Here's a disclaimer right off the bat. Records of who received honorary Master Farmer degrees were sketchy in the early days. If you have received the award and aren't discussed here, the omission is certainly not on purpose. Contact us and we'll update our records.
The Honorary Master Farmer award goes to a non full-time farmer who has contributed to the benefit and fabric of Indiana agriculture in various ways. You can nominate someone by sending a letter, or the person may be nominated by a judge on the selection committee for Master Farmers. All applications related to the Master Farmer program are due this year postmarked Feb 15, one week from today.
Two of the earliest past winners include Hobe Jones and Mauri Williamson. Hobe Jones was professor of animal science at Purdue University, and taught many would-be hog farmers headed back to the farm about swine production. His career coincided with the time that hog farming was converting to confinement operations, and his research, teaching and guidance to young people were instrumental in helping change the face of an entire industry in Indiana.
Williamson served for more than 30 years as the executive director of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association. He turned it into the most powerful group of its kind in the country, raised money for scholarships and other good uses, and drew unprecedented crowds to the annual meeting, a fish fry, sometimes featuring unconventional acts on the agenda.
He also spoke to countless numbers of groups throughout nearly every county in Indiana. His second career consisted of guiding Pioneer Village at the Indiana State Fair from its infancy to the year round center for education and heritage it is today.
Since 2004, an Honorary awardee has been named each year. They include Howard Doster, retried Ag Economics Extension specialist at Purdue and a frequent guest columnist in Indiana Prairie Farmer; Jim Newman, retired Purdue climatologist, and former columnist for Indiana Prairie Farmer; and Max Armstrong, a Hoosier native who is the long-time voice of WGN radio ag news in Chicago. Today, he is part of the Farm Progress family.
David Petritz, former director of Extension at Purdue, was honored in 2007. His second career is doing an excellent job of filling the new Beck Ag Center at the Purdue Agronomic Research Center with ag groups of all kinds, plus incorporating teaching of both adults and students at the same time.
Look for information on the remaining honorary winners since 2007 tomorrow.