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July 3, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

100 Years, 100 Ranchers

  |   Video
  • Scott Baxter spent much of the last decade driving across Arizona to photograph 100 ranchers whose families have been ranching in Arizona since 1912 or earlier. Hear what Baxter has to say about this ambitious project and see how he goes about his work as we tag along on one of his shoots in southern Arizona.
  • Scott Baxter - Photographer, 100 Years 100 Ranchers
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: 100 years, 100 ranchers, 100, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Ranching is a big part of Arizona's past but some are concerned it may not have much role in the state's future. Concern that the ranching way of life is disappearing photographer Scott Baxter set out to make a permanent record of 100 ranchers from families that have been ranching in Arizona for 100 years or more. I spoke with Baxter near the ends of his decade long journey to complete this ambitious project.

Ted Simons: First we tag along as Baxter photographs ranchers in southern Arizona. [dog barking] [cattle mooing]

Scott Baxter: Some of these ranches that we're photographing aren't going to be around because development is going to fight its way in. There's a lot of ranches there's no one coming up behind them so they will most likely be sold. I just thought, what if photographicly I could at least try to record some of the families that have been around here since 1912 or earlier? I didn't really plan to do anything with TI just wanted for see if I -- to see if I could accomplish it. We call it 100 years, 100 ranchers. Basically the criteria is the family has been ranching in Arizona continuously since 1912 or earlier.

Henry Amado: My ancestors came here from Valencia, Spain, in the 1840s. They were coming to Tucson by covered wagon.

Henry Amado: This is the Amado family. My great-grandfather.

Henry Amado: About 1852 is when he set up the ranch in what is called Amado.

Scott Baxter: This family is very historic family. Goes back a long ways. A beautiful ranch too. One of my Santa Cruz is probably one of my favorite places to be in the whole state. Photographs should be really easy for you to look at. Doesn't mean it has to be Pollyanaish or beautiful. It just has to be easy. If it's easy it's good. Henry, just right in the middle -- if I really try too hard to push a photograph it just doesn't work out for me. I kind of let the photograph come to me. There's not a set process.

Scott Baxter: I want to get this brand on the horse's shoulder.

Scott Baxter: Aside from scouting the day before knowing I wanted to use that big sycamore tree, I don't have like a list of what I'm going to do. I just walk in and it's the way I have always worked. I just wing it. Kind of works for me. Doesn't work for everybody, but it works for me.

Scott Baxter: Perfect, guys. Okay.

Scott Baxter: The last one with this camera for now at least.

Henry Amado: I was standing there --

Scott Baxter: Straight in.

Henry Amado: Last evening by the tree between two horses with my son and grandson on each side of me. Very proud.

Scott Baxter: Just gives you an idea, a small shot. You have to kind of look at it you want to show that pride. As a group they are very proud of their heritage, very proud of what they do.

Scott Baxter: That's where we're at. We're going to shoot a few more with this camera.

Scott Baxter: With the portraits you take a little more time, get your frame up the way you want it, you read your light and you shoot it.

Henry Amado: I think it's a wonderful thing that Scott came up with, this idea.

Scott Baxter: This is actually very nice where we're at now.

Henry Amado: It's recorded history.

Scott Baxter: I don't think they are really looking for recognition. I think they like the fact that there's going to be a record of this somewhere for their kids. For future generations. For me, forget about the pictures. It's the experience to travel around the state. I usually get into a ranch and back about three and a half hours each way. It's a lot of miles. I like driving. I get to see a lot of the state.

Scott Baxter: I treated this in a lot of ways just like it could have been shot, you know, 100 years ago. I bring a digital with me just to shoot stuff for them. We're shooting straight black and white film, no lights. Basically camera film and a tripod. That forces know really think about my composition a lot because I don't have a lot of tricks in my bag. It makes you think more as a photographer. I like to get the cattle into the two corrals.

Henry Amado: We were doing the spring roundup, which means bringing the cattle in from the pastures, bringing them into the corral. [cattle mooing] Starting off with the baby calves.

Henry Amado: Separating the bigger steers because we're going to sell them.

Henry Amado: I don't know of any rancher that doesn't work hard. We have to. No, I don't have to do this. I have always been a very successful CPA, and with my son as my partner, the business is still going. And maybe that's why I can afford to be here. Because I don't have to be at the office, but I enjoy being here. At my age I deserve to be here. I think it's love of the ranch, love of the land.

