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Nominate a Master Farmer for 2020

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

Holly Spangler

March 5, 2019

2 Min Read
Bill Sahs, Boyd Schaufelberger, Martin Marr, Jim Robbins
WINNERS: The 2019 Master Farmers were nominated by past Master Farmers, commodity groups, neighbors and family. They are Bill Sahs (left), Boyd Schaufelberger, Martin Marr and Jim Robbins.

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

Maybe your parents, a 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 received comes from you, the readers. You all look around and see someone doing great work in producing food and fiber while serving their community and raising their family, and you nominate them.

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

You can nominate or apply as an individual, as a husband and wife, or even as siblings.

Over the years, Prairie Farmer has judged a lot of nomination forms. Here’s what works:

  • 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 the operation has progressed.

  • Be specific. The more details you can provide, the better the judges will like it.

  • Get information. Nominating someone in secret is a fantastic surprise, but it’s also tricky to do unless you have firsthand knowledge of the operation. The best secret nominations come from a child, spouse or sibling with intimate knowledge of the farm.

  • Get help. You’ll need at least 10 recommendation letters to support your nomination. These letters tell the story of your nominee and are incredibly helpful to the judges.

  • Think broadly. 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, with an application that reflects an entire career.

Find the application
Find the 2020 application at FarmProgress.com. Down-load it, fill it out and send it in, complete with letters of support, by Sept. 9. Email [email protected] for more information or to have a form sent to you.

Judging thanks
Prairie Farmer is grateful to the 2019 panel of judges for sorting through and selecting this year’s Master Farmers.

  • Karen Corrigan, McGillicuddy Corrigan Agronomics

  • Robert Easter, president emeritus, University of Illinois

  • Linnea Kooistra, 2011 Master Farmer

  • Steve Myers, Busey Ag Services

  • Dwight Raab, Illinois FBFM

  • Holly Spangler, editor, Prairie Farmer

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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