Vernon Stevens | 2009
Vernon Stevens was instrumental to bringing commercial pork production to Oklahoma. Vernon began his career with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in 1953 serving as county livestock agent for Bryan and Marshall Counties. In 1966 Stevens became one of the first OCES area livestock specialists in Oklahoma. His appointment was to spend most of his time in on the pork industry. Vernon began by introducing pork production to farmers in northwest Oklahoma as a means to additional cash flow on their wheat and cattle operations. Many of these operations began with 30 - 100 sows, a large number for the time, and eventually grew to 200 - 400 sow operations.
The key to these larger sow operations was using a central farrowing house and Vernon played a large role in developing slatted floors, ventilation systems, and waste management systems that made farrowing houses work. Using a farrowing house, the number of pigs weaned increased and therefore the farmer’s profitability increased.
Vernon also taught farmers how to formulate a feeding ration that worked for sows and pigs indoors. He wrote many OSU extension fact sheets about swine nutrition as well as development of a central farrowing house.
Another of Vernon’s contributions to the pork industry was the Area Market Hog Show which allowed farmers to bring a sampling of their swine heard for live evaluation in a show and processing at a local packing plant. Carcass data was collected and returned to the farmers. This was a very popular program with area farmers because they learned how to live evaluate their animals and see the end product of their genetics. Participation in the show was high until the show had to be discontinued when the local packing plant went out of business. Vernon was the superintendent of the Golden Pork Chop program, a similar show and carcass data program, at the Oklahoma State Fair for many years.
Vernon, a 1945 graduate of Hinton High School, served two years in the U.S. Army during World War II. He then attended Oklahoma A&M College earning his bachelor’s in animal husbandry in 1953. Vernon earned his master’s form OSU in 1970. He served in the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service from 1953 to 1985.
Vernon has been honored with the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Extension Agents in 1975, the Service Award to Oklahoma’s Swine Industry from the Oklahoma Swine Breeders Association in 1979 and honored by the OSU animal science department for his 32 years of distinguished service in 1986. In 1996 the Northwest Oklahoma District Livestock show, held in Enid, was dedicated to Vernon.
It is with great pride and appreciation that the Oklahoma Pork Council inducts Vernon Stevens into the Hall of Fame.