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Quick Take: Illinois Farm Bureau elections, awards

Tuttle, Fecht and Koeller elected to IFB board, Brinkmann wins Eagle Award, and Mitchell takes home top discussion meet honors.

IFB names 3 new directors

Three new members were elected to serve two-year terms on the Illinois Farm Bureau board of directors during the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago in early December. The new directors are:

Mark Tuttle. From Somonauk, Tuttle operates his own trucking business, Mark Tuttle Trucking, and farms full time, raising corn, soybeans, wheat, sweet corn and peas with two of his sons. He serves as president of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau and will represent District 1, which includes McHenry, Lake, DeKalb and Kane counties.

Robert Fecht. From Toluca, Fecht operates a family-owned grain and livestock farm, raising corn, soybeans, alfalfa and cattle with his father and son, in addition to custom farming work. Fecht is president of the Marshall-Putnam County Farm Bureau and will represent District 7, which includes McLean, Marshall-Putnam, Tazewell and Woodford counties.

Steve Koeller. Koeller operates his family farming operation, Koeller Bros Inc., alongside his two nephews near Godfrey. The fifth-generation farmer raises corn, soybeans and wheat in Godfrey and Greenfield. Koeller is a third-generation county Farm Bureau president, and is a second-generation IFB District 15 director, representing Bond, Calhoun, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin and Madison counties.

Eagle Award goes to Brinkmann

Darryl Brinkmann was awarded the 2019 Illinois Farm Bureau Eagle Award at IFB’s annual meeting.

Brinkmann, from Carlyle, received the award for his steadfast support and dedication to Illinois agriculture.

Brinkmann’s involvement with IFB started in the ’80s and includes his service on the IFB and Country Financial board of directors, Clinton County Farm Bureau board of directors, IFB Producers Alliance board of directors and the IFB State Young Farmer Committee.

On a national level, Brinkmann has provided leadership as vice president of the American Soybean Association. He led the National Biodiesel Board as president. Closer to home, Brinkmann has served as a director on the boards of Agri-Pride FS, the Illinois Soybean Association and the Clinton County Service Co.

Brinkmann received his associate degree from Kaskaskia College in 1979 and earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois in 1981. Upon graduation, he started his grain and livestock operation and is still farming today. He is an active member of the Messiah Lutheran Church in Carlyle. He and his wife, Jean, have one daughter, Danielle.

Wyciskalla named 2019 top crop adviser

Terry Wyciskalla of Nashville received the Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Award at the Illinois Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in early December.

Wyciskalla, who has more than 26 years of experience as a crop adviser, works with farmers through self-owned Wyciskalla Consulting, servicing about 100 customers and 80,000 total acres across 15 southern Illinois counties.

“A true champion of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, Terry Wyciskalla has been the most important link to the success of Clinton County Farm Bureau’s NLRS efforts over the past four years,” says Brad Conant, Clinton County Farm Bureau manager, in nominating Wyciskalla for the award.

“His expertise and professional advice have continued to be the driving force behind our successful grant efforts, with $55,350 in grant funding awarded, for a total of over $110,000 — with matching funds — toward NLRS efforts in Clinton County alone,” Conant says, referring to IFB’s NLRS grant program.

Young leaders elect leadership

The Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Committee elected its 2020 executive committee members during the organization’s annual meeting, held in Chicago in early December.

The executive committee members now include: Chairman Drew DeSutter of Knox County, Vice Chairman Wayne Gehrke of Kane County, Secretary Jenny Jackson of Morgan County, Education and Recruitment Subcommittee Chairwoman Gracelynn Dale of Bureau County, Achievement Subcommittee Chairwoman Victoria Vogt of Monroe County, and Governmental Affair and Commodities Subcommittee Chairman Aaron Mitchell of Winnebago County.

DeSutter is a 2019 graduate of the Cultivating Master Farmers program. Members of the young leader committee are 18- to 35-year-old men and women.

Mitchell wins Young Leader Discussion Meet

Sara Mitchell of Grundy County won the Young Leader Discussion Meet at the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting in early December.

In addition to receiving a trophy, Mitchell will receive a John Deere riding lawn mower and $2,500 cash from Country Financial and IFB, along with expense-paid trips to four conferences: the 2020 Growmark Annual Meeting, 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention, 2020 IFB Young Leader Conference, and 2020 AFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference.

Mitchell grew up on a family farm and works in the crop insurance and financial services industry. She lives in Verona with her husband, Mark, and 1-year-old son, Brock, and is active in her family’s farm.

The IFB Discussion Meet tests 26 contestants’ ability to manage a small group discussion. Judges award points based on how well participants work with one another, how well they express themselves and their knowledge of the topic.

“We talked about some big topics,” Mitchell says. “I challenge my fellow leaders to all go back to our counties and start implementing some of the ideas and solutions we brought forth during discussions. We’re in the work of building those skills of how to have discussions critically but also compassionately toward other people’s views.”

Illinois Ag in the Classroom gives awards

Katie Buckley of the LeRoy school district received the 2019 Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year Award during Illinois Farm Bureau’s annual meeting.

Buckley works with students of all grade levels and is a secondary special education teacher and STEM educator. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In fall 2019, Buckley taught drone technology in agriculture, as well as STEM-related careers in precision ag. Buckley’s students have also studied various soil types from across the nation to better understand the planting process. Hydroponics, community gardens and livestock management have been the focus of some of her past projects with students.

Buckley is an alum of the American Farm Bureau STEM on the Farm program. She’s received several grants and awards for integrating STEM concepts.

Buckley received a plaque and trip to the 2020 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  

Third-grade teacher Rachel Alstat, of DeSoto Elementary School in Jackson County, is the IAITC Teacher of the Year runner-up.  

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