Jimmy Dodson credits his late father, Giles, with much of his success as a farmer and for his commitment to stewardship of the natural resources he depends on for his living.

“I learned to farm from my dad,” Dodson says. “He taught me a lot about stewardship as a concept, and how stewardship for the land results in leaving it better than I found it. From him I learned to always try to find a better way of doing things.”

Dodson’s dedication to soil and water conservation and sound management practices earned him the Southwest Region High Cotton Award for 2009.

Dodson’s father started farming near Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1937, taking over from his father who moved to Nueces County around 1900 from east Texas. For a time, it didn’t look like farming was in the cards for Jimmy.

“I went to Texas A&M in 1971 and thought farming was out of the question,” he says. “The price of land was way up and there were not enough acres on Dad’s farm for both of us.”

He planned to work on a master’s degree or possibly a Ph.D. in economics and then teach in college or go into banking. “I got married in 1972 and got real serious about school,” he says.

In the fall of 1974 a neighbor farmer decided to sell out and talked with Dodson’s father about buying the operation, including equipment and a long-term lease on the land. “Dad said he couldn’t do it on his own and wondered if I’d be willing to work as a partner. He was smiling from ear to ear. I canceled my plans to work on a master’s degree and started farming in the spring of 1975.

“It was a good time to farm. Commodity prices were up and I was soon able to buy my father’s interest in the partnership and operate on my own. I began to lease more land and grew the business.”