|Baxter Black performs in 2010 (Getty Images)|
Black was born in Brooklyn, but grew up in Las Cruces, N.M. He competed in rodeo through high school and college, and graduated from veterinary school in 1969. He was a practicing vet through the mid-1980s as he honed his skills as a poet and public speaker at Future Farmers of America functions, Neff reports.
"Black's first column was published in Colorado's Record Stockman in 1980. Several years later, he made his way to public radio," Rachel Treisman reports for NPR. In the mid-1980s, NPR played a recording he sent in of his poem about wildfires in Yellowstone National Park. Listeners loved the poem, and Black went on to offer commentary for "Morning Edition" for the next two decades."When he wasn't on the air, Black spoke at conventions and events across the country, appeared on television programs including "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," wrote a weekly column and published and recorded audiobooks — of which Ag Daily says he sold more than a million," Treisman reports. "His column, "On the Edge of Common Sense," was published by more than 100 newspapers across the U.S. and Canada over the years."