From 2001 to 2006, Richard L. Cates Jr. interviewed senior members of more than 30 families living in and around Arena township, a small community in southern Wisconsin. He asked them about growing up in rural America and their connection to a way of life that is vanishing in the twenty-first century.The result, ""Voices from the Heart of the Land"", is a collection of reminiscences, observations, and opinions celebrating the stewardship of the land and the values of the stewards. Of course, as Cates points out, these are nothing less than 'our core human values - integrity, commitment, responsibility, citizenship, self-determination, decency, kindness, love, and hope.'
Richard L. Cates Jr. and his family own a pasture-based farm and raise grass-fed beef in Wyoming township, near Spring Green, Wisconsin. He is senior lecturer in soil science at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where he also serves as coordinator of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers and is affiliated with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems.