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DAA: Tom J. Bechman

Tom Bechman

Tom J. Bechman

Franklin, IN | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2005

For nearly 25 years, Tom J. Bechman has devoted himself to a single mission: helping farm families survive and thrive by identifying and publishing news most pertinent to their lives. New technologies, continually evolving science, and an ever-changing industry challenge him as he sifts through information, news releases, research findings and technical reports. “Someone has to interpret all the science that comes out and show how it might apply and why you should care,” the editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer says. “Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone’s life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to present it in the most useful form.” He’s also partnered with others to, as he says, “stretch myself and the pages of our magazine through quasi-research projects.” His work includes precision agriculture software research, Purdue Extension bean booster soybean plots and discovery plots at the Farm Progress Show. He brings his communication expertise to Purdue Ag Comm classes where he teaches students about feature writing, often publishing their work. Bechman’s interest in farming stems from childhood years on an Indiana tenant dairy farm. “You need to understand your audience,” he says of his publishing tenure, which followed four years as a high school ag teacher. “Growing up on a small farm and then teaching ag, I understand the audience.” His hobby is collecting toy tractors (he has about a hundred) and farm implement sales literature, mostly from the 1950s. His prized possession is a sales piece on the John Deere 520, 620 and 720 Series that came out in the late 1950s. “That’s kind of special,” he says, “because Dad bought a 620 in 1958.” “Facts and figures and what I got out of books were important. But the value of my Purdue education was more about how to learn and grow in life. I learned a lot about that.”