Califonia Bountiful

Picture perfect

Jan./Feb. 2011 California Country magazine

Prize-winning photos showcase rural life.

There's nothing easy about making a living off of the land, but the winning images in the 2010 California Farm Bureau photo contest suggest plenty of rewards, from lighthearted moments shared with loved ones to the soul-stirring satisfaction of growing food for others. Participants competed in five categories: From Farm to Fork, All in a Day's Work on the Farm, Kids and Critters, Natural Beauty and Budding Artists, for children 13 and younger. Here are the winning photos.

Grand Prize Winner

Henry Schulte, Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau

When Henry Schulte says, "Life is like a smorgasbord and I love to dabble in everything," you'd better believe it. This year's Grand Prize winner is not only a skilled photographer, but also grows avocados, plays the guitar, surfs, writes novels, rides motorcycles, plays golf and even quilts. He describes this breathtaking landscape, taken in Kings County, as "one of those magic moments of photography."

Natural Beauty

First Place

Susan Hanson, Shasta County Farm Bureau

Retirement in agriculture-rich Shasta County has given Bay Area transplant Susan Hanson an impetus for pursuing a longtime passion. "I've been interested in photography all my life, but I've gotten into it more because it's just so beautiful up here," she says. Hanson captured this stunning landscape—the first photo she has ever entered in a contest—during a family boat ride on the Fall River.

Second Place

Doris Goss, Plumas-Sierra County Farm Bureau

Doris Goss revels in winter. "I like the snow. It can be really hard working in it, but I like to play in it, too," the lifelong rancher says with a laugh. "Also, I get lots of photos of beautiful snowscapes." This cold, still morning on the ranch shows beauty can come at any temperature.

From Farm to Fork

First Place

Joe Valente, San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation

As manager of more than three dozen ranches, Joe Valente puts a lot of wear and tear on his pickup—as well as the digital camera he carries with him. "As I'm driving around and see something neat, I''ll stop and take a picture," he says, adding that he photographed a neighbor's harvest of glossy, purplish-black eggplants specifically for the Farm Bureau contest.

Second Place

Cassidy Campbell Mueller, Yolo County Farm Bureau

What do you do when your school doesn't offer a class in the field you're considering as a potential career? If you're like avid photographer Cassidy Campbell Mueller, 15, you design an independent-study course for yourself. She finds plenty of photo subjects on her family's 500-acre farm, including these Santa Rosa plums taking a cleansing dip in a bowl of water.

Budding Artists

First Place

Emily Shepard, 10 years old, Tulare County Farm Bureau

Go ahead. Try not to laugh at 10-year-old Jack Shepard's impish exchange with a pack mule. His cousins accompanying him on a High Sierra trail ride found the challenge overwhelming. "We were doing a contest to see who could try not to laugh the longest," explains photographer Emily Shepard. "He did a funny face and funny noises. We couldn't help it. Everybody laughed."

Second Place

Natalie Del Real, 11 years old, Merced County Farm Bureau

This photo of a neighbor's barn bathed in the soft glow of sunset captures sixth-grader Natalie Del Real's love of her rural life: "Everything's quiet and peaceful, you get to roam around a lot and there's always something interesting to see," says the youngster, who lists softball and piano among her other interests.

All in a Day's Work on the Farm

First Place

Janet Turner, Placer County Farm Bureau

Janet Turner estimates she takes 10,000 pictures a year, primarily to document her family's ranching lifestyle. "I love doing portraits, but I'd say brandings are the most fun—the challenge of getting the timing just right and capturing the friendships we all share," she says. Spring cattle-branding activities drew family friend Tim Dufurrena and about 20 others to the high desert of Modoc County.

Second Place

Kelli Evans, Yuba-Sutter County Farm Bureau

Kelli and Mark Evans begin each day doing what many other siblings do: "bickering, joking and making fun of each other over breakfast," she reveals with a laugh. The difference is, the two farm rice together and the morning meal is often eaten out in the field. Evans' photo shows her brother waiting for the dew to lift so harvest can begin.

Kids & Critters

First Place

Sharise Alvitre, Tulare County Farm Bureau

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, puppy Puka sneaks in an affectionate lick as 11-year-old Chad Wurscher and his grandmother's piglet pose for a photo. Chad's cousin Sharise Alvitre caught the action on the family's Hog Heaven Ranch. "Puka and Chad are best buddies," says Alvitre, a young agriculturalist whose father gave her a Farm Bureau membership for her birthday last summer.

Second Place

Lane Johnson, Placer County Farm Bureau

Lane Johnson uses photography to blend two family traditions: ranching and chronicling the ranching way of life. The 13-year-old's mother, Janet Turner, is a frequent Farm Bureau photo contest winner, and his picture of little sister MattieRose took top honors in the "Budding Artists" category in 2008. Here, MattieRose is the subject of another winning photo.

Barbara Arciero is the managing editor for California Country. She can be reached at 800-698-FARM or

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