Crystal Shipman of Eagletown, Okla., Recognized as a Significant Woman in Oklahoma AgricultureFri, 08 Jun 2018 11:06:16 CDT
As part of a continuing series of stories on Significant Women in Oklahoma Agriculture, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry and Oklahoma State University are recognizing and honoring the impact of countless women across all 77 counties of the state, from all aspects and areas of the agricultural industry. The honorees were nominated by their peers and selected by a committee of 14 industry professionals. Crystal Shipman of Eagletown, Okla., is featured this week as a Significant Woman in Oklahoma Agriculture.
It has been said just as one tiny droplet can create ripples that spread throughout an entire pond, the actions of one individual can have far-reaching effects.
Crystal Shipman hopes to create a ripple effect with the positive message she shares about agriculture and those she comes in contact with.
“I know one person can’t reach everyone,” Shipman said, “But I can teach my students to have intelligent conversations with others, and I believe that can make a difference someday.”
For the last three years, Shipman has taught agriculture and agronomy courses at Eastern Oklahoma State College (EOSC) in Wilburton, Okla. In addition to her role as a professor, she has also served as the coach of the soils judging team and co-sponsor of the college’s agricultural leadership and advocacy group.
Shipman believes that while the agricultural industry has made great strides in technology, efficiency, and conservation practices, there are still several misunderstandings on a daily basis when it comes to agriculture and the public.
“I believe some of the most common misconceptions about agriculture actually come from some of our successes,” Shipman said. “For example, the public may be skeptical of how quickly something can grow, and in actuality, our advancements in genetics, feed efficiency and environmental controls are responsible.”
Whether it is food labels following marketing trends or misinformation about farming practices and techniques, Shipman feels education is the best way to combat those misconceptions.
“The incorporation of genetically engineered crops, such as Roundup-ready varieties, have actually helped to minimize pesticide usage, even though the public’s perception is that we’ve increased pesticide use,” Shipman said.
She explained that many consumers turn to a quick internet search, which does not always reveal accurate information, instead of reaching out to the industry.
Though she recognizes that by herself she has limited influence, she believes engaging in educated conversations with others who can carry that information and message on will have a far greater impact.
“We as agriculturalists must fill the knowledge gap,” Shipman said. “The industry has been working for years to minimize nutrient loss and erosion by implementing practices like soil testing, crop rotation, conservation tillage, cover cropping and rotational grazing.”
Shipman believes soil is one of agriculture’s most valuable resources and that farmers, ranchers and their families understand the importance of protecting that resource. She said the agriculture industry continues to minimize the impact they have on the environment.
“One of the main objectives I’ve had with my career is to ensure that my students are not only knowledgeable about the subject matter, but are also prepared to inform others,” Shipman said.
Shipman strives to equip her students for times when they encounter people with questions and misgivings about the agricultural industry, and hopes they will be able to enlighten them with amiable conversations.
Prior to being a professor at EOSC, Shipman was the Agricultural Education instructor at Smithville High School for five years.
“I always knew I wanted to have a career in agriculture but I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do,” Shipman said. “It has kind of evolved over the years.”
Having been active in 4-H and FFA, and growing up on her family’s small farm, Shipman is no stranger to the industry.
She and her three sisters, two older and one younger, were all involved with their family farm. Shipman showed hogs and sheep from the time she was 9-years-old, though admittedly, she preferred the hogs for their personalities.
“Hogs are very intelligent,” Shipman said. “They are almost like having dogs, so they are pretty easy to get attached to.”
Growing up, the county fair was her favorite, because of family-like atmosphere.
She was also active in judging contests. In fact, her high school ag teacher convinced her to try out land judging through FFA which sparked her interest in agronomy.
“She is one of the top three brightest students I’ve taught out of thousands over the last 25 years,” said Lance Reavis, Shipman’s high school ag teacher. “She’s also one of my all-time favorites.”
After graduating from Eagletown High School, Shipman attended EOSC where she was on the soil judging team, which has a history of success at the national level with six national championships in the last 15 years. The seed planted by her high school ag teacher eventually resulted in her becoming the EOSC coach herself.
“She’s self-motivated, hard-working, and competitive by nature,” Reavis said. “Those are the kind that succeed in life.”
It is no surprise that she also majored in plant and soil science while at EOSC, and later went on to complete her degree at Oklahoma State University.
After an eight-year teaching career in high school and college, Shipman is beginning a new chapter. She recently accepted the OSU Extension Educator position in LeFlore County.
Reavis said he has no doubt that Shipman’s teaching career has had a great impact on her students, and believes she will be just as impactful in her new role as extension educator.
“I’m excited to start,” Shipman said. “There’s nothing like the excitement of the little ones.”
She will now have the opportunity to work with numerous 4-Hers in her county on their projects and hopes some of them may also develop an interest in agronomy and horticulture.
“It’s not as prevalent,” Shipman said, “I’m hoping to bring more of a spotlight to plant and soil sciences.”
When she isn’t advocating for the agricultural industry, Shipman is helping her husband of nearly 10 years, Bobby, with his family’s commercial cattle operation. Though their son Jasper is only 5 years old and not yet old enough to enroll in 4-H, Shipman said he’s already developed a love for agriculture, specifically horses.
“It is so important to educate our younger generations,” Shipman said, “They are the ones who will be fighting the battle in the future.”
Whether in her classroom or now in her role as an extension educator, Shipman is helping to create many more advocates for agriculture, and there is no way to determine just how far those ripples will spread.
Source - Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry
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