You are about to meet the newest class of Indiana Master Farmers. Officially inducted at ceremonies during the Indiana Farm Management Tour, this new class features a variety of farming operations and a deserving Honorary Master Farmer.
While the crops they grow vary and the methods they use to produce them also vary, there are similarities. All of this year’s inductees are sharp managers in their own right. They pay attention to detail, track every penny spent on inputs when they can and have the courage to execute tough decisions after weighing the alternatives carefully.
Like previous Master Farmers, they also place high value on family and on their communities. Each in their own way serves their communities, and often agriculture across the state, by contributing their unique talents to various causes and efforts.
The Master Farmer program dates to the 1920s, but was discontinued during the Depression in the mid-1930s. It was revived in 1968, with awards presented annually since then.
Originated as a way to honor farmers by Prairie Farmer editors, today the program is co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
The five families and individuals included in this year’s class are noted here.
Dan Gwin, Linden. Dan Gwin raises corn and specialty soybeans in Montgomery County. Until this year he raised specialty corn. Learn why economic analysis led him to make a major change in his operation for 2016. His spouse and farming partner is Donya Lester.
Tom and Karen McKinney, Tipton. Tom McKinney says he has been farming since he was 7 years old. He and Karen have diversified with a number of farm-related ventures. Both also serve their community in major ways.
John and Nan Nidlinger, Decatur. This couple is so serious about financial analysis that even their lender says she learns from them, instead of the other way around. They’ve built up a family farming operation over time. Both have served in key roles in community organizations. John has served at state and national levels.
Don and Darci Zolman, Pierceton. The Zolmans have an unconventional farming operation in many ways, but it’s profitable all the same. They ask questions others pass by, and that often leads to new opportunities.
Bret Marsh, Indianapolis. Indiana’s state veterinarian is long overdue to be recognized as an Honorary Master Farmer. Yet this may be exactly the right time for him to receive this honor. Marsh was instrumental in leading the effort to contain avian flu that broke out in southwest Indiana earlier this year.