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The letters that pour into Prairie Farmer offices in support of Master Farmers make for the most uplifting reading the staff does all year. Here’s a slice of the stories they tell about the 2024 Master Farmers.

4 Min Read
From left: Gerald Thompson, Chris Hausman, Lou Lamoreux, Susan and Malcolm Head
RESPECTED: The 2024 Prairie Farmer Master Farmers are (from left) Gerald Thompson, Colfax, Ill.; Chris Hausman, Pesotum, Ill.; Lou Lamoreux, Lanark, Ill.; and Susan and Malcolm Head, Blue Mound, Ill. Betty Haynes

When the letters of support pour in accompanying Prairie Farmer Master Farmer nominations from across the state of Illinois, they add personal insight and touching memories about time spent with the honorees — on and off the farm. They also paint a picture of the farmer’s character, forged during community fundraisers, late-night meetings and harvests for neighbors. For many Master Farmers, reading the letters is a humbling and honoring experience.

Here’s a look at what some of the closest friends, family, landlords, suppliers and others have to say about each member of the 2024 class of Prairie Farmer Master Farmers.

Chris Hausman

“Chris has been an outstanding and thoughtful leader for all of agriculture. He has an incredible ability to analyze issues and formulate solutions to complex problems.” Brian Duncan, Illinois Farm Bureau president

“Chris is never afraid of change and never shies away from trying new ideas on his farm. He will see if it fits in to his farming operation, and I honestly believe that is why he has been so successful year after year.” Kevin Powell, Illini FS

“His service to the agriculture community at both the local and the state level has been invaluable to all farmers. He does not jump to conclusions but listens to all and makes a well-informed decision.” David A. Albin, nominator

“Chris was a tremendous help to my brother and me as we started farming in the tough times of the mid-1980s. He was an adviser as well as the person that figured our taxes.” —  Larry Dallas, neighboring farmer

Malcolm and Susan Head

“Their secret to success is that they are great stewards of their land, livestock, blessings and family legacy. It’s a point that Malcolm and Susan pride themselves on continuing, always seeking ways to make their operation stronger, but never passing up the opportunity to support and encourage others in agriculture, and in their community.” Josh St. Peters, Illinois Beef Association executive vice president

“Many know the Heads and call them friends. They exemplify the qualities that make the world a better place. They place church, family, community and school as a priority and live it by example.” David Brown, farmer, former WAND-TV ag reporter

“It made no difference the cause; without question and at the drop of a hat, Malcolm and Susan were always the first to volunteer whatever was needed in any way they could.” Eric Hurelbrink, Meridian High School principal

 “Malcolm and Susan have been an example of how conservation and agriculture ethic become dynamic components on the management of their farming operation.” Darren Moser, NRCS soil conservationist

Lou Lamoreux

“The way that Lou offers advice and guidance with a joke and a smile has made him a friend to many farmers and staff.” Rodney Weinzierl, IL Corn executive director

“In all aspects of his life, he is generous ... I truly believe that every community needs at least one ‘Lou’ involved. He always made things so much easier with his willingness to help, teach and inspire.” Jarrod Severing, former Lanark United Methodist pastor

“Lou wakes up every day and does whatever he can to make his farm, his community, his state and his country better. I can’t imagine a more qualified farmer for this esteemed award.” Andrew Chesney, Illinois Senate, 45th District

“As a grain and livestock farmer, Lou has always sought to improve his farm, the farm products he produced, the soil health of his farm and the environmental sustainability in which the farm exists.” Bob Rohrer, Cook County Farm Bureau manager

Gerald Thompson

“Gerald is known to operate his farm with conservation practices that show he is a good steward of the land. His farmstead is always well kept, equipment well maintained, and he is a farmer willing to make changes when needed.” David Meiss, 2023 Master Farmer

“His son has joined the family business, and isn’t that the greatest compliment a man can be given, when his son or daughter desires to join him in his life’s work?” Thomas Wirsing, Trinity Lutheran Church emeritus senior pastor

“Gerald’s warmth and good nature made those longs days in the cab easier, and his calm, quiet confidence in the face of any problem set for me an example of how a leader should behave. In short, Gerald was the best boss I could have asked for.” Dave Wieland, former employee

“Gerald has a keen intellect, a sharp wit, and was able to navigate the sometimes-difficult political landscape. I knew Gerald’s faith, care and compassion were applied during deliberations and research. McLean County is a better place because of him.” Catherine Metsker, McLean County Board

Read more about:

Master Farmers

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

Betty Haynes

Betty Haynes is the associate editor of Prairie Farmer. She grew up on a Menard County, Ill., farm and graduated from the University of Missouri. Most recently, Betty worked for the Illinois Beef Association, entirely managing and editing its publication.

She and her husband, Dan, raise corn, soybeans and cattle with her family near Oakford , Ill., and are parents to Clare.

Betty won the 2023 Andy Markwart Horizon Award, 2022 Emerging Writer, and received Master Writer designation from the Ag Communicators Network. She was also selected as a 2023 Young Leader by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.

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