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K-State Research and Extension News

Ninety-first class of Kansas Master Farmers, Master Farm Homemakers honored

Six couples from around the state recognized at a banquet in Manhattan

March 13, 2018 

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Six couples have been honored as the 2017 class of Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers in recognition of their leadership in agriculture, environmental stewardship and service to their communities. They were recognized at a banquet March 9 at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan.

The statewide award program is in its 91st year and is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension and Kansas Farmer magazine.

The honorees in the Class of 2017 are:

Robert and Charlotte Anderson – Cloud County

Robert Anderson has coached youth sporting activities for the past five years in his community. Also, he served on the commission for the Kansas Bull Test for three years and sold livestock in the sale. Robert was a delegate at the Dairy Herd Improvement Association Convention. He has obtained his Private Pesticide Applicator’s License. Robert has been a member of the Cloud County Farm Bureau Board.

Robert and his wife, Charlotte, have been members of the Kansas Gelbvieh Association since 1993. Robert has served on the KGA Board of Directors. Charlotte was the KGA secretary for 13 years. Both are active in participating in KGA sales and volunteering at livestock shows.

Charlotte graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in family and consumer economics. She has had her Enrolled Agent Certificate since 2015. Charlotte was a recipient of the Key Award while involved as a young member in the 4-H program. Currently, she volunteers with the Cloud County 4-H program by serving as the president of the fair board, a member of the 4-H council, and a community leader for the Hill and Dale 4-H Club.

The Andersons own and operate Anderson Farms Inc. and Red Maple Gelbvieh. Anderson Farms Inc. is co-owned by Robert, his brother, and his father. Robert and Charlotte farm cropland and own a herd of Gelbvieh cattle. The crops and cattle are sold through local markets. Registered livestock is marketed at private treaty or breed association sales. In 1984, the Andersons were named the Kansas 4-H Family of the Year.

Son Ryan graduated from Kansas State University. Currently, he works at Concordia Tractor Inc.

Daughter Amanda graduated from Tabor College with a bachelor’s degree. She is the director of winterization at the North Central Regional Planning Commission in Beloit, Kansas.

Daughter Rachelle is a sophomore at Concordia High School. She has shown cattle at many national shows and earned Rookie of the Year at the 2014 Gelbvieh Junior National Show.



Mark and Evelyn Diederich – Washington County

Mark Diederich graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in animal sciences and industry. After working a few years at K-State Research and Extension, he returned to work in a partnership on his family farm in Washington County.

The Diederichs serve their community by being active members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Both Mark and his wife, Evelyn, have volunteered as lector and Eucharistic ministers and served on the church council. Evelyn aids in caring for the landscaping of the church. Mark and Evelyn have served as club leaders and project leaders for the Happy Spirit 4-H Club.

Evelyn earned her degree in medical technology from Kansas State University and continued her education at The University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. She currently works part time at the Washington County Hospital. Evelyn has served as the district secretary for the Tuttle Creek Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy group.

In 2008, the Diederichs left the family partnership and began Mark Diederich Family Farms. They farm and raise beef cattle. Diederichs’ farm was part of the largest development in the state for a rotational grazing system. Their system greatly enhanced the carrying capacity of the land while improving the quality of the grass by using gravity-fed spring water tanks.

Daughter Lea Anne lives in Kingman, Kansas, with her husband, Chad Huffman, and daughter Mary Claire. Lea Anne works as PRN at Wesley Medical in Wichita and at Pratt Regional Medical Center.

Son Ryan returned to work on the family farm after graduating from Kansas State University with a degree in animal sciences and industry and a minor in agronomy.

Son Aaron works as a corn specialist and district sales manager for AgriGold Hybrids.

Daughter Nicole is enrolled in the nursing program at Wichita State University.

Son Kevin is a senior at Hanover High School with plans to attend Kansas State University.


