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Master Farmer Judge Explains What Qualities He Looks For in HonoreeMaster Farmer Judge Explains What Qualities He Looks For in Honoree

This year's crop of Master Farmers will be honored in June.

Tom Bechman 1

March 20, 2013

2 Min Read

If your phone rings in the next couple of weeks, be sure to answer it. It just might be me telling you you've just been selected as a 2013 Indiana Master Farmer. The award is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.

Judging is wrapping up. Winners will be notified soon. This was a tough, competitive year for Master Farmer nominations, Dean Akridge notes.

The three judges are the Dean, Bill Pickart, former Master Farmer, retired farmer and retired seed sales rep and Carl Eiche, former Indiana Prairie Farmer senior editor and coordinator of the Master Farmer award for more than 25 years.


The question is often asked: What do you look for in a Master Farmer? Pickart has in his mind the kind of candidate he believes is deserving of honor before he begins to sift through the nominations. Each nomination consists of several pages of information about the candidate's farm, often prepared by someone close to them who respected them enough to nominate them, plus six letters of support from people who work with the nominee.

"All of these nominations represent good farmers who are very good at farming techniques and at making a living from the farm," Pickart says. "Many have also served in their local community on school boards, soil and water conservation districts, Extension boards and in a number of other ways.

"I like to see someone stretch out beyond the county borders and become involved in a statewide organization. That requires really giving of yourself when you serve at a state or national level. We have many Hoosiers who have served at one level or the other or both."

There was no shortage of applicants to fit the bill this time. And in case you want to get someone's name in the hopper for next year, we're already accepting nominations for the 2014 Master Farmer program. Applications will be due February 15, 2014.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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