Scott Baxter: The brandings can be kind of exciting. Got two guys roping and dragging calves and three or four cowboys throwing calves on the ground. Sometimes with the action stuff I don't have time to do too much but just kind of -- hang in there. You don't want to be the cause of somebody getting hurt. You don't want to be the cause of livestock getting injured and you certainly don't want to get hurt yourself. You stay dialed into the frame but you certainly have to have a few things going on in your head, keep yourself cognizant of really what's going on around you.

Scott Baxter: And I've learned a lot. I wasn't aware I was actually going to brand a calf yesterday. It was wonderful to me and for me an honor that Henry asked me to give it a shot.

Henry Amado: Rock it back.

Henry Amado: I was surprised Scott had not had that experience.

Henry Amado: That's enough. Beautiful.

Scott Baxter: Thank you, Henry.

Henry Amado: When we branded the first calf he kind of got a happy smile. Now you're going to learn to castrate a calf. And he did one. So he's an expert now. [laughter]

Scott Baxter: This one is a little bit more -- this was like the old style. [laughter] Yeah.

Scott Baxter: I have not had a bad experience, and I've got a story for every single ranch I have been at.

Scott Baxter: That's perfect right there. Hold that.

Scott Baxter: The photographs are kind of the icing on the cake, but the real thing is I just --

Scott Baxter: Thank you, sir.

Scott Baxter: That's it.

Scott Baxter: They are a great group of people.

Mrs. Amado: I like Henry sharing the history of the family.

Scott Baxter: I have just been real honored to have the opportunity to meet them and spend some time with them.

Henry Amado: The cattle business is okay. It's going to keep going. For example this ranch is not for sale. It will continue.

Henry Amado: Look more out for me.

Henry Amado: There will be somebody here, one of the kids, maybe son-in-law, grandson. Who knows? But they will keep it going.

Scott Baxter: They are all hard working people who just like -- they love what they do. They really love the land. I mean, that's the thing I have come away with. They really love this land and they really want to take care of it.

Ted Simons: Here now to talk about 100 years, 100 ranchers, which by the way has been designated an official state centennial legacy project, is photographer Scott Baxter. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Scott Baxter: Thank you, Ted.

Ted Simons: Why ranchers?

Scott Baxter: At the "X"-diamond ranch I met Wink Krigler, the granddaughter. I spent time with wink. She has a museum and my B.A. is in history. We struck up a friendship. By spending time with her and her sister and another rancher up there, Sam Udall, I got the feeling that this thing was changing. This was a tenuous tradition. I just came up with the idea probably around 2000, 2001. I have been working on it since '99 but just came up with the idea, said what if I try to shoot 100 of them?

Ted Simons: Did you know it would lead to this many years, this much work, this much travel? Did you know that in the beginning?

Scott Baxter: No. Bob Barrett, a rancher at the love lake ranch, I met him at a cattle growers meeting that I spoke at. He came up to me and said, Scott, I bet you thought this was a lot of fun taking pictures. It kind of took on a life of its own. It's been a great trip.

Ted Simons: Did you find yourself ever getting in the way? Worried about getting in the way?

Scott Baxter: Not really. In the video piece I spoke about when you're at branding and stuffer and there's a lot of action. I ask a lot of questions, make sure I'm not in the way. They are usually really good with me, Scott, come over here, stand here. I'm real cognizant not to screw things up for them.

Ted Simons: In the video you talked about how you look at a shot, a photograph. I'm always very interested in whether or not you saw the Sycamore tree and you said that's a photograph, or -- did you not know that that was going to be a winner until you had them stand next to it? Do you see it in your mind's eye or through the lens and go, that's it?

Scott Baxter: The process here is people ask me that a lot, I never know what I'm going to do when I walk into a ranch. I go in with an open mind. I look around, I get my ideas, but for me it's more of an emotional thing.

Ted Simons: Did you know that those hands had to be a photograph or did you find those hands and go, that's it?

Scott Baxter: I was -- we were waiting to go gather cattle outside of Winslow. This is Jim Ohaco, these are his hands. I was talking with him and his ranch manager, shooting portraits of them. When I looked at them, it's not rocket science.

Ted Simons: You know it when you see it.

Scott Baxter: Exactly.

Ted Simons: You said, another photograph here, it's got great line in the video, it's got to be an easy thing to look at.

Scott Baxter: This is probably one of my favorite photographs that I took. This is a great example of what you're asking. A friend of mine said, this is what there is, there are quiet moments before you shoot and after you're done that sometimes provide a great image. This was one I was done. Hi four frames left. I had always wanted that treat in it, I couldn't get it in. We were done. That's John Hayes, a state legislator, speaking with his daughter. I just picked it up, it was the end of the day, four frames, I didn't have any more film. That was it

Ted Simons: That's something. Black and white. Large format. Why?

