Friday, January 9, 2009

From Ham Radio to Teaching to Farming

I always wondered why I got into ham radio as a kid. I had dipoles strung across the farm, a homebuilt transmitter and receiver for Morse Code.

It was intriguing to me and let me communicate with people around the world from all walks of life. I wanted to go to electronics school but that wasn't a formal university setting so let's say I was highly discouraged from doing that. I entered Ohio State in June 1968 because I didn't get my application in on time. "We will take you summer quarter or winter quarter but fall quarter is full."

Doing research with punch cards wasn't my cup of tea so at the end of my sixth quarter my parents get a letter basically saying we love taking your money but your son lacks .02 accumulative grades to continue here. The Viet Nam war was raging and many classmates joined the services, dropped out or flunked out and served there. Dad took me aside and said you better declare a major in agriculture where you know something. I had taken every requirement required to graduate except my major. I walked across the Olentangy on the coldest day from you know where and declared my major. I never got less than a B after that.

I had really always wanted to farm or be a scientist when I was little and the ham radio bit seemed like a good launch into a career as a teenager. It didn't turn out that way. Ag teachers were badly needed during the war and that seemed like a good inbetween. I was offered a job teaching agriculture doing student teaching "on the job." I would get paid a salary, $5,000 paid monthly while completing student teaching by actually teaching!

I was hired in August and one of my first chores was cultivating the school farm soybean fields. They had been let go and it was too late to cultivate but they were weedy so I cultivated. That was a far cry from what I would soon be doing, notilling the whole farm. When school started I tried to teach 4 classes in the morning and then watched Al Cramton teach at neighboring Lynchburg Clay. I planned and I tried and I planned and tried some more.

By November I was ready to quit. One day the largest class was totally out of control and I mean it was pure chaos. Class full of hoods to farm boys. Finally one got so fed up he stood up and pulled a switch blade out and snapped it open. I gulped. He said Winkle, you wanna die? I feebally said No, Curt I was hired to try and help you boys. If I could get order here I will try my best. Curt was one of those slicked haird duck tailed hoods and turned to the class and said everybody shut up. If you don't listen to Winkle you are going to answer to me! From that day on things changed. I slowly convinced them to trust me and my lessons got longer and a little better each day.

It was a tough way to learn to teach but I did it. We had fund raisers, paid off the FFA debt(they owed everyone from the milk shake fund to the local bank and fertilizer dealer.) Ohio started the now famous annual Fruit Sale and we sold Florida organges everywhere. My son, also an ag teacher at Fayetteville, still buys from Florida Fruit, the same outfit I dealt with when I retired in 02. Teaching is like farming and ham radio. You learn a whole new concept and practice and practice until you master it enough to just do it. You learn more teaching than you ever did as a student. I will always admire and respect the great teachers. They change lives like good ham operators and good farmers. They all do good for mankind.

I have a lot of stories of learning to share in this 59 years if you care to follow along and provoke me with comments and questions. Blogging is fun for me right now but ask me during planting season and I might answer differently.

Next week is the National NoTillage Conference so I might miss a few days but I would really like to share what I learn there. I always learn much, like Jules says you come home to rest and ponder because your head is hurting so bad from all the information.

You have a good one now, you hear?



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