Bruce Mc Kenzie, retired professor of ag engineering at Purdue University, credits the judges who chose him as an Honorary Master farmer with having long memories. After all, he retired in 1993, after a 40-plus year career at Purdue. Truth is that he's never been forgotten. Many grain systems still in use today either bear his personal mark of design assistance, or at least use some of the principles he taught to farmers through Extension meetings and ruing one-on-one visits to farms over the past four decades.
He was the right man for the right time, one person says. McKenzie exploded onto the scene as a young Purdue professor just as farmers were beginning to shell corn. There were still plenty of farmers filing ear corn cribs when he started his career.
"The change caught on quickly because farmers figured out shelling went so much faster, that they could rent more land and still get their corps harvested in a timely manner," he notes.
Principles that McKenzie stressed then still apply today. In fact, his advice is still so pertinent that he's featured in a story on designing grain bin systems in the August issue of Indiana Prairie farmer, due out this week.
"I told people back then to plan the system they thought they needed, then double it," he relates. "And before they actually built it, double it again. The real challenge in the early days was getting farmers to understand that they needed to leave room fro expansion and growth in their grain handling facilities."
After McKenzie made a few remarks to the crowd last week at the Master Farmer ceremony, including sharing hoe he was the middle child in a family of 13- "If you pass on food going around the table again odds are you wouldn't get a second chance," he quipped- he was delighted by a special honor. Carl Eiche, retired editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer who headed up Master Farmer for many years, and who nominated McKenzie for the award this year, came to the podium to assist Dean jay Akridge in presenting the award.
McKenzie and Eiche did many stories together during the years, helping spread the principles of grain bin design that resulted in some of the most efficient grain handling systems anywhere in the world.