IFB Young Leader strives to give back

By Ashley Rice

Jenny Jackson of Morgan County aims each day to give back to agriculture and her community through her many work and volunteer commitments.

“Every day I just strive to give back to the farmers in the way that I can best, which is communicating,” explained Jackson. “And giving back to youth and showing them the opportunities that I had no idea existed when I was their age. That’s my biggest goal, just expose youth to all the great things they can do in agriculture. All the careers that exist and help them get to where they want to be.”

As director of communications for Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), secretary of the Illinois Farm Bureau State Young Leaders Committee and secretary of the Cass-Morgan County Farm Bureau Board, Jackson is truly a leader.

While growing up on her family’s farm outside of Jacksonville, she participated in 4-H for 11 years and FFA for four years.

After graduating high school, Jackson attended junior college and joined her county Farm Bureau before transferring to Western Illinois University (WIU). While a summer intern in the IFB Member Services and Public Relations department, she was able to create the WIU Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter.

“It was really the internship that exposed me to everything Farm Bureau does and is about,” said Jackson. “Starting the collegiate chapter just really gave me a good footing for my whole professional career.”

In her current role at IPPA, Jackson works with farmers, consumers, youth, educators and media outlets. She explained her efforts to communicate with Illinois pork producers during the ongoing pandemic.

“What was most challenging from my perspective was having to talk about the hard stuff,” said Jackson. “Having to communicate to farmers about their losses and depopulation efforts and what packing plant was closed that day and where to take their animals. Just talking about the hard stuff was hard for me, too. But at the same time, the silver lining was that we were a resource, and we got to talk to so many different people in the industry. And we were a hub for information for farmers.”

Jackson, who is serving her fourth and final year on the state Young Leader committee, reflected on the experiences and opportunities she has had.

“What I have enjoyed the most being on the state Young Leader Committee is traveling and going to the different conferences and meeting people from other states …,” noted Jackson. “I have also enjoyed the networking part so much, and the way that we get to learn from each other and feed off each other.”

Meanwhile, Jackson still takes every opportunity she gets to support the Morgan County Fair junior and 4-H exhibitors while also supporting her local FFA chapter.

“Agriculture is in my blood. It’s something that instills a passion in you. That you’re so happy about that, you don’t ever get rid of. Just being from a farm family and having such spectacular experiences in all of the youth agriculture programs. It’s just shaped who I am, and I’m forever grateful for them.”

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.