November 24, 2020

Meet MaxYield’s Whistleblower: Ryan Stokes Stays On Top of His Game

20141008_maxyield_100 (1024x681)Call registered officials the Rodney Dangerfield of sports. They play a vital role at each game but don’t get any respect. Okay, maybe they’re just underappreciated—but that doesn’t matter much to Ryan Stokes.

“I enjoy the experience,” said Stokes, MaxYield Cooperative’s location leader at Mallard, who also serves as a registered official for boys’ and girls’ basketball games. “I get some exercise, I can help out the community, and comments from the crowd don’t bother me.”

While it’s easy to overlook referees unless they make a bad call, Stokes stands out for his valuable contributions, both in the gym and at MaxYield. Here are five things you may not know about Ryan:

1. Ryan’s rural roots run deep. Ryan grew up in the Mallard area, where both of his grandfathers and his uncle farmed. Ryan’s father, Dan, ran the Agri Center in Mallard. Ryan started working there part-time around age 12. “After school I’d go in when they needed extra help, and on weekends I helped clean the feed mill,” Ryan said. During his years at West Bend-
Mallard High School, Ryan joined the local FFA chapter and enjoyed competing on the soil judging team. After studying ag business at Iowa Lakes Community College, Ryan returned to Mallard to begin working full-time in 1997 at the Agri Center, which specialized in feed, seed, fertilizer, and crop protection products. Many of the MaxYield clients Ryan serves today did business in years past with the Agri Center, which came into the MaxYield family in 2005. “Since we knew a lot of the people in the area, becoming part of MaxYield was a smooth transition,” Ryan said.

2. The Stokes family loves sports. Ryan grew up watching sports, attending Iowa State University basketball and football games, and cheering for the Iowa Hawkeyes. In high school, he loved playing football and basketball, in addition to running track. He’ll never forget his senior year, when the West Bend-Mallard Wolverines won the 1994 state football championship. “We beat Winfield Mt. Union by one point in overtime,” said Ryan, who played free safety. Ryan wasn’t the only athlete in the family. His younger brother, Scott, played basketball at Iowa Lakes Community College and Morningside College in Sioux City. Today, Ryan still enjoys watching college sports, especially football and basketball.

3. Ryan can pass the ref test. When Ryan’s uncle, Mark Johnson, needed some extra help refereeing basketball games for West Bend-Mallard, Ryan gave it a try. “The first year you didn’t have to be licensed,” recalled Ryan, who started in 2002 by attending a rules meeting in the area. “You could get your feet wet and see if it was something you wanted to do.” Ryan discovered that he enjoyed refereeing boys’ and girls’ basketball games for West Bend-Mallard’s middle school and junior varsity teams. Within the first three years of officiating, he had to take a written exam at Storm Lake. “It’s more extensive than you’d think,” Ryan said. “You have to explain what calls you’d make in a lot of different situations.” To maintain his registered official status, Ryan takes an online test every year to keep up with the latest rules changes.

4. Ryan likes to stay busy. Ryan won’t commit to officiate any games until after Thanksgiving. “By then, harvest is over and the ground is usually frozen, which slows down agronomy work,” Ryan said. West Bend-Mallard plays all its middle school basketball games in Gilmore City, including five home games for both the boys’ and girls’ teams. The games usually start around 4 p.m. on Mondays or Thursdays. “I’m one of two refs who officiates the boys’ game and a girls’ game each time,” said Ryan, who will also begin officiating Emmetsburg middle school and junior varsity basketball games this winter. “I appreciate that MaxYield has been flexible when it comes to my officiating schedule.”

5. Teamwork pays off, both on and off the court. Ryan learned discipline by playing sports and values the power of teamwork. That’s why he appreciates MaxYield’s culture. “MaxYield is all about the team. When you don’t make the play, you let others down.” Working together to serve clients effectively is important to Ryan, who works with 10 team members who operate Mallard’s large grain complex and provide agronomy products and solutions. “We have a great team here at Mallard. We all enjoy agriculture because there’s always something new.”

Editor’s note: Ryan and his wife, Lori, live in the country between Mallard and Rodman, where they are raising their four children, Tyler, 10; Austin, 8; Sean, 5; and Ashlyn, 2. Ryan has served as a volunteer firefighter in Mallard for three years. In his free time, you might find Ryan teaching Tyler about deer and pheasant hunting or watching Austin play flag football.

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