Handy Devices Picks Up Writing Award

Reader Ideas for Handy Devices Lead to Sixth Straight Award

Elaine Shein
By  Elaine Shein , Associate Managing Editor
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One of the ideas sent in by a reader was how to turn a junked forklift into an equipment- and supply-lifting system that could help lift equipment off the shop floor. (DTN/Progressive Farmer graphic)

Progressive Farmer readers are already familiar with the popular Handy Devices page in the magazine; the easy-to-build ideas to make your work easier can also be found on DTNPF.com at https://www.dtnpf.com/….

Progressive Farmer Senior Editor Dan Miller, who helps put together that page which highlights ideas from readers, on June 9 received a Jesse H. Neal Award for winning the Best Instructional Content category for its revenue class.

This isn't the first time he's won it. In fact, he won that same category six years in a row -- from 2016 to 2021. He may need someone to design him a handy shelf to hold all those awards.

Readers deserve kudos for those prizes, because the Handy Devices page is based on great ideas readers have shared with Miller and inspire illustrations for that page. Readers can earn money for their ideas for future content -- more on that later.

The Jesse H. Neal Awards, held by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), are quite prestigious; they're seen as the Pulitzer Prizes of business-to-business journalism and were established in 1955 to recognize and reward editorial excellence in business media. To even be a finalist is considered quite an honor.

This year, DTNPF was awarded one Neal, but we were honored to have four entries that were named finalists (in our respective revenue class) and they were:

-- Best Instructional Content: Handy Devices, by Dan Miller

-- Best COVID-19 Industry Coverage: COVID Impact on Ag by Emily Unglesbee, Russ Quinn and Chris Clayton

-- Best Profile: Young, Black, First-Generation American Determined to Succeed as a Farm Owner, by Chris Clayton

-- Best News Coverage: Derecho Impact: Trail of Destruction, by Todd Neeley, Chris Clayton, Matthew Wilde, Todd Hultman and Bryce Anderson.

Our DTNPF news team consisted of a lot more staff working on topics such as COVID-19 and the derecho impact, but the rules for certain categories limited the number of stories in the entry. Congratulations to our whole team who contributed to our success in this past year.

So how tough was the awards competition?

Our competitors are some of the biggest digital and traditional business media companies in the country, and the range of content includes agriculture, architecture, law, transportation, health, restaurants and grocery, energy, etc.

This year, there were 235 finalists from almost 500 nominations, and this was then whittled down to 59 winners in 24 categories by more than 80 judges in three tiers.

While DTNPF has won other Neal Awards in the past in different categories, it's more important to serve our readers and meet, or better yet exceed, their expectations.

So, turning back to how you win by sharing ideas with us for handy devices.

Win $400 if your idea is chosen as the month's "Editor's Choice" Handy Device. Win $200 for other ideas used on the Progressive Farmer page about devices. To submit a Handy Device, please send clear photographs, detailed drawings and a complete explanation of your idea. With each entry, include your name, address and telephone number. Send Handy Device entries to Progressive Farmer Handy Devices, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209. Sorry, but we cannot acknowledge submissions or return photographs, drawings or documentation.

What does Miller look for when you send him ideas?

"The whole idea is often simple projects with a lot of imagination, good ingenuity, and the best often with just scraps lying around the farm," Miller said in an interview. He added you don't have to buy something new, just find things lying around in the yard. One example? Someone once suggested taking a five-gallon pail and rolling up all your extension cords into it. As Miller noted, it's so simple -- but it worked.

Are any ideas more popular than others?

"Gates are popular, ways to store tools, fencing things, ways to put posts in or pull posts out of the ground, things to help with calving, ways to handle tools," he said. For example, some people have sent how to use old tires for feeders or to hold water.

To see the three pages of Handy Devices that that Miller submitted to win the Neal Award this year, check out:

-- Equipment- and supply-lifting system; easy way to hook a loader to a hay spear, hay slide or boom pole; and way to enter a pasture without a gate: https://www2.dtn.com/…

-- Turning old disc blades into a tool and parts stand; a new use for old prescription bottles to help store your tools; and a hitch extension: https://www2.dtn.com/…

-- How to make "feet" for your posts; using a jack stand for hook up wagons; and how to make a movable mineral feeder from a discarded hay rake frame: https://www2.dtn.com/…

Have fun digging around your yard and gathering up scrap materials to inspire the next great handy device for us to possibly feature.

Elaine Shein can be reached at elaine.shein@dtn.com

Elaine Shein

Elaine Shein
Connect with Elaine: