Wallaces Farmer Master Farmer Entry Form
Applications for the current year's awards must be received by Oct. 1 or earlier of the previous calendar year. The awards are presented in March of each year.
Wallaces Farmer Master Farmer Form.doc  Word Format
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Send completed nomination form and supporting letters to: Master Farmer Editor, Wallaces Farmer, 6200 Aurora Ave., Suite 609E, Urbandale, Iowa 50322-2838. If you need further assistance, please call (515)278-7780.
 

Iowa Farm Families Recognized As Master Farmers
The concept of a Master Farmer award was initiated in 1925 by Clifford Gregory, editor of Prairie Farmer in Illinois, in an effort to reward and recognize farm citizenship. Henry Wallace, editor of Wallaces Farmer recognized the value of such a program and in 1926 launched the Iowa Master Farmer Award. It has since become the longest running farmer recognition program in the country.

Deserving Iowa farm families have been recognized every year since, with the exception of 1932-37 – during the Great Depression, during World War II from 1942-45 and in 1962. This marks the 79th year the awards have been presented by Wallaces Farmer.

Selection process
For nearly 30 years prior to 1926 Wallaces Farmer carried the motto "Good Farming, Clear Thinking, Right Living" on the masthead. It became the inspiration for the score card used to judge Master Farmer nominations. Those three precepts are still considered in the selection process today. Good farming refers to a successful and profitable farm business along with proper stewardship. Operating the farm as a business is only part of the job, however.

Clear thinking is an essential ingredient in farm management. It's also crucial in family and community life. A short list of factors considered include interest in schools, participation in farm and other organizations, political interests and activity, hobbies and forward thinking. Right living means the farmer takes care of his home and property, plans for an education for his children, is a good husband and father, participates in church, is neighborly, etc.

Judges consider how the nominee got started and how they've grown the operation while demonstrating sound financial management. Those who are good stewards of the land and give proper care to livestock rank high.

Further, this is a family award. Farming is a true partnership between husband and wife. All members of the family contribute to the success of the operation.

2015 award recipients
Four families were honored on March 19 as Iowa Master Farmers. They include Lee and Lynne Aldrich, Belmond; Steve and Jan Boender, Oskaloosa; Mason and Diane Fleenor, Ida Grove; and Tim and Brenda Kapucian, Keystone. Dr. Maynard Hogberg received the Iowa Master Farmer Exceptional Service Award.

The Aldriches
An Iowa State University graduate in ag education, Lee Aldrich married Lynne in 1962, and entered the Army to fulfill his ROTC commitment. When he was sent to Germany, Lynne went with him. He was sent to Vietnam, then returned to the family farm near Belmond with Lynne, and started farming on his own in 1968.

The couple has now raised three sons, and the two have seven grandchildren. After farming for 48 years, they exited the hog business in 2006 and for the past eight years they've rented out the crop ground. "We have a 3,000 farm," Lee says, "farm about 1,000 acres, raise 1,000 head of hogs, and sell 1,000 Christmas trees a year." Lee decided to plant Christmas trees years ago to diversify their farming operations financially and for conservation purposes.

They've been selling Christmas trees since the 1970s. Lee loves to help others become the best they can be in the Christmas tree business. He teaches but never preaches.

Buying a Christmas tree from Lee is an educational experience, learning how trees grow and all he work a tree farmer does year-round. For years, Lee and Lynne have planted walnut trees their grandchildren will one day have as veneer-quality logs.

Their 20 acres of Christmas trees are part of their soil and water conservation practices. Highly erodible portions of most fields are in the CRP, a farm pond is surrounded by grass buffer strips to prevent erosion, and grassed waterways, windbreaks and other soil and water protection practices are in place.

Lee was a volunteer firefighter for 10 years and a city councilman for nine years. Lee and Lynne served on the building committee for a community center that includes city offices, a library and a children's playground across the street. He's served as president of Rowan Lions Club four times in his 45 years as a volunteer. Lee has served as board member and president of the Iowa Christmas Tree Association, on the Wright County Charitable Foundation board, and the county planning and zoning committee. He's also served with the Belmond Chamber of Commerce, County Extension Council, and Rowan Library building committee. He's been a township trustee and chairman, and commander of American Legion Iowa Post 159. As commander of the American Legion Post in Rowan, Lee helps families of local veterans arrange military funeral services.

