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Take a first look at the 2021 Kansas Master Farmer classTake a first look at the 2021 Kansas Master Farmer class

The 94 th class of Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers will be honored in March.

Jennifer M. Latzke

January 6, 2022

4 Min Read
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CLASS OF 2021: The 94th class of Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker couples has been announced. This year’s honorees include: Larry and Virginia Kepley, Grant County; Wayne and Carrie Grimm, Brown County; David and Sara Combes, Osage County; Philip and Rhonda Perry, Jefferson County; Jess and Laryce Schwieterman, Hamilton County; and Nathan and Suzanne Larson, Riley County. All have proven themselves outstanding in their agricultural endeavors and service to their communities. Be sure to watch future issues of Kansas Farmer magazine for in-depth profiles of each couple in the coming months.danahann/Getty images

The 94th class of Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers includes six couples from across the state known for their service to Kansas agriculture and their communities.

Daryl Bucholz, associate director emeritus of Cooperative Extension and secretary of the Kansas Master Farmer Association and the Kansas Master Farm Homemakers Guild, made the announcement in late December.

The class of 2021 includes:

• Larry and Virginia Kepley, Grant County. For more than 50 years, the Kepleys have been farming near Ulysses. Larry is widely known for his work promoting white winter wheat production across Kansas, as well as his service on the Kansas Wheat Commission, and the Farm Credit Association. Virginia has volunteered many hours with the Kansas Ag in the Classroom program, promoting agriculture to teachers and students.

• Wayne and Carrie Grimm, Brown County. The Grimms, of Morrill, have taken their agricultural advocacy from in-person Farm Safety Days on their farm for local first- and second-graders to the virtual space with a farming YouTube channel called Double G & L Farms. The couple and their daughters share their diversified farm and livestock through informative videos and more.

• David and Sara Combes, Osage County. David and Sara Combes of Lebo began their farm with an 80-acre farm and homestead 47 years ago. Together, they worked to make their dream come true with seasonal off-farm jobs, hard work and faith. Over the years, they have expanded their operation to now include retained ownership of their Angus beef for a premium for age, source and carcass merits.  

• Philip and Rhonda Perry, Jefferson County. The Perry Ranch of Oskaloosa consists of a 500-head spring calving cow herd, along with a stocker calf herd and a custom preconditioning operation. The Perrys have been very active in the Kansas Livestock Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, as well as serving their local community.

• Jess and Laryce Schwieterman, Hamilton County. The Schwietermans were a young couple fresh out of college when a retiring farmer near Syracuse offered them an opportunity: Work for him for a couple years, and he would transition his land to the couple. At 25 years of age, the couple took on 3,000 acres. Since then, the couple has expanded JL Farms through the use of no-till and other conservation practices, as well as sound business management.

• Nathan and Suzanne Larson, Riley County. The Larsons, of the community of Riley, have a diversified farm that includes corn, silage, grain sorghum, soybeans and wheat. They have spent the last 20 years transitioning their farmland to no-till for soil and crop improvement. They also have two cow herds that calve in the spring and the fall, with calves fed on the farm and sold directly to Tyson Fresh Meats. Nathan serves as treasurer of the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, and he is a Kansas Wheat commissioner.

The six couples and their families will be guests of honor at a banquet in March in Manhattan. They will also have a special day of recognition during the Kansas State Fair in September.


The Kansas Master Farmer award was started in 1927, by then-Kansas Farmer publisher Sen. Arthur Capper. A year later, the Farmer’s Wife magazine, which is no longer in print, started the Master Farm Homemaker Guild, with help from Kansas State University. In the early days, the two programs operated separately, and the honorees were individuals rather than couples.

More than 400 farm couples have been recognized and have become members of the Kansas Master Farmer Association and the Kansas Master Farm Homemakers Guild. The goal was to publicly honor excellence in farming, homemaking, farm living and rural citizenship.

In 1953, Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service took on the duty of the selection process and coordination of the annual honor banquet.

Today, K-State Research and Extension and Kansas Farmer magazine co-sponsor the program, with financial support from Kansas Farm Bureau, Frontier Farm Credit and American AgCredit.

Nomination process

Each year county Extension councils and Extension districts nominate farm couples. Then, a committee is appointed to choose one couple from each of the four Extension areas in the state, plus two additional couples at large.

Nominations for the Class of 2022 are due May 1. If you would like to see a farm couple nominated, contact your local Extension agent; call the K-State Research and Extension administrative office at 785-532-5820; or email Daryl Buchholz at [email protected].

Be sure to look for more on each of the six couples of the Class of 2021 in upcoming issues of Kansas Farmer magazine online and in print.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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