K-State Research and Extension News
March 11, 2013
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New Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemakers Announced

Six Kansas Couples to be Honored Friday

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Six couples have been named Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers for 2012 in recognition of their leadership in agriculture, environmental stewardship and service to their communities.

The Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker award program dates to 1927 and is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension and Kansas Farmer magazine. The couples will be honored at a banquet March 15 in Manhattan.

The 2012 Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers are:

Photo available

Robert and Sharon Scherman, Paola, Kan., Miami County

Children: Joan Scherman, Jane Scherman Pretz (husband Steve Pretz), Jean Scherman Sims and John Scherman (wife Jessica). They have eight grandchildren.

Son John is a business partner with his parents and produce corn, soybeans, grass hay and wheat on their operation. They also have a beef cow-calf herd with more than 1,000 acres of pasture or grass acres. The Scherman’s have worked to add value to their cattle herd through AI (artificial insemination).

“This has allowed us to expand our genetic pool and make significant improvements to any breeding cattle we market to other producers,” the Schermans said. AI has also allowed them to add carcass value to their feeder cattle, which helps generate repeat business from local buyers.

Photo available

Leon and Janet Sylvester, Wamego, Kan., Pottawatomie County

Children: Julene DeRouchey (husband Joel), Andrew (wife Laura), Aaron (wife Claire)  and Charlotte Howenstein (husband Ben), with 10 grandchildren.

They grow wheat, grain sorghum, corn, soybeans, alfalfa and grass hay, and have both irrigated and non-irrigated acreage. In addition, they have pasture and grass acres for their beef production enterprise. The Sylvesters plant cover crops to increase soil fertility and for cattle grazing.  Seed dealers since 1978, they also do custom farming and spraying as a way to add value to their business.

“We work as a family and seek help from the experts,” the Sylvesters reported in their nomination form.

Photo available

Gary and Lynda Foster, Fort Scott, Kan., Bourbon County

Children: David Foster (wife Addi) and Adam Foster, and three granddaughters.

The Fosters have a dairy operation and also grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and grass hay on their farm, plus have pasture and CRP acres. The Fosters believe that being active in agricultural organizations, and having input into things that affect them on the farm, are just as important as the actual farming of the operation. A favorite activity of the family is to open their farms to dairy tours for school children, economic leader groups, legislators, 4-H groups and hosting dairy clinics and FFA dairy judging classes.

“Our whole family is passionate about helping show people what a dairy is like,” they said.

Photo available

Charles and Anita Hummel, Hope, Kan., Dickinson County

Children: Roger Hummel (wife Sheila) and Robin Volkman  (husband Darrin) and six grandchildren.

The Hummels farm with their son Roger, who manages the family farming operation that includes 3,000 acres of pasture and cropland and a 200-head crossbred cow-calf operation with a heavy Simmental influence.  They grow wheat, grain sorghum, alfalfa and grass hay on their farm. Keeping up with agriculture’s changes has meant farming with a GPS guidance system, using no-till with their crops and four-wheelers to check cattle.

“We have seen many changes in the 52 years that we have been farming,” they said. “We are always trying to improve the genetics of the cattle we raise, the yield per acre on the crops that we raise, and the efficiency in the way we plant and harvest our crops.”

Photo available

John and Bernadine (Berna Mae) Stegman, Spearville, Kan., Ford County

Children: Bernie Stegman (wife Debra), Cheryl Hauskins (husband Robert), and Carol Sanderson (husband Wes), with seven grandchildren.

Wheat, grain sorghum, corn, and silage are all grown on the Stegman’s farm along with pasture and fallow ground. They have 200 head of Black Angus cows in their cow-calf operation, use embryo transfer to improve the genetics of their herd, and sell calves directly to the feedyard. The Stegmans are conscious of the value of natural resources and use terraces and windbreaks in their operation.

They attribute their success in agriculture to “forward thinking and a willingness to try new things.” The Stegman family has invested in the Spearville Wind Farm and has wind towers located on their property.

Photo available

Thomas and Marlysue Holmquist, Smolan, Kan., Saline County

Children: Ryan Holmquist, Majkin Holmquist (husband Cody Whetstone), and John Holmquist.

Wheat, grain sorghum, soybeans, alfalfa and grass hay along with pasture and CRP are part of this no-till farm operation for the Holmquists, who also raise beef cows and calves. They grow high quality alfalfa, brome and prairie hay and sell small square bales for local horse ranches and out-of-state buyers.

“A successful farmer/rancher spends a good deal of time at his desk and in front of his computer analyzing spending sales, contracts and all other financial information,” they said. “Time must be spent entering information regularly to see trends, opportunities and ways to cut costs.” 

The Holmquists believe the most important part of their farm life is that their family works together.

“It never matters what job we are doing, when we are working together…then that is a good day,” according to the Holmquists, who are fourth-generation farmers.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Elaine Edwards
K-State Research & Extension News

Elaine Edwards - elainee@ksu.edu or 785-532-5851