Rural Missouri Magazine

Picturing Missouri
4-H Photo Corps helps make the best better

by Jim McCarty

Becky Guffey from Green Castle focused on the sky in March for this Photo Corps entry showing the sun setting behind an abandoned hay rake.

One of the goals of the 4-H program has always been to “make the best better.” And that’s the purpose behind the Missouri 4-H Photo Corps.

Now in its second year, the corps encouraged its 26 members from around the state to capture photographs that depict rural living in Missouri.

Rural Missouri and several of Missouri’s electric cooperatives supported the group’s efforts by commenting on the 4-Hers work and publishing photographs in the publication. After a year and more than 540 submissions, we present some of the best images taken by 4-Hers who are members of the 2008 Photo Corps.

“I am amazed at the excitement this project has generated for these young photographers across the state,” says Bradd Anderson, the state 4-H youth development specialist who organized the project. “I’ve already had several e-mails enquiring about next year.”

The first year the program joined Iowa’s 4-H Camera Corps. Enthusiasm was so great that the Missouri 4-H office, a part of the University of Missouri Extension, decided to do its own thing in 2008.

Members were encouraged to try unique points of view in their photos, and they came through with shining colors. Sunsets and pets were common subjects as expected, but as the fledgling photographers got more comfortable with their cameras, they tried adding visual elements to the frames, which improved them dramatically.

The youth were not afraid to venture out in bad weather. This year’s ice storms, floods and rainy weather didn’t keep the Photo Corps inside. Instead, they captured some nice images of people and weather, many shot during the height of the storm.

As the months went by, newly developed skills became apparent. The photographers tried different camera angles, climbing high and shooting down or getting on their bellies for a frog’s-eye view. They also showed good shooting eyes, spotting a splash of blue from a robin’s eggs, capturing a moment between a couple and zooming in on a bee landing on a flower.

“Rural Missouri is not quite what I thought it would be,” says Sydney Lambert, a Photo Corps member from Kirksville. “It isn’t just pictures of cattle and hay bales in a field. It is pictures of sunsets, oak trees, tractors on the Fourth of July, county fairs, Popsicle smiles and old wire-rimmed glasses. People young and old show up in many pictures and all of the seasons were caught. There is a lot of nature in rural Missouri pictures and that is what I liked the most about the pictures.”

Some photos, such as Mariah Pullen’s abstract sunset, showed intense colors. Others were shot in dense fog or shadowy areas where the dramatic, monchromatic light turned ordinary scenes into works of art.

Anderson says next year’s 4-H Photo Corps will take an online approach, with photographers loading their images on a Web site where others can view them and leave helpful comments.

These images represent the work of 15 of the 26 photographers. For a more complete look at the effort, log on to For more information on taking part in 2009, contact Anderson at 573 884-0576 or


Left: Daysi Hawkins shot this picture of ripples in the water from an old bridge near her home in Bethel. “This bridge at one time was used to cross the river, but is now what you can call the path less traveled,” she says.
Right: Lance Day of Pilot Grove titled this photo “The Light (and Boy) at the End of the Tunnel.”
Left: A hungry catfish looks for a handout from photographer Jacqueline Anderson of Slater.
Pets were popular themes for Photo Corps participants. Right: Marissa Weiher from Slater zoomed in for this up close view of Harley.
Left: Ron Novak and his bulldog strike a similar pose in this photo shot at Union Covered Bridge State Historic Site by Jacob Coon of Bethel.
Right: Mariah Pullen of Slater shot this abstract photo while watching the sun set from a hill with her mother.
Left: Eagles come south to Louisiana and Clarksville in the winter where the river water is usually unfrozen, and Kari Jones of Middletown was there waiting for them with her camera.
Right: Caitlin Meyer from Harrisonville captured a perfect silhouette of her dad, Dale, and his horse, Sarge, in the barn.
Left: This chilly image of an ice-covered tractor is the work of Michael DeJoode, who lives at Rea.
Right: Grant Hoehn of Jefferson City titled this entry “Taking a Country Ride.”
Left: Fish were scarce so Rajaye Smith of Caruthersville traded his pole for a camera and shot this photo of a modern-day Tom Sawyer.
Right: Elizabeth Meisner of Frohna photographed an unwelcome visitor.
Left: Two little lambs posed for photographer Allie Rost from Columbia.
Right: In the middle of an ice storm, a cow cares for her newborn calf in this photo by Kathryn Coon of Bethel.
Rural Missouri | March 2019 Issue

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