GROWING YOUR ROOTS • New Experiences For Farm Bureau

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The past month has brought new experiences to Farm Bureau. Two meetings that have been held in person for over 100 years were hosted in a different format. 

The Montgomery County Farm Bureau annual meeting conducted business via conference call on Nov. 24. New members were elected to the board of directors, minutes and financials were approved, and delegates were approved to attend the state annual meeting. 

Retiring from the Board of Directors this year are President Jay Niemann of South Litchfield Township, and Director Randy Singler of Irving Township. Several director seats were up for re-election and all seats were filled with the following results: Butler Grove Township–Adam Anderson, Irving Township–Kirby Furness, North Litchfield Township–Tyler Helgen, South Litchfield Township–Matt Belusko, Nokomis Township–Matt Stolte, Rountree Township–Kris Reynolds, Zanesville Township–Paul Beeler. Officer elections will take place at the next board meeting on Dec. 22. 

The Illinois Farm Bureau Business Meeting was held via Zoom on Saturday, Dec. 5.  Typically, members travel to Chicago the first weekend in December but COVID-19 had other plans this year. Voting delegates reviewed policy changes ahead of the Saturday meeting and used an online voting platform. Approval of minutes, financial reports, and the president’s address took place on Saturday morning. 

As our current president completes his term of office, I asked him to reflect on his experiences serving on the board. One of his  recollections was when becoming president had first crossed his mind. 

“It’s been an honor to be president serving Montgomery County Farm Bureau,” Niemann said.  “I came on as president in 2014. Prior to that in 2013 I was vice president and actually came on the Farm Bureau board in 2008. I’ll never forget one of the first meetings I was at; they were having a discussion and no one could make up his mind. I threw out my two cents and Harlan Brown made the comment that there sits our next president. So, I owe a lot of this to Harlan Brown for putting that thought into my mind and getting me out of my comfort zone.” 

As you might expect, a lot of opportunities can present themselves over the course of 12 years. Meetings, trips, networking…the list is almost endless. Jay was fortunate to travel and meet farmers across the state during his time as president. I asked him to share some of his favorite experiences. 

“I have had a lot of great experiences with Farm Bureau. Looking back, I’ve enjoyed going to the annual meetings and a couple of years ago I got to participate in the marketing tour in Brazil.  We were in Brazil for 13 days and also toured Argentina. That was a trip of a lifetime. In 2017 I was a graduate of the ALOT (Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow) Program. It taught leadership skills, networking, and life lessons and I also had the privilege to serve on the Kilton Foundation Board. Had it not been for Farm Bureau, I wouldn’t have had a seat at that table. I’ve also really enjoyed working with our members on local issues.” 

As we finished visiting about Jay’s presidency, he told me he had quite the list of people he wanted to thank while he had the opportunity. The list is long, but I feel that it’s important we share it with you now. 

“I would like to thank our members. Without you we wouldn’t be the organization we are today. Thank you to our past and present board members. You are the ones that reach out to our members and make the organization be productive. I also need to extend a thank you to our Country Agents: Greg Holcomb, Cory Evans, Nathan Clementz and Allen Poggenpohl for all of the work you do behind the scenes to keep our organization thriving. Thank you to Mike Plunkett for always being there whenever we need that last minute article in the newspaper and coming to our events to take photos. To the folks at WSMI, thank you for giving Katie her radio fix and letting her visit with you on the radio and stay in touch with our members. And to my wife and family, without the support of family none of this would have probably ever happened. Thank you one and all.” 

We wish Jay well as he retires his seat at the Farm Bureau table and thank him and Randy Singler for their many years of service to the organization. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your friends at Montgomery County Farm Bureau. 

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