Harold Gloe: Planning for the Future – on the Farm and in the Classroom

By Alexa Nordwald

Just one more item crossed off the list and he would be done for the day. Harold Gloe pulled on his boots inside the garage and ventured back into the heat. His grey t-shirt was sweat-soaked and clung to him as he dusted off his glasses and climbed onto the ATV. He probably wouldn’t get to everything he had planned for the day, but on the farm that rarely happens anyway.

“He’s a planner,” said Geralyn Gloe, Harold’s wife. “I’d say he has a plan when he wakes up in the morning about how he wants the day to go. Of course, you know what they say about the best laid plans.”

The same analytical nature that helps Harold Gloe thrive on planning, has also served as a strength in his role the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC).

The 68-year-old row crop and cattle farmer from Hermann, Missouri, first joined the board in 2008. He represents district six, which spans from Lincoln and Montgomery counties, south to Perry County.  He has served 3 years on the executive committee and presently serves on the budget and audit committee.

“With the soybeans on our farm we probably pay in about $2,000 a year into the checkoff,” Harold said. “I wanted to help oversee what the money was being spent for.”

Outside MSMC, Harold has served as president of his local MFA board and the Warren County Farm Bureau. He has also served as treasurer of the Warren County Soil and Water Board. He and his wife are members of St. George Catholic Church in Hermann, Gore Case Community Club, and the River City Cruiser Car Club.

The couple have three adult children: Susan and husband Trent, Linda, and Alan and wife, Jessica.

They also have two grandchildren, Ryan, 3, and Lydia, 11 months.

Harold gestured to pictures on the refrigerator of the bunch, and Geralyn pointed specifically to their grandson Ryan’s nearly white, blonde hair.

“I was blonde too,” said Harold.

“Oh they’re all blondes,” said Geralyn. “That’s a Gloe thing. His brothers, have wives with dark hair and their kids are predominantly blonde.”

Harold and Geralyn first met on a blind date, set up by a mutual friend. They married in 1980.

“I picked June for the wedding and he picked the 14th because that’s Flag Day,” Geralyn said. “So if the flags are out he remembers.”

“It’s marked on every calendar so that was just smart on my part,” Harold followed.

They blend that same sense of practicality and humor into their family, work and many volunteer roles.

Coming Back to the Farm
Harold grew up with seven siblings on a farm just three miles from where he and Geralyn live now. He graduated from MU with a degree in farm mechanization and a minor in agriculture economics in 1971. After college, Harold returned to the family farm and began working for his father, Vernon Gloe.

“I wanted to come back to the farm since I was in first grade. I had no other desire,” Harold said. “I wanted to farm bad enough that I worked for dad for peanuts just for the opportunity that when he retired that I could take over.”

In 1980, Harold bought his dad’s equipment and began renting his farm ground, as well as other leased land.  He turned the farm into a corporation and named it Gloe Farms, Inc., adding more acreage as time went by.  In 1987, his younger brother Dale Gloe became his partner and took ownership of half of the business.  They continued to rent additional land and were able to purchase several parcels.

Harold Gloe

Today, Harold and Dale farm soybeans and corn in Montgomery and Warren counties and manage a commercial cow/calf herd with the help of Harold’s son, Alan, who would like to become more involved in the operation in the future.

Because they farm in the Missouri River bottoms, flooding is always a concern, making planning much more difficult.  Major floods, such as 1993, or excessive seep water from smaller floods, like 2015, leave a lasting impression and influence a lot of the farming decisions.

Whether the planting begins again in a few weeks or next year is at the mercy of the river.  That’s something he and his family cannot predict.

“When we finish planting, I service the planter and have it all ready for next year before we park it back into the shed.” Harold said.  “Everything can stay parked in the shed until a few days before we’re ready to start planting.  That same preparation goes for all the other equipment, as well.”

Looking to the Future
The complicated nature of planning doesn’t stop Harold from believing in its importance. Not with the river and commodity markets, and especially not when it comes to the future of agriculture.

The future, in this case, refers to youth in agriculture.

In 2012, the board of directors for the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council funded a new program to bring ag educators into elementary school classrooms weekly. Harold was part of that, and since the beginning of the Ag Education on the Move program he has been heavily involved in its progression.

Today, Ag Education on the Move (AEOTM) is available to elementary schools throughout Missouri thanks to a partnership between MSMC and Missouri Farmers Care.

“You’ve got to get people interested early because once they’ve got their mind set it’s pretty hard to change their mind,” Harold said. “By the time they’re in college or after, they’ve already developed their own opinions and they aren’t going to change.”

Harold and Geralyn are both passionate about the program because they have witnessed the positive results first hand. Having been engaged with AEOTM since the beginning, they’ve seen the enthusiasm of the youth and of the program volunteers and staff.

For this fall, the program has grown to include partnerships with more than 20 FFA chapters across Missouri, with high school students taking ag education to elementary schools in their area. More than 4200 elementary-aged children, primarily third graders, are participating in the classroom program – including 800 in the Kansas City area alone.

While Harold says the program is doing great things, he also says he wishes the program could be expanded to reach even more children and implemented in more grade levels. He believes that programs like Ag Education on the Move are not only good for consumers, but serve as a return on investment for farmers as well.

Harold and Geralyn have seen the impact ag and science programs can have on older students too, through the biodiesel program at Rockwood Summit High School in nearby Fenton.

“It touches a lot of people there and the child doesn’t necessarily have to be the only one involved,” Geralyn said. “There was a couple who sat behind us and they were so much more open to farming and agriculture and modern technology just because they had some exposure that wasn’t negative.”

“I’m happy to spend my checkoff money on anything that’s good for agriculture,” Harold said. “I personally see more benefits to me as a farmer with educating the public and in getting them to accept biodiesel, foods, modern technology and anything that increases demand for our product.”

This same theory of planning for the future of agriculture is one that he applies on his farm as well. Whether it is preparing equipment for next season or creating a succession plan for the future of his farm, Harold Gloe is always trying to cross the next thing off of his list.