Farm Progress

Have you thought about nominating someone you know to be a Master Farmer? 2018 honoree Tom Martin shares why this award is so special.

Jill Loehr, Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

March 30, 2018

2 Min Read
MOMENTS LIKE THESE: The Master Farmer award ceremony is an emotional and humbling day for many honorees. Pictured are Prairie Farmer Editor Holly Spangler (left), Master Farmer Fred Reichert, Master Farmer Darell Sarff, Honorary Master Farmer Max Armstrong, Master Farmer Jim Rapp, Master Farmer Tom Martin, and Prairie Farmer Associate Editor Jill Loehr.

Receiving the Master Farmer award is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. But don’t take our word for it. Just ask 2018 Master Farmer Tom Martin from Mount Pulaski, Ill.

“We joined an honored group of men and women who have been named before us, all who hold the values of family, farming and community as core fundamentals in their lives,” he says. “I think of the three gentlemen who I joined in the class of 2018 as Master Farmers and how honored I am to be included in their ranks. “

True to form, Martin feels the honor belongs to the group, not the individual. The Class of 2018 — including Martin, Darell Sarff, Fred Reichert and Jim Rapp — quickly bonded over their common interests and values.

“When I reflect back in the days to come, I will first and foremost see our group picture and what an honor it was to be included with these three deserving individuals,” Martin says.

Does that sound like someone you know?

Maybe you’re thinking of your parents, a sibling, 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.

And don’t forget: You can also apply on your own. Many farmers submit their own names each year. Did you know that nominees can be an individual or a husband-and-wife team? In 2016, four farm couples received the Master Farmer award. 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 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 and note 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. That takes time.

Get started
Download the 2019 application, fill it out and send it in, complete with letters of support, by Sept. 10. For more information or to have an application sent to you, email [email protected].

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)

Jill Loehr

Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer, Loehr

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like