Eastern Oklahoma State College’s stocker program benefits students, agriculture division

Representatives from The Reed Family Trust at The Community State Bank in Poteau, Oklahoma, and staff at Eastern Oklahoma State College and Shero Ranch representatives, both in Wilburton, Oklahoma, gathered on July 29 for the fourth year to present a donation check to the university to benefit the agriculture department.

These three organizations have a unique relationship that is brought together through the ranch operations degree program at EOSC and specifically the ranch/stocker management class.

Chris Hall, ranch/stocker management instructor, said Bob Reed, The Community State Bank chairman, purchases stocker cattle for the ranch/stocker management class each year and the students maintain those cattle for five months, along with help from Shero Ranch, a large stocker operation nearby. Through the process, the students gain first-hand knowledge of what it takes to purchase, feed and sell stocker cattle.

“They are learning from a purchasing and marketing aspect and, within that, how to contract and protect investments,” Hall said. “All of the cattle the students buy will be forward contracted, so the risk management aspect of it all will be a big part of what they’re learning. It’s a feed-based stocker operation because we don’t have much wheat in this part of Oklahoma, so the students learn about understanding and developing rations. Additionally, they’ll gain an understanding of health protocols and marketing of cattle.”

Once the cattle are sold at the end of the five months, Reed donates the profits from the sale back to EOSC’s agriculture division. Hall said the funds primarily go toward scholarship funding for agriculture students. This year’s stocker program consisted of 153 head of cattle and the profit presented back to the college was $13,522.

“This is pretty unique in that a lot of places have ranch management degrees, or something along those lines, but to my knowledge, no one has a program set up for students to actually be able to purchase cattle, have those cattle on college property and utilize the profits from it,” Hall explained.

According to Hall, the previous class that purchased cattle and managed the livestock for the program was a group of 11 students. He said the unique part of the program is that students get to go through the process from start to finish.

“It’s not just watching someone else and then just being thrown out into it and being told good luck, sink or swim,” Hall said. “They are learning the money, understanding the banking aspects, understanding the risks and how to make it financially viable. This program gives them a huge advantage and the donations have been paramount to increase student enrollment, scholarships and we couldn’t a lot without this program and the ability to generate that extra income.”

For more information on the EOSC’s ranch operations degrees, visit www.eosc.edu/academics/explore-program-majors/agriculture.

Lacey Newlin can be reached at 620-227-1871 or [email protected].