2018 looks to be active for Young Leaders

'Everyone's voice matters,' state YL chairman stresses.

By Dan Grant

If turnout and involvement at the Young Leader State Conference in East Peoria provide any indication, 2018 should be another active year for YL members around the state.

And that’s critical not only for success of YLs, but also for Illinois Farm Bureau and the farming industry as a whole, according to Ben Hugenberg, YL chairman, and IFB President Richard Guebert Jr.

The two leaders addressed an overflow crowd of about 525 at the recent conference.

“One of my major goals is to increase the number of Young Leader committees (and boost involvement) around the state,” said Hugenberg, an Adams County farmer. “Illinois Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization. Everyone’s voice matters.”

Ben Hugenberg, state Young Leader chairman
Ben Hugenberg, state Young Leader chairman

Hugenberg and Guebert urged YLs to regularly reach out to lawmakers and consumers to promote a better understanding of agriculture across everywhere from legislative aisles to grocery aisles.

They urged YL members to get involved in the FB ACT program as part of that process.

A key message for farmers to convey currently revolves around the importance of exports, as ag remains one of the few U.S. business sectors that generates a positive trade balance.

“One of our priorities (this year) is to increase farm income opportunities,” Guebert said. “Trade is vitally important to us.”

YLs are also vital to help IFB achieve the goal of remaining one of the leading farm organizations in Illinois.

“We couldn’t do it without each and every one of you,” Guebert told YLs. “We need to continue to tell our story.”

He also encouraged YLs to take part in local IFB membership drives to help expand the volunteer base across the state.

YL award competition begins

Hugenberg called on YLs to consider enrolling in the YL Achievement Award or Excellence in Ag Award competitions.

“We have many great, talented people throughout Illinois,” he said. “This gives us an opportunity to recognize some of those people.”

Previous winners noted the award programs provide YLs a chance to evaluate their own farms or businesses, expand their network, and support ag and share their message.

Award applications are available at county Farm Bureau offices. The deadline to apply is April 13.

Ag Industry Tour heading to Washington

YLs at the conference announced this year’s Ag Industry Tour will take place in Washington state July 23-28.

Those interested in the tour can register between Feb. 2-15. There are 30 spots available. Cost is $650 for those selected for this year’s trip.

Harvest for All challenge

The Sangamon County Farm Bureau Young Leader Committee this year challenges YLs around the state to grow produce to benefit the Harvest for All program.

The goal is to bring YL committees together and work toward raising food and donating it to a local foodbank or community outlet.

YL committees may raise produce on no more than one acre. All produce must be harvested, weighed on a certified scale and donated locally by Sept. 1.

A traveling trophy will be presented to this year’s Harvest for All challenge winner at the 2019 YL State conference. 

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