Blayne Arthur’s day starts in the barn caring for cattle with her husband and children. That therapeutic time helps set the stage as she heads into the office where she serves as the first female Secretary of Agriculture in Oklahoma.
As a child, Arthur looked forward to the day she could join her local FFA chapter. Even though she grew up on a farm, she knew the premier leadership, personal growth and career success that she could gain through agricultural education would only enhance her enthusiasm for the industry.
“All the hours spent on the road traveling to contests and shows with my ag teacher and FFA chapter members are what made my experience so precious,” Arthur says. “All the little moments in between the big moments are what I cherished the most.”
After five years as a member of the Chickasha FFA Chapter in Oklahoma, Arthur served twice as the chapter president, was a national proficiency runner-up in Equine Placement, and won numerous state career development events. However, one of her favorite memories was participating in her district Greenhand quiz.
“There were three of us left on stage, and they ran out of questions because we were so prepared!” Arthur says. “It was pretty neat when they had to pause the entire contest to go print out additional questions in front of the entire group.”
It’s likely a question about female FFA membership made its way into that quiz. Arthur, like so many other FFA alumni, is grateful to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of female membership this year.
“Being involved in the agriculture industry as a whole during your youth opens countless doors that could lead to bigger opportunities,” Arthur says. “I grew up surrounded by phenomenal people who I looked up to and aspired to be like. My involvement in agriculture set the foundation for getting internships and cultivating relationships, and it ultimately paved a path to where I am today.”
Arthur also attributes much of her success to her agriculture teachers, Mike and Shirley Stephens. While in high school, she likely spent more time with them than at home. The lessons she learned from them are the same messages she encourages all members today to consider.
“When you step up to the plate, put in hours of hard work and genuinely understand the highs and lows of the industry, anyone – female or male – can be an asset to agriculture,” Arthur says. “Hard work demands respect.”