Recently, as part of the Honor Flights, Lee helped two World War II veterans from Rowan visit the war memorials in Washington, D.C. They were unable to travel alone, so Lee accompanied them.  The Aldrich's are active members of the United Church of Rowan where Lynne has helped teach Bible school, among other volunteer activities.

The Boenders
In 1970 as a freshman in high school, Steve Boender began working as a hired hand after school for an elderly farmer near Oskaloosa. Three years later as Steve went to work one evening, he found the farmer had died of a heart attack. The farmer's heirs rented him the farm, he secured an FHA loan, and he and his wife Jan added a custom farming business in 1975.

Since then, the operation has grown to include their five sons as partners in the family farm corporation, which includes custom farming, seed sales, excavation and machinery. Crops are grown on owned and rented land in a 35-mile radius of their Mahaska County farm. Tillage ranges from conservation tillage to no-till with cover crops. Most of the crops are  forward-priced ahead of harvest and at times ahead of planting. Modern technology is used including autosteer, satellite imagery, auto-row shutoffs on planters and sprayers, and variable rate planting on corn acres. They've built a number of ponds and pattern-tile their own land and for landlords with family-owned dozers, track hoes, trencher and tile plow. As many farmers in the 1980s, Steve and Jan struggled financially, but they made it through those hard times and, as a result, became very financially responsible. They instill the same financial awareness in each of their children. The family's goal is to handle their financies in a manner so they will be in business for decades to come.

The couple has also managed to set each of their six children on a path to be both self-sufficient and to work together as a team on a daily basis. Each family member has the other's best interest in mind and all of them band together for the good of one another. A point of family pride is the large cabin the Boenders built next to a pond near their home. They've hosted everything from family reunions and wedding receptions, to political rallies and college retreats at the cabin. With most of the food coming from Jan's garden, she and her daughter and daughters-in-law have served a great meal to more than 250 at their annual customer appreciation dinner.

Steve has served on the school board, rural water board and pork producers board. He serves on the Family Leader board and the Farm to Farmer Consulting board. He has been to Africa three times, as well as Bolivia, Brazil and New Zealand, helping farmers. The Boenders have  six children and 16 grandchildren, and a strong philanthropic spirit, active in church and have been instrumental in helping the schools of Oskaloosa and Pella Christian raise funds for updates and maintenance, specifically the construction of the new Pella Christian High School.

The Fleenors
"In 1973, Diane and I got married and rented 320 acres," recalls Mason Fleenor of Ida Grove. "Diane's dad co-signed the note. I had no money, but Diane had saved $6,000, so we bought a tractor, plow and wagon." Mason did have a small flock of ewes and calves from his 4-H days as a boy. From those humble beginnings, the Fleenor farming operation has grown to more than 1,000 acres of owned real estate, about 900 rented acres, a 265-cow purebred Angus herd, and partial ownership of a 1,000-sow swine operation.

Today, the Fleenors farm those nearly 2,000 acres of owned and rented land with their son James and his wife, Stephanie. More than 600 acres is grazing land; 160 acres is hay. On their corn acres, the Fleenors no-till into bean stubble, disk corn-on-corn ground twice, and disk once and plant with no preplant herbicide on beans following corn. They have GPS on their sprayer, use autosteer and have a planter with row shutoffs. They grid-sample land by their feedlots and apply manure as needed. Conservation practices include rotating pastures on highly erodible land and rotating cows between pastures, grass headlands, waterways of alfalfa, orchardgrass and brome that they bale, terraces, and feed lot seedling basins. They also plant 100 trees every year with Pheasants Forever, as well as planting wildlife food plots and shelter belts. The Fleenors got out of the hog business in 2001, when they were well into a purebred Angus seedstock business with a partner breeder in Montana. Their annual bull sale has no animals in the ring; instead they're shown on RFD-TV, where buyers watch them in TV screens. The Fleenor's seedstock operation is unique; they sell Angus bulls but buy back the offspring to feed out, tracking genetic performance.

Over the years they have constantly used this approach as a way to develop cattle that perform and produce high-quality carcasses. As a result, their farm, GG Genetics, was awarded the 2009 Certified Angus Beef Small Feedlot of the Year.

The Fleenors built their log home by cutting trees on their land, sawing them into boards and installing them in the home.