Scott Baxter: Well, black and white, everything from six by six centimeter up to eight by ten negative. For the large format stuff it allows me to slow down when I'm doing a portrait, dial in sometimes people will slow down too. They will look at the camera and you can converse with them. You don't have to look at the camera like a 35. You can frame it up, stand to the side and speak with them a little bit.

Ted Simons: As far as the texture of black and white, THESE are just gorgeous.

Scott Baxter: Like I was saying it's hard to explain but there's a depth to a black and white photograph I don't feel you get in a digital photograph.

Ted Simons: What's next for you?

Scott Baxter: Project-wise, I kind of dove tailed off this project and I'm just beginning it. I shot a few tests. Tentatively it's called top hand, but I want to do a cowboy project. But not rodeo cowboys. I want to do working ranch cowboys. I have -- I have met some. It may not be just Arizona. It may be throughout the west. I have kind of started it. That's my next goal to work on that.

Ted Simons: Are you concerned about the future of ranching in Arizona?

Scott Baxter: Yes. It's a very -- a lot of my fourth generation ranchers are the last ones in a lot of cases. There are a lot of them, we have some great young ranchers, but a lot of the fourth generation ranchers, the quote is the work is too hard and you can't make enough money.

Ted Simons: You've done great work here. Congratulations. Best of luck to you.

Scott Baxter: Thank you.

Arizona High School Graduation Rate

  |   Video
  • Arizona's high school graduation rate has jumped 24 percent over the past decade, the highest increase in the nation. Part of that growth can be attributed to a ten percent increase in the Latino graduation rate from 2005 to 2011. Bill Hart of ASU's Morrison Institute and Dr. Kent Scribner, Superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District, will discuss what led to the increase.
  • Bill Hart - ASU Morrison Institute
  • Dr. Kent Scribner - Superintendent, Phoenix Union High School District
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, high school, graduation, rate, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. My school graduation rates jumped 24% in Arizona over the past decade. That's the biggest increase in the country and three times the national average. The spike in numbers seems to correspond to an increase in the graduation rates of Latinos who make up nearly half of Arizona high school students. Here to talk about Arizona's increasing high school graduation rates are Dr. Kent Scribner, superintendent of the Phoenix union high school district. Dr. Scribner is also a member of President Obama's advisory commission on educational excellence for Hispanics. Also joining us is Bill Hart of the Morrison institute. The institute recently released a report indicating that Arizona was not closing the gap in educational disparities among Latin why students. Thanks for joining us. 24% increase in the last decade. What's going on here?

Dr. Scribner: Well, I think at least in urban schools I can speak of that from my experiences, I think that there's a great shift towards focusing on college and career preparedness. I think the best way to improve graduation rate is not to focus on it but rather to focus on college and career preparedness. The goal should not be high school graduation as the goal. The goal should be are our students able to participate freshman year in credit bearing courses at our universities.

Ted Simons: 24%, three times the national average. What's happening out there?

Bill Hart: As Dr. Scribner said it has to do with refocused efforts on the school system towards these ends. It also is a little bit of a misleading statistic because you're starting from a lower base, so you have a bigger increase. I think that the Latino rise in Latino graduation rates is a bright spot in our school systems as we noted in the report that we did, however, it's the gap between Latinos and nonLatino whites has not narrowed in the past ten years, and take remains a really important concern.

Ted Simons: I want to get to that in a second. As far as numbers and these remarkable, biggest increases in the country, has the reporting changed? Has the tracking data changed?

Bill Hart: The reporting data has changed, I know it's changed in over the past ten years. Different requirements, different measurements. It's changed in other states. There's a national move on to have all states report calculate and report in the same way. They still don't, so there are differences across the country in how states measure this. The way this education week report measured it was what they call a cumulative promotional index, which is multiplication of ratios as you pass from one grade to another through high school. That's not the way the Arizona Department of Education does it. They use the cohort method. Their number is different of graduation rate than the education rate.

Ted Simons: That difference in numbers, does it equate to something we need to be concerned about or are we seeing increasing graduation rates among Latinos and thus Arizona high school students in general?

Dr. Scribner: Well, I think that we are seeing increases N. Phoenix union in 2000, we had a 55% four-year graduation rate. What we keep track of is the number of students who start at high school and in four years graduate. Those numbers went from 55% of our students graduating in four years to a four-year graduation rate of 80% in 2010. That is the case for across the different demographics but certainly for our minority student population, which is the highest number of students in our schools.

