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Every good farmer has a mentor

Tom J. Bechman David Hardin, Tom Nugent and Rob Dove
WHO THEY LOOKED UP TO: Tom Nugent (center), flanked by David Hardin (left) and Rob Dove (right), discusses how his father was his mentor.
Master Farmers show that even the best of the best have people who guide them.

Leave it to Jim Mintert to ask a unique question to shed insight on how Master Farmers evolve. Mintert, a Purdue Extension agricultural economist and director of the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture, posed the following question to newly named Indiana Master Farmers:

Who had the biggest impact on you as a mentor during your career?

Answering the question were 2022 Master Farmers Rob Dove, Elnora; Tom Nugent, Elnora; David Hardin, Avon; Mark Seib, Poseyville; and Greg Smoker, Wanatah. Bob Cherry, Greenfield, and Gary Steinhardt, West Lafayette, are Honorary Master Farmers.

Dove: It would have to be my dad. Unfortunately, he was killed in a farm accident 20 years ago, and the weight of managing everything fell on me in seconds. Fortunately, he taught me well.

My dad taught me about crops and the land, but he also taught me other very important lessons. He always said that if you’re going to do a job for someone else, like custom work, do it even better than you would do it for yourself. And he also instilled the value of giving back and serving the community.

Nugent: It would be my dad, without a doubt. We farmed together for a long time, and he taught me lots of things. I didn’t always agree with his decisions, but that was a form of learning. I could see how things turned out, and then use that to help me decide what to do or what not to do in a similar situation.

Hardin: Don Villwock, already a Master Farmer, Knox County, would be on that list. But so is my dad, John Hardin Jr., also a Master Farmer. He taught me patience. Sometimes you don’t want to be the first to jump into something new. Both Dad and my grandfather, John Sr., instilled care for the land in me. My dad also showed me how to treat employees properly, and how to be an advocate for agriculture. Today, we must make sure policymakers and consumers know why we do what we do in agriculture.

Seib: I have two mentors as well. My grandfather taught me patience, and the need to think things through before acting. Jerry Rulon, a Master Farmer, Hamilton County, showed me that it’s important to stand up for what you believe in. Speak when you need to speak for agriculture and be quiet when you should be quiet.

Smoker: Both my grandfather, Dwight, and father, Jim, were Master Farmers. They taught me lots of things. We’ve always been in the cattle business, and an old-timer from Illinois taught me a lesson I still follow today. He said, “If you have to use a pencil to see if you should do the deal, it’s too close a call.”

Cherry: Professor Jim Outhouse at Purdue, the Extension sheep specialist, was my counselor. I remember him for two things. He always smoked a cigar, and he also instilled in me that getting an education was important. I’m indebted for him showing me just how important getting an education was in those days.

Steinhardt: Don Franzmeier was my major professor for my graduate studies at Purdue. He showed me how important it was to take results from research and put it in terms people could understand.

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