Recently, I laid out 19 of the 21 Southwest Farm Press issues from this past year on my office floor. Seeing each of the faces, the families, the topics that make each issue unique, reminds me of why I love my job. What a privilege to meet producers and visit their farms, or interview specialists and ag industry folks or feature a young person from across the Southwest and tell their story.
I especially enjoy capturing those people in photographs or video. I love how a photo gives the written word a face. Photos are powerful storytellers.
Some of my favorites from 2020? Emily Branson. She's the college-aged artist featured in the Aug. 6 issue. I traveled to the Texas Rolling Plains to interview two producers about their 2020 cotton crop and was introduced to Emily after I left the first farm, headed to the second. Emily was in downtown Roby painting a cotton mural on the side of her parent's building as a tribute to her late grandfather and to the commodity that supports her community. I was drawn to her confidence, talent and her why.
Another favorite? Richard Gaona's story about his father, a Mexican immigrant becoming a U.S. citizen and Texas landowner, featured in our Oct. 1 issue. A hard work ethic that began when Richard's father was a young man, changed the trajectory of his life and the generations that followed. His story exemplifies the importance of mentors. Both Richard and his father had men who came along side of them and helped them to continue to succeed.
It's always a highlight to honor our Peanut Efficiency and High Cotton winners, along with their families. Every day farmers across this nation do an amazing job producing our food and fiber, so it's exciting when we get to celebrate a special few.
Harvest is another favorite. In the fall and winter issues, I featured sorghum, corn, cotton, sunflower and black-eyed pea harvest. I enjoyed covering harvest from the cab of the combine or the stripper or standing in the field.
The leadership article featured in this issue also warrants mention. It's easy to only see the agriculture that's out our front door. These leadership programs take men and women from all facets of agriculture and expose them to agriculture statewide, nationally and internationally, expanding their perspective, knowledge and network. They prepare them to make decisions on behalf of agriculture, ultimately you and me.
The hardest but most heartfelt story? Capturing Tony Dill's final harvest in the Dec. 3 issue. What an amazing act of humanity as the farming community rallied around Tony's family following his death.
While I don't know whose faces will fill the issues of 2021, I look forward to meeting you on the turnrow and hearing your story. Thank you for reading. Thank you for talking. Here's to 2021!