Raymond Cockrum started his formal education at age 4 in a one-room school house, which was soon consolidated with Stroud Public Schools. In 1954, he enrolled in his first agricultural education class and joined FFA. His teacher, John Hopper, who later made a name for himself as superintendent of Central Technology Center, was a great source of inspiration to the young Cockrum. When Cockrum earned his State Farmer Degree a few years later, it was presented by another well-known Oklahoman, State FFA President Wes Watkins. Stroud School was destroyed by fire, so Cockrum attended his last two years of high school in the FFA show barns, where he felt right at home.
He finished two years of college and then joined the Air Force. Five years later, he returned to Oklahoma State University, earning his ag-ed degree in 1970 and completing a master’s degree at OSU in 1980. He taught four years at Tecumseh and five years at Guthrie before joining the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech as a district supervisor.
Exceptionally gifted in motivating students, Cockrum advised three National Gold Emblem chapters and one Bronze Emblem chapter in nine years, an amazing feat considering this award is given biannually. His FFA chapters produced three national ag mechanics judging teams, two national FFA Agricultural Proficiency Award winners, the National FFA prepared public speaking winner, 22 State Farmers, three state FFA officers and a state FFA president.
Cockrum helped plan and conduct the first Oklahoma FFA Alumni Camp. He also initiated the scholarship program and bus trip for Oklahoma FFA members to attend the Washington Leadership Conference.
His peers recognized his leadership skills, electing him president of the Oklahoma Agricultural Education Teachers Association and to two terms as Western Region vice president of the National FFA Alumni Council. He received that organization’s highest honor, the National FFA Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award. Other prestigious awards include the 1974 Oklahoma Outstanding Ag Teacher, the Honorary State FFA Degree, the National FFA Organization VIP Award and the Oklahoma FFA Association VIP Award. Cockrum was also a National Land and Range Judging honoree.
In retirement, he serves on the Oklahoma FFA Foundation board and OSU’s Ag-Ed Scholarship board of directors and as co-director of the State FFA Convention. He also continues as a proficiency judge and speech judge for the National FFA Convention.
Raymond married Jean Myers in 1960, and they have been blessed with two sons and two grandsons. They live in Guthrie.
Cockrum was inducted to the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 2009.