The Expo is a program conducted by the Oklahoma Youth Expo (OYE), an Oklahoma-‐based 501c(3) nonprofit in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry (ODAFF), Oklahoma State University, the Sirloin Club, the Southwest American Livestock Foundation, the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, and the State Fair of Oklahoma. Its mission is to provide a venue and program to display the finest quality market and breeding livestock in the country that facilitates agricultural production projects, and to fund higher education opportunities for hundreds of youth pursuing studies in agriculture. OYE's success is synonymous with and driven by the success of Oklahoma's rural prosperity, thriving agriculture economy, and education of future agriculture leaders.
The Oklahoma Youth Expo is also an agricultural scholarship and leadership-‐training program for Oklahoma youth. The OYE mission is to serve as an extension of the classroom in a hands-‐on, real-‐ world environment through the junior livestock program in Oklahoma. The OYE produces and presents the world's largest junior livestock show each spring. For nearly a century, 4-‐H and FFA youth programs travel by the thousands to exhibit some of the finest livestock in the country, at what is the equivalent of the State Championships, as part of the Oklahoma Junior Livestock Program. The Oklahoma Youth Expo is coined as "The World's Largest Junior Livestock Show" and serves as a positive influence in the lives of approximately 7,000 Oklahoma youth. The OYE holds its annual event at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City. The 10-‐day expo generates an economic impact of $24.5 million to the Oklahoma City area each year and provides hundreds of youth with scholarships to continue their education at the collegiate level.
Since 2002, OYE has provided $2.1 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 Oklahoma students. The scholarship program supports Oklahoma leaders' stated goal to produce more college graduates as part of building a stronger economy. Moreover, the scholarship program strives to address the need for more college graduates to work in the agriculture industry, one of the key economic drivers of Oklahoma's economy.
Additionally, the OYE have several ancillary programs that provide leadership and learning for youth. One such program is the Oklahoma Agriculture Leadership Encounter or OALE. OALE is an elite leadership opportunity for ten outstanding agriculture students at Oklahoma State University. In this program, students visit agriculture entities in every district of the state, tour the State Capital, visit Washington D.C., and take an international tour to see the agriculture industry in other countries. OYE raises private dollars to fund this trip, which allows students to further their understanding of agriculture worldwide and often enhances innovation in their operations in Oklahoma.
The OYE is open to all students from across the state enrolled in a 4-‐H or FFA. The participation and economic impact of the local livestock shows touch all 77 counties making a substantial positive impact on the fabric of rural communities.
The purpose of the show is to promote hands-‐on agricultural learning, develop future leaders, and provide scholarships to Oklahoma youth looking to attend Oklahoma colleges and universities. As such, it is a non-‐profit event and depends upon private and public funding to fulfill its mission with a majority of its funding derived from contributions from private donors, corporate sponsorships and participant fees.
The OYE also receives funding from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (OADFF). Many states have events similar to OYE, which are supported financially through a combination of state funds and state employees. In Oklahoma, the Department of Agriculture contracts with OYE to produce the expo. In 2001, the Oklahoma Legislature charged the ODAFF (2 O.S. § 5-‐1.1) "to assist, promote, or provide services in agribusiness-‐related areas, rural community development, and other public service entities as funds are made available." The Department of Agriculture is vested with the mission of helping promote agri-‐business and agriculture education in the state. As a rural community development project, the Department of Agriculture can both assist and promote OYE as authorized by the legislature which appropriates funds. The OYE utilizes the public dollars with private contributions and sponsorships to conduct the program, events and scholarships. Without OYE, the state would lose the benefit of additional private resources to assist with operating the show.
In 2012, the ODAFF provided a one-‐time commitment of $2 million to strengthen OYE and its scholarship program. Annual funding to OYE from the Department of Agriculture has fluctuated each year from $55,000 to $1.2 million.
The OYE is applying the majority of the 2012 funds from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to meet accrued scholarship commitments to Oklahoma students. The remaining portion of the funds will be used for ongoing operations related to the production and presentation of the world's largest youth livestock show.
Scholarships Provided by Year
Please note, OYE began collecting and reporting scholarship data in 2004. In 2002 and 2003, the OYE was focused on the production and operation of the show during a two-year startup phase.
|Year||Scholarship Type||Amount Awarded||Students Benefited|
|4-H & FFA||$1,000||1|
|4-H & FFA||$3,000||3|
|4-H & FFA||$2,000||2|
|4-H & FFA||$4,000||4|
Department of Agriculture Funding By Year
Over the course of the 10-day expo, an estimated crowd of 50,000 occupies Oklahoma City hotels, dines at local restaurants, and shops. According to the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, OYE has a more than $24.5 million dollar impact annually on the Oklahoma City area. In addition to the economic impact in Oklahoma City, the show has a much larger impact on the entire livestock industry and rural communities in the state.
