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Take One – A Look Inside the American Cotton Growers Denim Mill

By Shelby Axtell

A tour of the American Cotton Growers (ACG) denim mill in Littlefield now can be viewed from the comfort of your home, school or office. Cornerstone Education Group, Inc., has produced a 13 minute educational video that goes through each manufacturing step from fiber to denim fabric.

Cornerstone was started five years ago by Monica Hightower and her husband, Farris. The company primarily produces agriculture-related videos for students ranging from elementary school to the college and university level.

The denim mill video is one of five tapes in Cornerstone’s Cotton Production series. Other video segments include cotton farming and ginning, and there are two others in the works including cotton breeding technology and cotton marketing.

Monica Hightower

Monica Hightower

ACG was chosen because of its convenient location and the fact that children cannot tour the mill. According to ACG Safety and Assistant Human Resources Director Steve Chambers, ACG does not allow children under the age of 14 to tour the plant for safety reasons.

“Monica contacted us (PCCA) to explain she wanted to produce a final video about cotton by showing how it is made into consumer products,” PCCA Communications Director John Johnson said. “The close proximity of the denim mill at Littlefield was a logical choice for her. In an effort to make more students and teachers aware of where their jeans come from, we agreed to cooperate with Monica and gave her access to shoot the video at the mill. We view this as a win-win situation for both Cornerstone and PCCA.”

Video topics are chosen based on surveys of agricultural and science teachers to see what they want or need for their classroom. Cornerstone staff has produced more than 400 agricultural education programs including land stewardship and a tour of a food processing plant. Currently, Cornerstone is working on a 10-tape agricultural literacy series for the elementary school level.

Monica Hightower

Hightower can perform all aspects of video production at Cornerstone.

Hightower, originally from Wichita Falls, Texas, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Texas Tech University in 1983. The following year, she began her career in the video production industry by co-founding another video production company. She has worked since then as public relations director and production manager for Key Lite Beef and served as assistant manager for more than 6,000 acres of farming operations for the City of Lubbock’s land application site. Hightower also has managed the Farmer-Stockman Show for the past seven years and the Oklahoma Farm Show for the past three years.

“When I first started, not everyone had a VCR,” Hightower said with a laugh. “And now we are able to produce CD’s and DVD’s.”

With 19 years experience, Hightower is able to do all the video production in Cornerstone’s office including the music, narration and graphics. She describes the company as a “turn key operation,” traveling throughout the continental United States producing and selling videos.

“It’s a lot of fun producing these videos,” Hightower said. “The best part is all the nice and knowledgeable people that we are able to meet along the way.”

The company markets the videos at trade shows and through catalogs. The denim video will not be marketed until spring 2004 and will sell for $69.00; however, PCCA members can purchase the tape for $55.00 with no shipping charge. To obtain a catalog, contact Cornerstone Education Group, Inc., P.O. Box 6638, Lubbock, TX, 79493, or call toll free at (888) 818-9250, toll free fax (888) 818-9251 or e-mail