Oklahoma ag radio broadcaster thrives on volunteering
Positive influences have come in stages for Ron Hays.
When Hays, 62, of Oklahoma City, was asked about his volunteer efforts, he backed the conversation up to mention a few of those who by example taught him the importance of helping others daily.
Hays started with his father, Robert — who taught vocational agriculture and later junior high science and also later farmed — and his mother, Ruth — a bookkeeper for the local Chevrolet garage.
“My folks had a lot of influence on me,” said Hays, who was born and raised in Kentucky. “They made church a priority, both Sunday school teachers and my dad was a very hard worker. We spent a lot of hours in the pickup truck together going to show hogs when I was in first 4-H and later FFA. Lots of life lessons were passed along then.”
Also, some of Hays’ high school ag teachers, including Jim Wilds and Bruce Metzger, helped him learn to set goals and stressed the need to be involved in the leadership development of the FFA.
While Hays was a young adult living in Wichita, Kan., his pastor Bruce Anthony “got me looking at really developing a servant heart.”
“And my wife of more than 20 years, Jan, is a native Oklahoma City resident and has been a blessing and helps me process all the things we find ourselves in,” Hays said. “Sometimes she has to be the still, small voice to say, ‘Don’t overdo.’”
Many people know Hays by his voice. He began working in radio in 1970 and got into farm broadcasting on radio in 1974 at a radio station in Wichita.
He moved to Oklahoma City in 1977 to help establish the Oklahoma Agrinet and was there until 2006. In August of that year, Hays changed networks over to the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network.
But aside from work, he’s been heavily involved in church and agriculture-related activities and groups.
Hays is a longtime member of Village Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. And through those years, Hays has served as a lay coordinator of the church’s Living Christmas Tree, a Sunday school teacher, Sunday school churchwide superintendent and as a member of search teams for ministers. Currently, Hays serves as a lay leader for the church’s “Modern Worship Service.”
Some of his efforts have gone far beyond state boundaries.
“A mission trip that I was fortunate to make about 10 years ago was actually a solo trip to the country of Malawi,” Hays said. “I combined my interest in broadcasting and agriculture to go when Oklahoma Baptists had adopted Malawi as a key destination for many of the state’s mission trips.”
Hays traveled to Malawi and offered his knowledge in audio production and helped set up a recording studio in Blantyre. He also had the chance to interact with several agricultural relief workers and those “trying to help farmers in one of the poorest countries in the world pull themselves up by the bootstraps.”
“I came away humbled by how much we have in the U.S. versus the average person in Malawi, especially those out in the rural areas where almost the only profession was to farm,” he said.
Hays was a member of Class One of the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program in the early 1980s. He was so impressed with that program he has continued to be involved through its advisory council at Oklahoma State University. Hays serves as chairman of that council.
“I have traveled with several of the classes on their international capstone experience,” he said, “and I have reported back from those foreign trips what the Oklahoma group is doing and learning. It is great agricultural news to share with farmers and ranchers back home as well as a great way to publicize the OALP program.”
In addition, Hays remains involved with the Oklahoma FFA, where he has helped with several leadership development efforts and other activities.
While he has given of his time, knowledge and finances, Hays said the return has been substantial — even though he never expected anything in return.
“The blessings are, at times, overwhelming,” Hays said. “Being involved in the ag leadership program has allowed me to interact with a great number of the agricultural leaders of our state in a unique way.
“Being involved in FFA for the over 35 years I have been doing farm radio broadcasting means I have interviewed dads and now their kids and have judged and mentored the brightest students in our state. There’s a lot of satisfaction in those areas that I have majored in when it comes to the ag community.”
The church involvement has brought many blessings as well, he said.
“The church-related efforts have been about the Kingdom,” Hays said. “In the 30-somethings Sunday school class that I am now directing, it really feels rewarding to see a young couple mature and do well in being Godly parents. They become willing to step out and serve in some meaningful way in the church or even in outside ministry as well. It is really thrilling when God allows you to get in on something He has got going.
“One lesson I have learned from that is to never take those times for granted.”