Still Good: The Faces of Family Agriculture
Ag in the Classroom book to be released soon
The Colorado Foundation for Agriculture and The Fence Post Magazine are bringing Colorado farms and ranches to classrooms with the release of the 2021 Literacy Project book, Still Good: The Faces of Family Agriculture.
The Foundation selects a book annually to facilitate agriculture education for students in grades K through sixth across the state through the Literacy Project. Read in classrooms by volunteers from the agriculture community, the foundation also provides curriculum and accompanying materials for educators. Volunteers visit classrooms to read and talk about their own agriculture operations and each classroom receives the copy of the book.
The 2021 book is written by The Fence Post Magazine assistant editor Rachel Gabel and illustrated by engagement editor Liz Banman Munsterteiger. Still Good: The Faces of Family Agriculture is made possible through a grant from the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation and will be available in January.
In the book, a young boy finds his grandpa’s photos album that includes 1950s-era photos of a produce stand, a sheep ranch, the Denver Union Stock Yards, a farm with a milking Shorthorn cow, an aerial sprayer, and a tractor. He spends time listening to stories and then adds his own stories with modern-day photos and stories from Knapp’s Farm Stand, Rocky Ford; Theos Swallow Fork Ranch, Meeker; Livestock Exchange, Inc., Brush; Chapin Family Dairies, Weldona; and Marc Arnusch Farms, Prospect Valley. Comparing and contrasting the two eras, the story’s main character notes changes but sees that agriculture is, in fact, still good.
Munstertieger, who grew up in the ranching community of Kremmling, used reference photos – as many as ten per illustration – to ensure historical accuracy. Using a combination of sketching and painting in computer programs Procreate, Adobe Photoshop, and Illustrator, she created spreads that bring to life modern agriculture and its foundations. Munsterteiger has worked in agriculture news for The Fence Post Magazine and Tri State Livestock News since 2005. She lives on the Front Range with her three children and husband.
Gabel, who is also the author of 2020’s Kindergarten Rancher, drew upon stories from people she has met across the industry. Some details featured in the book came from conversations with Berthoud farmer Bill Markham, longtime farm broadcaster Gene Millard, the late Mick Livingston, retired CSU extension agent, La Plata County rancher J. Paul Brown, and many others. Additional historic and modern photos were made available by History Colorado, National Western Stock Show historian Keith Fessenden, and Randy Miller, Vintage Aviation in Mack, Colorado.
Janie VanWinkle, president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and a Western Slope rancher said, “It is impossible for me to read a copy of “Still Good, The Faces of Family Agriculture” without getting something in my eyes.The emotions that it invokes are a part of me, as a Colorado beef producer. I think about the times that I was able to sit with my Grandpa and talk about the ranch and cattle and where they were at during that particular time of year. It also makes me think about the times that I sat with my son and had similar conversations. It is a tradition that is passed on in the ag community.
The story of the boy looking to the heritage of the past and finding a way to connect the legacy of the future makes me have faith as we continue to produce food for all our neighbors. At the same time, we have found ways to care for the land and the livestock while embracing new efficiencies and technologies. And, it is Still Good.“
The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation awards grants to programs that promote literacy, reading, and writing skills with the goal of contributing to an informed and active citizenry by supporting programs that promote literacy and educational enrichment within communities served by Swift Communications, the parent company of The Fence Post and Tri State Livestock News. In 2020, the program awarded over $86,000 to 39 organizations, including the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture.
The Colorado Foundation for Agriculture is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational corporation and works with industry partners to help meet the shared vision of advancing Colorado agricultural literacy. The Foundation provides Agriculture in the Classroom resources and programs to Colorado educators and students, many of which are free or at minimal cost. Sign up for the spring Literacy Project will soon be available at growingyourfuture.com.
Still Good: The Faces of Family Agriculture will be available soon at rachelgabel.com; Miller’s Landscaping Materials and Feed, Fort Morgan; Livestock Exchange, Inc., Brush; and Desert Rose Boutique, Kersey.
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