The passing of George Corya, Commiskey, Ind., in November at age 85 prompted a question. Corya was recognized as a Master Farmer, but when? I’ve been working with the Master Farmer program for 38 years, and I don’t remember him being named. A check of the records shows George Corya as a member of the very first group honored in the modern era in 1968. Could that be right? He would only have been 33 years old when the award was presented.
Don Villwock, Edwardsport, a longtime friend of Corya and former president of Indiana Farm Bureau, confirms that it’s the same George Corya. Villwock suggests he may have been one of the youngest farmers ever honored. The Master Farmer award today is co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
Villwock himself was only 34 when he was named a Master Farmer in 1985. While there aren’t historical records on age received, these are likely two of the youngest farmers ever honored in Indiana.
Corya and his wife, June, built Graham Creek Farm into a large, productive operation in Jennings County, which isn’t blessed with the state’s best farmland. While records aren’t kept on how many times a farmer makes the cover of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Villwock recalls that Corya was featured three times.
EARLY RECOGNITION: George and June Corya built a successful farming operation in Jennings County, Ind. George, who died recently, was named a Master Farmer in 1968.
Corya was active in Farm Bureau at the county, state and national levels. “I always valued his opinion, and sought his input often,” Villwock says. “I knew he would tell me exactly what he thought, and he had a good grasp on what was happening in agriculture.”
Villwock says Corya’s leadership was the primary driving force behind establishing the United Producers Inc. livestock marketing facility at Little York, which still operates today.
Nominate Master Farmer
So, how old can a Master Farmer be? Obviously, any age — it’s not a limiting factor on either end of the scale. Stan Poe, Franklin, had already celebrated his 80th birthday when he was named a Master Farmer in 2017. Richard Law, Atlanta, had also passed the 80-year milestone when he was recognized in 2019.
The judges say what matters more is what a farmer or farm couple have accomplished during their career, whether relatively brief or lengthy. Judges look for sound farm management practices, a sense of responsibility in caring for natural resources, and a dedication to serving community and agriculture.
To be named a Master Farmer, someone must first be nominated. That’s where you come in. Who in your community or circle of friends deserves worthy recognition? Now is the time to take the initiative and nominate that person or persons.
You can obtain a Master Farmer nomination form by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 317-431-8766 or writing to: Indiana Prairie Farmer, P.O. Box 247, Franklin, IN 46131.
Completed nominations are due Feb. 17.
Successful nominations are usually accompanied by six letters of support from neighbors, community leaders and other farmers who also respect the nominee. For tips on preparing a nomination, contact me at email@example.com.