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master farmer medalion

Meet the Masters, Class of 2018

Program honors four new Master Farmer Award winners, plus an Exceptional Service Award winner.

This year the 82nd class of Iowa Master Farmers will be honored at the annual awards day in March. Four winners make up the Class of 2018. Plus, we have an Exceptional Service Award winner this year.

Henry A. Wallace, editor of Wallaces Farmer from 1921 to 1933, initiated the Iowa Master Farmer Award in 1926 to call attention to Iowa farmers who not only demonstrate outstanding management of their farming operations, but also provide leadership in local, state and national organizations. It is the longest-running farmer recognition program in the country.

Wallace made it clear the award was for not only farming, but also involvement in family and community. So in 1926, when Wallaces Farmer began the Iowa Master Farmer Award, it made perfect sense to use the magazine’s motto —“Good Farming, Clear Thinking, Right Living”— as the basis for judging nominations.

This guideline for farmers’ conduct holds award nominees to a higher standard of ethics, requiring that Iowa Master Farmers not only skillfully manage their farms and market their products, but also invest time and resources in pursuit of a successful family and community life.

The 2018 Iowa Master Farmers who are featured exemplify Henry A. Wallace’s concept of a “Master Farmer.” They have taken on leadership roles in their communities, the state and nationally.

The 2018 recipients Steve and Julie Berger of Washington County, Jeff and Christy Hibbs of Marshall County, Shaun and Valerie Lambertsen of Jones County, and Gordon Wassenaar of Jasper County comprise the 82nd class of Iowa Master Farmers recognized by Wallaces Farmer.

They bring the total to 480 farm families who have been honored since the program began in 1926. (The Master Farmer awards program was not held in 1932-37 during the Great Depression, in 1942-45 during World War II and in 1962).

Judges consider operation and management of the farm, how the nominee got started, and how they’ve grown the farming operation while demonstrating sound financial management. Those who are good stewards of the land and give proper care to livestock receive high marks.

An active interest in farm organizations, not only in membership, but leadership as well, is part of the makeup of a Master Farmer. This is a family award. Farming is a true partnership between husband and wife. All family members contribute to the success of the operation.

Nominate a Master Farmer
Anyone can nominate a Master Farmer: father, spouse, neighbor, children, Extension, etc. Letters of support from community leaders, pastors, co-op managers, etc., strengthen a nomination.

Deadline for nominations for the 2019 awards is Oct. 1, 2018. For a nomination form, write to Wallaces Farmer, 6200 Aurora Ave., Suite 203E, Urbandale, IA 50322. Or call the office at 515-505-1540. Forms are also at

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