Standing just outside of his barn, below the scarlet red Texas Tech Double T that faces County Road 1240, Dan Taylor stares at his collection of tractors, a chuck wagon and a lifetime of memories hung up on his walls.
Taylor said, “Green sure is a pretty color on a tractor but that red one, that’s where it all began for us.”
An alumnus of Texas Tech University and the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, Dan started his journey as a cotton farmer almost 51 years ago in Lubbock, Texas. As a junior in high school, Dan was asked about what his future-plans were after graduation and though he knew that he wanted to pursue a degree in higher education, he never thought it would lead him back to farming cotton.
Taylor grew up on a cotton farm around the Fort Worth Area and at the time he wanted to get as far away from the cotton farming industry as he could.
Nonetheless, Taylor’s answer was always, “I’m not going to farm, and I will not do anything cotton related.”
Little did he know, the good Lord had different plans in store for him. Dan then spent the next few years of his life pursuing that degree and pursuing his now wife, Linda, who is also a Texas Tech graduate. Linda had her own ties into the agriculture industry through her family’s small livestock operation around the Austin, Texas area. Although Linda grew up around the industry, she did not receive her degree in agriculture, instead a degree in business management.
Dan and Linda married shortly after graduation from Texas Tech with a degree in interdisciplinary agriculture, Taylor acquired a job as an agriculture teacher at Lubbock-Cooper High School where he taught several young men and women the ins and outs of parliamentary procedure and meat judging, and he eventually started a school ag farm where they were able to grow cotton and show the students the process of the cotton growing business.
In 1975, after 11 years of teaching, Taylor made the decision to step away from the classroom and pursue other dreams he had for himself and his family.
“I decided to quit teaching because my kids were getting up in age and I wanted to be able to spend more time with them. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make but if I had to go back and do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Dan Taylor, Cotton Farmer
That same year the Taylor’s came upon an opportunity that allowed them to blend all the many aspects of their lives together. Taylor could still teach the consumers, produce his cotton and watch his three children grow as well.
Taylor said, “I loved teaching, I still do and that’s the best part about this industry, I still get to interact with the public and teach them about the practices of farmers across the U.S. There are many similarities between the two professions and more than anything we simply provide information to the public.”
It was not long before the Taylor’s were purchasing Buster’s Cotton Gin in Ropesville, Texas and just like that, they were wrapped up in the cotton ginning world and spending their days living out their dream.
“The best part about owning that old cotton gin was being able to gather around and drink coffee with those who came to our gin religiously,” Taylor said.
With his degree, 11 years of teaching, cotton farming and ginning, Taylor has had a lifetime of cotton come in and out of his home and it has now lead him to becoming the president of the Bayer Museum of Agriculture just east of downtown Lubbock. Taylor has dedicated the last few years of his life to not only farming his cotton but also spending many days and nights planning, fundraising and giving back to the community through the museum of agriculture along with several others.
“When we were first approached about the museum it was only but a thought and for a while, we were housed in a warehouse, now we look around and see all of our hard work come to life and I think that is my favorite part about it,” Taylor said.
Taylor walks through the museum and easily knows every detail about every piece of equipment or artifact in the museum. The Bayer Museum of Agriculture opened its doors in April of 2012 with the intent to feature all sorts of machinery for planting and harvesting crops.
Alton Brazell, a farm equipment collector, was for the most part the mastermind behind all of the machinery because he had collected most of them himself for many years and they decided it needed to be out in a museum for everyone to admire.
Almost five years later, the museum features a cotton stripper simulation machine that allows you to strip your own cotton in three minutes, a section of crops grown on the south plains and all the facts about them, and several other agricultural processes such as drilling for water wells. In addition to being able to learn about crop production, the museum also rents out their facilities for wedding receptions, luncheons and many more events where people can gather and enjoy the museum. As the president of the museum, Taylor spends most days ensuring that all things run smoothly for visitors and those who wish to learn about agriculture in West Texas.
The Taylor’s are also scholarship donors for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech. Many students in CASNR have said that they owe their education to the Taylor’s generosity.
Jessica Corder a Graduate Research Assistant from the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications and a Dan and Linda Taylor Endowed Scholarship recipient said,
“It never ceases to amaze me how generous CASNR is to their students. This college is by far the most awarded students when it comes to scholarships. None of it would be possible without the amazing and giving donors that support the college every year, like Dan and Linda Taylor. During my undergraduate career, I had the fortune of benefiting from Dan and Linda Taylor via scholarship. Their generosity and genuine interest they showed into the lives of every student they supported was encouraging. I am so thankful for their kindness, and know that one day, I want to show the kindness that the Taylors showed me in helping me achieve my education to other students in CASNR at TTU.”
The Dan and Linda Taylor Endowed Scholarship was established by the Taylor’s in 1993 and is a scholarship for any incoming freshman majoring in any degree within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
For the last two centuries, cotton production and ginning in Texas has proven to be a major player in the United States cotton industry in producing 25% of the cotton in the U.S., somewhere along the way, Dan Taylor was thrown into the mix and has made all the difference.