AFR board member receives public service to agriculture award

Randy Gilbert’s 6-foot-3 inch frame is not the only thing that makes him stand above the crowd. The Tecumseh, Oklahoma, farmer, businessman, agricultural leader and philanthropist is the latest great Oklahoman to receive the Governor’s Excellence in Agriculture for Outstanding Public Service in Agriculture Award.

“Receiving this award is humbling,” Gilbert said. “There are certainly more deserving Oklahomans. As you go through time and remember people who have helped you, hopefully some of the activities I have been involved in have made a difference.”

The nomination for the governor’s award reads in part, “Randy has devoted his life to advocating for the agricultural industry, the success and development of agricultural youth, agricultural educators and agricultural student organizations. The passion Randy possesses is unmeasurable. He spends countless hours each month to promote the values of agriculture, rural life and ethical treatment of animals.”

Growing up in the Tecumseh area in the early 1970s, Randy’s parents encouraged him to be active and participate in many of the local sports and livestock activities.

“As you grow up and look back, there were really a lot of good people who helped us along the way,” Gilbert said.

Early in his career Gilbert served as an agricultural education/FFA instructor in Lawton. Some of his students were only a few years younger.

“I have stayed in contact with many of them and worked with them and now their children through the FFA and other programs,” Gilbert said. “It has certainly been very rewarding for me and you really are supposed to give a little back. It has definitely made a difference in my life. The thought of giving time and resources to an industry that does so much for our state and nation is exciting and rewarding for me,” Randy said.

He left the teaching field in 1988 when his mother and father asked him to take over the family’s trucking business. Over the years, Randy and his wife Suzanne have branched out and today their business includes an AFR Insurance agency, tag agency, industrial park, registered and commercial cattle herds and a wedding and events center. All the businesses are in the Tecumseh area.

To get an idea of Gilbert’s commitment to serve his community and Oklahoma in general, here is an exhaustive list of boards he serves on: AFR and AFR Insurance board, the Arvest Bank board, Oklahoma Youth Expo, State Board of Career and Technology Education, chairman of the Oklahoma FFA Foundation, president of the Southwest American Livestock Foundation and has been chairman both of the Shawnee and Tecumseh Chamber of Commerce.

For the past 25 years Gilbert has worked with the International Finals Youth rodeo in Shawnee, the largest and richest high school rodeo in the nation. He has been chairman of the Civic and Cultural Development Authority that governs the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee which is also the governing body for the International Finals Youth rodeo.

Gilbert has also served as chairman of the Pottawatomie County Free Fair board and the Pottawatomie County Junior Livestock Show committee for the past 30 years.

The Gilberts have two daughters, Annie Jo and Dustie, son-in-law Jordan and three grandchildren.