Young Leaders look to build on record-breaking year

Read about the state committee's accomplishments from 2017 and what's coming early in 2018.

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Massac County farmer Marc Bremer, who served the past year as state Young Leader chairman, gives his closing address at the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Chicago.

By Dan Grant

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. summed up the Young Leader program, and this year’s accomplishments, perfectly during the YL awards program at the IFB Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“You are our future, and the future looks very bright,” he told Young Leaders at the event.

YLs set an attendance record, 525, for the annual Young Leader Conference earlier this year. The 2018 event will be held next month, Jan. 19-20, at Embassy Suites in East Peoria.

Members of YL, between the ages of 18 and 35, also won national awards for collecting the most money ($978,674) and volunteering the most hours (3,292) for the Harvest for All Program.

The statewide program was awarded $1,500 from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) for the Harvest for All accomplishments. The money was donated to food banks in the state.

“All of this was not possible without your support,” Marc Bremer, 2017 YL State Committee chairman from Metropolis, said during his closing address in that position.

Related: Click here for more from the IFB Annual Meeting.

Ben Hugenberg, Adams County, was named YL State Committee Chairman for 2018 at the IFB Annual Meeting, while Heath Houck, Montgomery County, takes on the role of vice chair.

The YL program this year also assisted with five new county committee startups and rejuvenations.

In all, YL recruited 57 new members this year. Houck received the award as top recruiter for 2017.

“We keep growing and adding new collegiate chapters,” Bremer said. “Young Leaders is an excellent opportunity for anyone to get involved and find your passion in agriculture.”

Young Leaders’ passion for agriculture seems most evident among its state award winners.

Those who will represent Illinois nationally Jan. 5-10 at the AFBF annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., are state winners Lynn Rohrscheib (Vermilion County), Achievement Award; Sean Arians (Woodford), Excellence Award; and Jesse Faber (Livingston), Discussion Meet.

“It’s a great opportunity for young farmers to get out there and showcase what’s going on on your farm and to tell your story,” Rohrscheib said of the Achievement Award process. “I’m very humbled and honored to have this opportunity.”

She’s a fifth-generation farmer who also serves as chairwoman of the Illinois Soybean Association.

Arians, who farms in Whiteside County and works as marketing manager for The Climate Corporation, won the 2014 State Discussion Meet and 2015 National Discussion Meet.

“I look forward to representing Illinois in Nashville,” he said.

“I challenge each one of you to get involved in Young Leaders and organizations outside of ag,” he added. “Those are the people who can help share our story.”

Illinois Young Leaders Grant and Kristen Strom, Knox County, won the AFBF Achievement Award last January, while Mark and Sara Mitchell, Grundy, finished in the top 10 for the AFBF Excellence in Ag Award. Lynn Doran, Champaign, made the sweet 16 of the National Discussion Meet.

Andrew Headley, Marion County, won the Young Leader FB ACT award for helping to generate the most IFB action requests in 2017.

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