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.
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 email@example.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