March 1, 2023
Ever thought of nominating someone you know for Prairie Farmer’s Master Farmer award? Now’s the time to get cracking with that process.
Maybe it’s your parents, a sibling, your neighbors, a friend or a colleague. Perhaps it’s someone you’ve served with on a board, or someone you’ve long looked up to.
If that thought has ever crossed your mind, Prairie Farmer is now accepting applications for the 2024 award, and they’re due Aug. 25.
The application includes a nomination form and requires at least eight letters of support — but no financial information.
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, no one needs to provide that kind of financial information. The judging panel focuses on growth of the operation over time, agricultural productivity and community involvement.
Who’s eligible? Here’s a look:
Candidates must farm in Illinois, deriving the majority of their income from agricultural production.
Successful nominees have proven agricultural production records, are recognized as leaders in their community, and have given back to the community in substantive ways.
Candidates may be individuals, couples or siblings; judging is equally weighted.
Each nominee should be actively engaged in production agriculture.
The selection committee is comprised of Illinois ag leaders, including experts in agronomy and ag finance, past Master Farmers, ag research or university authorities, and Prairie Farmer editorial staff.
Master Farmer winners will be recognized at the Master Farmer Awards Luncheon, typically held in mid-March. And as always, Prairie Farmer is grateful to Growmark for its sponsorship of the Master Farmer awards program.
Here’s a look at what makes for a successful application:
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.
Get letters. Ask for at least eight recommendation letters to support your nomination. These letters give insight to character and reputation in the community. At least one needs to come from a farmer in your neighborhood.
Think small. Don’t forget all the things they do in the local community, as well as state and national organizations. These lists are often very detailed! For spouses or sibling nominations, list both individuals’ activities, noting who did what.
Start early. It’s not a quick process to nominate a Master Farmer. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime award, and the application reflects an entire career.
Think well-rounded. Community involvement is weighted highly as judges select winners, but so too is a farmer’s ag production skills and dedication to family.
Check the mirror. You can nominate yourself. Many farmers do every year.
The 2024 application is available online. Download it, fill it out and send it in, complete with letters of support, by Aug. 25. Or, email [email protected] to have an application sent to you.
Prairie Farmer is grateful to the 2023 panel of judges for sorting through and selecting this year’s Master Farmers.
Karen Corrigan, McGillicuddy Corrigan Agronomics
Germán Bollero, dean, University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Con-sumer and Environmental Sciences
Linnea Kooistra, 2011 Master Farmer
Dwight Raab, vice president of agribusiness, First Midwest Bank
Steve Carson, executive vice president, Farm Credit Illinois
Mike Wilson, editor, Farm Futures
Read more about:Master Farmers
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