Long-time Wallaces Farmer staff members honored by ISU

Long-time Wallaces Farmer staff members honored by ISU

Three ag journalists receive the Impact Award from Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University has honored three Wallaces Farmer journalists for their decades of informing Iowa’s farmers.

Wendy Wintersteen, endowed dean of the college, presented its Impact Award for Extraordinary Partnership to Frank Holdmeyer and John Otte, who retired from Wallaces Farmer last year as executive editor and economics editor, respectively, and to Rod Swoboda, the magazine’s current editor. She presented the award at the Iowa Master Farmer Awards luncheon March 25.

ISU IMPACT AWARD: Receiving the Impact Award for Extraordinary Partnership with Iowa State University are (from left) Rod Swoboda, Frank Holdmeyer and John Otte. Wendy Wintersteen (far right), dean of ISU’s College of Agriculture

 “I am proud to recognize these extraordinary partners, who for many years have done an outstanding job of communicating with Iowa farmers and farm families. They have done much to convey the college’s messages on agricultural research, Extension and education to their readers,” Wintersteen said. “Frank, John and Rod represent both a trusted source for farmers — and a trusted partner for Iowa State University, and especially our agriculture and natural resources Extension faculty and staff.”

Recognized for many years of service to Iowa agriculture

Holdmeyer and Otte retired in April 2015 after working for Wallaces Farmer and Farm Progress Companies, for nearly 80 years combined. They were named Honorary Master Farmers in September 2015, the first such designation. “I was so happy that Frank and John were named Honorary Master Farmers last fall. Honoring Frank and John that way is so fitting and appropriate,” said Wintersteen. “Frank and John helped manage and guide the Iowa Master Farmer organization for many years, keeping this wonderful tradition alive and meaningful for so many farm families.”

Holdmeyer graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism in 1972 and started as a field editor at Wallaces Farmer in Des Moines. In 1987, he was named machinery editor of four Farm Progress publications, was named managing editor of Wallaces Farmer in 1983, editor in 1996 and later was executive editor of the company’s 11 Midwest farm publications.

This farm publication has served rural Iowa for 160 years

Otte earned bachelors’ and masters’ degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois, also taking agricultural journalism courses. He then pursued graduate studies in economics and taught undergraduate courses in farm management at Iowa State. After working a few years in Florida as an Extension farm management specialist, John returned to Iowa in 1979 to take a new position of economics editor for Farm Progress.

Swoboda has worked for the magazine, now owned by Penton Agriculture, since 1976. 

He earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture (ag journalism major) from the University of Illinois. He joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Inc. He was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003 and is only the 10th person to serve as editor.

Wallaces Farmer has roots that trace back to 1855. It was first published under the name Wallaces Farmer in 1898. In the early 1960s, under ownership of American Broadcasting Company, Wallaces Farmer joined forces with Prairie Farmer, Indiana Prairie Farmer and Wisconsin Agriculturist. The group became known as Farm Progress Publications.

Wallace family has an agricultural history closely tied to ISU

The first Henry Wallace, known as Uncle Henry, was the first editor of Wallaces Farmer and he edited and owned the farm newspaper for many years. Uncle Henry’s son, Henry C. Wallace, and his grandson Henry A. Wallace, both of whom went on to distinguish themselves in other areas of agriculture, worked at the farm publication at various times in their lives.

Of the three members of the Wallace family who owned and operated the publication, Henry C. and Henry A. Wallace both graduated from Iowa State and Henry C. was a dairy science faculty member. Inspired by the Wallace family, Wallaces Farmer has a long history of helping Iowa State University reach farmers and others involved in agriculture by disseminating ISU’s research-based information.

For more on this topic and the history of the Wallace family, you can visit several websites including A Magazine Called Wallaces’ Farmer; and Who are the Wallaces? at www.wallace.org. For a look at the magazine 10 years ago when it celebrated its 150th anniversary, visit www.agrimarketing.com/show_story.php?id=33878.

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