Four families and a Purdue University ag economist were honored this week as Master Farmers and an honorary Master Farmer, respectively. Nearly 200 people gathered at Jay County High School Tuesday evening to honor the new class. It was the evening program held between the two days of the Indiana Farm Management Tour.
The award is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture. The modern version began in 1968, and has honored outstanding farmers for their farming excellence, natural resources stewardship and leadership abilities ever since that time.
Here is a brief overview of each, with links to more in-depth coverage. Look for even more on the 2015 Purdue/Indiana Prairie Farmer Master Farmers coming soon.
Mike Flock: Mike operates a large grain operation in the rolling hills of Harrison County near Ramsey. Once a dairyman, today Flock specializes in raising specialty crops, including popcorn and non-GMO soybeans. An employee, Kevin Seig, also maintains a beef cattle herd in facilities Flock once used for dairy cows.
Terry and Susan Hayhurst: This Vigo County couple raises crops and maintains a Polled Hereford show herd south of Terre Haute. Both are passionate about 4-H, and open their farm to work with up to a dozen kids each year who wouldn't have experiences with animals otherwise. Susan didn't grow up on a farm, but has embraced it wholeheartedly. Both are valued volunteers for 4-H in the local 4-H program.
Mike and Jan Heckaman: This Argos couple turned a disastrous fire years ago into a stepping stone to build a dairy milking more than 550 cows. Their operation centers completely on the dairy, and improving genetics to produce high quality milk. Partners in the operation are Max and Carrie Bollenbacher. Carrie, their daughter, nominated the couple.
Richard and Carol Kohlhagen: The Kohlhagens operate a large grain farm, raise asparagus, and raise hay, plus operate a custom hay operation, near Rensselaer. Three of their six children are partners in the operation. Four of their six children were state FFA officers. Hard work and making use of each person's talents makes this operation click. They work hard six days a week, but never on Sunday!
Chris Hurt: Ag economist since 1981, Hurt was recognized as an honorary Master Farmer. He actually farmed for a short time in the '70s, after a stint with Cargill. Both experiences have helped him both understand the grain business and know how to relate to farmers.