Five Illinois farmers have been selected as 2009 Master Farmers by Prairie Farmer magazine.
Today, the five were honored for their exceptional community service and farm management abilities at a ceremony in Springfield.
Award recipients are Doug and Tom Block, Pearl City (Carroll County); Randy Lambdin, Wolf Lake (Union County); Rick Nelson, Paxton (Ford County); and Kent Schleich, Fairview (Fulton County).
Candidates are nominated by farmers, agribusiness leaders and agricultural extension specialists from throughout the state. Judges for the awards were Robert Easter, dean of the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Bob Boesdorfer, vice president of commercial and agribusiness banking at First Midwest Bank in Danville; Terry Wolf, 1999 Master Farmer, Homer; and Frank Holdmeyer, executive editor of Prairie Farmer.
The 2009 Master Farmers are, from left: Rick Nelson, Paxton; Randy Lambdin, Wolf Lake; Doug Block, Pearl City; Kent Schleich, Fairview; and Tom Block, Fairview. The photo was taken at the Funk Prairie Home, located near Funks Grove.
Former Prairie Farmer editor Clifford Gregory started the program in 1925 as a way to recognize the finest farmers in both Illinois and Indiana. That first year, 23 Master Farmers were recognized. From the very beginning, the award was unique in that a significant portion of the judges' scoring hinged on the farmers' community involvement.
"We are pleased Growmark has joined Prairie Farmer as a financial sponsor of the 2009 Master Farmer Awards. The principles and tradition of the awards program remain the same." Holdmeyer says, adding that Growmark fits well within the mission of the long-standing program.
Like the Master Farmer award, the Growmark system was born during the 1920s, when grower cooperatives began organizing. In 1927, nine local cooperatives came together to form the Illinois Farm Supply Co. Today, Growmark serves nearly 250,000 customers through local FS companies.
Established in 1841, Prairie Farmer is the oldest continuously published farm periodical in the United States.