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Serving: IA

New Book Tells Tale of the Masters

The 400-page book includes historical data and observations on Iowa agriculture since 1926.

"The History of the Iowa Master Farmer Award", is a must-read for anyone connected to award winners or interested in the history of Iowa agriculture. The book contains original text and photographs on Iowa Master Farmer award winners since 1926. Plus it includes historical data and insights on Iowa agriculture from Iowa agricultural experts and the Wallaces Farmer staff.

Years ago, award winners formed the Iowa Master Farmer Association. Its purpose is to continue sharing information about improving profits on their farms and quality of life in rural Iowa communities. Later the association began sponsoring scholarships for Iowa State University students studying journalism and production agriculture.

More recently Clarence, Iowa, farmer Jerry Goldsmith was association historian. He and wife, Jean, saw a lot of information in the historical files that they thought would interest other Iowa farmers and agriculturists.

After Goldsmiths planted the seed, Ron Swanson, a Galt, Iowa, farmer and foundation board member, contacted ISU's Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication to see if a student intern might be interested in taking on such a project. Hiring a student helps reach another Master Farmer Association goal -- providing hands-on experience, as well as scholarships for ag students. The stars aligned as Aaron Butzen applied for an internship at the time.

"Butzen's skills, enthusiasm and professionalism perfectly fit this project," says Swanson. "He also has a great background for the project -- his father Steve is employed by Pioneer Hi-Bred International and was equally enthused. Both Butzens recognize the rich heritage between Wallaces Farmer and Pioneer Hi-Bred International."

Butzen researched the Master Farmer Award program all the way back to its beginnings in 1926. The book reproduces all of the articles on each class of Master Farmer Award winners as they were originally published in Wallaces Farmer, with only minor editing. "We did this in order to maintain the historical perspective," notes Butzen. "Plus, we believe readers will appreciate seeing how the writing style in the magazine has evolved over the years."

Chapters in the book include:

* Brief summary by decade of the changes in Iowa agriculture including historical photos and data from the beginning of the award program to date

* A history of Wallaces Farmer

* History of the Iowa Master Farmer Award

* Reprinting of all articles published in Wallaces Farmer on the award winners

* Background of the Iowa Master Farmer Association and the Iowa Master Farmer Foundation

* Lists of award winners alphabetically, by year and by county.

Generous donations from the Iowa Farm Bureau Foundation and Pioneer Hi-Bred International helped offset printing costs of the book.

Cost for "The Iowa Master Farmer Award History" book is $20, plus $5 shipping and handling. To order send check made out to Iowa Master Farmer Foundation to Iowa Master Farmer Foundation, 6200 Aurora Ave., Suite 609E, Urbandale, Iowa 50322. For more information call 515-278-7782.

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