Mason has served as district director and on the environmental committee of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, and president for the Ida County Cattlemen's Association and Ida County Pork Producers. He's been active in Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn Growers, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and Extension Council, and has been on the Ida Grove Community School Board and the Iowa Angus Association board. The couple have four children and 11 grandchildren.

The Kapucians
As president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1993 and as a member on the IPPA board and committees over the years, Tim Kapucian drove to Des Moines from his farm in Benton County and lobbied Iowa lawmakers on issues important to pork producers. Now he's on the other end – he's being lobbied. A desire to speak up for agriculture and rural Iowa made him decide to run for the Iowa Senate in 2008. He won and was re-elected in 2012. "I'm not a big farmer, but it's my life, my passion," says Tim. "The number of legislators with farm connections has trended back up a little in recent years. That's good. We need to tell our story – the state continues to become more urban as the number of farmers in Iowa decreases."

A 1979 Iowa State University graduate in animal sciences, Tim worked for a while in the seed business. He returned home, rented a neighbor's farm, and farmed with his parents, Louis and Betty. He began by trading labor for use of his dad's equipment, eventually purchased some machinery and then bought his dad's equipment when Louis retired. Ten years ago, Tim made an arrangement with a neighboring farmer, Bill Selken, to share or rent machinery from each other and work together. Selken farms about 1,200 acres, Tim 380 acres. It's worked well. "Working with Bill is a big help to me," says Tim. "We bounce things off each other. I rely on him for the latest information from the farm meetings I miss in the winter."

When the Senate is in session, he and his wife Brenda live and work in Des Moines during the week and drive home to the farm near Keystone on weekends. Tim is in his seventh year serving in the Iowa Senate; this is the third year of his second term. He's looking forward to planting this spring, as 2015 is his 35th crop year.

Tim has served as district director and president of the Iowa Pork Producers; county pork producers vice president; IPPA district director, and on IPPA and National Pork Producers committees; Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ad advisory committee; ISU Extension Council; Benton County 4-H; county Farm Service Agency director and state FSA committee; and Benton Mutual Insurance Association board chair.

He's a member of the St. John's Lutheran Church in Keystone, Iowa Farm Bureau, and state and national commodity associations for corn, soybeans, beef and pork.

He serves in the Iowa Senate, representing District 38 and serves on three committees – Agriculture, Transportation and Appropriations.

Hogberg receives Exceptional Service Award
A highly respected visionary for livestock agriculture, Dr. Maynard Hogberg, is the recipient of the 2015 Iowa Master Farmer Exceptional Service Award. The award recognizes individuals who are not farmers but who have devoted their career to helping farmers solve problems. Hogberg, an animal science professor, headed Iowa State University's Department of Animal Science since 2003, retiring at the end of 2014.

Growing up on a farm near Stanton in southwest Iowa, Hogberg earned a BS degree in ag education, an MS in animal science and a PhD in animal nutrition, all from ISU. He taught high school vo-ag at Ida Grove for four years and was well-known as a progressive teacher of young people. He was encouraged to return to ISU to get his advanced degrees. Upon completing graduate studies at ISU in 1976, he worked at Michigan State University as an Extension swine specialist.

Because of his knowledge and ability to work with and manage people, Hogberg was named head of the Animal Science Department at Michigan State in 1984. From 1984 through 2002, he chaired the department and turned it into a national leader. In 2003 he accepted the challenge to return to Iowa State and expand and improve ISU's animal science department. Since 2003 enrollment has grown from 579 students to this year's 922 students with animal science majors at ISU.

Hogberg hired faculty and staff and led the effort to raise funds for new facilities. Several new animal science facilities were built, including the ISU Dairy Science Farm, the Lauren Christian Swine Breeding Research Center, a new livestock pavilion and the Hansen Agricultural Student Learning Center. He strengthened and expanded the teaching program, revitalized the animal nutrition program and worked to create the Egg Industry Center at ISU.

In addition to being recognized nationally and internationally as an expert on swine management, Hogberg has received awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the National Pedigreed Livestock Council, the Charles Stanislaw Memorial Distinguished Service Award from the National Swine Improvement Federation and the National Pork Board Distinguished Service Award. He has served as president for the American Society of Animal Science and the Federation of Animal Science Societies.

Hogberg worked with producer organizations, focusing on what livestock farmers need and how the university can provide help. He encouraged high-quality research.

Maynard and wife Anne have two grown children; a son Michael, a daughter Emily, and three grandchildren.