The search is on for the next Indiana Master Farmers. Nominations for the 2020 class are due by Feb. 15. The award is co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
Only you can nominate someone who you feel is deserving for the award. Each year, up to four Master Farmers are recognized. One honorary Master Farmer may also be recognized. Indiana Prairie Farmer staff can’t nominate someone — it must come from a farmer, reader, landowner, Extension educator or other individual.
People often ask about qualifications for the Master Farmer award. There are no set criteria, because Master Farmers come in all shapes and sizes with a myriad of operations, from a dairy with 1,000 cows to someone who farms 6,000 acres to a farm with 750 acres and a side business supporting agriculture. Key ingredients include a passion for agriculture, a willingness to support their community and state through taking an active role in activities, a commitment to protecting natural resources, and dedication to family.
Meet a Master Farmer
The best way to describe what a Master Farmer is like is to talk to someone who has received the honor. Mark Legan, Coatesville, was named a Master Farmer in 2006.
Speaking at the North American Manure Expo at Fair Oaks Farms in August, Mark explained that he and his wife, Phyllis, their daughter Beth, and her husband, Nick Tharp, operate Legan Grain and Livestock. They have a large sow operation and finish out pigs in cooperation with two other families in central Indiana.
The Legans are first-generation farmers. Mark began his career as a Purdue University Extension ag educator before becoming passionate about hog production. He and Phyllis benefited from the help of neighbors as they became established, and they try to help others today. They host a cookout for their community each summer, and keep people informed about their operation through a regular newsletter.
Mark spoke at the manure expo because he believes in using manure as a resource. He tests manure for nutrients and tests nutrient levels in the soil. His preference is incorporating manure and using cover crops to latch on to nutrients after application.
To learn about previous Master Farmer recipients, visit IndianaPrairieFarmer.com. You will find stories on Master Farmers from 2018 and 2019.
The first step to nominating someone for the Master Farmer award is to obtain the one-page nomination form. To request one, call 317-431-8766, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: Indiana Prairie Farmer, P.O. Box 247, Franklin, IN 46131.
The induction ceremony for 2020 awardees will be held during the 2020 Indiana Farm Management Tour.
Even though the nomination form is one page, add supplemental information as needed. Provide six letters of support from other people who respect and look up to the person you nominate.
The completed application must be submitted online to the email address above or mailed to the P.O. box above by Feb. 15.
Many husbands and wives are equally involved in farming and community. You can nominate both a husband and wife or just one person. Mark your intentions on the nomination form.