What does it mean to be a Master Farmer?
“It’s an honor,” says Joel Kooistra, 2017 Prairie Farmer Master Farmer. “The list of past recipients, many names I know, is a forest of tall trees. Our daily work is humbling; we can feel like nothing special. We are always simply doing the best we can. While reading the letters of recommendation for my nomination, I realize that I have more than just worked; I have touched lives along the way.”
A time-honored tradition since 1925, the Master Farmer award exists because the editors at Prairie Farmer believe farmers like Kooistra who possess outstanding production skills, a passion for community service, dedication to the agricultural industry and devotion to their families deserve recognition.
This grassroots program relies on your nominations. Do you know someone who deserves the Master Farmer title? Is there a farming couple you’ve always admired? You may nominate parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, colleagues or fellow board members. You are welcome to nominate yourself, too.
The 2018 deadline is less than two months away, and the application process takes time and consideration to complete. Here are four tips to help you with the process.
Nailing the nomination
Over the years, Prairie Farmer editors have judged a lot of nomination applications. Here’s what works best:
• Be thorough. In the farm history and growth sections, more information is better than less. Share how the individual(s) got started and show how their operation has progressed. Don’t forget to include numbers whenever possible.
• Get letters. Ask for about 10 recommendation letters to support your nomination. These letters are incredibly helpful.
• Think small. When listing community and industry work, consider the nominee’s entire body of work. For spouses or siblings, list both individuals’ activities, noting 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.
You can find the 2018 application at PrairieFarmer.com/PrairieMasterFarmer. Download it, fill it out and send it in, complete with letters of support, by Sept. 1. Email email@example.com for more information or to have an application sent to you.