Farm Progress

It’s the little things 11592

If ever you’ve wondered if you make a difference, take a glimpse into Janeen Emory-Kolb’s life and a little conversation in our kitchen.

Holly Spangler 1, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

December 2, 2016

2 Min Read

Have you ever had those days when you’ve wondered if you make a difference? If anyone pays any attention? If what you do matters?

Because I’d wager to guess that if you ponder any of those questions, the answer is yes — a resounding yes.

Last week, we got word that our friend Janeen Emory-Kolb had died suddenly. Janeen was just 55. She grew up in our community, worked in Extension for many years, and volunteered at the Illinois State Fair junior beef show for more than 30 years. Janeen was smart and sensible and hardworking.

As I was telling my husband the news the other night, our oldest, Jenna, piped up.

little_things_1_636161921881537316.jpgHELPERS: Here’s Janeen Emory-Kolb, third from the left, working hard at the Illinois State Fair. (Photo by Cindy Cagwin-Johnston)

“Wait, I know who you mean. She helped check in our heifers at the state fair, right?”

That’s right, I told her, surprised that she knew whom we were talking about. I showed her a picture to confirm.

“Yes! That’s her. She was always so nice. She always smiled and talked to us and helped us. That’s really sad,” Jenna said.

And just like that, perspective, from a young person who remembers. Janeen was really nice. And she did make it fun for the kids. And on a day when things are more than a little crazy — i.e., checking in cattle on a hundred-degree day at the state fair — she was a helper. So much so that even the harried young people remember. She helped 400 kids check in their cattle every year. They will miss her.

It makes me think of so many thankless volunteer jobs: the school board member, the fair board member, the 4-H leader, the livestock show volunteer. I think a lot of us do these jobs and wonder if we’re doing any good. But isn’t it the little things that matter? You smile at a kid, you chat them up, you make it better.

Do you do any good? If Janeen’s life and ability to touch a single life is any indication, the answer is yes — a resounding yes.

The little things always matter.


About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler 1

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

Holly Spangler has covered agriculture for the past 18 years, beginning her career with Prairie Farmer before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications. As editor of Prairie Farmer magazine, she brings meaningful production agriculture experience to the topics she covers, including a variety of production, management and issue-oriented stories. She also offers up her generation's take on the issues of the day through her monthly column and blog, My Generation.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is a member and past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. She was named Master Writer in 2005 and in 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association and MidAmerica Croplife Association. Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the 2011 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the College of ACES Alumni Board, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth.

She graduated in 1998 from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications, and received the Warren K. Wessels Award for outstanding senior in the College of ACES. Immediately following graduation, she was a founding member of the U of I Ag Communications Alumni Leadership Council, and in 2011, the College of ACES named her an Outstanding Young Alumni.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and cattle on 2,000 acres. Their operation includes 100 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John's parents, and their three children, Jenna, Nathan and Caroline.

Holly is also active in the Illinois Farm Families program, and shares the story of agriculture and communications with a variety of groups and organizations, both within and outside of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations, receiving the Illinois Farm Bureau's Young Farmer Achievement Award in 2007.

Locally, Holly and her husband serve with their county's 4-H program, their school district and in their church's youth and music ministries. 

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like