Ted Simons: You're saying it isn't so much -- we talked a little bit earlier, it's not so much stopgap all hands on deck emergency measures it's going beyond that. It's saying there's a lot of potential here there are a lot of smart kids here. Quit treating them like there's a problem. Treat them like smart kids.

Dr. Scribner: Phoenix union is extremely fortunate. Our governing board adopted a new mission of preparing every student for success, in college, career and life. They didn't say graduate every student four years from high school. As a result of that cultural transformation, as a result of our focus on attitudes and behaviors around college and career preparedness high school graduate rate has taken care of itself. Not taken care of itself but improved dramatically. We're not done until 100% of our students graduate. What I can say is latino students, African-American students, all of the different cohorts have improved over this last decade.

Ted Simons: Did the Morrison institute look at the last decade and see problems in the educational gap, the achievement gap. The idea that we're going to have some sort of economic and fiscal crisis ahead in Arizona if some of these gaps are not closed. What's going on here.

Bill Hart: We looked at the report called dropped and it's on our website, but we looked at the standard measurements of academic improvement, academic achievement, college graduation rates, aims test scores, sat scores, A.P. courses taken, scores on what's called the national -- what is it? National assessment of educational progress. In all these areas the gaps between nonHispanic whites and whites are just as bad as they were ten years ago. They have not improved. Yet both groups have improved and one of the bright spots again is the increase in Latino graduation rates and other measures. But the gaps remain. Now, why is that important? It's obviously important for the individuals and families involved, but the major reason is a demographic reason. As we know, this state is rapidly becoming increasingly Latino. There are soon going to be Latinos the majority in the work force and in the schools they are already I believe a majority in the schools. If we continue to allow under-achievement in this group we're all going to face a future where we won't be economically competitive with other states.

Ted Simons: Are you seeing those kinds of achievement gaps and are the gaps there from what you see and secondly, if that is a problem if that is a concern, how do you address it?

Dr. Scribner: The gaps do exist. Students who come from a higher socioeconomic status tend to achieve higher levels than students who are poor. Phoenix union serves a student population where 78% of our students live at or below the federal poverty line. That's 29,000 a year for a family of four. That's $1600 a month. So our students are not only minority but also coming from low income families. And what we're doing is we're not looking at that status, minority status, low socioeconomic status, minority status as a deficit. We're looking at it as an absolute possibility, an opportunity and an asset. We know 49% of all students in Arizona, 1.3 million students in K-12 schools are Latino or Hispanic. If you compress that down to K-3, the primary grade levels, 65%. Our district is 80% Latino. We know also that education and the economy are inextricably linked. This is not a Hispanic education problem or challenge. This is an Arizona education, a United States education issue.

Ted Simons: The Morrison looked at that very closely, education and the economy, the link there, symbiotic nature of the two, if you will. Talk about that and do these numbers suggest a moving target here that things could be increasing maybe better than the institute's report had suggested?

Bill Hart: I would say these numbers don't show that. Because again, we cited in the report the increase in Latino graduation rates. Given all the other metrics that are not positive, I don't think that the point of the report has changed. But as Dr. Scribner said, this is not a Latino issue for two reasons. One, the reason there's under-achievement among Latinos are poverty, some language issue, there's a lack of a tradition in the families to help their kids with education. Whatever group suffers from those deficits, whether they are Latino or white or anything else, have the same results. The second reason is again because we're becoming an increasingly Latino state. If we want to attract high skill industry, competitive industry that pays good wages, that raises everybody's quality of life, raises tax revenues, we need to have an educated work force.

Ted Simons: Dropout rate in Arizona is still 14th highest in the country. Graduation ready 72%, ranked 29th. How do you improve? What do you do?

Bill Hart: I think Dr. Scribner is better able than I to say what specifically we should do but two things we mention here as far as a framework for progress is, one, committing to the long haul. This is not going to be turned around in one year or two years or five years. Secondly, we got to pay for it.

Ted Simons: Yeah. I hear that a lot.

Dr. Scribner: But also money matters. Absolutely money matters. The states that are the high end of those statistics spend more per student. However, attitude matters as well. We need to shift the paradigm. Urban schools in L.A., New York, Chicago, Miami have always focused historically on a deficit model. How do we minimize failure. Low income minority students has problem that needs to be fixed. I reject that notion. I believe what we should not do is focus on minimizing failure but rather on maximizing success. Our success with graduation rate but also with aims scores, with our act results, our A through F labels, is a function of increased rigor. We have more honors classes, more A.P. classes, more back laureate students. We have increased from six to 10,000 students edge gauged in these rigorous pursuits. They take the act exam in the 11th grade. That's changed the conversation consult really around college and career preparedness more than anything we are have done.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Guests: Thank you.