Time passes so fast. It is hard to believe a year has gone by since I was at the Kansas Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemaker banquet. In fact, it is a bit scary, what have I missed?
I need to step back and look around, appreciate the wonders of our God's world and pay attention to the signs of spring before it turns into summer. When the rain came, it seemed as though a door opened to a fresh, clean, green world that is beautiful and smells so good. I love spring.
When the names of the class of 2011 Master Farmer couples were announced, I got out a Kansas road map to find where they live. Some are from small towns I never heard of. This year's six winners are: David and Paula Blasi, Pratt; Carl and Jeanette Hildebrand, Stafford; Galen and Nancy Hofman, Leonardville; Ross and Judy Kinsler, Kingman; Larry and Debra Martin, Fort Scott; and Carl and Pat Ziegelmeier, Gem.
Perhaps you are wondering how these farm couples were chosen. I'll give you a short history.
The Kansas Master Farmer Association and the Master Farm Homemaker Guild were formed in the late 1920s to recognize excellence publicly in farming, homemaking, farm living and rural residency. Initially, the program was sponsored by Kansas Farmer magazine, and recognition was given to individuals rather than farm couples.
In 1953, Kansas State University, through the Cooperative Extension Service, assumed responsibility for handling the recognition banquet.
Selection of couples is accomplished through the K-State Research and Extension administration area. Local councils and districts submit nominations, and the associate director appoints a committee to study applications filled out by nominees and pick one couple from each area, plus two couples at large.
Master farmers and farm homemakers are shown to possess the high standard of achievement that had made Kansas farming what it is today.
This year, I drove to Junction City by myself. Everyone told me just to pick the speed I'm comfortable with, set the cruise control and take off. I waited until afternoon so the sun wouldn't be in my eyes. I'm so glad I noticed the message my car gave me -- motor coolant low. I checked with my service man. He found a small hole; the coolant was leaking out. I could have had major problems. There is always something to be thankful for.
When I got to the Courtyard by Marriott convention hall, the same nice young man at the desk gave me a welcoming smile and actually called me by name. He told me he remembered my smile from last year.
March 15, the day before the meeting and banquet, a tour was planned. This year, the tour was of Fort Riley and ended with some delicious Call Hall ice cream from Kansas State University. In the evening, we were invited to the home of Bill and Lois Strauss, master farmers from Junction City, for homemade pie. It was so good -- just imagine eight different flavors to choose from.
The meeting day began with the guild officers meeting. I had accepted the historian position last year, so I attended that meeting. In the afternoon, the Master Farmers and Homemaker guilds had separate meetings.
Jo Eva McClellan, Palco, has acted as emcee year after year. She welcomed our six new guild members and conducted a fun interview. They shared how they met their husbands and about their family, jobs, crafts and interests. They also brought something special for show-and-tell.
Following the meetings, the ladies went back to their rooms to freshen up while the men spent time visiting, comparing weather worries -- everyone needs rain -- and discussing what's going on back at the farm.
Bob and Bonnie Edwards, Pottawatomie County, and Andy Schuler, Dickinson County class of 1986, were recognized for 25 years. Many of their class no longer are with us or are unable to attend. I'll have to hang in there 12 more years till I reach 25 years in 2024.
We were seated and served a wonderful meal following introductions of special guests and sponsors. The banquet was followed by a video production of each class of 2011 couple sharing their interview, family and farm practices. Then, they were awarded a plaque.
Plans are being made for the summer 2012 Discover Kansas event. Last year, we had a great time when we went to northwest Kansas, Thomas and Wallace counties. This summer, we are invited to southeast Kansas to see points of interest in and around Independence on June 5 to 7.
I came home the next morning when the sun was at my back with happy memories. It is so nice to see friends made since March 2000.
I wonder if March will go out like a lamb or a lion. I checked my journal: I had written "Nice day -- temperature 70 degrees on March 1 and 2."
What's your prediction?
Opal Flinn is a member of the Generations advisory committee.