Passion for volunteering continues to grow for Oklahoma City man
Conditions don’t always have to be ideal for significant growth to occur within volunteers.
Horticultural expert Rodd Moesel, a “third-generation habitual volunteer,” has seen trying circumstances yield some of the greatest blessings in his life.
Moesel was a child when his father, Richard, was critically injured in a farm tractor accident.
Years later, Moesel, while volunteering in agricultural advisory work at refugee camps in Azerbaijan, witnessed passion and pride among people “who had lost everything but their lives and family.”
Moesel, of Oklahoma City, through the years has volunteered in numerous areas, including youth and education, church, small business and economic development, agriculture and horticulture, politics and government, industry trade groups and international aid and development.
Having just turned 60, Moesel recently reflected that two of the most difficult situations he has experienced or witnessed have had some of the greatest influences on his life.
“Dad was in the hospital and unable to work for months,” he said of his father’s accident when they lived in southern Oklahoma, operating a vegetable farm and greenhouse. “The amazing people of Pauls Valley plowed our nursery and vegetable fields, helped harvest the crops, loved and cared for us and gave us the most memorable Christmas ever.
“They made us believe in the power of giving and sharing and created the real desire to give back or pay forward, to in some small way repay the amazing generosity and love of so many people we did not even know.”
Richard recovered and in 1963, along with wife, Marjorie, and their family, moved the “Moesels Hort-Haven” business to Oklahoma City. Rodd Moesel, who was only in the fourth grade at the time, is today president and co-owner of American Plant Products and Services in Oklahoma City. He considers those acts of kindness he witnessed as a child as the “single event that most impacted me to the power of volunteerism.”
That desire to volunteer has led him to involvements locally, nationally and abroad.
Moesel was recruited by a relief group to do volunteer agricultural advisory work for “three weeks in Azerbaijan in refugee camps from the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.”
The experience, when Moesel left the safety of America, “had a huge impact on my life and taught me hundreds of lessons on the human spirit and what is really important.”
“There were a million homeless people from the conflict now living in the former schools, rail cars, cattle barns of the Russian Empire and in countless tents and U.N. sod houses,” he said.
Moesel soon realized he had no use of telephones and rarely had electricity. Plus, without an interpreter he could not understand the language of those he had come to help. Still there was a desire and a bond.
Moesel remembers how they worked together to create simple greenhouses and hoop houses in 15 refugee camps to extend their growing season for green, leafy crops.
“I was forever touched by these kind and friendly people living in very challenging, even depressing, conditions that were grateful for their freedom and new choices even when they had lost their homes and farms,” Moesel said. “I came back grateful for roads, highways, bridges, electricity and plumbing.”
Moesel, who watched his parents as well as his grandparents volunteer in and beyond their communities, has participated in more than 30 organizations since the 1970s.
Earlier this year, Moesel was a recipient of the Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources’ “DASNR Champion” award.
Ron Elliott, interim head of the DASNR’s department of horticulture and landscape architecture, said of Moesel, “He is a civic-minded individual who has literally helped shape dozens of organizations.”
“One of the most impressive things about Rodd is the fact he has offered his insights and talents in a sustained manner over a period of decades,” Elliott said. “He tirelessly gives of himself in helping others reach their goals and objectives.”
Also this year, Moesel was inducted into the Agriculture Hall of Fame by the state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department. He has received numerous other awards.
But when he talks about the most important benefits from service professionally and through volunteering, Moesel points to those he has been privileged to work for and with.
“Volunteering has provided countless friendships and given real meaning to my life,” Moesel said. “It has been a real honor to meet so many wonderful people and to be a small part of so many great projects. We hope we are helping to make our country, state and city a better place to live.
“It has been cool to learn so many new skills and to stretch my limits and learn so much tackling these volunteer projects.”
Volunteering has provided countless friendships and given real meaning to my life. It has been a real honor to meet so many wonderful people and to be a small part of so many great projects. We hope we are helping to make our country, state and city a better place to live.”