Farm Progress

Just a few weeks remain to nominate a winning candidate for Prairie Farmer’s 2019 Master Farmer award.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

July 17, 2018

2 Min Read
JOIN: Your nominee could join the ranks of more than 300 Illinois farmers who’ve earned the designation of Master Farmer, including 2018 class members Darell Sarff (left), Fred Reichert, Jim Rapp and Tom Martin.

What does it take to be a Master Farmer?

Think about the person in your community who shows up, who volunteers, who makes the community better, all while raising a family and producing the best crops and livestock around. That’s a Master Farmer, and Prairie Farmer is looking to honor a new class of Master Farmers in 2019 — but your help is needed.

Every nomination received is a grassroots effort, born from readers and farm groups that see someone and know they deserve the honor.

Take a look around. Do you see someone doing great work in producing food and fiber while also serving their community and raising their family? If so, nominate them today.

And don’t forget: You can also apply on your own, effectively nominating yourself. Many farmers submit their own names each year.

Plus, you can nominate or apply as an individual or a husband and wife.

Here are some tips for the nomination process:

 Be thorough. Especially in the sections regarding farm history and growth, more information is better than less. Judges want to see how the operation has progressed through time.

 Get letters. Ask for at least eight letters of recommendation supporting your nominee. Encourage letter writers to give insight into character and reputation, not simply rehash what’s already in the nomination application.

Don’t forget to think small. Consider the nominee’s entire body of work, especially community and industry service, and include all of their activities and efforts.

 Start now. The Master Farmer nomination is deep and wide, and it takes time to fill it out well. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime award, and the application reflects an entire career.

 Find the application. You can find the 2019 application online. Download it, fill it out and send it in, complete with letters of support, by Sept. 10.

Email [email protected] for more information or to have an application sent to you.

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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