Wallaces Farmer

How to nominate a 2025 Iowa Master Farmer

As things look to me: Do you know someone who would make an Iowa Master Farmer? Here’s how to nominate them.

Gil Gullickson, editor of Wallaces Farmer

June 20, 2024

3 Min Read
2024 Iowa Master Farmer winners
IOWA MASTER FARMERS. The winners of the 2024 Iowa Master Farmer Award came from various enterprises and corners of the state, but all embodied the principles of “Good Farming, Clear Thinking and Right Living” established by Henry A. Wallace in 1926.Photos by Gil Gullickson

Do you know someone who may be a Caitlin Clark of Iowa agriculture? This isn’t limited to the former University of Iowa basketball star and current Indiana Fever player, by the way. It could be someone who is the Brock Purdy — the former Iowa State University star who now quarterbacks the San Francisco 49ers — of Iowa agriculture, too. (I’m trying to make both Hawkeye and Cyclone fans happy!)

What I’m referring to are nominees for the 2025 Iowa Master Farmer Award. It could be your parents, a sibling, a relative, a neighbor, friend or colleague. Perhaps its someone you’ve served with on a board, or someone you’ve long looked up to. Candidates may also nominate themselves.

This year’s class was indicative of what Henry A. Wallace thought when he started the Master Farmer Award program in 1926 to recognize “Good Farming, Clear Thinking, Right Living.”

There’s April Hemmes from Hampton, who built a farming operation since 1985 using steely-eyed business sense combined with humor. Roger and Kathy Carlson built a farming enterprise near Red Oak that their children, Tony and Kelly, are now taking over. The attention to detail that Neil and Becky McCoy have given their farm near Villisca helped make them Master Farmers. Master Farmers Mark and Diane Schmitt’s decades-long devotion to dairy near Fort Atkinson made them Master Farmers.

Finally, there’s Elwynn — as in Elwynn Taylor, who received this year’s Iowa Master Farm Exceptional Award. Taylor laced facts with fun during his 40 years as ISU’s Extension climatologist.

The Class of 2025

We’re looking for nominees for the 2025 Class of Iowa Master Farmers. We’re grateful to Growmark for sponsoring the event.

The application includes a nomination form and requires letters of support — but no financial information. There’s a rumor that Master Farmer nominees have to share their balance sheet. Not true. No one needs to provide that kind of financial information. The judging panel focuses on growth of the farming operation over the years, productivity and community involvement.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates should have a profitable farming operation, be good managers and take care of the land, while having a strong family and being involved in the community. Who’s eligible? Here’s a look:

  • Candidates must farm in Iowa, deriving the majority of their income from agricultural production.

  • Successful nominees have ag production records, are recognized leaders in the community and have given back to the community in many ways.

  • Candidates may be individuals, couples or siblings; judging is equally weighted.

  • Each nominee should be actively engaged in agricultural production.

The selection committee comprises Iowa ag leaders, past Master Farmers, ag research or university specialists and the Wallaces Farmer editor. Candidates who don’t receive the award the year they are nominated are welcome to have their names resubmitted in following years.

Wallaces Farmer will recognize the winners in the magazine’s March 2025 issue and honor them at a luncheon that month.

Application guidelines

Here’s what makes for a successful application:

  1. Be thorough. In the sections asking about farm history and growth, more information is better than less. Share how the individual(s) got started and how the operation has progressed. No detailed financial information is required.

  2. Get letters. Attach a minimum of four letters of support, including one from a neighboring farmer. These letters give insight into character and reputation in the community.

  3. Think local. List all things the nominee does in the local community, and in state and national organizations. These lists are often very detailed. For spouse or sibling nominations, list both individuals’ activities, noting who does what.

  4. Start early. It’s not a quick process to nominate a Master Farmer. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime award, and the application reflects an entire career.

  5. Think well-rounded. Community involvement is weighted highly as judges select winners; but so, too, are a farmer’s ag production skills and dedication to family.

To nominate a candidate, download the form, complete it with letters of support and send it to [email protected] by Sept. 13.

Best of luck!

About the Author(s)

Gil Gullickson

editor of Wallaces Farmer, Farm Progress

Gil Gullickson grew up on a farm that he now owns near Langford, S.D., and graduated with an agronomy degree from South Dakota State University. Earlier in his career, he spent 13 years as a Farm Progress editor, covering Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Gullickson is a widely respected and decorated ag journalist, earning the Agricultural Communicators Network writing award for Writer of the Year three times, and winning Story of the Year four times. He is a past winner of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists’ Food and Agriculture Organization Award for Food Security. He has served as president of both ACN and the North American Agricultural Journalists.

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