Rick Houser:
Plowed my way to the future, now I plow my way through numbers

As time has moved forward I have thought from time to time just how I got into what I have worked at as my career. I have wondered just why I have enjoyed working with numbers. Also why do I enjoy being with the public and speaking to others in ways that I hope help solve problems coming up or have already arrived. After leaving the farming business I have been a bank vice president and dealt with loans. I have been a financial officer and wrote government grants for Clermont County. Most of my time has been in real estate and mostly being the manager of nursing homes.

They all have a couple of things in common and that is numbers and people. Of course the two do go together but just how did I fit into this? It really is simple now as I look back. Vocational Agriculture and the Future Farmers of America! (Best known as FFA.) I have said before that to me the part I liked most about school was socializing. As true as this probably was I had one driving desire as I was nearing high school and that was to be in Mr. Ramey’s’ Vocational Agriculture class and join the FFA!

Rick Houser

Before I was moved from Moscow to Felicity schools I had heard about Ron Ramey and how great a program he had made both the class and the organization. Since I had made up my mind from as early as I can remember that I was going to be a farmer there was one other objective. That was to be the most successful farmer I could manage to be. So it only made sense to get in with the best the area had to offer and learn all that I could. Now think about it. I just said a word I really wasn’t too interested in until now. That word was learning. This decision was probably the smartest move I ever made. I found out I didn’t know as much about farming as I thought I did and I learned quickly that Mr. Ramey not only expected a student to learn but demanded us to try our hardest to learn. To this I gave him all the efforts I had within me.

To my surprise I did learn and my grades were A+ all the way through. If Ron Ramey said we needed to know something then learn it I did. Quickly he got us to understand that working hard on a farm is part of the program. But if you can’t keep accurate and neat records just how would you know if a crop or project made a profit or ended up losing money? Here is where the numbers came into play. So bookkeeping came into play on the farm. I took every chance I could to have a project and through lots of backing from my parents I got to keep many project books.

At the end of my freshman year and at my first FFA Banquet I received the Star Green award as the best student in their first year! This recognition and encouragement from this man was like throwing gasoline on a fire. I wanted more projects and I wanted to be involved in more events the FFA participated in. I soon made it onto the soil judging team, the livestock judging team and the Parliamentary Procedure team. I at first just couldn’t understand what learning Roberts Rules of Order was going to do for me. One day in class Mr. Ramey told us to put all the books into a corner and we weren’t going to use those rules. Folks it didn’t take very long to see if there is no structure to dealing with the matters at hand there would never be a solution. Only chaos.

At the end of my junior year I was selected as a State Farmer as was Joe Liming. We were in the same class and we were only the second and third Felicity students to reach this award as a junior. To this day I look at a photo of Joe and myself at the stage where we were awarded this and think that it is still an honor I will always be proud of. Shortly after this Mr. Ramey moved away and returned to his home town of Lancaster, Ohio. Felicity has since had nothing but success in teachers and growth in the class and the organization. To me this just doesn’t come as any surprise as Felicity is a fertile area for this program to grow and prosper.

I realize that since my days at Felicity the world and all in it has changed greatly. From the people I talk with I am told that the program has moved more into career programs and development in today’s technology. I’m going to guess that any record keeping a student must keep is done on a computer. The emphasis on the on hands part of farm work probably have shrunk in the program. Also I have noticed that the female gender has not only become a part of the program but a major part. When I was in FFA there were no girls involved. It just wasn’t thought of 50 years ago. But from all I have seen and read I see it as nothing but a major positive addition to the program. I have to remind myself that “this ole word it is a changing!” We have witnessed that with most changes we have harvested success.

While I was in the FFA I made it to the state public speaking competition and was honored I got that far. I learned that in the organization that if you don’t learn how to communicate and enjoy people life will not be too easy for you. So I feel that if not for vocational agriculture and the FFA I could never have done the careers I have done. I am guessing that is why the Felicity Chapter continues to grow in number and move up in ranking in the United States. This is where I steal from their progress and when I tell people I was a State Farmer when I attended Felicity I figure it is going to be received with folks being more impressed that I did that.

Thanks to the FFA and Mr. Ron Ramey for investing a lot of time in me. I think I was worth it!

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.