Clifton and Kathy Heiniger – Brown County

Clif graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in agricultural mechanization production. Shortly afterward, he returned to work on his family farm in Fairview. Clif has served his community by being an advisor to the Brown County Conservation District Board and chairman of the Brown County Rural Water District. He stays knowledgeable on current technology, markets, and farm policies by attending meetings and seminars sponsored by private industry groups and K-State Research and Extension.

Both, Clif and Kathy, his wife, volunteer for their local 4-H program and the St. Paul Lutheran Church. They served as community leaders for the Fairview 4-H Club. At church, Clif has been a trustee and on the planning board. Kathy has helped teach vacation Bible school and was a Sunday school teacher.

Kathy is the secretary for Heinco Inc. She earned a degree from Kansas State University in vocational home economics education. Kathy has been active in the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League at St. Paul and served as president for nine years. Also, she was a member of the Hiawatha USD 415 Education Foundation.

The Heinigers raise corn, soybeans and wheat and have commercial cattle and hogs. To make efficient use of farm practices, any waste from the livestock is applied to the crop ground. The Heinigers’ farm corporation mission statement is “To produce quality agricultural products efficiently while preserving the natural resources of the farm for future generations.”

Son Austin earned his degree in business management from Kansas State University. In 2014, he returned as a partner in the family farm operation. He and his wife, Kendall, have three sons: Caleb, Jackson, and Simon.

Son Brian is completing his ophthalmology residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. He is married to Annie.

Son Cale graduated from Pittsburg State University with a dual major in biology and chemistry. He is working as a research analyst for MPI Research Inc. in Mattawan, Michigan.


Douglas and Jean Higbie – Franklin County

Doug earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Kansas. He served as a Captain in the United States Army Medical Service Corp at Fort Riley. During his time in college and in the army, Doug continued to help on his family farm. In his community, he has been involved on the Homewood-Williamsburg Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors and served on the Homewood Township Board of Directors.

Jean, Doug’s wife, earned her degree in nursing from the University of Kansas. She has taught nursing at multiple institutions and is currently a First Aid, CPR, and AED instructor. Jean volunteers for the American Red Cross. Also, she was chosen to represent the Kansas School Nurses Organization at the Nurses Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

Both Doug and Jean have volunteered for the 4-H and FFA program. Doug was a 4-H leader and a member of the FFA advisory council in his local community. Jean educated 4-H junior leaders and FFA members on how to properly administer first aid.

Every member of the Higbie family manages a portion of the operation. Along with farming cropland, the farm raises cattle and pigs. The Higbies and the local FFA chapter hosted “Day at the Farm” to promote farming and farm products. For 15 years, hundreds of Kansas City area third graders, teachers, and staff would spend a day on the farm learning about the different sectors of agriculture.

Son Heath works for the Farm Bureau Financial Services in Montgomery. He and his wife, Theresa, have five children, Damon, Cheyenne, Graham, Hal and Hans.

Son Aaron owns Santa Fe Trail Custom Meat Processing Plant and manages his own farming operation in Overbrook. He and his wife, Angelle, have one daughter, Adelle.

Daughter Audra teaches special education at West Franklin High School. She and her husband, Ryan McCurdy, have two children, Alexa and Hunter.

Son Austin (Ryan) works for the Kansas Livestock Association and runs a farming and livestock production. He and his wife, Jenny, have four children, Lane, Calla, Anah and Elim.


Kendall and Melinda Hodgson – Rice County

After obtaining his degree in agronomy from Kansas State University, Kendall worked as a crop scout and returned to the family farm. He has participated in several leadership programs including Young Stockman’s Leadership Conference, Wheat Leaders of Tomorrow, and Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership program. Kendall has served on the Upper Little Arkansas River Watershed District Board and on the Program Development Committee for K-State Research and Extension. Kendall is a third-generation recipient of the Master Farmer award.

