To get pictures and information for this new crop of Master Farmers whom are being honored this week in Indiana in ceremonies at the Beck Ag Center, I drove hundreds of miles across this state. All five, counting the honorary master farmer we'll name, are quite worthy, each with their own story to tell.
As I drove around and went through various towns, it would remind me of previous winners. As I headed toward Greencastle, I remembered Hubert McGaughey. On my way to Middletown, Bill and Kaye Whitehead came to mind. And so it went.
It occurred to me that all these people must have something in common. Then it dawned on me what it was. All are business savvy-smart to begin with- they operate a good, responsible farming operation. Nearly everyone has a strong, supportive family. More than once I've heard the expression: 'The best crop we raise on this farm is our kids." I probably first heard that from Larry and Susan Pumphrey at Greensburg some 20 plus years ago, but it's been repeated many times since.
The second thing they have in common is the willingness to serve others. Many give of their time. Some, like Keith Berry and mike Shuter, winners this year, are gone so much they must rely on sons coming into the business to help get the job done at home. And some have shared that it's not all by accident- part of letting the son or daughter take over some responsibility is to prepare them for the future.
The third thing is unselfish service to local friends and neighbors. The most likely nominator for a Master Farmer is a neighbor, fellow member on a board of an organization or someone they've helped along the way. Service to others is important these days, and nobody does it better than farmers.
I also passed through many towns and thought of people who have excellent farms- some I've just heard of, most I've visited before, yet they haven't been named Master Farmers yet. That doesn't mean they don't qualify, it just means someone hasn't taken the initiative to nominate them yet.
Indiana is blessed with farmers who are good, honest businessmen, who are willing to serve and who are caring to their neighbors. Some 200 have been named Master Farmers since 1968. Hundreds more are out there. We'll be looking or them for next year. Help us by seeing that the neighbor you look up to gets nominated next year.