Farm Progress

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

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

March 6, 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.

Have you ever considered nominating someone to be a Master Farmer?

Maybe your parents, your sibling, your neighbors, a friend or a colleague. Someone you’ve served with on a board, or someone you’ve long looked up to.

Prairie Farmer’s Master Farmer program is a grassroots program. That means every nomination comes from readers. You look around, see someone doing great work in producing food and fiber, while also serving their community and raising their family, and you nominate them.

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

The Master Farmer application also makes it clear that you can nominate or apply as an individual, or as a husband and wife. Siblings can also be nominated, as was the case for Doug and Tom Block, who farm in partnership and were named Master Farmers in 2009.

Winning tips
Over the years, Prairie Farmer has judged a lot of nomination applications. Here’s what works best:

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.

Get letters. Ask for at least 10 recommendation letters to support your nomination. These letters give insight to character and reputation.

Think small. When listing community and industry work, consider the nominee’s entire body of work. For spouses or siblings, 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.

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.

Judging thanks
Prairie Farmer is grateful to the 2018 panel of judges for selecting this year’s Master Farmers.

• Karen Corrigan, McGillicuddy Corrigan Agronomics
• Linnea Kooistra, 2011 Master Farmer
• Ed McMillan, University of Illinois board of trustees chairman
• Steve Myers, Busey Ag Services
• Thomas Tracy, Farm Credit Illinois
• Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer editor

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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