Melinda, Kendall’s wife, earned her master’s degree in special education from Emporia State University. She operated her own preschool for several years. Melinda has always had a passion for education and has acquired an entire wall full of children’s books. She attended the Kansas Agriculture in the Classroom seminar. Through her previous family members, Melinda inherited a large number of land holdings in Ford, Gray, Finney, Stanton, Grant, and Hamilton counties. 

The Hodgsons’ farm manages land and a beef cattle herd. They are members of the Farm Management Association. Their farmstead is rich in Native American history that has been incorporated into their house. During renovations, several artifacts were discovered that were used to build a large stone fireplace. The Hodgsons have hosted Kansas Farm Bureau Legislative Forum and Agriculture Day events at their farm. 

Son Tanner graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in agricultural business. He returned to the family farm to become a partner in the business. 

Son Logan is attending Kansas State University studying agricultural technology management. Last fall, he worked as a student equipment manager for the K-State football team.

Daughter Bailey is a freshman in high school. She is a member of Little River FFA and participates in multiple sports.


Willard and Phyllis McClure – Stafford County

Willard earned his associate degree from Pratt Community College. He served as an aircraft mechanic in the Korean War. Willard was a member of the board of directors for the National Corn Growers Association. He was active in lobbying to the U.S. Congress and Department of Agriculture to pass regulations that were positive for corn producers. Through the National Corn Growers Association, Willard traveled to Mexico and Cuba to expand his knowledge of farming.

Willard and his late wife Phyllis sponsored youth programs in their local community. Both were leaders of their church’s youth group. Phyllis was a 4-H project leader and led many school trips for band and the Kansas Association for Youth.

Phyllis worked as a legal secretary for a local attorney for more than 30 years. She was also elected to serve on the Farm Service Agency’s County Committee, and during her time serving she was given the U.S. Department of Agriculture Certificate of Merit in recognition of her work. Phyllis was a member of the Modern Homemakers HDU.

McClure Farms Inc. grows wheat, sorghum, corn and soybeans. Grain is sold on contract to area feedlots, ethanol plants, and other ports. They have improved their management practices by limiting how often fields are tilled and using certified drought-resistant seed.

Son Douglas earned his Juris Doctor from Washburn Law School and passed the bar exam. He has worked for the Bank of America in Visalia, California.

Daughter Cynthia received her master’s degree in librarianship from the University of Denver. She serves as the secretary for McClure Farms Inc.

Son Jon earned his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University and master’s in agriculture economics from Kansas State University. He returned to the family farm and plans to take over the operation.

For more information

Sue Robinson


What are the Kansas Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker programs?

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers comprise a select growing group of nearly 400 Kansans who have been recognized for success in their agricultural operations and service to their communities. 
The Kansas Master Farmer Association and the Master Farm Homemakers Guild were formed in the late 1920s to publicly recognize excellence in farming, homemaking, farm living and rural citizenship.
In 1953, Kansas State University, through the Cooperative Extension Service, assumed responsibility for the selection process and setting up the annual banquet. Today, K-State Research and Extension and Kansas Farmer magazine co-sponsor the program.
County extension councils and extension districts nominate farm couples. The associate director for extension and applied research appoints a committee to choose one couple from each of the four extension areas in the state, plus two additional couples at large.
The two groups host an annual meeting and joint recognition banquet in the spring, where members discuss agricultural and rural issues, and share experiences with other members. This year, the meetings and banquet were Friday, March 9, at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan.  
The combined group awards a $500 4-H scholarship each year to a high school senior or college undergraduate.

In addition, donations to the Rock Springs 4-H Center by Master Farmer individuals and the organization as a whole, are reflected in various facilities and improvements made at the center's campus near Junction City, Kansas.
More information is available through the K-State Research and Extension administrative office at 785-532-5820

Written by

Kaci Foraker

At a glance

Six couples have been honored as the 2017 class of Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers in recognition of their leadership in agriculture, environmental stewardship and service to their communities. They were recognized at a banquet March 9 at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan.

KSRE logo
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 wellbeing 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 in Manhattan.