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Prairie Farmer Names 2013 Master FarmersPrairie Farmer Names 2013 Master Farmers

Four farmers who are outstanding in both production and community service will be honored in a Prairie Farmer Master Farmer ceremony March 12.

March 4, 2013

2 Min Read

Four Illinois farmers have been selected as 2013 Master Farmers by Prairie Farmer magazine. The four will be honored for their exceptional community service and farming abilities at a ceremony in Bloomington, Ill., on Tuesday, March 12.

Award recipients are Ron Bork, Piper City (Ford County); Neil Fearn, Albion (Edwards County); Doug Scheider, Freeport (Stephenson County); and Jim Sheaffer, Dixon (Lee County).

Candidates are nominated by farmers, agribusiness leaders and agricultural extension specialists from throughout the state.


Judges for the awards were Linnea Kooistra, 2011 Master Farmer, Woodstock; Mickey Latour, dean of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University; Matt Montgomery, sales agronomist at Burrus Hybrids; Richard Ritter, senior vice-president of agricultural lending at Flanagan State Bank; Josh Flint, editor of Prairie Farmer and Holly Spangler, associate editor of Prairie Farmer.

Prairie Farmer first offered the award in 1925, when Editor Clifford Gregory established it as a way to recognize Illinois farmers for something more than just farming skills. Gregory felt the award would help give farm people a greater sense of "pride and permanence."

Flint said Prairie Farmer continues to present the awards annually because of the important contributions farmers make to Illinois agriculture and their local communities.

"Prairie Farmer sponsors the Master Farmer awards program to recognize farmers who excel not only in farming but also in community service, family commitment and leadership," he said. "The farmers we've honored over the years represent a gallery of the greatest in Illinois agriculture."

Some Master Farmers serve in state and national farm leadership positions.  Others chair prestigious boards or serve with honor at the highest levels of government.  Still others build their farms or businesses to regional or national prominence.

However, the vast majority merely serve their communities – building churches, chairing little-known but important committees, organizing harvest for a stricken neighbor – and continue the service-minded commitment that earned them the Master Farmer distinction in the first place.

Between 1925 and 1937 the magazine named 97 Master Farmers, Flint said. The program was discontinued in the '30s due to the Depression, but Prairie Farmer revived it in 1968. All together, more than 300 Illinois people have been named Master Farmer or Honorary Master Farmer, including the four named this year.

Prairie Farmer is published 12 times a year for Illinois farm families. Established in 1841, it is the oldest continuously published farm periodical in the United States. GROWMARK, Inc., is a financial sponsor of the award. Like the Master Farmer award, the GROWMARK system was born during the 1920s, when farmer cooperatives first organized the Illinois Farm Supply Co. Today, the brand is known as FS.

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