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Nominate a Master Farmer candidate today

Tom J. Bechman John and Nan Nidlinger sitting around table with farm team
IDEAS START HERE: John Nidlinger (center), seated next to his wife, Nan, holds a meeting with key players on their farm management team. One year ago, Nidlinger was the behind-the-scenes inspiration for two successful Master Farmer nominations.
Indiana Master Farmer nominations are due Feb. 15. Who should you nominate?

Who nominates people to become Master Farmers? It’s a frequently asked question. The answer? It can be anyone — except someone directly connected to Indiana Prairie Farmer. The nomination can come from a neighbor, relative, landowner, Extension educator, or two or more of those people working together. That’s how every Master Farmer is nominated — by someone who thinks highly enough of a person or a family to put in the effort it takes to submit a successful nomination.

Nominations for the 2021 Indiana Master Farmer program are now open. In fact, completed entries must be submitted or postmarked by Feb. 15, so now is the time to decide if you’re going to nominate someone who deserves recognition, and see that the nomination is completed on time.

Related: Hats off to these Indiana Master Farmers

The Master Farmer program is co-sponsored today by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture. Winners will be announced in late June. While COVID-19 derailed plans for the 2020 Indiana Farm Management Tour, when the Master Farmer awards ceremony is usually held, it didn’t derail naming four new Master Farmer couples in 2020. The recognition ceremony was held Aug. 19 at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds in Danville, Ind. Hopefully, the farm tour will return in 2021, and the ceremony will be held in conjunction with it. One way or another, deserving individuals will be honored.

Shining example

So how does someone become nominated? Here is an example from 2020. John Nidlinger, Decatur, Ind., contacted Indiana Prairie Farmer in late 2019. He had an idea.

“There are two outstanding families that would make great Master Farmers who live in my county,” he reported. “Could they both be nominated in the same year?”

The answer is yes. It’s happened before. Jack and Rita Maloney and Mike and Karen Starkey, both farming families in Hendricks County, were nominated and honored as Master Farmers in 2014.

Nidlinger put his thinking cap on and contacted Indiana Prairie Farmer for guidance. He decided to pursue the nominations. He elected to ask his county Extension educator, Brad Kohlhagen, to prepare the actual nominations. Nidlinger wrote a letter of support for each family. Six well-written letters of support from people who know the nominee help the judges get a better feel for what the nominee has accomplished.

That’s how next-door neighbors Max and Karen Beer and David and Gloria Sommer, Berne, were nominated and became 2020 Master Farmers.

Nidlinger wasn’t the official nominator, and because the awards ceremony was pushed back, he didn’t even get to attend. But without him recognizing that two outstanding couples should be thanked for all they do, the Beer and Sommer families may have never been named Master Farmers.

Nidlinger and his wife, Nan, were named Master Farmers in 2016. They hosted the Indiana Farm Management Tour in 2015. But you don’t have to be a Master Farmer or host a tour to nominate a potential Master Farmer. Just acknowledge that someone worthy of recognition should be nominated.

Indiana Prairie Farmer will be expecting to hear from you. Obtain a nomination form by emailing tom.bechman@farmprogress.com or calling 317-431-8766. Do it today!

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