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Nominations for Prairie Farmer’s Master Farmer award are due Aug. 26. Here are 10 steps to get it done successfully.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

June 22, 2022

2 Min Read
Prairie Farmer Master Farmer collage.
MASTERS: Do you know someone who should be named a Prairie Farmer Master Farmer next year? Here’s how you can nominate them.

Ever thought of nominating someone you know for Prairie Farmer’s Master Farmer award? Now’s the time to get cracking!

Maybe it’s your parents, a sibling, your neighbors, a friend or a colleague. Maybe it’s someone you’ve served with on a board, or someone you’ve long looked up to.

Related: Meet the 2022 Master Farmers

No matter who that person is, here are 10 steps to a successful Master Farmer nomination!

1. Look around. Think about the farmers you know who raise a good crop and give back to their community. Candidates may be individuals, couples or siblings; judging is equally weighted.

2. Make sure they qualify. There are three basic qualifications for successful nominees:

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

  • Candidates have proven ag production records, recognized leadership, and have served the community at the local, state or national level.

  • Each nominee should be actively engaged in full-time production agriculture.

3. Get the nomination form. The 2023 application form is available online. Download it, fill it out and send it in, complete with letters of support, by Aug. 26. For more information or to have an application sent to you, email [email protected].

4. 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 show how their operation has progressed. No detailed financial information is required.

5. Don’t panic about financials. There’s an urban legend (which in this case probably makes it a rural legend) that Master Farmer nominees have to share their balance sheet. But make no mistake, the nomination form does not require that kind of financial information. The judging panel focuses on growth of the operation over time, agricultural productivity and community involvement.

6. Get letters. Ask for at least eight recommendation letters to support your nomination. These letters give insight into character and reputation in the community.

7. Think small. Don’t forget all the things the nominee does in the local community and state and national organizations. These lists are often very detailed! For spouses or sibling nominations, list both individuals’ activities, noting who did what. Organize them by year and include offices held.

8. Start early. Nominating a Master Farmer is not a quick process. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime award, and the application reflects an entire career. Now is the time to get started, so you can meet the Aug. 26 deadline.

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

10. Check the mirror. You can nominate yourself. Many farmers do every year.

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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