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What makes Master Farmers successful?

What makes Master Farmers successful?
New class of Indiana Prairie Farmer/Purdue Master farmers share keys to their success.

No two people follow the same recipe for success. Jim Mintert, Purdue University director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture, asked each Master Farmer to share what they thought made them successful. Mintert emceed the recent panel discussion following Master Farmer ceremonies.

Here is what Master Farmers had to say.

Terry Hayhurst, Terre Haute: "Looking outside of ourselves for ideas is a big part of it. We have people with good ideas all around us."

Susan Hayhurst: It takes patience to learn about agriculture. I was a city girl 27 years ago. I learn about what we do every day, and I am still learning. Not coming from agriculture, I look at it differently."

Passion counts: Jan Heckaman (right) talks about loving what you do during Master Farmer panel discussion.

Carol Kohlhagen, Rensselaer: "My husband, Richard, has been very good about giving our sons in the operation, Ryan, Kent and Kyle, a chance to make their own decisions. Then he is willing to take a back seat and let them learn. That's been important to our growth."

Mike Flock, Ramsey: "I always wanted to be like my dad. He would let me make mistakes, and that's how I learned. He would step aside unless I was about to make too big of a mistake, and then he would say something.

"We grew while we had the dairy, which we discontinued in 1996. We have also grown in acres. I give dad and the rest of my family a lot of credit for what we've been able to do."

Mike Heckaman, Argos: "My father, now 93, has been a great adviser to us. I have listened to him. We had two smaller herds at two locations at one time. We worked hard and the kids were involved. They fed calves and did chores. Family is an important part of it. You need their support.

Related: What advice would you pass on to the next generation?

"We also have employees with very different talents. We have 13 altogether, and we rely on them. They are there doing the work today. We also rely on other people, like nutritionists and specialists with Dairy Farmers of America and NorthStar. You can't be a specialist at everything. You need to know where you can go to for advice and help.

Jan Heckaman: "To be successful, you must have a passion for what you do. It's not enough to like what you do- you must love what you do! In our case it is cows. We are passionate about cows and we love what we do- operating a dairy farm.

"It's not enough for you to be passionate, either. Your family has to support you. And in our case, our employees have to buy in on the idea too. They must be passionate. We are very lucky that we have those kinds of people."

Mintert (emcee): I heard a lot of common themes there. The one key that keeps coming up is it's all about people. That includes your own family, and also your employees. It sounds like you all agree you must have employees, family members or not, that you trust and that are passionate."

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