The North Callaway Ladybird basketball team is tight-knit group of teens. The team had two pairs of sisters playing on the court together, but the group as a whole melded together as a family.
A player for the North Callaway High School Girls’ Basketball team uses her finger to write, “Janneth stuffs her bra"on a foggy bus window on Feb. 16, 2016. The team was on the road to Center, Missouri, to play against Mark Twain High School After one player wrote jokes on a window, nearly all the players joined in.
Erin Bush and Madison Ausfahl, laugh as Taylor Wilson makes funny faces in a selfie app on her iPhone Feb. 16, 2016. The trip from Kingdom City, Missouri, to Center, Missouri, took nearly an hour and half, so the players used the time to joke around, listen to music or nap.
After a neck-and-neck first half, freshman Mackenzie Ausfahl sits flanked by Skylar Schmauch and Taylor Wiseman as Coach Mathias Miller gives the team some stern words in Center, Missouri, on Feb. 16, 2016. Her sister, Madison, is a senior on the team and knows from experience that confidence is key. "I try to pick her back up and tell her to move on because as a freshman she doesn’t have a lot of confidence in herself,” she said.
Kyla Bertschinger shoots a free throw in the second half of a game against Mark Twain High School Center, Missouri, on Feb. 16, 2016. Bertschinger is a sophomore on the team, but has played on the varsity team since her freshman year and averages around 8 points-per-game.
Madison Ausfahl receives a hug from teammate Taylor Wilson right after the clock runs out and making North Callaway’s win official in Center, Missouri, on Feb. 16, 2016. The team battled neck-and-neck with Mark Twain in the first half and only finished it three points ahead. After a pep talk from their coach during halftime, the team found momentum and won with a final score of 54-47.
Sisters Skylar Schmauch and Reyna Schmauch take a nap in the hour and a half ride to Center, Missouri, on Feb. 16, 2016. The girls are the second sister pair playing on the varsity team along with the Ausfahl sisters. Skyler is a senior and Reyna is a sophomore.
Story: Taking the Reins
Zach Emmendorfer, 21, first sat in the seat of a tractor at age 7. He worked cornfields by age 13. At 21, he's now running a whole farm.
He didn't necessarily plan on taking over the land this early, but his grandfather who ran the farm before him, passed away two months ago. Zach, who had farmed with his grandfather since childhood, decided to continue the family business.
Zach's a young farmer entering the industry at time when the average age of farmers in the U.S. is on the rise. It's increased by eight years in the last 30 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Young farmers face a variety of barriers when trying to get started including cost of land and recourses, according to a 2011 study released by the National Young Farmer's Coalition.
But for Zach, keeping the farming tradition going is important to him, he said. His family has farmed on the same land in De Kalb, Missouri, for over a century.
"I think what made me want to be a farmer was just that my grandfather did it and was so passionate and respected in the community for being a good farmer," Zach said.
This April marks the first growing season for Zach without his grandfather. But he knows the job well after farming alongside his grandfather for so long.
"He taught me to be not only a farmer but a steward of the land and to respect the land that could give you all the essentials of life," Zach said. "That was a lesson his father taught him and was very important to him and now is important to me to pass down."
Zach Emmendorfer, 21, stands in a wheat field next to a barn on his family’s farm in De Kalb, Missouri, on Monday, April 18, 2016. Zach’s great grandfather built the barn in 1912 using wood from the farm.
Zach looks out the left window of his tractor before he makes a turn in the cornfield. This growing season is the first that Zach will plant without his grandfather. He has rouhgly 400 acres total, and planted corn in 200. He will plant nearly 115 more acres with soybeans, and the rest is pasture.
Zach plants corn in one of his fields in De Kalb, Missouri. Zach has been doing field work since he was 13, but started driving tractors with his grandfathers at age 7.
Zach looks at an old ear of corn that was laying on an unplanted field. Zach grows dent corn, which is primarily used for animal feed or ethanol. Dent corn is identifiable from other species of corn beause of the tiny dents on the tops of the kernels.
A young red angus cow looks through a barbed wire fence on a field in De Kalb, Missouri. Zach’s cousin Dave Reddick owns part of the land that their family has owned for over a century. In addition to growing crops, Dave has Angus and Red Angus cows. In the future, Zach hopes he and and his cousin can join and run all the land they inherited together.
Zach drives his grandmother back to her house after visiting one of the fields his family owns. Zach’s family has records of owning the same two large sections of land in De Kalb, Missouri, from as early as 1850. But knows for certain his ancestors have been farming since at least 1905. His grandfather took over the farm from his grandmother’s father in 1950.
Zach and his grandmother look at a photo of himself with his grandfather wearing their Future Farmers of America jackets. Both were presidents of a local FFA chapter when they were in high school. His grandfather was the Atchison County Community High School FFA president in 1949 and 1950 in Kansas, and Zach was the FFA president for the North Platte chapter in Missouri in 2010 and 2011.
Zach reads over a question on his last exam for his Grain and Material Handling class. Zach took over the farm after his grandfather passed away, but he still had to finish up his last semester as the University of Missouri where he studied Agricultural Systems Management. During the semester, he drove back and forth from Columbia, Missouri and De Kalb, Missouri, to plant and attend classes.
Zach picks up corn seed from the local Missouri Farmers Association Agri Services center in St. Joseph, Missouri. He uses De Kalb brand seed. Zach decided to take up the family business because of his grandfather. “My grandfather did it and was so passionate and respected in the community for being a good farmer,” he said. “I think it just has always been important to me to keep that tradition going.”