Episode Synopses Shows 201-210
Episode 201 begins with a visit to the Sims cattle ranch, a 21-thousand acre spread outside
Laramie, Wyoming. Paul learns how the family gets through the sometimes-unforgiving Wyoming
winter, and how they are finding new ways to generate revenue.
Jason Shoultz travels to Florida to learn how grapefruit growers are banding together to address a
basketful of new challenges: recent storms decimated many of their groves, they’re battling a tough kind
of fruit disease, and fewer people are consuming grapefruit than in years past.
Then, Jason heads to another, more unusual farm in the Sunshine State: these folks are among
the nation’s largest producers of tropical fish for pet stores. They, too, are battling declining interest in their product, but remain hopeful about their future.
One product that shows no sign of waning in popularity is watermelon. Paul discovers that some
of the juiciest watermelons are found, surprisingly, in our desert southwest.
Finally, Paul’s back in Wyoming to meet a very different kind of rancher. He’s raising yaks, and
swears they’re just as tasty as beef. Paul learns more about these high-altitude critters and bravely puts yak steaks to a taste test.
In Episode 202, we meet renowned country singer Willie Nelson, who’s emerged as one of the
nation’s most visible proponents of soybean bio-diesel fuel. In fact, he’s loaned his name to a bio-diesel
manufacturer. We learn more from soybean farmers, fuel makers, truck drivers, and Willie himself.
Much of that new fuel may end up powering farm equipment, and Pat McConahay travels to
Kentucky for one of the Heartland’s biggest machinery shows. She discovers that farm gear is growing
more sophisticated than most people imagine, but here, it still provides a lighter side: a raucous “tractor pull” – part drag race, part tug-of-war!
From new and futuristic farm machinery, Jason travels back to the past as he meets a California
man whose passion is restoring classic farm equipment. He’s managed to turn his own personal tragedy into an opportunity to honor America’s Ag history.
Before tractors and trucks, there were mules. As Pat learns at a gathering of mule breeders in
Tennessee, the supposedly-stubborn critters may be mostly gone from the farm scene, but there are still
many folks in the Heartland who have great affection for them.
Finally, we conclude episode 202 with an unusual profile of some unique young women.
These Texas high school student defied the odds – and a few stereotypes –as they set out to become one
of the nation’s top tractor mechanics and restorers. America’s Heartland ? KVIE 6/17/2010 1
Each year, dozens of children are killed or injured in accidents on farms and ranches throughout
the Heartland. Jason Shoultz profiles an Iowa woman who transformed her own sorrow into action
following such a loss – and created a nationwide movement to make farms safer for kids.
Then, Pat McConahay visits a Tennessee corn farmer who’s busy planting this year’s crop. In his
own words, he shares the challenges, concerns, and his hopes at the start of another planting season.
In Indiana, the harvest is year-round, and the crop is unique. This is a state known for its
hardwood forests, and Paul learns how farmers are making money with a sustainable and sought-after
Paul then meets a craftsman who’s using much of Indiana’s renowned hardwood to make his
own popular products. We learn some of the secrets of cabinet-making the old-fashioned way.
Finally, Jason seeks and finds another unusual Florida product: alligators. It’s both a real farm and a tourist attraction, and Jason risks life and limb to get close and personal with one of their biggest
Coming back from disaster is the challenge facing farmers, fishermen and timber land owners in
Louisiana and Mississippi who felt the wrath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Jason Shoultz discovers
farm families who are facing the future determined to begin again and triumph over Mother Nature.
Ranchers from all across the west head for Denver and The National Western Stock Show.
America’s Heartland host Paul Ryan finds out that it’s a lot more than just ridin’, ropin’ and rodeo.
Pat McConahay finds a Kentucky farm family who traded their tobacco crop for fields filled with
tomatoes. It’s a success story that earned them the nickname, “The Salsa Sisters.”
Buffalo once roamed the plains by the tens of thousands. But Paul Ryan says a good place to find
them today…is Denver!
And then a big roundup in Louisiana. When this rancher brings in the herd….it’s bugs. Millions and millions of bugs.
Americans are fueling up with energy from the cornfield. Jason Shoultz discovers that ethanol is
making a difference in how people drive…from the highway to the race track. Jason takes us to an ethanol plant in Wyoming to find farmers who are making an increasing dent in America’s dependence
on foreign oil.
