Editor’s note: This is the first in a series about Bureau County’s Master Farmers.
PRINCETON — Bureau County is home to five gentleman who hold the title of Master Farmer.
These men have been recognized as being some the finest farmers in the state. The men all survived some of the toughest years in farming, introduced new advancements in farming techniques, successfully passed on their farm to new generations and have witnessed, firsthand, the ever-changing farming technology advancements.
In many cases, the men have proved to be true leaders and strong pillars of their communities.
The Master Farmers, along with the year they were awarded their title, include: Dick Anson (1969); Harold Steele (1970); Hilding Allen (1986); Don Grubb (1988) and Dean Ganschow (1989).
Being selected as a Master Farmer is determined by Prairie Farmer Magazine. The honor started in 1925 by Editor Clifford Gregory as a way to recognize the finest farmers in Illinois and Indiana. The award was unique in that a significant portion of the judges’ scoring hinged on the farmers’ community involvement and commitment to his family.
In a description about an ideal candidate, it states: “Each farmer works tirelessly for his community. However (a Master Farmer) would be the last to claim credit.”
The Master Farmers of Bureau County recently were reunited to reflect back on what farming was like for them compared to what it is today. They also touched on the technology that has enhanced farming, the challenges and biggest achievements in farming and what they see when they think about the future of farming.
The men sat down with Jon Ellis of Princeton who played a key role in his position at the University of Illinois Extension Office when the Master Farmers where still farming.
Long ago, information for farmers was not at one’s fingertips, like it is today. Therefore when there was a problem or a needed solution, the farmers would seek out Ellis.
Each Master Farmer talked about the importance of Ellis’ position and said most wouldn’t be sitting around talking about the successes in farming if it hadn’t been for his leadership, advice and research that helped them through the issues.
The men were brought together by Bob Hensel, a Walnut farmer. To him, hearing what each Master Farmer has to say is a noteworthy opportunity, as each are a wealth of information on the topics.
In a panel-like discussion, the men were asked several questions ranging from what they consider their biggest farming achievement to reasons why or why not they would advise young people to go into farming to thoughts on technology enhancing farming and more.
The Bureau County Republican has put together an ongoing series. In the coming editions, each Master Farmer will be featured with their own personal perspectives on each topic.
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