Dillon Sparks, Class 19 OALP Participant, Shares Best Parts of His OALP ExperienceSun, 01 Mar 2020 13:26:54 CST
Dillon Sparks is a 4th generation family rancher from Hennepin, Okla., in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains, and a member of the Class 19 Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program.
Sparks, along with his fellow classmates, wrapped up their two-year program with a capstone trip to Chile in February. I accompanied the group and talked to Sparks near the end of the trip.
Sparks, who also completed the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association’s leadership program in 2014, said he wanted to participate in OALP because of the broad range of knowledge he would be exposed to.
“I am a lifelong learner,” Sparks said.
During the past two years Sparks said he was impressed by the innovation of Oklahomans to start a new agriculture related business.
“The common thread I saw among Oklahomans was the ability to develop an idea and design the engineering tools to make it work,” Sparks said.
He pointed to the Hydro area and how, in the middle of wheat country, farmers are raising things like cannas in order to be successful as an agricultural producer.
He was most impressed in how others have taken an idea and made it work- from the planning to the actual execution- which in many cases means having to be innovative in the tools that are needed to be a success.
One of the highlights for Sparks in Chile was the visit to one of the most prominent Angus breeders in South America, Ricardo Hevia.
Sparks had the chance to tell the Chilean Angus producer about his herd back home and listen to Hevia talk about how he has built his Angus operation over the decades. The picture here is of Dillon Sparks talking with Ricardo Hevia at his operation near Osorno in southern Chile.
For those considering applying for the next OALP class, Sparks said the best thing to consider is the strong relationship that will result from the program.
“This biggest impact to me is talking to someone out in the field, or late at night in the hotel lobby, discussing what we saw that day,” Sparks said. “This is more than just networking, which is something you do at a conference for a day. Establishing strong relationships that you can count on the rest of your life is important.”
You can listen to my complete interview by clicking on the button below.
You can see our pictures from our Chile travels in the OALP to Chile Album on Flickr- available here.
The international travel to Chile is the Capstone experience for the Class Nineteen Members of the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program, a two year program that was established in 1982- based on a public-private partnership of Oklahoma State University and groups and individuals invovlved in agriclture. Over 500 graduates of the program have made a difference in rural life and production agriclture locally and nationally,
To learn more about the program- and to find our how you or someone you know can apply to be a part of Class XX- click or tap here.
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