JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For Chris Peper, a drive through the country with her camera can be a great way to relax and have fun.

“I love to drive back roads and I love photography, so I’m always out and about taking photos,” she says.

Peper’s photograph of a Boone County barn with storm clouds in the background won the “Best in Show” designation for the 2020 Focus on Missouri Agriculture Photo Contest, hosted by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Peper won honorable mention in a category in the contest in 2016 for a photo of another barn across the gravel road from the barn in this year’s photo, in the Hartsburg Bottom near the Missouri River.

“It seems like I have a specialty for barns,” she says.

Peper grew up on a small farm at Buckner, Mo., and got a degree in agricultural economics at the University of Missouri. She developed her photography skills with 4-H classes. Now a resident of Jefferson City, Peper says her ag background is a part of why she enjoys taking agricultural photos.

“This might explain my love of driving back roads and capturing silos, barns, old houses, old bridges,” she says. “There’s nothing better than a back road, windows down and the radio.”

Peper was out driving on a gravel road when she saw the barn and the storm clouds.

“I had been out and saw the storm,” she says. “I said, ‘I need to get home. But first I am going to pull up for this and take some photos.’”

Peper’s photo topped the nearly 1,000 entries to the contest.

Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.