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Prairie Farmer staff win big for writing, photography

Stories and photos from Prairie Farmer were recently recognized as some of the best ag journalism in the nation.

Mike Wilson, Senior Executive Editor

September 18, 2023

2 Min Read
Holly Spangler and Betty Haynes holding award plaques
WINS: Prairie Farmer Editor Holly Spangler (left) and Associate Editor Betty Haynes were recognized for editorial excellence. “The incredible thing about awards like this is that you get to stand among giants — agricultural journalists I’ve looked up to for years,” Spangler says. “I’ll never get over seeing my name in the same vicinity as theirs. And I’ll never get over the privilege farmers extend to us when they let us tell their stories.” Mike Wilson

We don’t toot our own horns very often here at Prairie Farmer, but several of our staff brought home hardware this summer from the Ag Media Summit. The winning entries were part of the annual Agricultural Communications Network awards contest, where ag journalists nationwide showcase their best work in photography, writing and more.

Editor Holly Spangler won Writer of the Year, Honorable Mention — sort of like reserve national champion. The portfolio of stories recognized included:

Pumpkins: Not for the faint of heart

Where do Illinois checkoff dollars go?

Heroes, villains and the folks in between

Associate Editor Betty Haynes brought home a stack of awards, including Master Writer — an incredible feat in just her second year in the contest. Four of her photos were recognized for excellence and her writing awards included:

• 3rd Place Economics and Management: Flexing through volatility

• 1st Place Issues: Why dicamba complaints dropped in Illinois

• 3rd Place Technical Feature: How to choose the right cattle barn

• 3rd Place Team Story with Jennifer Carrico: Better beef biosecurity needed

Haynes also received the Andy Markwart Horizon Award, given to a young ag journalist whose passionate, creative work embodies the dedication of the late Andy Markwart. This award is especially poignant for the Prairie Farmer staff because Markwart served as a field editor here in the late ’90s.

“It’s an incredible honor to be the 2023 Andy Markwart Horizon Award winner,” Haynes says. “It’s remarkable to get to write for the publication Andy once worked for, and to continue in his footsteps of communicating the highest-quality ag news to rural Illinois.”

Former art director Melissa Landgraf’s work was also recognized, placing in the design category for her infographic in Haynes’ “How to choose the right cattle barn” story.

About the Author(s)

Mike Wilson

Senior Executive Editor, Farm Progress

Mike Wilson is the senior executive editor for Farm Progress. He grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Ogle County, Ill., and earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Illinois. He was twice named Writer of the Year by the American Agricultural Editors’ Association and is a past president of the organization. He is also past president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, a global association of communicators specializing in agriculture. He has covered agriculture in 35 countries.

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