFA members that serve as role models for current and future FFA students- and the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and OklahomaFarmReport.Com are pleased to be working with the Oklahoma FFA Association to spotlight some of the tremendously successful men and women who wore the Blue and Gold Jacket of the FFA during their high school days- and have used that experience as a springboard to success in later life.
During April and May, the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network is producing a series of radio announcements spotlighting a half dozen of these high achievers. These announcements, sponsored by SandRidge Energy, will be heard on radio stations statewide and will also be available to listen to on our Radio Oklahoma Ag Network YouTube channel. The content from each announcement comes from an in depth interview that Farm Director Ron Hays has conducted with each of the highlighted achievers.
Our latest spotlight shines on Keith Kisling. He is a farmer from Burlington, Oklahoma, and vice president of the Oklahoma FFA Foundation. He said he didn't have to think very hard about becoming an FFA member years ago.
"Well, at Burlington, we were a small, Class B, school. If you weren't in FFA and sports, you just weren't in the mix. Of course, I liked sports, but in FFA I learned to make decisions that I see back now was so important to me, especially the livestock judging contests that we went to where you had to make a decision in 12 minutes and explain why you made that decision.
"And, growing up, I just pretty well did what the folks told me to do. I did what dad told me to do. A lot of times I didn't think on my feet. And, boy, I look back on that now and that was so instrumental in being on boards, just growing up in general. So, I try and portray that to the kids."
Like so many others, Kisling said the most important think about his FFA experience was the people. In his case, there was one in particular whom he could look up to.
"Well, my ag teacher, to start with. L.E. Castle, I thought at the time, was one of the best ag teachers in the state. And he waited around and, I think, he was 21 years in teaching in ag, and he waited around an extra year so that he could help me get that job at Burlington so as soon as I graduated from Oklahoma State, I jumped right into the mix at Burlington and I was the ag teacher there for a while. So he had an awful lot to do with my growing up early and having somebody to look up to besides my parents, and a role model for me."
Kisling's experience with the FFA didn't end when he took off the blue jacket for the last time. In a way, it was just beginning. As his own children came along, they joined FFA and excelled.
"Brent was state secretary. Then he was state president of the Oklahoma FFA. Chad was president of our local chapter. And then Kim, she won, I think, nine state speaking contests. A lot of people don't even know I had a daughter and she was very successful in speech contests and showing livestock.
"Chad came back to the farm about a year ago, so he's going to be the next generation of Kisling Farms."
He said there are so many things to be thankful for when it comes to what FFA has done for his children.
"They've all got good jobs. They've all got good families. I think probably the biggest thing is their work ethics. My kids had to get up every day and go do chores, brush their steers, feed their steers, help on the farm, in the field, Kim making meals for everybody on the farm and it really made a difference in the work ethics that they have now as they're older and they have their own families."
Looking back on it, Kisling says, wearing that blue jacket means more to him than he could have imagined.
"I was proud to wear that jacket. Even back then we had to zip it up and be careful of what we did. And I used to tell Brent when he was wanting to run for state president, 'You make one mistake that people see and they never forget it. You've got to make a lot of good things happen for them to remember you. But you make one bad move and people remember the bad things you do.' So, our kids were pretty good growing up. We didn't have a lot of trouble."
As the vice president for the FFA Foundation today, Kisling said he doesn't have much trouble raising funds for the organization.
"You could just about ask anybody and they want to have a piece of the action and give back to the FFA what they got as they were growing up. They see what they're kids have done, more than anything. And, right now, the farming sector in Oklahoma is flourishing pretty good. There's a little money out there and they'd rather give it to the FFA Foundation than they would a lot of things that doesn't really amount to that much. So, it's been pretty easy to get them to help."
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear Ron Hays's conversation with Keith Kisling.
Click here for our YouTube of five radio spots featuring Monica Wilke and others on how FFA has been a positive influence in their lives.
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