As the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting kicked off this past weekend in Chicago, the Young Leader activities were among the early highlights. Among those recognized include award winners and a new committee chair.
Kirk and Stephanie Leifer, Randolph County, were recognized as winners of the Young Leader Achievement Award, which honors outstanding achievement by young farmers in agricultural production, business and community leadership. Kirk and Stephanie farm with his parents at Red Bud, and will win use of a Case IH tractor for 100 hours, $1,000 cash from IFB and a one-year membership in the Illinois Corn Growers Association. In addition, they will travel to Hawaii in January to compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation contest.
In his acceptance speech, Kirk very humbly and emotionally thanked his parents, saying, "We wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the work you've done."
Lee County's Katie Pratt took the prize for the 2001 Discussion Meet. The Discussion Meet has come to be recognized as a premier contest for young leaders to talk agriculture and hone their abilities to create consensus and productive dialogue. The contest is a series of round Robin discussions, featuring 4-5 participants in each discussions, and one pre-determined topic per discussion. After surviving several rounds, the final four contestants compete in the Finals, held on Saturday evening. Among the finalists were Pratt; Jesse Faber of Livingston County; Caleb May of Edwards County; and Ann Larson of DeKalb County. Pratt was named winner amid much suspense during Sunday morning's Young Leader Recognition Program. Katie and her husband, Andy, farm near Dixon with their two young children. She accepted the award by saying, "I'm just a mom!" She added that as a young FFA member, one of her goals was to be the voice for agriculture and she was honored and a little floored to be now recognized as A voice of agriculture, and to stand among such outstanding peers. "My days are made up of Dr. Seuss," she laughed. She also thanked her husband for "putting up with me," adding, "but honey, we're goin' to Hawaii!"
Pratt receives a trip to the AFBF annual meeting in Hawaii where she'll compete in the national discussion meet. She also received $1,000 from IFB and use of a Massey-Ferguson tractor, courtesy of Agco.
Alan Chesnut of Vermilion County was also recognized during the Young Leader Program for his win in the Excellence in Agriculture Award. This award recognizes excellence in business and community leadership among those who do not make their living primarily in production agriculture. Alan runs a die-cast toy machinery business and finds himself with plenty of opportunities to talk agriculture with his non-agricultural business contacts. He wins $1,000 from IFB, a trip to the 2012 AFBF meeting in Hawaii and an iPad from IAA Credit Union.
The Young Leader Committee also elected new leadership during the annual meeting. Monica Stevens of Knox County was elected chair; Alan Bailey of Sangamon County will serve as vice chair; Brent Pollard of Winnebago County will serve as secretary; Todd Vertteecke of Henry County will serve as Achievement sub-committee chair; Kurt Range of St. Clair County will serve as education and recruitment sub-committee chair; and Mike Carey of Grundy County will serve as governmental affairs and commodities sub-committee chair.