Achievement Award finalists devoted to agriculture

By Katie Zelechowski

Illinois Farm Bureau’s Young Leader Achievement Award recognizes outstanding young Farm Bureau members for their efforts in production agriculture, leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

The 2019 award winner will be announced on the Illinois Farm Bureau Facebook page at noon Thursday, Aug. 8. Both finalists will be honored on Ag Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.

The winner will go on to represent Illinois Farm Bureau at the 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation competition in January, in Austin, Texas. The award winner will receive a prize package including their choice between three John Deere riding lawn mowers, $2,500 cash and expense-paid trips to several Farm Bureau conferences. The runner-up will receive $1,500 cash.  This award program is sponsored by Illinois Farm Bureau and COUNTRY Financial.

Correy and Kellie Rahn (Photo by Catrina Rawson)

Correy and Kellie Rahn, Chadwick, Carroll County (Photo by Catrina Rawson)

“With both of us growing up on farms, we don’t know any other way of life,” said Kellie Rahn of the passion she shares for agriculture with her husband, Correy. Kellie grew up on a family farm in eastern Iowa with hogs and row crops. Correy was raised on a corn, wheat and soybean operation in Illinois. The couple crossed paths while attending Iowa State University where Kellie earned bachelors’ degrees in agronomy and ag business and Correy earned a bachelor’s degree in ag business.

Immediately after graduating college, the Rahns moved back to Correy’s family farm in Chadwick where they live today. In addition to raising crops with his family, Correy and his younger brother operate a hay business and raise feed-to-finish cattle. While Kellie works full time as a Pioneer seed sales representative, she still finds time to help her husband on the farm.

Kellie and Correy enjoy raising their children, Austin, Emilie and Adalynn in the farming lifestyle in which they grew up.

“We love being part of the farm and agriculture and being around livestock. We are trying to create the same, or more, opportunities for our own children,” said Kellie.

The couple also shares their love for agriculture with their kids through involvement in the Carroll County Young Leaders (YL) program. Some of those YL-sponsored events include the Kiddie Pedal Tractor Pull and Ag Olympics events at their county fair. Correy said he especially enjoys these youth-oriented events because of the reactions from the young participants. “It’s rewarding seeing the smiles on their faces,” said Correy.

The Rahns also participate as a family is the Harvest for All campaign, collecting fresh produce and canned goods to donate to the local food pantry. In addition, YL members donate a homemade meal made entirely from ingredients grown in Carroll County to those within their community. 

The dedication Kellie and Correy have demonstrated as Young Leaders within their community earned their spot as finalists for the Achievement Award. Correy said being a finalist for the award has been his goal since he first joined the program because it means he has worked towards giving back and being a leader within his community.

“My parents received this award back in 1993 and my older brother received it last year,” said Correy.

Scott Garlisch (Photo by Catrina Rawson)

Scott Garlisch, Forest City, Mason County (Photo by Catrina Rawson)

When the opportunity to get back to the family farm presented itself to Scott Garlisch nearly five years ago, he jumped at the chance.

“Watching my grandfather and my dad (farm), it has been in the family for a lot of years,” said Garlisch.

Before returning to the family farm in Forest City, Garlisch graduated from Lake Land College with an associate degree in ag production and management. For a time, he worked as a livestock judging coach at a community college, a seed salesman and at the Chicago Board of Trade. After getting a call from his dad that it was time to head back to the family farm, Garlisch agreed to move back to Mason County where he lives with his wife, Brandy, and their two sons.

From the moment Scott returned to the farm, he began working to diversify the business, expanding from corn, soybean and hay crops to include popcorn, sweet corn, green beans, cattle and hogs.

Garlisch joined the Mason County Young Leaders (YL) program in 2008. The YL Young Leader committee was first established that year, and its survival depended entirely on members like Garlisch who were determined to see it succeed.

Garlisch said he wanted to become a YL because, “you learn new things and meet a lot of new people, friends and other farm families -- it’s a great organization.”

In 2016 and 2017, Scott served as the county YL vice chairman. In 2017 and 2018, he served as chairman. His work in this role earned him the YL Top County Chair award in 2018.

The Backpacks for Kids initiative and local food drives are among Garlisch’s favorite YL activities. These events include collecting food to help feed underserved members of the community and rely on collaborative efforts both within and outside the YL program.

“Having different people from the ag industry all in one room together to meet and do different projects makes things work a lot better,” said Garlisch.

In response to being selected as a YL Achievement Award finalist, Garlisch said he is proud of this recognition. “It’s something that I can tell my two sons about when they’re older, and someday my grandchildren.”

Garlisch added that the value of being part of a program like Young Leaders is that it provides the “opportunity to further (your) knowledge in ag, meet different people and better the community.”

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