His face is marked with tiny wrinkles, each with their own story to tell. His hands are ripened from more than 50 years on the farm. His eyes are ones you would expect to show exhaustion, but instead, show hope.
He has every attribute of a true Southern gentleman. Every sentence ends with “ma’am or sir” in a genuine, sincere, soft-spoken voice. And when he talks, it’s humbling and refreshing to hear.
But with all these characteristics there is one thing that makes Sidney Miller stand out from many other Monsanto employees. He’s put in 52 years of hard work and dedication for Delta & Pine Land and Monsanto Company. That’s right, 52 long years. And at the point when most begin counting down the days until retirement, Miller was just getting started.
Changes through the Years
To talk to Miller is a history lesson in itself.
To say he’s seen a lot of change would be an understatement. He’s gone from plowing fields with mules to driving tractors, from planting and picking conventional cotton to planting and picking the latest Genuity® Bollgard II® with Roundup Ready® Flex cotton, from picking cotton by hand to picking cotton mechanically.
“I’ve seen a lot of change,” he said. “New technology has really changed. I never thought I’d get the chance to drive a tractor with GPS. It’s exciting just to be here and see it.”
When he steps back and really thinks about the change, he says it’s pretty amazing how much the cotton crop has evolved and improved.
“When I started, cotton looked very scrappy. We didn’t have as many cotton bolls on a plant. The plants weren’t as big. Genetics have changed and improved.”
Miller works at the Deltapine® Research Farm in Scott, Mississippi. But Scott is more than just the place he works -- it’s also where he met his lovely bride and where he’s raised his family of eight children.
Miller helps plant and harvest the crop each year along with making farming applications. So, he does the work of a farmer. And he enjoys doing work on the farm because it’s something he’s done since he was a boy.
But unlike many in today’s world, he doesn’t think the company owes him anything. Instead he’s extremely thankful to the company for allowing him so many years of service.
“Deltapine gave me the opportunity to work and raise my kids here,” he said. “I love my job. I love getting up every morning and doing research. It’s my home away from home.”
But what exactly has kept this man going for 52 years?
"Strength from the good Lord keeps me going. If it wasn’t for Him I wouldn’t have been here this long,” said Miller.
Looking to the Future
When asked what he’s going to do with his life after this, he said: “I really don’t know. I can’t plan that far ahead right now. I may have too much time on my hands. I may come drive the picker for them from time to time. You never know what the future holds. “
According to Miller, most of that free time will be spent with his family and grandchildren. But even with his family and other hobbies occupying his time, retiring is going to be a major change. In 52 years, he’s worked on one main crop – cotton. And just like most Southern farmers, Miller has an emotional tie to cotton that can’t be described in words.
“After being with cotton for 52 years, it’s going to bother me. Also, when you’re used to getting up every morning and coming to work, you can’t say it’s not going to bother you not to,” he said.
Miller is known for how precise he is in his work. How precise? Well, many people in Scott would say Miller planted extremely straight rows before GPS was even invented. And a man who pays attention to such detail has some good words of advice for people in today’s workforce: Slow down to ensure you’re doing the best job possible.
“Take it one day at a time. You can’t get in a hurry, because to me, if you work in a hurry, you’re going to mess up. Take your time, do your job and do it well,” said Miller.
Miller’s last day with the company will be at the end of Oct. 2010.