Introducing the new class of Master Farmers is a privilege each year. This year’s class includes an octogenarian, three couples, plus a pair of brothers and their wives as Honorary Master Farmers. It’s a diverse group, but they share a common bond: They’re dedicated to farming and supporting Indiana agriculture.
The 2021 Indiana Master Farmers are Harry Egnew, Linton; Randy and Joyce Kron, Evansville; Cameron and Cara Mills, Walton; and Craig and Kim Williams, Oaktown. Honorary Master Farmers are Ted and Jean Merrell and Terry and Nieta Merrell, Kokomo.
The 2021 Master Farmer award is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture. The judges who selected the 2021 class of Master Farmers include Karen Plaut, dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture; Jim Mintert, Purdue Extension ag economist and director of the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture; and Don Villwock, Edwardsport. Villwock was tapped as a Master Farmer in 1985.
You can read about the achievements of these outstanding individuals in upcoming stories devoted to each winner. They will receive their plaques and official recognition at a reception held in conjunction with the 2021 Indiana Farm Management Tour.
Frequently asked questions
Here are questions people often ask about the Master Farmer program:
How long has the Master Farmer program existed? The modern version began in 1968. There was an earlier version, started in the mid-1920s by Prairie Farmer. It was discontinued in the mid-1930s due to the Great Depression.
Why are some people recognized as couples and others as individuals? That depends upon how they were nominated. When someone nominates a Master Farmer today, they have the choice of nominating one person or the person plus their spouse. Increasingly, today, with more spouses heavily involved in the farming operation and in the community, husbands and wives are nominated jointly. People making the nomination tend to recognize that in many operations, it takes a husband-wife team to accomplish their goals. A nominee can also request that their spouse be added as a recipient if they choose.
Why is there a separate category for Honorary Master Farmer? This award is reserved for people who don’t farm full time, but who have made significant contributions to agriculture within the state and often throughout the country. In recent years, the goal has become recognizing someone each year, since there are so many deserving people who leave their mark on Indiana agriculture but don’t spend most of their time farming.
This year’s Honorary Master Farmers are a prime example. Merrell Bros. formed over 30 years ago. Ted and Terry are sons of a Master Farmer, Dayton Merrell. They still farm today, but their primary business is handling municipal biosolids, including finding new methods for using this product in environmentally friendly ways. As you will learn, they have made significant contributions to agriculture across the country through their efforts.
Who nominates Master Farmers? You do! Nominations come from peers, not from the Indiana Prairie Farmer staff. To obtain a nomination form for the 2022 class, write to: Indiana Prairie Farmer, P.O. Box 247, Franklin, IN 46131, or email email@example.com. If you want to suggest an Honorary Master Farmer, send the person’s name and a description of their qualifications by mail or email. Nominations for the 2022 class are due Feb. 15.