Keith Stimpert graduated with a master’s of science in agricultural education in 1983. He currently serves as the senior vice president at Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
[ACEL]: Why did you choose to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural education?
[Stimpert]: A graduate or professional degree was always a part of my educational plan and choosing a master’s program that was centered in agriculture and focused on leadership seemed like a natural fit for my career path.
Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?
Probably several reasons including the fact that my dad had graduated from this same department in the 1950’s—so there was a sentimental connection. But maybe more to the point—someone kicked me in the pants! I had graduated from Miami University and had started as an organization director with the Ohio Farm Bureau. One day I mentioned to Glenn Pirtle, a Farm Bureau vice president, that I had always wanted to get my master’s degree. Before I could turn around, I was sitting in Dr. Bob Warmbrod’s office and learning about what a course of study might look like. I probably would still be talking about getting a degree had it not been for their guidance and encouragement.
How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?
The engagement with the college and a variety of mentors has had a very positive impact on my career. It’s probably hard to gauge exactly how the additional education has played a part professionally but I am confident it has.
What were you involved in as an Ohio State student?
With a full-time job and taking many courses in the evening, I was at a different place in my life at the time and missed out on those excellent opportunities.
What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
My course of study was focused on being a better administrator and leader. In that regard, I was fortunate to take Paul Wright’s agriculture law class and to gather some history and perspective on Ohio’s vocational school movement from Byrl Shoemaker, who taught a special course on the subject. The information I gathered from these courses helped with my understanding of the legal challenges businesses face and the leadership needed to develop a statewide educational program.
What professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education/career?
Clearly, Dr. Bob Warmbrod who made connecting to the college and completion of my degree a very positive experience. His research and quantitative analysis course series was challenging but I took a great deal from that work. We are all better off for the faculty and administrators that guide ACEL and CFAES, both yesterday and today.
What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
Conducting survey research on the demographic characteristics of county Farm Bureau board members. A similar study had been conducted several years before and so there was a great deal to compare. The information gathered and the trends identified helped us with training programs for our developing leaders.
Throughout your career, what positions have you held?
I have been fortunate to be a part of the Ohio Farm Bureau for 40 years now. From organization director to managing editor and from commodity program director to lobbyist there are only a handful of jobs I haven’t had in this organization. I am thankful for the opportunities and challenges that have been presented to me. Everyday is a new adventure!
During your career, honors or awards have you been presented?
Most of my “awards” have come from being a part of a team working to help our farmers and make our communities stronger, but I was recently honored to receive the 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Ohio Soybean Council.
As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Working with leading Ohio’s soybean farmers to establish the Ohio Soybean Council. It was very satisfying to see the farmer leadership and management of this board–now over 25 years old–become nationally recognized for their work in soybean new uses and profitability.
What advice would you give to a current student?
William Swank, former OFBF Executive Vice President, used to regularly share “words to live by.” He credited John W. Bricker, former Ohio governor and US senator, with this advice for anyone—”Get it done, do it right, and keep the promises that you make.” I think it’s just that simple.
What did ACEL cultivate in you?
My degree cultivated a sense of connection to the university, the college and our agricultural community.