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story.lead_photo.caption Bobby Taylor, left, and his father, Shelby, own Shelby Taylor Trucking in Sheridan. Shelby has been working in farming for 51 years. The family was recently named the 2018 Grant County Farm Family of the Year. - Photo by Sam Pierce

SHERIDAN — Shelby Taylor grew up around farming.

His father got him involved early, and by the age of 15, he was driving tractors and skidding logs during one summer. His passion for farming and trucking has grown into a full-time job. His work has not gone unnoticed, as the Taylor family was recently named the 2018 Grant County Farm Family of the Year.

“It means a lot,” Bobby Taylor said. “It is an honor to represent the county and the community.”

Bobby, Shelby’s son, serves as the vice president of Shelby Taylor Trucking. Bobby graduated from Sheridan High School in 1989 and attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

He is responsible for the management of the timber harvesting operations, negotiating timber contracts and public relations. Shelby Taylor Trucking owns more than 5,000 acres for its timber business.

“We plant our pine trees with the ultimate goal for them to grow 25 to 28 years to become mature pine saw logs,” Shelby Taylor said. “At 14 years, we will do a first thinning, and at 20 years, we do a second thinning, then the final harvest at 25 to 28 years.”

Taylor said the company operates five logging trucks that thin or harvest all of its private land and other individuals’ or companies’ timberland.

The business also operates its own trucks to haul the timber to the mills and has a shop that sells forestry equipment and parts for the company’s own jobs and the forestry community.

“I like the challenge of it, more than anything,” Taylor said. “The best thing I like about trees is, you don’t have to wake them up. They are already out there doing their job.”

Taylor said his goal is to grow the best pine trees he can.

“Through scientific research and properly managing our working forest, we know how to care for the trees and when to thin them,” Taylor said.

Taylor was born and raised in Grapevine, graduating from Grapevine High School in 1961. He and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for more than 50 years. JoAnn has worked alongside Shelby since the beginning. She regularly manages logistics, payroll and office administration.

The major problem connected with the Taylors’ operation is learning how to space the pine trees for optimal growth. Shelby said they overcame that challenge by trial and error — “also learning the best age to first thin a pine plantation,” he said.

Bobby and David Lunsford, Shelby’s son-in-law, run the operation and have their own timberland farm business. But the goal remains the same — growing the tallest and largest pine trees to achieve the best value, “and to leave the land as we found it,” Shelby said. “We utilize best-management practices and stream-side management zones to ensure that we leave the land as we found it.”

Lunsford also serves as the chief financial officer for Shelby Taylor Trucking. He graduated from Sheridan High School in 1988 and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He joined Shelby Taylor Trucking in 1993, when he married Shelby’s daughter, Michelle. Michelle died in November of last year, but together, the couple have three children, triplets Jacob, Jordan and Jenna, who are all sophomores at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.

Together with Bobby, Lunsford formed Taylor & Lunsford Land and Timber in 1994 to acquire land and timber for the business.

Shelby said they continue to add more acreage to their land base. They have land not only in Grant County but in surrounding counties as well. They also plan on adding a sixth logging truck.

Shelby now spends most of his time hunting and fishing. He also enjoys spending time on his houseboat at Lake Ouachita and cheering on the Arkansas Razorbacks.

“I also like to travel,” Shelby said.

Bobby currently serves as a board member for the Arkansas Forestry Association and for the Grant County Museum.

According to the company’s

website, www.staylortrucking.

com, in 2003, Bobby was given the Communicator of the Year Award by the Arkansas Forestry Association. He has been married to his wife, Deana, since 1994, and they have one son, Grant.

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or spierce@arkansasonline.com.

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