Behind the scenes of “Small Town Big Deal”

What do you find when you turn on the TV? The kind of shows that ought to be left on the mat with what’s tracked in from the barn. Even the news is caked with stories of tragedy and sadness.

One show is trying to change that. In 2005 Rodney Miller created a TV show centered on telling the story of small towns across America and the people who live there. Small Town Big Deal  went on air on RFD-TV in September of 2012 and quickly fell within their top 15 shows. Jann Carl (former weekend host of Entertainment Tonight) has joined as co-host for season two.

Jann described the show perfectly:

“What Rodney and his team have created is a true celebration of America. It showcases the heritage of our nation, the power of its dreamers, and pays tribute to the unsung heroes. The stories fill us with pride, give us hope, make us laugh, and remind us that national treasures are often found where we least expect them.”  -Jann Carl

Growing up an Illinois farm boy, Rodney was interested in the Farm Safety For Just Kids story after a chance meeting with one of our board members. Before I knew it I was exchanging emails and phone calls with Cheryl, the producer. A month later, the crew arrived at our office to film February 19 and 20.



The first day the crew interviewed Dave, our executive director. Afterward, they packed up and headed east to talk to Kristi Ruth. Kristi is a PTO accident survivor and former Farm Safety For Just Kids youth representative. I wasn’t able to go along that afternoon. Check out the pictures the Small Town Big Deal folks posted to their Facebook page.

The second day brought us to Guthrie Center, Iowa where Morgan, our Farm Credit Services of America outreach coordinator presented animal safety to the second graders. The kids were SO excited. Once they had a chance to wave at the camera they did a great job pretending Mr. Tom and his camera weren’t there.



From there we headed to Earlham, Iowa where Marilyn, the founding president lives and where Farm Safety For Just Kids began. Marilyn retired from the organization in May 2012 though she still serves of the Board of Directors.

We visited over lunch at The Chestnut Cafe (the egg salad is Rodney Miller approved!) The conversation was equally good as we lost track of time visiting.

Aside: The noon whistle went off in Earlham, and I found myself explaining how many small towns (in Iowa at least) still continue the tradition of a noon whistle to signal lunch break, in addition to impending bad weather.

Back out into the blustery cold to film Marilyn’s segment on the farm. They started shooting “b-roll” used only for the visuals, the audio is replaced by narration.


Thankfully we moved inside, and out of the cold for Jann’s interview with Marilyn.



The crew wrapped up a few last shots before heading onto their next adventure.

Farm Safety For Just Kids is so appreciative of the opportunity to spread the farm safety message to the viewers of Small Town Big Deal. More than that, we had such a great experience. Laughs were plentiful and conversation came easy. The entire crew is so friendly you walk away feeling like old friends.

So here’s hoping our new friends can make it back home tomorrow, despite the impending snow storm! We hope everyone in the path of Storm “Q” stays safe!

About Farm Safety For Just Kids

Farm Safety For Just Kids is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting a safe farm environment to prevent health hazards, injuries, and fatalities to rural children and youth. We produce and distribute educational materials addressing various dangers commonly found in the rural environment. Farm Safety For Just Kids is supported by a chapter network of grassroots volunteers located throughout the United States and Canada. The organization also has part-time outreach coordinators in several states. Chapters, outreach coordinators, and volunteers conduct educational programs to raise awareness about safety and health issues affecting their communities.
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3 Responses to Behind the scenes of “Small Town Big Deal”

  1. Exposing kids to the realities of living in a farm town and the issues other kids face can help focus the city kids back on a proper track. Life is different in different places but everyone faces life in the same way.

  2. Having a real show that kids can relate to in their own lives is important. It gives kids an understanding that other people go thru the same things they might. Those teen mom shows and top model shows only manage to set expectations too high or reward inappropriate behavior. The show sounds great.

  3. Sounds like a great show focusing on more niché areas. Sounds like it was a busy time filming!

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