Many people have helped move Indiana agriculture forward over the past four decades. You likely know Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. leaders such as Harry Pearson, Don Villwock and Randy Kron. There are other names you may not know because they do most of their work behind the scenes.
Mark Sigler is one example. He was selected as this year’s Honorary Master Farmer. The Master Farmer program is co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
“He seems to always be looking for a solution when agriculture faces a challenge,” says Kron, president of INFB.
Kent Yeager, a farmer, former INFB specialist and state ag liaison for former Sen. Joe Donnelly, believes Sigler is one of the people who makes Indiana agriculture tick. “It’s great to see him recognized for what he does, even though a lot of it happens behind the scenes,” Yeager says.
Sigler grew up on a Madison County farm near Frankton, Ind. He still lives there today with his wife, Dee Dee.
Sigler has two children, Amber Cole and Adam Sigler, and six grandchildren. He outlines the path that brought him to his current position at INFB.
“I graduated from Purdue in 1979, majoring in animal sciences and ag education,” he says. “I was a livestock judger, and our team won the collegiate judging contest at the North American in Louisville.”
Sigler spent three years as an Extension youth educator in Elkhart County and three years as an ag educator in Rush County. Along the way he worked with people who would influence him later, including John Baugh, who worked for INFB in commodity marketing at the time, and Bob Cherry, whom he met while working for a year with Farm Credit.
Baugh told him about a position in INFB’s commodity department, and Sigler took the job in 1987. He was appointed director of the organization department in 1989. Late in 1993, the corporate secretary of INFB was preparing to retire, and he and others talked to Sigler about the position. Sigler became corporate secretary in 1994, and his title was changed to chief operating officer in 2001. He was also appointed treasurer of INFB at that time.
“I didn’t really seek it out, but it was a good fit for me,” he says of his position.
Why does he love his job? “I have the opportunity to work with some of the best people around who all care about agriculture,” Sigler says. “Problems arise, and I have the opportunity to work with others to help solve these problems.
“My philosophy is that I want things to go well, and to go well for agriculture. I don’t want it just for myself, but for everyone involved. If we work together, we can usually find a solution.”
One of the biggest challenges facing agriculture today is marketing, coupled with trade and tariffs, Sigler says. He’s doing what he can to work with others to be part of the solution.