Congratulations to the four new honorees in Dakota Farmer's Master Farmer award program.
They are Terry Wanzek, Jamestown, N.D.; Ralph Holzwarth, Gettysburg, S.D.; Les Koll, Wimbledon, N.D.; and Mark Stiegelmier, Selby, S.D.
Wanzek is a farmer and state legislator from Jamestown, N.D. He and his wife, Janice, farm in partnership with Terry's parents, Marvin and Donna; his brother, Tracy; and his brother's spouse, Naomi. Together, they operate TMT Farms, Windsor, N.D., a diversified grain farm; Diamond W Feeds, Medina, N.D., a livestock feed retailer and manufacturer; and TMT Bean and Seed, a dry edible bean conditioning and processing plant located at the farm headquarters.
"I really shouldn't be singled out for this award," Wanzek says. "We are a team. We wouldn't be successful without everyone's help."
Les Koll, Wimbledon, N.D., has gone the extra mile to help his community.
"His devotion to church, family and making our community a better place to live has been demonstrated time and time again through his involvement in community organizations, his dedication to keeping the roads cleared of ice and snow and his generous financial giving to both our church and the many community organizations which he supports., says the Rev. Jeff Levy, of the Kensal-Wimbledon United Methodist churches.
Koll is the chairman of the Methodist Church Administrative Board, president of the Wimbledon Community Museum, serves on the restoration committee of the Midland Continental Railroad Depot Museum, which is restoring the community's railroad depot; and chairman of the Pierce Township board. Koll serves on the Arrowwood Prairie Cooperative and the Barnes County Farmers Union board of directors and he plows snow for the township and the city of Wimbledon.
Koll grew up on the farm he now operates with his wife, Dianne, who teaches English at the Barnes County North Public School – Wimbledon/Courtenay Campus. They have two children, Katherine, 14 and Jordan, 26.
Ralph Holzwarth, Gettysburg, S.D., was one of the first in his area to begin no-tilling and he helped start Dakota Lakes, a research farm at Pierre, S.D. The privately owned farm has contributed significantly to the transformation of cropping systems in the central Dakotas from wheat-fallow with conventional tillage to continuous cropping with no-till.
"Holzwarth's operation is top notch," says Dwayne Beck, managing director of the Dakota Lakes and a long-time friend of Holzwarth's. "He has been using zoning [to manage fertilizer] for many years and of course low-disturbance diverse no-till for about 20 years. He is the guy that got everyone else in the Gettysburg area started."
Today, Holzwarth farms 5,000 acres of corn, spring wheat, winter wheat, sunflowers, soybeans and field peas with his wife, Betty, who handles all the bookwork. Their son, Ted, and his wife, Codi; their daughter Bobbi and her husband, Jeremy Schmidt; and their daughter Laura and her husband, Jess Crutcher, are all involved in the family farming corporation. Ted is working fulltime on the farm and acquiring his own land. All members of the family are contributing or have contributed to the farm in a significant way, Ralph says. Also, Curt Forgey, Gettysburg, S.D., is a valued member of the farm with his knowledge of spraying and electronic technology.
Mark Stiegelmeier operates a diversified grain farm and a seed business with his family at Selby, S.D.
A 1979 graduate of South Dakota State University, Stiegelmeier, 54, was among the early adapters of no-till in central South Dakota. Stiegelmeier helped others convert. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he hosted tours on his farm, spoke at many conferences, was a member of South Dakota No-Till Association and served on Dakota Lakes Research Farm board of directors.
Stiegelmeier and his family have significantly diversified and expanded the grain enterprise with no-till. On what was once of wheat-fallow farm, they now grow corn, soybeans, wheat, field peas and lentils. They also grow certified seed and seed for private companies and they started their own seed business, Seed Services, Inc. They are dealers for several seed brands including AgriPro, Channel, Garst and Wensman. They also sell inoculants and seed treatments.
Stiegelmeier takes no personal credit for the success of the farm or seed business.
"Credit first goes to the goes to the blessing of the Lord," he says, "and second to my family" -- his wife, Becky; son, Adam, an Natural Resources Conservation Service conservationist staffer in Iowa; Dave, who operates a cattle feedlot cleaning business in Selby; Josh, who farms with them; Levi, who is studying crop production at Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown; S.D., and plan to return to the farm; Hannah, who is married and lives in McLaughlin, S.D.; and Elissa, 15.
What is Master Farmer?
Master Farmer is the longest running awards program for farmers and ranchers in the United States. It started in the 1920s in Illinois to honor individuals for their farm and ranch management achievements and their civic and industry involvement. It is an award for individuals who are actively farming and ranching, not for lifetime achievement.
Master Farmer is now conducted in a dozen states by Farm Progress Companies, publisher of Dakota Farmer and 17 other state and national farm magazines. This is the third year for the Dakota Farmer's Master Farmer program.
The 2011 Master Farmer class includes producers who have helped speed adoption of no-till systems, and producers who are active in community organizations, the state legislature and numerous industry organizations and businesses. Master Farmer honors not only the selected individuals, but also their families and co-workers.