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Extending an Ag-Hand


Texas Ag Teachers help local 4H and FFA youth impacted by recent storms


By Kaylan Watkins W


hen the recent tornadoes hit different areas across the state of Oklahoma,


the immediate


response from a significant number of people throughout the nation was, “What can we do to help?”


For Buddy Smith and Charles Wellman, two long-time Ag teachers from Magnolia, Texas, this question quickly led to action. They knew exactly the type of group they wanted to help, they just didn’t know how to get a hold of them. They needed an Ag connection.


As Ag teachers, Smith and Wellman wanted to reach out to youth involved in agriculture.


“We saw the pictures on TV and thought about the Ag kids and what they would need,” Wellman said. “They already had tons of clothes and water, and we realized they needed something besides that.” Oklahoma Rep. Jerry McPeak was the


fi rst person that Wellman contacted after this realization in the hopes that McPeak could help direct the relief efforts to local groups.


“I’ve known Mr. McPeak for a long time; my sons went through his ‘Be A Champ


Cattle Camp’ event,” Wellman said. “Without him, we couldn’t have done what we did because he’s the one who fi gured out what they needed.” McPeak has been serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for nine years as District 13 state representative. Prior to that, he was a livestock judging coach at Connors State College in Warner, Okla., for 28 years. “He has an entire lifetime worth of working with youth and agriculture,” Janice Stotts, McPeak’s legislative assistant, said.


This long-standing connection to the agricultural world enabled McPeak to make a recommendation to Wellman and Smith about where to direct relief efforts.


When the group from Magnolia made the trip to Oklahoma in June, their destination was Pecan Valley Junction in Newalla. A majority of general supplies, such as food, water, baby diapers, strollers and more were left there for the locals to use. In addition, Wellman and Smith were put in contact with Preston Jenkins, an Ag teacher from Carney High School in Carney, Okla. Jenkins took assorted fencing supplies, feed buckets, and work gloves back to Carney. “These supplies will be used for the students in the 4H and Future Farmers of America who need pens for animals,” Jenkins said. “We’ll be building them for the homes that were destroyed.”


According to McPeak, Wellman had voiced concerns about the people in


Ag groups from Magnolia, Texas, sought to provide relief to rural families affected by recent storms. Courtesy photos


rural areas receiving the type of relief that would allow them to return to their daily lives as quickly as possible.


“His thoughts were that most people think about the victims in the cities fi rst,” McPeak said. “He knew that rural people were losing not only their homes, but also the things that they use to provide a living, their wellbeing, how they go about their daily lives.” When a storm this devastating blows through, it leaves the people affected by it reeling in the aftermath.


“Some of these students are living in temporary housing and a lot of them had their animals killed in the storm,” Jenkins said, his voice cracking, full of emotion. Even with the memory of the destruction so close to everyone’s hearts and minds, there are countless people willing to help tornado vic- tims take that fi rst step forward. “I’m sure this means a lot to the students, but it’s so hard to put it into words,” Jenkins said. “Words just cannot describe the outpouring of help we’ve received.” For the people benefi tting from Wellman and Smith’s efforts, there is the immediate relief of having supplies to use for the students and people in the community.


“Mr. Wellman put a face to the people he could relate to specifi cally and chose to help them. He knows what it’s like in their lives, and he made a move to make a difference,” McPeak said.


The motivating factor for the teachers was seeing a need and knowing it needed to be fi lled.


“It’s just helping someone else; it’s the right thing to do,” Wellman said. “Mr. Smith and I talked it over and we knew we needed to help people up there.”


McPeak knows that stepping in to help out is just what neighbors do. “The community of Carney appreciates all of the help, prayers, and everything that people have given us,” Jenkins said. “We are very humbled and so appreciative.”





“It’s just helping someone else; it’s the right thing to do.”


JULY 2013


TIPS


- Charles Wellman, Texas agriculture teacher ”


29


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