Four Iowa families will be honored for their exceptional community service and farming abilities at the annual Iowa Master Farmer Awards Day and luncheon, which will be held in West Des Moines on Friday, March 30.
The concept of a Master Farmer award program was initiated in 1925 by Clifford Gregory, editor of Prairie Farmer magazine in Illinois, in an effort to reward and recognize farm citizenship. Henry A. Wallace, editor of Wallaces Farmer, recognized the value of such a program and in 1926 launched the Iowa Master Farmer Award.
Deserving Iowa farm families have been recognized every year since, with the exception of 1932-37, which was during the Great Depression, and during World War II from 1942-45 and in 1962.
Class of 2012 brings the total to 433 Iowa farm families who've been honored
Recipients of the Iowa Master Farmer Award in 2012 are Steve and Rosalie Christensen of Riceville in Howard County; Randall and Denise Eddy of Centerville in Appanoose County; Raymond and Elaine Gaesser of Corning in Adams County; and Donald and Sharon Struthers of Collins in Story County.
This group of Master Farmers, the Class of 2012, brings the total to 433 Iowa farm families who have been honored since the program began in 1926. Candidates are nominated each year by fellow farmers, agribusiness leaders, ISU agricultural Extension specialists, family members and others from throughout the state. You can nominate someone for the Iowa Master Farmer Award by going the Wallaces Farmer website, or by contacting Frank Holdmeyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exceptional Service Award honors others for dedication to Iowa agriculture
In addition, long-time Iowa ag leader Keith Heffernan of Cedar Falls will be recognized with the Iowa Master Farmer Exceptional Service Award at this year's event.
The Iowa Master Farmer Exceptional Service award is not an annual honor. It is given from time to time to individuals who are not a farmer but who have served a lifetime helping farmers. Extension specialists are among those who have received the Exceptional Service to Iowa Agriculture award.
Heffernan has held a variety of leadership positions in agriculture—both in the state and nationally over the years. He was the first executive director of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and Iowa Corn Growers Association; served as agriculture aid to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad; was associate director of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development at ISU; was director of public affairs for the Iowa Farm Bureau; was chief of staff for Under Secretary of Rural Development at USDA in Washington, D.C.; was chief of staff at the Farm Credit Administration in Washington, D.C. and finished his career as senior vice president of the U.S. Feed Grains Council. Heffernan retired last year and moved back to Iowa.
For more on the 2012 Iowa Master Farmers, go to Wallaces Farmer magazine online and check out the March issue of Wallaces Farmer.