A group of young and seasoned Illinois farmers were honored as the first class of Cultivating Master Farmers in a ceremony on March 14 in Springfield.
The CMF program was created two years ago as a way to provide young farmers and Prairie Farmer Master Farmers with opportunities to share ideas, information and strategies on ways to best manage a farming operation in today's ever-changing environment.
Young farmer graduates of the 2005-2007 CMF program include: Phil Dare, Canton; Tom and Jennifer Fultz, Ohio; Chad and Staci Leman, Eureka; Doug Martin, Mt. Pulaski; Eric and Jenny Mennenga, LeRoy; Brad Smith, Milledgeville; Jack Young, Clinton; and Joshua Young, Carlinville.
Master Farmer participants in the inaugural class include: Stanley Blunier, Forrest; Brad Daugherty, West Union; Lamar Fesser, Morrisonville; Richard and Mary Ellen Martin, Lincoln; Rollie Moore, Oneida; and Russell and Marilyn Rosenboom, Clifton.
"We're charting new ground," said Prairie Farmer Editor Cherry Brieser Stout. "This is a unique and effective mentoring approach that can serve as a model to others across the country."
The program was the brainchild of Peggy Kaye Fish at Farm Credit Services of Illinois, who envisioned it as a way to help young farmers get mentoring from the 'masters' of Illinois farming. Fish lauded the participants for making the pilot program successful. "You folks have built the path," she said.
Program sponsors include FCS of Illinois and 1st FCS, Illinois Farm Bureau, Monsanto, Growmark, Inc. and Prairie Farmer.
Apply now for next CMF class
To participate in the 2007-2009 Cultivating Master Farmers program, young Illinois farmers and Prairie Farmer Master Farmers have until March 31 to apply
This free program is open to Master Farmers and young farmers between the ages of 21 and 36. Application forms are available by clicking on "Cultivating Master Farmers" at this site.
Participants are chosen on a combination of factors, including background, experience, an eagerness to learn from the program and a willingness to share information with others.
The individuals participate in six events over two years, including the Farm Progress Show, roundtable discussions, a farm tour, and Illinois Farm Bureau meetings.