Dried Out

WKU senior Cecilia Morris holds Josie Rhodes while driving a tractor carrying tobacco leaves on Sept. 12, 2020. Morris is a family friend that has been around the farm ever since she was in high school.

Keilen Frazier/HERALD

WKU’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Doctor Bryan Reaka led a group of 10 students to Hartford, Kentucky to learn about Kentucky’s culture of farming tobacco. According to the University of Kentucky’s Department of Agricultural Economics, Kentucky’s agricultural economy is the most tobacco-dependent in the nation. These students came to Dr. Reaka interested in learning about “the dry- ing art of tobacco.” Luckily a member of the group was freshman, Tommy Rhodes, who grew up on a tobacco farm. The Rhodes’ family welcomed the students to spend time seeing what work is like in the tobacco farming industry for the day.
Reaka used this opportunity to help with this year’s harvest and introduce students to a huge part of Kentucky’s heritage. Students and a few graduates spent the day hanging tobacco plants in a barn, cutting plants, attaching tobacco to a stick and loading them on a tractor to the barn. At the end of the day students had a deep understand- ing and appreciation of tobacco with a day in the life of a farmer.