The ranks of the Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker Associations grew by six on March 13 as six couples from around the state were honored with membership.
The program was started 88 years ago when Kansas Farmer magazine first printed a scorecard asking farmers to evaluate themselves on five criteria -- operation of the farm, business methods, general farm appearance and upkeep, home life and public spiritedness.
Farmer's Wife magazine started the Master Farm Homemaker program a year later, with help from the land-grant university extension program.
Each organization still maintains separate membership and officers but the two were combined to recognize couples in 1953.
Sen. Arthur Capper was Kansas Farmer publisher at the time and was the keynote speaker for the first banquet in 1927. Since then more than 500 couples have been selected to receive the award. Since 1966, the tradition has been to honor six couples annually -- one from each of the Kansas State University Extension districts and two from the state at large.
This year's new Master Farmer/Master Farm homemaker couples are Dewey and Carol Adams of Clay Center; Larry and Millie Dearden of Scott City; Bill and Chris Pannbacker of Washington; Willima and Ruth Pract of Westphalia; Alan and Beth Vogel of Wright and Jim and Sharon Zwonitzer of Horton.
DEEP ROOTS: Dewey and Carol Adams have deep roots in Clay County where members of Dewey's family first homesteaded 145 years ago.
FAMILY FIRST: Farming is hard work and it takes long hours for a beginning farmer to keep up with technology, but Larry and Millie Dearden say it is always important to put family first. When their son Clint was young, Larry says he made it a point to go fishing at least once a week.
PAYING FORWARD: Bill and Chris Pannbacker say they have benefitted from having a farm mentor and paid it forward by renting his ground and taking care of his farm after his death until his son was ready to take over.
COMMUNITY COUNTS: Bill and Ruth Pract are committed to community activity. "You get out as much as you put in," Bill says. The couple has been active in4-H and serve on the county fair board, as well as being involved in church and school activities.
START SMALL: Alan Vogel and his wife, Beth, met through Singles in Agriculture. Alan says he would advise a young person just starting out to be willing to work hard and build assets over time.
LEADERSHIP COUNTS: Jim and Sharon Zwonitzer have been lifelong leaders in their church and community as well as in farm organization. He has severed on the Kansas Soybean Association, Kansas Livestock Association and American Soybean Association.