By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Tim Vanover got a job teaching vocational agriculture in Waukomis in 1974, and didn’t leave until he retired last spring.
Vanover was one of only six people nationwide who received the National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Service Citation at the recent NAAE convention in Atlanta.
Vanover has been a resource for the agricultural education community, and seven of his former students have become agriculture teachers. He shares his teaching experience with young teachers in the state through in-service training and first-year teacher meetings, according to his citation.
Vanover was raised on a farm near Vinita in northeast Oklahoma. He did his student teaching in Medford and heard about the Waukomis job. He applied, was interviewed and offered the job.
“And I never got back home,” he said.
He became interested in teaching agriculture when taking it in school. Vanover said his agriculture teacher was good, and he became interested and decided that was what he wanted to do as a career. He is proud of his students, especially the more than 60 who received State FFA degrees and four who received the American Farmer FFA degrees.
“There’s a lot of dedication and record-keeping to do with those. It takes a degree of excellence and time,” Vanover said.
His program received awards at the district, state and national levels, including National Gold Emblem, National Silver Emblem and National Bronze Emblem Chapter designation. He encouraged his students to volunteer and spent his own time working with Our Daily Bread, Wheatheart Senior Nutrition Center and Waukomis Baptist Church food drive.
Statewide, he has been active professionally, working to improve agricultural education in the state. He co-authored the Oklahoma Subject Area Natural Resources Test and an article for New Horizon magazine. He was featured on an OETA program. He is a member of Oklahoma Agricultural Teachers Association, National Association of Agricultural Educators, Oklahoma Association for Career and Technology Education and Association of Technical Education.
Vanover said there are fewer agriculture teachers now in Oklahoma than when he started teaching. Many schools have consolidated or combined their agriculture programs, and some smaller schools have lost their agriculture chapters. Braman and Wakita are two nearby examples. He said smaller communities do not have the population or the money to support a school and agriculture program.
Vanover said agriculture classes are some of the most important classes students can take in school. He said there are many different areas involved in the field, including environmental study, leadership and public speaking, in addition to production agriculture.
“It’s like they are going to treat you so many different ways, you’re bound to like one of them,” he said.
Agriculture classes help students prepare for life, he said, and most of the student find a niche and are successful. They excel because of the life preparation they receive in agriculture.
“It’s a shame every school in Oklahoma doesn’t have FFA,” he said.
There is a vast amount of technology involved in agriculture production, he said.
“Agriculture is what feeds the country. You must have people with a working knowledge of agriculture. It may not need to be people who know the producing — but the agribusiness field — and they still need agriscientists to find ways to feed more people with fewer people doing it,” Vanover said.
Vanover and his wife, who also retired this year, traveled extensively during the summer, putting more than 7,000 miles on their car. He injured his shoulder working in his yard, and after shoulder repair surgery has not been active.
“With this shoulder surgery I haven’t been able to do a blessed thing,” Vanover said.
But, they plan to continue their travels once he recovers.
“We did a lot of sightseeing and driving, and we intend to do more. I tore a shoulder muscle working in the yard, and now I’m laid up,” he said.