Farm Progress

Master Farmer season is when I love my job the most

Getting to know new Master Farmer class each year is one of the best things about my job.

Walt Davis 1, Editor

March 15, 2018

3 Min Read
CLASS OF 2017: Each year brings a new opportunity to meet a new class of Master Farmers. Year after year, that is a rewarding and joyous experience.

Friday night, March 9, was the culmination of another Master Farmer season for Kansas Farmer, which shares sponsorship of the almost 100-year-old program with Kansas State University Extension and Ag Education.

Master Farmer is my favorite time of year — a time when I get to travel to far-flung regions of the state and meet amazing families who have spent their lives doing amazing things.

During our annual banquet and awards ceremony, it is traditional for K-State video interviewer Eric Atkinson to ask the couples what this honor means to them, personally.

Year after year, couple after couple, the most common answer is that they are honored and humbled, and that they are no more special than any other among the thousands of American farm families who spend their lives to finding even better ways to provide the food, fiber and fuel that nourishes America and, increasingly, the world.

In some ways, they have a point. In other ways, they don’t.

They stand out as examples of how to survive hard economic times, power through personal challenges and maintain a positive attitude no matter what kind of hurdle you face. Many of these families reach out to help others who have fewer resources and less strength in order to pull them through a crisis as well.

I’ve met families whose own farm has been devastated by a tornado who nevertheless showed up at a community meeting days later to help their community rebuild.

I’ve met families who lost a generation of work in an economic crisis only to sell assets, restructure, start again and rebuild.

I’ve met families who survived the Dust Bowl and came back to embrace windbreaks and CRP and no-till and cover crops and Locally Enhanced Management Areas to save the aquifer that will water their

grandchildren’s crops.

To the Master Farmer families I have interviewed in a decade in this job: “You are every farm family. But you aren’t. You are special. You are amazing. And you do deserve this recognition.”

Every year, Kansas honors six Master Farmer/Master Homemaker couples. I’ve met 60 of them now. I told one family this year that I’ll know I’ve truly mastered this job when I’ve already met every family nominated in a given year.

That isn’t possible, of course. There are just too many great farm families out there to ever know them all.

Almost as routine as these awesome farmers saying they are “just ordinary,” is their response to thank me for being part of this program. I am humbled.

I’m a follower in the long tradition that Kansas Farmer publisher Arthur Capper started in 1927 when he initiated this program. I’m honored to be any part of following in the footsteps of Capper.

He gave a keynote address at the first Master Farmer program in Kansas. I am honored to play emcee at the annual awards dinner, which this year found almost 200 people among the present and past Master Farmers, and their families and friends, turning out to honor a new class.

For my part, I am honored to be able to tell the stories of Kansas Master Farmers, Kansas ordinary farmers and Kansas beginner and would-be farmers. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of your world, and for the honor to tell your stories.

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