June marks one year since the first Growing Your Roots column debuted and I’m happy to still have the chance to visit with you every month. Our Young Leaders have been busy hosting a trivia booth at the County Bicentennial Celebration and are gearing up for parade season. Postcards were mailed to Farm Bureau members last week with a listing of locations and times for our member appreciation meals in July.
We will have new 2022 plat books available in November and will be out of stock of plat books until that time. If you are interested in advertising in the new book, there are still a few spots available. Please call the office for more information. Our inaugural Drive Out Hunger Golf Scramble still has plenty of openings for teams and sponsors. The scramble will be held at Indian Springs Golf Course in Fillmore on July 30 with proceeds benefitting Montgomery County Food Pantries. Deadline to register is July 16.
For our June member spotlight, we’ll be visiting with someone who answers to multiple titles: FFA Advisor, farmer, board member, and dad–Matt Belusko. Matt got involved with Montgomery County Farm Bureau as a Young Leader and his leadership didn’t stop there.
“My motivation is, I think, and hopefully this is something that happens to most people as we start to get a little bit older, we start to realize that some of us have to step up and try to make a change where we want changes to happen and I kind of always had that feeling but I never acted on it. My neighbor, Jay Niemann, came by one day and for whatever reason out of the blue he just told me I needed to start going to Farm Bureau Young Leader meetings. For whatever reason, I said okay and showed up one night and from night one I was hooked. Just to be with a group of individuals with common interests trying to make a positive difference in the world of agriculture in our county and in our state; I knew it was something that I needed to do. So, I kept trying to do what I could in the organization and all of a sudden here I am today; I don't even know how many years later.”
Farming (and a thoughtful neighbor) lead Matt to Farm Bureau and one of the things Matt said he enjoys most about farming in South Litchfield Township is that it’s a family operation. He’s living and working on the farm where he grew up and he is now able to share that experience with his own children.
“I've got two wonderful little girls, Allison who is eleven and Payton who is five, and they both love being out on the farm getting their hands dirty. They love playing with the cows and at the beginning of this year Allison decided she wanted to get into the cattle business, so we bought her two bred heifers and now she has two cows and two calves out on the pasture. She loves going out and taking a bucket of sweet feed and spoiling her cows, so it's great seeing that next generation getting that start. We're by far not the largest operation in the area, but we love doing what we do. You really can't beat raising kids in that environment. I loved growing up on the farm and I’m just thrilled that I have the opportunity to pass that along to my kids if that’s something they want in their future.”
As if farming and serving on the Farm Bureau Board of Directors isn’t enough responsibility, Belusko is also employed as the FFA advisor and ag teacher for Litchfield High School. With the school year just ending, I asked Matt to reflect on his students’ accomplishments from the past year.
“First and foremost, I want to give a ton of credit to all of the kids at Litchfield High School. We had a great school year when I don’t know if many of us even expected to have a school year. The kids fought through a lot of adversity with covid, but we had a great year at LHS and a great year with Litchfield FFA. Our numbers aren’t huge but the quality is through the roof. We had several kids participate in virtual contests and perform at a very high level and also had some students achieve some individual awards that I’m very proud of.
“We’ll start off with Amanda Niemann, a freshman. She was awarded the Section 15 Star Greenhand Award this year for being the outstanding first year member in the entire section. Graduating senior from last year, Mr. Clayton Walch is receiving his American FFA Degree. This is a tremendous accomplishment as only around one hundred FFA members in the state of Illinois receive this award. Lastly, Elaan Bader, a soon to be senior is receiving her State FFA Degree, she won the state proficiency program area for her record book in ag education, she was a National Ag Science Fair finalist, and will be serving as president for Section 15 next school year.”
I enjoyed my visit with Matt and as you’ve probably gathered, we had a lot to discuss. I’ll leave you with his closing remark from our interview: “It takes action for change to happen and if there’s something you want done, step up to the plate and be a part of the process.”
Thanks for reading.