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Our March cover photo is always one of the toughest to shoot. Luckily, Holly Spangler is a terrific photographer.

Josh Flint, Editor, Prairie Farmer

March 19, 2012

2 Min Read

This week, we wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into a Prairie Farmer cover photo shoot.

Our March cover is our annual Master Farmer issue. It seems simple enough to pose four or five farmers and shoot a quick photo of them. Unfortunately, it's a little more involved than that.

The first challenge is getting everyone together. A key component of the Master Farmer application process is community and ag leadership. As a result, these folks are some of the busiest farmers in Illinois.


Once we can get everyone to agree on a date, we cross our fingers and hope for good weather. Usually, we also have an indoor back-up location. In recent history, 2011 was the most challenging weather wise. It snowed a few days before the photo shoot. Not a huge problem for our ace photographer, and associate editor, Holly Spangler. She'd planned on framing more of the sky in the photo. The day of the photo, it warmed up and fog began to roll off the snow. Oh, and it started to drizzle. Despite all these challenges, she pulled it off.

This year's winners are Scott Bidner of Champaign, Tim Lenz of Strasburg, Tim Seifert of Auburn, and Mel Von Bergen of Hebron. In looking for a location, Spangler chose the Lake of the Woods Covered Bridge, which is near Mahomet. The bridge is part of the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, which encompasses 900 acres.

Before Spangler started snapping away, she jokingly told our Master Farmers that they would probably choose the very first photo in the sequence. The March cover may not have been the very first photo taken, but it was definitely among the first five.

Thanks again to the 2012 Master Farmers. Thank you also to their wives, Karen, Roxy, Delreen and Bobette for helping out behind the scenes.

If you have someone in mind for the 2013 Master Farmer award, now is a great time to start on the application. From Prairie, click on the "More" tab in the upper right hand corner. Choose Master Farmer for a Word or PDF version of the application form.

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