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APRES, a reminiscence

Retired Farm Press Editor, now freelancer, Ron Smith reminisces about returning to the 55th Annual APRES meeting and coming full circle to his early days at Farm Press (1978).

Ron Smith, Editor

August 2, 2023

3 Min Read
Pat and Ron Smith
Pat and Ron Smith. Returning to the 55th annual APRES meeting was like coming home. Ron Smith

Thoms Wolfe was wrong. You can, indeed, go home again.

At least that’s how I felt when I attended the 55th Annual  American Peanut Research and Education Society meeting recently in Savannah.

I celebrated my birthday with a few APRES friends and helped another celebrate his, along with another friend’s daughter’s birthday. If that’s not a welcome home, I can’t imagine what would be.

This was the first APRES meeting, actually any professional agricultural organization meeting, I’ve attended since I sorta retired. That last year was also short-changed a bit by COVID, so I missed several in-person events I typically would have attended.

Honestly, I don’t miss the cross-country travel much, but I have missed the people I routinely worked with, interviewed, and enjoyed some downtime with after hours.

APRES brings me just about full circle to early days at Farm Press (1978), and some of the peanut industry folk who taught me a lot about the industry. Some have moved on, the Late Frank McGill, for instance.  I kept in touch with Ron Henning occasionally while I was in Texas.

In Savannah, I caught up with Albert Culbreath, University of Georgia. I can’t recall exactly when I met Albert, but it was way back when I was working on Southeast Farm Press, so I suspect early 1980s. Same with Tim Brenneman, also at UGA.

Related:Craig Kvien named APRES Fellow

I met Don Koehler when he was an assistant county agent in Alabama, before he moved over to the Georgia Peanut Commission.

I met Gary Schwarzlose shortly after I moved to Texas, 1999 or 2000. I think my first encounter with Gary was in a wheat field in Northeast Tennessee. He was always a valued industry source who became a good friend. We always enjoy an opportunity to get together. His birthday is the day before mine.

Pete Dotray, weed scientist in Lubbock, was always a top priority when I needed information on weed management. Still is. And I also consider him and his wife Peggy good friends. And his daughter Jesse has a birthday a day or two later than mine.  APRES offers an excellent opportunity to celebrate those milestones.

Many others—Kelly Chamberlin, USDA peanut breeder in Stillwater, an incredible scientist who can talk to non-scientists like me so I can understand. She’s also just good company. I met her at a peanut field day about 25 years ago.

I’ve known Todd Baughman, Oklahoma State, for more than 20 years. Jason Woodward always makes me laugh.

I met Steve Brown during my early days at Southeast Farm Press.

I can’t name them all. I apologize for the many I leave out, but I learned much from folks I worked with in the peanut industry—research, Extension, industry, and countless farmers who agreed to let me tell their stories.

Related:Technology offers pathway for efficiency, sustainability for peanuts

Savannah is an easy drive from Johnson City, Tenn., so Pat and I decided spending a few days with my APRES family was well worth the trip. APRES prides itself on being a family organization, so attending an APRES meeting is like going home.

Robert Frost wrote that “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

At APRES, they don’t have to, but they do anyway.

About the Author(s)

Ron Smith

Editor, Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 30 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Denton, Texas. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and two grandsons, Aaron and Hunter.

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