Farm Progress

First Master Farmer class was honored 91 years ago in 1927

The grandfather of one of this year’s Master Farmer honorees was in the first class of Master Farmers in 1927.

Walt Davis 1, Editor

March 3, 2018

2 Min Read
HONORING MASTERS: The Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemaker couples receive their plaques at a banquet in their honor, held annually in Manhattan, Kan.

One member of the 2017 class of Master Farmers has a unique connection to the beginning of the program 91 years ago in 1927.

Kendell Hodgson of Rice County is the third generation of his family to be recognized with the Master Farmer award. His grandfather was a member of the first class in 1927. His father was inducted into the Master Farmer organization in 1988.

The idea for the award came from then-Kansas Farmer publisher, Sen. Arthur Capper. Kansas Farmer printed a scorecard and asked farmers to evaluate themselves for consideration.

There were five criteria on that first scorecard: operation of the farm, business methods, general farm appearance and upkeep, home life, and public spiritedness.

The title Master Farmer was established that year, and the program continues to honor farmers annually for their contributions to agriculture and their communities. The first year, there were 208 nominees and a class of 15 Master Farmers was chosen.

A year late, Farmer’s Wife magazine started the Master Farm Homemaker Guild, with help from Kansas State University and other land-grant university Extension programs. The programs operated separately and the honorees were individuals rather than couples.

Kansas Farmer magazine and Kansas State University Extension are the current sponsors of the program, which has been altered to honor couples. Each of the two organizations continue to have their own slate of officers.

Each year, six coupes are chosen as Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemaker winners — one from each of the four Extension districts and two from the state at large. The new class members get a chance to meet with each other and with prior winners at an afternoon business meeting that precedes the annual awards banquet.

Capper was the keynote speaker at the first Master Farmer banquet. Today, the keynote speech has been replaced by a program of video presentations of the honored farm families. The video is produced by K-State with Eric Atkinson as narrator and K-State photographer Dan Donnert as videographer.

Kansas Farmer magazine editor, P.J. Griekspoor, serves as emcee for the banquet and presents wall plaques to each winner.

The Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemaker Class of 2017 will be guests of honor at a March 9 banquet at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan. They will also have a special day of recognition during the week of the Kansas State Fair in September.

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