Howard Doster received the Honary Master Farmer award several years ago. It is co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture. Doster is now retired as an ag economics professor from Purdue.
He was nominated for that award by people he worked with in the southwestern corner of Indiana, plus cohorts in the Purdue Ag Econ Department. He carried out a unique program there, pairing up couples who didn't compete with one another, but who has similar operations in farming, so they could help each other. He even instructed them to share budgets and financial information with each other.
At the same time, he grouped a half dozen or more people in that area together in a group that met to discuss bigger issues. Many of them related to farm management, marketing and financial decisions. That group did not share numbers unless they chose to, but they learned from each other by examining what worked best for each party in the group. Doster was an Extension educator when he facilitated that program several years ago.
Today in private practice with his wife, Barbara, he wants to resurrect the concept and spread it across a big an area as possible. In fact, he's investing his own money to promote the first program. He's looking for a pilot group, and for couples who are willing to pair up with each other. Again, the criteria are that they respect each other, but farm in different locales so they aren't competitors.
This time he's carrying the idea a couple steps further. First, he's hoping both couples who pair up will have children, preferably of high school age. He wants to encourage the children of each couple to intern on the other couple's farm during a good part of the summer, paying special attention and shadowing the host couple as they make farm management and financial decisions.
At the same time, the peer couples will be part of a larger group of six couples, more or less, to discuss bigger issues, much as Doster did in southwestern Indiana many years ago. The peer couples won't share financial information with that group.
There will be a charge for the program. However, the Dosters intend to donate proceeds above expenses to a worthy cause, possibly an ag fraternity at an ag college in the state where the couples farm.
Look for more on this idea in the January issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer and Ohio Farmer magazines.Learn more at: www.dhdoster.com or email: [email protected], or call 765-412-1495.