Then the brew that’s big business for farmers in the heartland. Paul Ryan shows you how beer
makers in St. Louis transform barley, rice and hops into some of America’s most famous beverages.
America’s Stone crabs are a delicacy enjoyed all around the world. But there’s hard work and
dedication needed to harvest this bounty of the sea. Jason Shoultz heads into the Gulf of Mexico for a
roundup of some tasty crustaceans.
Pat McConahay travels to Tennessee and a visit to RFD Television. It’s a network geared to the
needs and interests of farmers and ranchers all across the country.
America’s Heartland ? KVIE 6/17/2010 2
And then the story of a Missouri dairy farmer with a fresh approach to marketing milk. It’s back
to bottles…just like the old days. And are you ready for root beer milk?
Paul Ryan takes us to Illinois to see how activity on the Chicago Board of Trade determines the
price you pay for food on your table. It’s a loud and busy place where…daily…traders affect the future
Then Jason Shoultz visits a very special spot in Iowa where moviemakers from Hollywood
transformed two family farms into a “Field of Dreams.”
We’ll show you how modern windmills are generating energy for consumers… and cash for
farmers and ranchers…all across the country.
Jason Shoultz heads for some very special Texas towns that are using a new approach to
agriculture to save their cities.
And Pat McConahay introduces us to some “farmers in training.” These young folks are
harvesting much more than good grades in their school gardens.
American agriculture has long depended on the hard work of those who plant and harvest our
nation’s crops. Paul Ryan looks at a unique program that helped feed America during the darkest days
of World War Two as Mexican farm workers were invited north to work as braceros.
Jason Shoultz rides the range in Texas with the descendents of early Spanish settlers who opened
the Lone Star State to cattle ranching and farming. He discovers some rich traditions as these “Spanish
Ranchers” work the land as their ancestors did.
Then Pat McConahay travels to the “Peach State” of Georgia to see how farmers grow and
harvest this sweet tasting delight. She also takes us to “Peach County” where they celebrate the peach in
an annual festival that draws visitors…and peach fans…from all across the country.
And meet a California farmer for whom the peach is more than just a fruit. Mas Masumoto is an
orchard owner and author who celebrates the land in a very special way.
The story of agriculture in America and those who work the land has often been told in song.
Jason Shoultz takes us to California to discover the farms, fields and honky tonks that form the roots of
one branch of American country music.
Then America’s gulf coast is home to a hard working group of men and women who harvest the
sea for shrimp. But damage from hurricanes and competition from foreign fisheries are challenging a
way of life as old as the country itself.
And…the buzz on bees! They may be tiny, but they play a “big” role in American agriculture.
Jennifer Quinonez says honeybees are under attack by a new predator and their survival affects many of
the foods you eat every day.
And Pat McConahay takes you to Tennessee where they’re harvesting a very different kind of
crop in the waters of Birdsong Creek…small and precious freshwater pearls.
America’s Heartland ? KVIE 6/17/2010 3
Preserving the land has become increasingly important as urbanization takes lace all across the
country. We’ll see how farmers, ranchers and preservationists are working together to protect precious farm land and save a bit of history as well as a way of life.
Then Pat McConahay explores the dramatic growth in farmers markets in towns and cities from
Maine to California. “Fresh from the Farm” is welcome news for folks who want a taste of the bounty of the heartland. We’ll sample some of the best at farmers markets in Georgia and California.
And a farm family whose dream of ranching in “harmony with the land” has become a reality.
And their brand’s become world class beef.
America’s heartland has long depended on the Mississippi River to get the harvest to market and provide irrigation for farms and crops that line this vital American artery. Paul Ryan takes us down
the Mississippi to meet the farmers who depend on the river for the success of their farming efforts.
Pat McConahay travels back in time to explore the rich agricultural past of one Missouri town
and discovers that Hannibal’s history has more to offer than just Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
We’ll see how the river provides rich opportunities to explore nature for those who want to wander its banks.
And Jason Shoultz follows the Mississippi to its mouth to see how the Port of South Louisiana
plays a vital role for farmers and ranchers who depend on the river to get their goods to markets all
around the world.
America’s Heartland ? KVIE 6/17/2010 4