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Cultivating Master Farmers program participants take a warm, whirlwind tour of St. Louis.

Jill Loehr, Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

August 2, 2016

4 Min Read

From cassava at the Donald Danforth Plant Center to urea at the Growmark, Inc. Bussen Spur Terminal, the Cultivating Master Farmers (CMF) Class of 2017 witnessed agriculture in action during their St. Louis Tour. Twenty-four individuals, as well as CMF sponsor representatives, joined the tour held on July 21– 22, 2016.

“The tour stops provided a unique opportunity for our participants to network and enjoy fellowship,” says Clayton Zwilling, Farm Credit Services Illinois.

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The Cultivating Master Farmers program is a mentoring program enabling young farmers to connect with folks who can offer invaluable advice: past Master Farmers. The CMF program is sponsored by 1st Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit Services Illinois, GROWMARK, Illinois Farm Bureau, Monsanto, and Prairie Farmer.

Christopher Jones, who farms near Benson, says he enjoyed getting to know fellow program participants. "The best part of the tour for me was the chance to just sit down without a structured agenda and talk farming with other farmers,” says Jones. “I've learned a lot from the Master Farmers.”

CMF participants included: Dave and Tara Bohm, Viola; Ron and Karen Bremmer, Pearl City; Mike Briggs, Rantoul; Alan Buckner, Martinsville; Bill and Sandy Christ, Metamora; Ethan Engele, Nashville; Jared and Lori Gregg, Monticello; Chris and Karen Jones, Benson; Mike and Melissa  Litchfield, Seymour; Dan and Mary Meinhart, Montrose; Russ and Marilyn Rosenblum, Clifton; Don and Karen Shrader, Waterloo; Jim and LouAnn Sheaffer, Dixon; and Justin Weber, Geneseo.

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Highlights from the 2016 Cultivating Master Farmers tour

CONNECTIONS: Maddie Earnest, Saint Louis Science Center, talks about the permanent GROW exhibit. The goal of the new indoor/outdoor interactive addition is to connect visitors with how their food is produced. GROW has more than 40 different stations that take visitors from farm to fork.

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Highlights from the 2016 Cultivating Master Farmers tour

REPRESENTING ILLINOIS: Karen Jones, Benson, watches her family’s video on the touchscreen Bi-State Agriculture Map featured in the GROW exhibit. Several different videos introduce visitors to farm families across the state, give an in-depth look at showing sheep and demonstrate what happens to grain at an elevator.

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Highlights from the 2016 Cultivating Master Farmers tour


KICKIN’ TIRES:  Alan Buckner and Justin Weber check out the GROW combine used to demonstrate how modern equipment and technology play a role in farming.

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Highlights from the 2016 Cultivating Master Farmers tour


JUST A PEAK: Dan Meinhart looks into one of 34 controlled-environment growth chambers at the Dan Danforth Plant Science Center, a non-profit organization focusing on research and innovation for sustainable food and fuel.

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Highlights from the 2016 Cultivating Master Farmers tour


ON THE RIVER: Jim Sheaffer (right) watches barge traffic at Growmark’s Bussen Spur fertilizer facility. Six fertilizer products, such as urea and potash, are shipped and stored at the Bussen Spur location.

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Highlights from the 2016 Cultivating Master Farmers tour

DOWNHOME DINNER: Don and Karen Schrader hosted CMF participants for a BBQ dinner, complete with musical entertainment, on their 150-year old family farm near Waterloo.

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Highlights from the 2016 Cultivating Master Farmers tour

BREAKFAST IS SERVED: On Friday morning, Brian Deverman and his Osborn and Barr co-workers, hosted CMF participants for breakfast and a tour of their newly-restored office building near Busch Stadium. Osborn and Barr (O+B) is a full-service advertising agency that serves clients such as Asgrow, DeKalb, Farm Credit, GSI and more.

Kelly Reilly, O+B, shared information about Barnstorm, a new service from O+B that helps farmers and ranchers develop their own brand to engage and connect with landlords, consumers and even family members.

“One theme I noticed through most of the tour was that of branding and spreading your message,” says Karen Jones, Woodford County. “From the Science Center's commitment to presenting modern agriculture to Osborn and Barr's efforts to help farmers showcase their farms, we learned how important it is to build and maintain our image in agriculture of producing safe, abundant, high-quality food for America and beyond."

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Highlights from the 2016 Cultivating Master Farmers tour

LAST STOP: Dave Maschhoff, of The Maschhoffs, talks about the challenges of passing on the family business at their corporate office near Carlyle.

“Josh (Dave’s son) had to work harder to prove himself. My brother and I don’t want any of our family members to have special privileges. They need to earn the respect of the people they work with,” says Maschhoff.  “In fact, we try to encourage working somewhere else before coming back home. They might learn something that will help the whole company. That’s something you need to think about in your operation.”

About the Author(s)

Jill Loehr

Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer, Loehr

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