Sue Tebow began a facebook page called agri.CULTURE sharing value in the richness of farm people through photography and short stories, and it is followed by thousands.
The story of how it began.
by Melea Johnson
When Sue Tebow picked up a camera and started taking pictures years ago, she wondered what she was going to do with her new-found hobby viewing the world through a lens. She had no interest in becoming a professional photographer, so she was a bit unknowing about why she was so driven to learn her camera and get better at her shoots.
Two questions drive a simmering idea more than any others: What if? And Why not? In February of this year, those two questions crossed her mind after viewing a Facebook page called Humans of New York, displaying nothing more than photos and short stories of the people who live there.
It all of a sudden became clear to her that the years of picture taking was simply a precursor to what was to come. What if she took pictures of the people who live on ranches and farms, working their own way, in their own place, in the world of agriculture? Why not show the rest of the world what is true and real about the culture of this rural lifestyle? I mean, making a difference in the world can be as simple as sharing the way you view it, right? So, with camera in tow, on April 23, she began a daily journey with a purpose.
Sue Tebow is a solid example of a person who looks with more depth than perhaps others choose to. She searches for the good in people. And finds it. She feels deeply, which allows her to see with a sensitive heart. And with a heart for the farming/ranching community she set her sights on this personal project. One that has gained the attention of thousands of people in a very short time.
It is not easy to walk up to complete strangers and ask if you can visit with them for a moment? It is a moment of vulnerability. But, action is the difference maker. Sue states, “I just do it. I tell them about the project I am working on and ask if they would be willing to be a part of it? On the whole, whether they know me or not, the response is positive and we share a comfortable conversation. Normally, it starts with the person telling me they don’t have anything to say. I respond with, …’Oh, you’d be surprised. Everyone has a story. I just don’t know yours? Tell me about what you do? Tell me about something you will never forget?’…or …(what ever comes to my mind at the time). Then, I listen.”
People are not concerned with being prepared for a photo taken. There is no time for make-up, photo shop or concern about what shirt they chose to wear that day. None of that matters. Sue captures the essence of who they really are…in real life… in real time.
“If you want to know what people are thinking or doing, just ask, then remind yourself to listen.” ~Sue Tebow
Being a farmer herself, Sue Tebow knows firsthand the hard work and honest sweat that comes with the culture of this rural lifestyle. Alongside her husband, Ron Tebow, they own TBO Cattle Company, a cow/calf operation in Moses Lake, as well as growing and putting up hay. Sue is not one to stand back and watch. No, she rolls up her sleeves and gets to work. Whatever needs to be done. Cut? Rake? Bale? She gets a call; grabs her phone and ear buds, bottle of water, gum, and a sweatshirt (for those cool evenings), and heads out the door. She marvels at the gorgeous sunsets, is delighted by the wildlife, and has hours to ponder life, all while watching the monitors in the tractor and checking for wadded up hay. At the end of each cutting, she talks about how good it feels to be a part of something bigger than herself.
Agri.CULTURE is a raw expression of the person who created it. Sue Tebow will never know how far the online reach will extend to people around the globe. She only knows there is comfort in being exposed to farm/ranch people and having the opportunity to share glimpses of the lives they lead. It can be refreshing, fun, humorous, sad, inspiring, motivational, or a combination of it all. Facts will never move the human heart like storytelling can. So, she continues to weave story after story into her day to share an experience someone had that may be an inspiration or education to someone else.
When you ask her how her project is coming along, she will simply shake her head with astonishment and tell you, “This experience is so much larger than I ever imagined…It feeds my soul.”