Agricultural Journalists Honored by Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Awardees picture
From left: Impact Award for Extraordinary Partnership winners Rod Swoboda, Frank Holdmeyer and John Otte with Wendy Wintersteen.

AMES, Iowa — 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 Rod Swoboda, the magazine’s editor. She presented the award at the Iowa Master Farmer Awards luncheon March 25.

“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, and who 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.”

Holdmeyer and Otte retired in April 2015 after working for Wallaces Farmer and Farm Progress Co., its former owner, for nearly 80 years combined. They were named Honorary Master Farmers later that year, the first such designation.

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

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.

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 earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture (agricultural 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.

Wallaces Farmer got its start in 1855. Of the three members of the Wallace family who owned and operated the publication, Henry C. and Henry A. Wallace, graduated from Iowa State and Henry C. was a dairy science faculty member.