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Prairie Farmer Master Farmers
MASTERS: The last four Master Farmer classes included (clockwise, top left) 2018: Darell Sarff, Fred Reichert, Jim Rapp and Tom Martin; 2017: Tracy Jones, Allen Entwistle, Joel Kooistra and Kent Kleinschmidt; 2015: Don Schrader, John Werries, Bill Christ and Randy DeSutter; and 2016: Norma Jean and Reggie Dowell, Karen and Mark DeDecker, Brenda and Bill Raben, and Julie and Ron Lawfer.

Who will be the next Master Farmers? Nominate today

Don’t procrastinate — 2019 Master Farmer applications are due Sept. 10.

Master Farmer honorees take away more than a beautiful plaque and a new title. 2018 Master Farmer Tom Martin, Mount Pulaski, Ill., made many memories with his fellow Master Farmers. “Like the classes before us, as you talk and get to know one another, you find out how similar your beliefs are, and how much passion and love we have for what we do,” he says. The Master Farmer award process is also time to look back, an opportunity Martin enjoyed. “We reflected on our life up to this point, our accomplishments,” he says. “The wonderful people and friends I have met and worked with.”

Who do you know that deserves Master Farmer honors?

If you’ve ever considered nominating someone — maybe your parents, your sibling, your neighbors, a friend or a colleague — don’t wait.

Prairie Farmer’s Master Farmer program is a grassroots program. That means every nomination comes from readers. Who is doing great work in producing food and fiber while serving their community and raising their family? Find that person and nominate him or her.

Don’t forget: You can also nominate yourself. Many farmers submit their own names each year.

The Master Farmer application also makes it clear that you can nominate or apply as an individual, or as a husband and wife. In 2016, four farm couples received the award. Siblings can also be nominated, as was the case for Doug and Tom Block, who farm in partnership and were named Master Farmers in 2009.

Here’s what to do
The application process may seem intimidating, but here are some winning tips from past judges:

• Be thorough. In the sections asking about farm history and growth, more information is better than less. Share how the individual(s) got started, and show how their operation has progressed.

Get letters. Ask for at least 10 recommendation letters to support your nomination. These letters give insight to character and reputation.

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.

Get started
You can find the 2019 application online. Download it, fill it out and send it in, complete with letters of support, by Sept. 10. Email holly.spangler@farmprogress.com for more information or to have an application sent to you.

Hats off to the judges
Prairie Farmer is grateful to the 2018 panel of judges for selecting this year’s Master Farmers.

Karen Corrigan, McGillicuddy Corrigan Agronomics
Linnea Kooistra, 2011 Master Farmer
Ed McMillan, University of Illinois board of trustees chairman
Steve Myers, Busey Ag Services
Thomas Tracy, Farm Credit Illinois
Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer editor

 

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