Four Oklahoma Farm Bureau families from across the state have been named District Farm Family of the Year and are nominated for the state Farm Family of the Year award.
The Farm Family program, sponsored by the OKFB Women’s Leadership Committee, recognizes farm and ranch families who embody the best traditions of Oklahoma agriculture and rural life.
Each family will represent their district at the organization’s state convention held Nov. 13-15 in Oklahoma City, where the OKFB state Farm Family of the Year will be named during the awards session Friday, Nov. 13. The winner will receive a plaque and an expense-paid trip to the 2015 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida.
District Two – The Muller Family
Matt and Kellie Muller of Altus, along with their children Taylor, Levi, Luke and Lincoln, grow cotton, wheat, grain sorghum, mungbeans, canola, hay and more on their southwestern Oklahoma farm. The Mullers’ diversified farm has included soybeans and peanuts in the past, changing to meet growing conditions and the agricultural economy.
“My dad liked trying different crops and instilled that passion for agronomy in me,” Matt Muller said. “I like the challenge of it. I like the soil health benefits of rotating the different crops and trying new crops.”
Faith and family are important to the Mullers, whose children raise meat goats and stocker cattle. They work side-by-side in the fields tending to crops and livestock. The family also loves to share their passion for agriculture by inviting community and school groups to their farm to see first-hand how crops are grown.
“We have actually gone to schools and invited kids to come out, just so we can educate them on what we do and why we do it,” Kellie Muller said. “They can get some hands-on education and see where their food and fiber comes from.”
The family has implemented many innovations on their farm to keep the land productive and to increase efficiency. No-till farming, subsurface drip irrigation, variable-rate fertilizer application and the use of cover crops have all helped make the Mullers’ farm as productive as possible while helping ensure sustainability.
“There are things we need to do to help protect the environment and to help conserve just because it’s the right thing,” Matt Muller said.
District Six – The Leonard Family
Greg and Mary Leonard, along with their children, Kody and Katy, grow wheat, corn and soybeans in a three-crop rotation on the family’s northeastern Oklahoma farm. The family’s cattle operation consists of cow-calf pairs on native grass pasture. They also own and operate a seed business on the farm, selling corn and soybean seed to farmers in their area.
“With double-cropping, we’re always harvesting and planting at the same time, then when you throw in 15 to 20 other farmers that you’re providing seed for, there’s a lot of mornings in June when Mary and Katy are out delivering seed and Kody and I are trying to take care of our own farm,” Greg Leonard said.
The Leonards use advanced technology to increase efficiency in their farming practices. Using GPS and precision agriculture, the family uses strip-tillage to precisely place nutrients where they are most useful to crops. Grid sampling of soil and variable-rate fertilizer application allows the family to efficiently apply nutrients to maximize yields and efficiency.
“With autosteer, we can come back and plant right over the same rows we fertilize,” Greg Leonard said. “We’re putting out nitrogen with eight rows, and we can come back six months later and plant with sixteen rows and each pass be within a half inch.”
The Leonard family is heavily involved in their local community, as Mary teaches in nearby Vinita and both Kody and Katy have participated in 4-H and FFA. Their supervised agricultural experience projects helped them start their own farming operations. Kody is applying his love for farming at Oklahoma State University as he studies plant and soil science.
“I grew up with farming,” Mary Leonard said. “So it was something logical for me to pass it on to my kids and for us to do it together.”
District Eight – The Temple Family
Raymond and Mary Temple raise cattle on their Garvin County farm, with a focus on their cow-calf operation consisting of 750 head of mother cows. The family also raises stocker cattle on wheat pasture during winter months.
A major focus for the family has been improving the land, making it more productive and allowing them to raise more cattle. Their dream of leaving the land better than when they started their farm has come true through years of controlling brush, building ponds, planting improved grasses and implementing other soil-improving conservation efforts
“There’s so many ways that we try to improve these cattle every year, just utilizing the kind of forage that we have,” Raymond Temple said. “It really gives me great satisfaction to see what we’ve accomplished over the years.”
The Temples work alongside their daughter, Mary Lee, and their grandchildren, making the farm a multi-generational operation. Together, the couple has instilled in their family the values of hard work and taking pride in the farm and their animals.
“When the consumer goes to the store, they want to buy the best product that they can get,” Mary Temple said. “That’s what we do out here on the farm: we try to get the best tasting animal we can.”
The family has played an instrumental role in their area of rural Garvin County, helping establish their local water district, which helped provide a reliable source of quality water for their area. The couple has been involved in the Elmore City school board, and they both have served Farm Bureau in a number of capacities for more than 50 years.
“I’ve been a Farm Bureau member all of my life,” Raymond Temple said. “I feel like over the years that I live Farm Bureau.”
District Nine – The Jobes Family
Raleigh and Betty Jo Jobes own and operate Cliff Springs Ranch, located north of Stillwater. Focusing on quality genetics, the couple raises registered Angus cattle in a partnership with their son and grandson. Artificial insemination and genetic testing have allowed the family to quickly improve their herd, with the ultimate goal of providing top-quality beef to consumers.
“To me, being in agriculture is almost a privilege,” Raleigh Jobes said. “It’s exciting to see what you can do with the animals in trying to building a life – building an animal – that is good.”
Raleigh and Betty Jo both grew up on farms, and they have dedicated their lives to helping others learn and grow in agriculture. Raleigh holds a doctorate in agricultural economics and worked at Southern Illinois University, Clemson University and Oklahoma State University. He served on the OSU agricultural economics faculty for 20 years, and played a key role in developing the National FFA Organization’s farm business management career development event.
Beyond the time in the classroom, the Jobeses enjoy sparking an interest in agriculture in the hearts of local students. The couple has helped area youth get started in showing cattle, teaching them valuable life lessons along the way.
“I’ve started a program where we’ll give a heifer to at least one young person a year,” Raleigh Jobes said. “To me, that is the whole reason for being on the farm: to see what comes out of those cows and those calves, and seeing the young people with them. There’s times it can almost give me goose bumps to see those young kids with those calves.”