IAA Foundation receives second working farm

Wiedle family leaves 153 acres of Clinton County farmland and conservation ground. The IAA Foundation plans to continue working with the current farmer tenant, with income supporting scholarships.

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Jan Rittenhouse, left, shows wooded acreage owned by her uncle and aunt, Herman and Cecilia Wiedle of Shattuc, to Clinton County Farm Bureau (CCFB) Manager Gary Kennedy, center, and Rob Gerstenecker, CCFB Board member. The Wiedles gifted 153 acre to the IAA Foundation. (Photos by Dakota Cowger, IAA Foundation)

Lifelong learners and farmers Herman and Cecilia Wiedle of Shattuc fully understood the value of education. That knowledge led them to provide a generous gift of 153 acres of tillable farmland and conservation ground to the IAA Foundation.

Valued at $1.1 million, the gift will help establish the Herman E. & Cecilia E. Wiedle Scholarship Fund, which will award scholarships to Clinton County students whose parents are members of the Illinois Farm Bureau, beginning in December. 

In addition to the IAA Foundation gift, the Wiedle’s also left ground to support Clinton County Extension.

“We are beyond grateful that the Wiedle’s saw the IAA Foundation as a trusted place to leave their farm ground,” said Susan Moore, IAA Foundation director. “It is a responsibility we don’t take lightly. We want to ensure the farming operation continues on, the land is cared for and that we pay proper tribute to Herm and Ceil through their scholarship fund.”

A faded Illinois Farm Bureau member sign still hangs at the Wiedles’ property.
A faded Illinois Farm Bureau member sign still hangs at the Wiedles’ property.

The IAA Foundation will maintain ownership of the ground with immediate plans to continue working with longtime farmer tenant Tim Hanke. 

“I think this is fantastic,” said Hanke, who has farmed the Wiedle land for 14 years. “My kids (Nicole, a Southern Illinois University (SIU) engineering graduate; and son, Lucas, an SIU sophomore studying agronomy) benefitted from IAA Foundation scholarships.

The Wiedles’ interest in conservation is evident in this stained glass.
The Wiedles’ interest in conservation is evident in this stained glass.

“The Wiedles cared about the land and about us making a good living. They would ask, ‘are you doing OK? We know how hard it is to make money farming,’” said Hanke, who farms with his uncle, Larry. “My son would love to come back to farm. I am looking forward to maintaining the Wiedles’ legacy.”

Jan Rittenhouse, the Wiedles’ niece, said her uncle lived on the farm his entire life. He served on the boards of Clinton County Farm Bureau Board, the local farm supply co-op and the rural electric co-op.

Wiedle was also an avid hunter and conservationist, planting 20 acres of trees by hand and creating a wildlife sanctuary near his home.

“Three or four board members have been former scholarship recipients. They say that helped them. I’ve talked to families over the years who said the same thing,” said Gary Kennedy, Clinton County Farm Bureau manager. “One of the beauties of the Foundation is that it’s going to do good things for other people.”

The Wiedles’ farm gift marks the second provided to the IAA Foundation this year. The first gift of 231 acres came from the late Jean Stubblefield of McLean.

For 30 years, the IAA Foundation has supported Illinois farm families and the future of agriculture through education. To see a tribute to the Wiedles, visit iaafoundation.org/plannedgiving.

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