They say a picture is worth a thousand words, which is certainly true in these three images that were crowned winners in Farm Bureau’s first annual “Telling Your Ag Story” photo contest. In a contest designed to depict the daily lives of South Dakota farmers and ranchers, these photographs speak volumes about the depth, beauty and purpose that are found in everyday moments.

Out of a field of more than 120 entries across three categories, these winners will be featured in Tri-State Livestock News’ annual “Ag Pride” edition and honored during the South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB) annual meeting and the SDFB Young Farmers & Ranchers winter conference. Each photographer receives a $100 cash prize, with the overall winner receiving an additional $75 prize.

Overall Winner, and winner in the category for photographers between the ages of 18-35:

"My Cowboy" by Meghan Shearer of Wall, S.D.

Photo caption by Meghan: “This is a picture of my husband. He represents the all-American cowboy. Like so many of our husbands, cowboying isn’t what they do, but who they are. It’s bred into them from generations past. He is our provider and our protector. With every swing of his rope, he is doing the job to feed his girls.”

Winner, photographers under age 18

Marissa Hofer of Dolton, S.D.

Photo caption by Marissa: “Picture of my sister and one of her many chickens. She loves playing with them!”

Winner, photographers over age 35

Becky Schlotterbeck of Watertown, S.D.

Photo caption by Becky: "My daughter Brylie and I were out feeding our goats. She learned that these 4-H pets will follow you around if you have feed in a bucket. She did not have access to a small bucket, so she grabbed some corn out of the feed bag and ran around the pen while they followed her. She finally gave in and let 'Baby' eat."

The idea for the contest originated with the SDFB Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Committee, whose members are interested learning, and helping others learn, how to promote agriculture through social media. Photographs of everyday moments around the farm or ranch are one of the best ways to reach a broad audience with a positive, sincere message.

“On behalf of Farm Bureau, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this contest. All of the images were just outstanding. It may seem like a simple thing to share a photo from your normal, day-to-day experiences, but this is truly one of the best ways to share agriculture’s story – especially when social media makes it so easy to reach people near and far,” said Heather Maude, a YF&R Committee member from Caputa, S.D.

Every photograph entered in the contest was posted to an album on the SDFB Young Farmers & Ranchers page on Facebook, where the number of “Likes” received from the public determined the top 10 photos in each category. More than 600 people participated in this online voting process. Once the field was narrowed to the top 10, a panel of judges selected winners based on image composition and quality, and its ability to tell the photographer’s ag story. Due to its overwhelming success, the YF&R Committee plans to make this an annual contest.

The South Dakota Farm Bureau represents more than 14,300 farm, ranch and rural families across the state. Farm Bureau’s YF&R program is for young people in agriculture between the ages of 18 and 35 who appreciate lifelong learning and wish to grow their leadership skills while enjoying fellowship with their peers in agriculture.