Sallisaw Vo ag teacher retiring after 34 years
This year marks the last time Roger Stites, Sallisaw FFA Advisor and Agricultural Science teacher at Sallisaw High School will be involved in the Sequoyah County Livestock Show.
For years, Stites, who is retiring at the end of June, has taught, advised and helped his students show their animals at various livestock shows with the largest one in the area being the county livestock show which will be held Feb. 24-25.
“I’ve taught a total of 34 years but I’m retiring this year after 18 years of working for Sallisaw High School,” Stites said.
Stites began his career as a teacher in animal science in 1988 at Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton which is also where he graduated.
He returned to his hometown in 2003 to teach at the high school and has been there since, he said.
Stites who lives west of Sallisaw, said in his teen years he was active in 4-H and when he became a freshmen, and took part in his first livestock show in 1974. After he became a freshmen, he joined FFA where he served as secretary and vice-president of the organization.
“Tex Wood was my ag teacher at the time. I learned a lot from him,” he said.
Stites said after graduating from high school, he worked for the old Holly Carburetor plant in Sallisaw then decided to go to EOSC. He also attended Oklahoma State University where he received his bachelor of science in agriculture in 1988.
Stites said highlights from his teaching career is working with the students and seeing them grow to become productive citizens.
“I’ve seen students graduate from here and get into different vocations as becoming ag lenders, teachers, home extension agents and that’s always been my goal is to see what they become. We teach them leadership, animal science, welding, judging and horticulture and it’s always good to see them progress.”
Stites said he believes it is a good time to retire and has fond memories of working as a vo-ag instructor.
His plans are to do more things around home such as tending to his cattle and serve on the Sequoyah County Fair Board.
“I think I need to leave while things are good. I feel like I’ve left the program in good shape and I have confidence in the Sallisaw School Board and administration to find someone who will take over and do a good job,” Stites said.
Stites said being vo-ag teacher requires a lot of hands-on instruction which is far different from the virtual teaching method most students have had to adjust to this year.
“Some things you can’t teach virtual,” he said. “But I’ll probably still be involved with 4-H and FFA and help kids along the way. Later I might find a part time job some where,” he said.
Stites said the livestock show will be a little different this year with some COVID-19 restrictions including masks and social distancing.
“We also won’t have the annual barbecue this year and the show will be broadcasted by the local radio stations for those who can’t get out such as grandparents,” Stites said.
“It may be different but it’ll be good and we invite those who can come out to support the youth in this county.”