Ramsey’s Ripple Effect
Friday, December 17, 2021
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The influence agricultural education has on students, families and educators is similar to a domino effect. All it takes is one gentle flick toward the first domino and the cycle is in motion.
Jon Ramsey, Oklahoma State University agricultural education professor, has developed this domino-esque reaction throughout his time in agricultural education.
His steadfast commitment and inspirational career has earned him the USDA Southern Region Excellence in Teaching Award.
From a young age, Ramsey placed an importance on diversifying his agricultural experiences, he said.
“My family didn’t necessarily live on a farm,” he said. “But, we did have some acreage on the east side of Ponca City and ran a custom hay operation.”
As a youth, Ramsey also helped with wheat harvest and worked cattle for local farmers.
“It sounds like it makes sense if your family operation was doing these diverse experiences,” Ramsey said. “I was just fortunate to go to high school with guys who had these opportunities and got involved with them.”
When asked what inspired him to join the agricultural education field, Ramsey said his own high school agricultural educator, Jack Powers, impacted his decision.
“My high school agricultural teacher was really the motivation behind my desire to be a teacher.” Ramsey said. “I don’t know that I really saw him as a teacher. I saw him as this larger-than-life individual who was accepting of others.”
Upon graduation from Ponca City High School, Ramsey attended Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, Oklahoma and earned his associate’s degree.
However, OSU instructors like Wes Holley inspired him and his future teaching style, Ramsey said.
“Wes Holley was a very enthusiastic instructor,” he said. “He would physically jump from the floor onto the table to make a point, and I decided I really wanted to model that.”
Shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree from OSU, Ramsey received a phone call from Atoka High School in Atoka, Oklahoma, offering him a position as an agricultural instructor. He began his teaching career in 1988.
Ramsey taught for five years at Atoka before he accepted an offer from Cushing High School to join Alan Smith as one of two agricultural educators, he said.
The pair were not strangers because they attended OSU and studied agricultural education together, Smith said.
“We had a course where we were required to compete on a parliamentary procedure team,” Smith said. “Jon and I were on the same team, and I remember he always wore a cowboy hat.”
Although the soon-to-be teaching duo were familiar with each other, the OSU connection was not what made Ramsey a strong candidate for the Cushing teaching position. Rather, Ramsey’s ability to fit the needs of the program made him the best choice, Smith said.
“Jon got put into the stack of applications as someone with beef cattle experience and teaching experience,” Smith said. “He was checking boxes first-time teachers typically wouldn’t.”
The duo worked hard to include all aspects of the three-component agricultural education model-classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experiences and FFA, Smith added.
Highlights Ramsey and Smith experienced during Ramsey’s 14 years of teaching high school include being recognized as the outstanding agricultural education program in Oklahoma for the 2001 school year, winning the Oklahoma Panhandle State University sweepstakes contest, and developing Cushing FFA’s fishing derby.
While teaching, Ramsey simultaneously pursued his master’s degree in hopes of future opportunities for himself, Ramsey said.
Ramsey completed the master’s program and decided to pursue his doctorate in agricultural education at OSU while working for the university, he said.
When Ramsey’s older son, Jerod, was 17-years-old, Ramsey decided to pursue his doctoral degree in agricultural education.
“Graduate school was a lot of work and time,” Jerod Ramsey said, “but you’d never hear him complain about it. He takes everything as a challenge, never a burden.”
Jon Ramsey completed his doctoral coursework in five years and applied for the tenure-track agricultural education teaching position that opened the following year, he said.
He was hired as an assistant professor and was promoted to full professor in June 2021.
Currently, Jon Ramsey teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. He also serves as director of student teaching and as graduate programs coordinator for the department.
Chris Eck, Clemson University assistant professor and former OSU doctoral student, said he worked extensively with Ramsey during his time at OSU.
Together, Eck and Ramsey taught courses and conducted research. Ramsey also served on Eck’s graduate faculty committee.
“The first time I interacted with Dr. Ramsey was when he picked my wife and I up and took us to breakfast,” Eck said. “While I met with other faculty on campus, he took the time to tour my wife and me around Oklahoma. That just speaks to his character.”
Eck said this feeling of thoughtfulness did not end with their first interaction. Ramsey became a role model and mentor for many of his students, he added.
“He’s one of those faculty members who has an open-door policy,” Eck said. “No matter how busy things got, he really wanted to help and make sure you were prepared for your next steps.
“Something I’ve taken from Dr. Ramsey and implemented into my own teaching is making sure I show the value of what I’m teaching,” he added. “I’ve also implemented an open-door policy similar to Ramsey’s. I admired him for that and wanted to do the same for other students.”
Kim Ramsey said she believes her husband’s dedication to his students and agricultural education is rooted deeply within his values.
“He is a huge advocate that agricultural education can change someone’s life,” Kim Ramsey said. “He’s believed that in his soul since he was a high school student in agriculture.”
The USDA award recognizes teachers who have had a profound impact on their students and in their discipline – a recognition of which Ramsey is more than deserving, said Cynda Clary, associate dean for the Ferguson College of Agriculture.
“Dr. Ramsey’s passion for teaching shows in every interaction he has with his students,” Clary said. “He inspires future agricultural educators with his innovative teaching techniques and genuinely cares for each and every one of his students. I admire his dedication to teaching and the time and effort he invests in our students.”
Ramsey admits it has not really sunk in yet that he was selected to receive the USDA regional award.
“I’m honored that I was even considered worthy of being nominated,” he said. “There’s a lot of other folks who are just as worthy of the recognition.
“As professors, we do what we do because we want students to be successful and know what is needed for teachers to do this job,” Ramsey added. “We understand the job and the tools needed to teach, and we teach students these things because we know it’s important.
Story By: Devin Griffith | Cowboy Journal