De Smet, SD, educator and farmer wins photo contest drawing

South Dakota Farmers Union
Farm Forum

De Smet kindergarten teacher and farmer Lexi Johnson was drawn as the winner of the South Dakota Farmers Union Farmers & Ranchers at Work 2020 Fall Photo Contest. Johnson will receive a $250 gift card.

More than 100 photos were contributed by farmers, ranchers and their families. Each photo contributed entered the photographer in the drawing. Johnson only submitted one photo, taken at sunset, it featured her husband, Ray planting soybeans into cover crops.

“Farming is a sunrise to sunset, 365-days all day, everyday job,” says Johnson, who just returned from delivering a turkey dinner with all the fixings to the field. We visited Nov. 4, the family’s last day of corn harvest. “I figure a Thanksgiving meal is perfect for being thankful for getting all the crops out this year.”

The Johnson family farm is diversified. They raise cattle, sheep, corn, soybeans, spring wheat and other small grains. Johnson grew up on a farm near Iroquois, S.D. And she says she didn’t expect to raise her family on a farm. “I told my parents ‘I’m never marrying a farmer. … and we’ve been married 18 years.’”

Reflecting on the life she and Ray and their children — Connor, 14; Breyten, 12; and Kiraley, 7 — have on their farm, she says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “There is never a dull moment and it is a good place to learn about hard work.”

During the school year, Johnson works as a kindergarten teacher. She says this career works well with life on the farm because she has summers free to help out. She adds that farming can also be flexible when it comes to the school year schedule. Because their sons, are both active in wrestling, Ray schedules lambing and calving around wrestling season.

“In case our boys or their teammates get to state wrestling, we like to finish up lambing before wrestling season and start calving later in March.”

South Dakota Farmers Union launched the Farmers and Ranchers at Work photo contest as a way to connect farm and ranch families from across South Dakota during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization also held a spring contest.

“These are the families who do the work that is our state’s number one economic driver,” explains Karla Hofhenke, South Dakota Farmers Union executive director. “As a grassroots agriculture organization, we are always looking for ways to support farm and ranch families and share their stories — whether that is through policy, education, media or fun contests like this one.”

Like Johnson’s photo, the more than 100 contributed photos provide a glimpse into life on family farms and ranches across the state. To enjoy a slideshow containing many of these photos, visit and click on the Photo Contest link under the News/Events tab.

This photo was taken by Lexi Johnson, a De Smet kindergarten teacher and farmer. Johnson was drawn as the winner of the South Dakota Farmers Union Farmers & Ranchers at Work 2020 Fall Photo Contest.