Ardmore Rancher Receives 2014 Leonard Wyatt AwardFri, 31 Oct 2014 10:31:51 CDT
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation presented Kent Donica with the 2014 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 1,400 farmers and ranchers who work with the Noble Foundation'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.
"Kent has built a financially successful stocker operation through hard work and staying informed about applicable research," said Steve Swigert, agricultural economics consultant. "He has developed a niche for himself through the handling of high-risk, light-weight stockers."
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, said Billy Cook, senior vice president and director of the Agricultural Division.
Donica and his wife, Gayle, live in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and own Donica Livestock, a commercial stocker operation with more than 1,000 head of cattle on 495 acres of owned property and 500 acres of leased land. Donica also manages stocker cattle for a large ranch in southern Oklahoma.
"I have learned a tremendous amount from the Noble Foundation's agricultural consultants," Donica said. "It has drastically improved my operation. I always knew I wanted to run cattle, but you also have to be a businessman and have critical thinking skills. If I didn't have the consultants to guide me, I would have done everything by trial and error, not knowing fully what to do."
In the early 1990s, Donica started a livestock operation working part-time, buying calves and raising them to sell. He became a cooperator in 1993 with 40 acres of pasture and 50 calves. In 1999, with the co-sponsorship of the Noble Foundation, Donica received a Kerr Foundation grant for demonstrating the use of controlled burning in combination with goals for reclaiming brush/timber without mechanical clearing of brush and timber.
"What's great about the Noble Foundation is they never tell you what to do," Donica said. "You set your goals, and they provide practical advice to reach those goals based on the resources available. The consultants are that knowledgeable friend you call to bounce ideas off of and help decide what will work or not. Of course, not all ideas worked, but they would help me figure out why it didn't and find ways to make it work. They never left me to figure things out on my own."
Donica extends his knowledge and experience to not only his peers in the agriculture industry, but to those across the globe. In 2011, he began helping an agricultural project in Uganda that provides food for about 3,000 orphans at Watoto Childcare Ministries. Donica has provided technical assistance for the project as well as traveled to Uganda to help build infrastructure.
"Having started from scratch has allowed me to help build the Uganda agriculture program from the ground up without any hesitation," he said. "Of course, just like with my personal program, I know I could call or email the Noble Foundation consultants from Uganda to get their opinion on the feasibility of a plan."
Donica is also a member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, Carter County Cattlemen's Association and Oklahoma State University Ag Alumni Association. Donica is a strong advocate for the agriculture industry and the Noble Foundation.
He has shared his knowledge and experience through a variety of venues, including speaking at Noble Foundation seminars. He has also hosted tours at his operation for groups such as the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program, Oklahoma Forage and Grassland Council, and the Heritage Foundation.
Donica, his wife and four children are active members in the community, participating in the local 4-H program and the First United Methodist Church. He is active on numerous committees within the church, has served on several mission trips to Central America and has taught children's Sunday school for more than 10 years. Donica has served as the Dickson School Board president for 16 years, seeing the school through many improvements and significant growth.
As winners of the Leonard Wyatt Memorial Outstanding Cooperator Award, Donica will receive a plaque and belt buckle; his wife, Gayle, 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 Foundation's Ardmore campus.
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