If your phone rings in the next couple of weeks, be sure to answer it. It just might be me telling you you've just been selected as a 2013 Indiana Master Farmer. The award is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer magazine and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
Judging is wrapping up. Winners will be notified soon. This was a tough, competitive year for Master Farmer nominations, Dean Akridge notes.
The three judges are the Dean, Bill Pickart, former Master Farmer, retired farmer and retired seed sales rep and Carl Eiche, former Indiana Prairie Farmer senior editor and coordinator of the Master Farmer award for more than 25 years.
The question is often asked: What do you look for in a Master Farmer? Pickart has in his mind the kind of candidate he believes is deserving of honor before he begins to sift through the nominations. Each nomination consists of several pages of information about the candidate's farm, often prepared by someone close to them who respected them enough to nominate them, plus six letters of support from people who work with the nominee.
"All of these nominations represent good farmers who are very good at farming techniques and at making a living from the farm," Pickart says. "Many have also served in their local community on school boards, soil and water conservation districts, Extension boards and in a number of other ways.
"I like to see someone stretch out beyond the county borders and become involved in a statewide organization. That requires really giving of yourself when you serve at a state or national level. We have many Hoosiers who have served at one level or the other or both."
There was no shortage of applicants to fit the bill this time. And in case you want to get someone's name in the hopper for next year, we're already accepting nominations for the 2014 Master Farmer program. Applications will be due February 15, 2014.