The Oklahoma Youth Expo is a 501c(3) that operates under the direction of a board of directors comprised of distinguished leaders in education, state government, the private sector, and agriculture.
The OYE Board of Directors and executive leadership value openness and integrity in our operations in the fulfillment of our mission to provide higher education to Oklahoma youth.
The OYE Board meets as necessary to review all finances and operational activities.
The OYE maintains a staff of four full-time employees and one part-time employee at its office location in Oklahoma City.
OYE complies with all state and federal laws, and submits Form 990 in accordance with the IRS annually.
It would not be possible to operate a show of this magnitude without the support of more than 100 volunteers who donate their time to assist with the operation of the show.
The OYE has recently purchased a building rather than continue to spend resources on a lease. Private dollars are being used to purchase the building and pay for the relocation. This is just part of the many initiatives the OYE has planned to streamline operating expenses and expand fundraising opportunities.
For nearly a century, the youth of the state of Oklahoma have come to Oklahoma City to compete with the best livestock their generation has to offer. In the 1920's and the 1930's the shows formal title was "The Oklahoma City Fat Stock Show." For nearly 60 years the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and the dedicated volunteer base of the Sirloin Club of Oklahoma managed the show.
Grand Champion Steer- 1961 Oklahoma City Spring Livestock Show.
A few of Oklahoma Youth Expo's founders in 2002. (L-R) Justin Whitefield, Executive Director; Jimmy Harrel, Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors; Bob Funk, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Duane Harrel.
In 1994, the event became part of the Oklahoma Spring Fair. The show was a component of the Spring Fair until its demise in 2001. In 2001 the show was taken over by a volunteer group led by Mr. Robert Funk, CEO of Express Personnel Services and Express Ranches; Mr. Clayton Bennett, Chairman of the Oklahoma State Fair Board of Directors; Mr. Eddie Smith, State FFA Director; Mr. Jimmy Harrel, Bank of Western Oklahoma; and Mr. Dennis Howard, Oklahoma Commissioner of Agriculture. The group incorporated as the Oklahoma Youth Expo, a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization.
Grand Champion Market Steer drive- 2002- The first "Oklahoma Youth Expo".
Today, the Oklahoma Youth Expo is recognized as the largest youth event in the state of Oklahoma. The livestock show brings over 7,000 exhibitors along with their educators and families from all of Oklahoma's 77 counties. Over the course of the ten-day event, OYE has a $24 million impact on Oklahoma City.
Robert A. Funk is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Prior to founding Express, Funk gained extensive experience with Acme Personnel Services, beginning as a personnel consultant and then rising to first vice president.
Funk graduated from Seattle Pacific University (SPU) with a bachelor's degree in business administration and theology. He completed his graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and received his master's degree in business administration and theology from SPU. He holds three honorary degrees: an honorary doctorate of public service from SPU, awarded in 1995; an honorary doctorate of law presented by Oklahoma Baptist University in 2000; and an honorary doctorate of law presented by Southern Nazarene University in 2001.
Jimmy Harrel, Leedey, Oklahoma, has been involved in agriculture and business since early childhood. As a young boy, he learned to rope and ride, farm on a Ford tractor, and tend to horses and cattle along side his father and brothers. He became a business man when he sat with his father at the area cattle sale barns and learned to raise his arm and bid on and purchase his first calves for wheat pasture.
Jimmy Harrel graduated from Leedey High School and from Oklahoma State University with a double major in Animal Science and Agriculture Education. High school FFA projects of livestock showing and judging led him into college agriculture experiences. As a two year member of the OSU Livestock Judging team, traveling across the nation. Second high Individual at Chicago was a highlight of his judging. He taught Vocational Agriculture and served as an administrator then returned to ranching.
In 1985, he became an owner of the Bank of Western Oklahoma in Elk City, Oklahoma, and developed it into one of the premium agriculture lending banks in the state. The Bank Of Western Oklahoma, is known for its fair dealing, as the motto indicates, "Where a handshake is a binding contract.". The Bank of Western Oklahoma is now located in Weatherford, Woodward, Vici, Cordell, Elk City, and Geary, Oklahoma.
Jimmy has served on the following board and commissions:
Jimmy has been recognized and awarded in the following areas:
Jimmy Harrel has been instrumental in promoting youth and agriculture, has worked with Governors of Oklahoma and Secretary of Education, Sandy Garrett to keep vocational agriculture a vital part of of the public school curriculum. Jimmy and his wife, Marilyn have one daughter, Keela Terry, who with her husband, David Terry, reside in Weatherford, Oklahoma, with their daughter, Taylor and son, Ryan.