Thursday, 31 March 2011 19:53
Thursday, 31 March 2011 13:57
For Great Plains native Jim Hoy, professor of English, Kansas is a state full of interesting people and places.
“I was reared in Cassoday and I was raised on a ranch, when I came back to teach, Pat O’Brien set up the Center for Great Plains Studies and I began teaching classes about the Great Plains area,” Hoy said.
Hoy said it was good to do research from the heart of the area he specializes in. The folklore of the area holds a specific interest to Hoy because he said it makes him look for “the extraordinary in the ordinary” from people.
One of Hoy’s favorite legends involves Bill Pickett, a cowboy famous for his invention of bull dogging. Pickett said he would show some locals something they had never seen before. Allegedly, Pickett leapt from a horse and brought down a steer with his teeth.
Hoy was featured on the History Channel, aiding with some research on Joseph McCoy, the founder of Abilene as a cow town. He offered to let them shoot some footage of their cattle on his son’s ranch.
“It was a really interesting experience,” Hoy said. “We spent three hours one morning driving the cows in a circle, and I asked him how much of that would be in the movie, and he said about 10 seconds.”
After graduating from K-State, he worked odd jobs including on the railroad and doing some rodeo and ranch work. Hoy said he won enough money in calf roping that he didn’t need to work for awhile. When he realized he would need to work, he began to teach.
“I started teaching in El Dorado, and I taught there for two years, and eighth graders drove me to college,” Hoy said.
He wound up at Emporia State after finishing his graduate studies and he said he was glad for that because the Center for Great Plains Studies opened up shortly after his joining the school. He soon became the chair.
Hoy also writes a weekly news column for the newspaper “Plains Folk,” which he has been writing for since 1983.
Brianna VanSchoelandt, senior English major, said she enjoys Hoy’s classes because of his broad knowledge base.
“I really like Hoy because he’s an endless supply of knowledge and information – He seems to know something about everything,” VanSchoelandt said.
Hoy’s personable and approachable nature makes him a favorite teacher of Chelsea Lewis, senior English major.
“I’ve taken a class from him every semester for the past two and a half years, he has his niche and he knows everything about it,” Lewis said.
Along with teaching Hoy raises horses on his land and also helps out with his son’s cattle ranch. The Hoys have six horses, and he used to make his own hay. He also breaks his own colts though he no longer shoes them.
Hoy also spent time as the chair of the American Folklife Center Board of Trustees. He was appointed to the board by Sen. Bob Dole. Other members of this board during his tenure included Mickey Hart, the drummer for The Grateful Dead, and professors from schools like Harvard.