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Prairie Farmer is awarding four new Master Farmers today, and one new Honorary Master Farmer. Find links to all the 2023 Master Farmer coverage here.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

March 15, 2023

3 Min Read
2023 Prairie Farmer Master Farmers standing in front of red barn
MASTERS: The Prairie Farmer Master Farmer Class of 2023 being honored today includes (from left) Martin Barbre, Ron Moore, David Meiss and Curt Strode.Betty Haynes

Prairie Farmer is honoring four Illinois farmers as 2023 Master Farmers today at its annual event, held in Bloomington, Ill., at the DoubleTree Hotel. The award honors exceptional agricultural production skills, commitment to family and service to community. This year, a new Honorary Master Farmer also will be recognized.

The Master Farmer winners include:

  • Martin Barbre, Carmi

  • David Meiss, Gridley

  • Ron Moore, Roseville

  • Curt Strode, Marietta

The 2023 Honorary Master Farmer is Robert Easter.

Prairie Farmer will present plaques to each Master Farmer that bear a bronze medallion, which is an exact replica of the gold medals presented to the inaugural class of Master Farmers in 1925. All past Master Farmers are invited to attend and welcome the new class into the fold, and RFD Radio Network’s Rita Frazer will offer up the keynote address for the day.

Candidates are nominated by farmers, neighbors, agribusiness leaders and farm organizations throughout the state. Judges for the 2023 awards were Karen Corrigan, McGillicuddy Corrigan Agronomics; German Bollero, University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences interim dean; Linnea Kooistra, 2011 Master Farmer; Dwight Raab, First Midwest Bank agribusiness vice president; Steve Carson, Farm Credit Illinois; and Mike Wilson, Farm Futures editor.

Here's a look at all the stories, profiles and lists for this year’s winners:

Meet the 2023 Master Farmers. They are Martin Barbre, David Meiss, Ron Moore and Curt Strode. Plus: Bob Easter is the newest Honorary Master Farmer.

Martin Barbre: Building for the future. This 2023 Master Farmer from Carmi builds for the next generation on his farm, in farm organizations and all the way to Washington, D.C.

David Meiss: Leading, serving with humility. This 2023 Master Farmer from Gridley is a servant-leader around the farm and for his family, his community and his church.

Ron Moore: Asking questions to learn. This 2023 Master Farmer from Roseville works to leave life and land better for the next generation.

Curt Strode: Farming for the next generation. This 2023 Master Farmer from Marietta has brought the next generation to the farm, led his community well and still has lessons to share.

Robert Easter: Honorary Master Farmer. Here’s how a career in swine nutrition led a Texas farm boy to become president of the University of Illinois — plus how he really learned to lead.

Illinois Master Farmers through the decades. Who’s been a Prairie Farmer Master Farmer? Here’s a look, plus Honorary Master Farmers.

2023 Illinois Master Farmers: What their friends say. The letters that pour into Prairie Farmer offices in support of Master Farmers make for the most uplifting reading we do all year. Here’s a slice of the stories they tell about the 2023 Master Farmers.

How to nominate a Master Farmer for 2024. Do you know someone who should be named a Master Farmer next year? Here’s how you can nominate them.

Illinois Master Farmers rooted in history. With nearly 350 Prairie Farmer Master Farmers on the rolls, here’s a look at how it all began.

Prairie Farmer Master Farmer. Find all things Master Farmer here, including the nomination form and the list of past Master Farmers.

Growmark is the financial sponsor of the Master Farmer award. To nominate a farmer for the 2024 Class of Master Farmers, email [email protected] for a nomination form or download one online.

Read more about:

Master Farmers

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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