OCJ covers tell their own stories (the first 10 years)

By Matt Reese

To commemorate 20 years of Ohio’s Country Journal this month, I thought it would be interesting to let the covers tell their unique stories through the years. I pulled out the binders holding a copy of each issue and stacked them up on the desk at the office and started with 1992 and worked my way through 2012.

It took awhile, as I found myself leafing through the pages to see the familiar faces and catch up on ag news of the days gone by. I was reminded how rich Ohio agriculture is in terms of the soils, the productivity but, maybe most importantly, the people. Ohio is home to so many great leaders in agriculture, so many smiling young people and many great farmers. Ohio has also been a battleground for some of the most pressing issues in food production as we have Corn Belt values colliding with East Coast mentalities all in the same great state.

With 20 years of covers to pick from to highlight, it was tough to narrow it down to a few favorites. Here are some from the first 10 years from 1992 to 2002.

The September Issue from 1995 had to be among the largest issues ever at a whopping 146 pages (this was back when it was just one issue a month), but more interesting is the death-defying photo on the front. Editor Tim Reeves went to great lengths to promote ethanol with this high flying shot of the first-ever ethanol powered plane flown by Max Shauck, an Ohio native who was a faculty member at Baylor University and a former Navy pilot.


This August 1996 cover photo has to be among the more unusual in OCJ history. This Dress-Up-A-Cow event at the Mahoning County Fair featuring a stern-faced princess pulling a bewitching Holstein is just not something you see every day.
Since the scramble to get the very first OCJ out in time for the Farm Science Review, the event has been an annual staple for the publication. The OCJ has been represented at every day of every Review for 20 years. This September 1996 bird’s-eye view of the grounds never fails to put me in the mood for the sights and sounds of the event that has kept Ohio agriculture on the cutting edge for 50 years.
I am partial to this one because September of 1999 was my first cover shot. I was very nervous, and proud of how it turned out. Kent Eddy, with the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, was highlighting ethanol with this vehicle.
Ok, so this is cheating a bit, as it was not on the front cover of the OCJ, but it was the cover of a special insert we did to commemorate the life of OCJ founder Ed Johnson. Of course, emotions were running high in our office following his sudden loss in 2001. We were scrambling to put together a fitting tribute in a timely manner, but could not settle upon a cover photo that summed up the incredible life of Ed Johnson. We had hundreds of photos of him, but not the one right photo of him. I was still very young and remained largely silent on the issue, until I remembered this random photo that Ed had asked me to take of him while I was at his farm one day. We had just come back from a story interview just a few months before his death and it was a beautiful autumn day. We went out to the horse pasture and this photo was the result. I was most humbled and honored (and still am) to have the chance to work with and learn from Ed Johnson and to have taken this picture.
This is my all-time favorite OCJ cover. I had the great privilege to spend an afternoon with three Ohio farm boys who just happen to play Ohio State University Football. John Adams, Ben Hartsock, and Dave Andrews all had great farm stories to share, and a few football stories as well. This also marked the 10th Anniversary of the OCJ in September of 2002 and a National Championship for the Buckeyes at the end of the season. Go Bucks!



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