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Reflections & Connections

Tom Bare

Tom retired from South Dakota State University’s Department of Ag Communications on June 30, 1999. He had spent 33 years in agricultural communications including 14 years on the staff at Nebraska and 2 years with USAID teaching in Botswana, Africa.

Tom is best known for his work as producer/host of the live, call-in lawn and garden shows: “Backyard Farmer” in Nebraska and “Garden Line” which he started in South Dakota. He pioneered the “DakotaText” system that provided updated ag marketing and weather information by utilizing the vertical blanking interval of the South Dakota Public TV signal.

Within days of retiring from SDSU, Tom became a travel agent in Brookings, a position he found most enjoyable. Part of his job was to organize and then lead overseas trips. In the summer of 2000, Tom and his wife Jeanette led a group of 30 on a two-week trip to the “Passion Play” in Oberammergau, Germany. In 2001, he put a trip together to visit New Zealand, the Great Barrier Reef, and the interior of Australia. On the morning of 9/11, he had over 60 people signed up for the trip. The next morning he only had five left! Like so many travel agencies across the country, the company went out of business the spring after 9/11.

Tom continues to make use of what he learned as a travel agent. He, his wife, and family have made many trips to Europe and have been on an Alaskan cruise, a cruise to and from Hawaii, and a Mediterranean cruise.

In the fall of 2002, Tom was asked if he might like to try substituting in the Brookings Public School System where his wife was teaching seventh-grade English. Three special education students made up his class the first day he taught at Brookings High. Little did he know that substitute teaching was to become a second career! In the early years, Tom substituted throughout the system from grades one through twelve. Today, he only substitutes at the high school level and on rare occasions at the middle school.

Brookings High Principal Paul Von Fischer recently said, “The term “sub” just doesn’t cover what Tom Bare has been for Brookings High School over the years. I know the largest impact on academic achievement happens not in the boardroom, staff room, or locker room but in the classroom. The goal is keeping classrooms from losing curricular ground when teachers are absent, but finding someone who can move the class forward through curriculum is like striking gold. With his skill set and experiences, Tom could have chosen to do just about anything during his retirement, but our district has been very fortunate to have enjoyed his instruction and supervision in our classrooms as a dedicated, trustworthy, and knowledgeable teacher.”

Tom says he continues to enjoy working with young people because it keeps him active and young in spirit. He also enjoys the camaraderie of fellow teachers. (Brookings High was named one of the top 400 high schools by TIME magazine in 2014.)

For a period of five years, Tom returned to the SDSU campus in the summers to host “Garden Line.” The show is no longer being produced. He says it is hard to comprehend that both Ag Communications Departments in which he served have been closed.

He will forever cherish the many life-long friends developed through ACE activities. Throughout his career, Tom attended and participated in numerous ACE activities on both the national and state levels. He received the Pioneer ACE Award, the ACE Award of Excellence in Electronic Media, served on the ACE Board as the Retirees Director from 2002-2004, was instrumental in starting the ACE Auction, served as the auctioneer in the early years, and served as co-chair of the 1991 annual meeting held in Rapid City, S.D.

Tom still finds time to enjoy the great out of doors. He and Jeanette are in the process of building a house on the West Virginia farm where he grew up. Their son Ben and his wife Katie are both attorneys in Hartford, Conn. They have an almost-four-year old son, Benji, and a daughter on the way! Son Stacy and his wife Makenzie live in Salt Lake City. Stacy is the Director of Outdoor Programs for the Sierra Club, and Makenzie is on the faculty of Utah Valley University.

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