New and experienced farmers awarded during Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting


New and experienced farmers awarded during Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

Harvest for All winner

Carroll County Farm Bureau has been recognized as the overall Harvest for All winner by Illinois Farm Bureau.

County Manager Chas Welch tells Brownfield the country raised more than $36,000 and was recognized for the most dollars raised and hours volunteered this past year.

“Our young leaders call Carroll County farmers and get grain donated which we then collect and sell to our local grain elevator. We take the proceeds from the sold grain and we donate it to the food pantries that serve our county.”

Welch says the pandemic has increased need in their community and she’s incredibly thankful for the 55 area farmers who donated making the project possible.

IFB Excellence winner

Illinois Farm Bureau has named Tyler and Cassie Schleich as this year’s Young Leader Excellence in Ag Award Winner. 

Tyler tells Brownfield the pandemic has changed their beef breeding business to expand into freezer beef as well as many of the producers he works with as a district sales manager for Kent Feeds.

“You name it, it has been a nightmare for people feeding cattle or the cow/calf producer.”

Thankfully he says cattle prices are recovering.  The two hope to grow their cattle business and want to get into embryo transfer for their clients.

IFB Achievement winner

A sixth-generation young leader says pushing outside his comfort zone has helped him grow as a farmer and individual.

Chad Bell has been named this year’s Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Achievement Award winner.

“I am very complacent at times at just sticking in my comfort zone, but we don’t grow as people without pushing ourselves a little bit and having others push us.”

Bell also helped Mercer County win a top Harvest for All award after creating a Hair Cuts for Hunger fundraiser which raised more than $7,000 to cut his hair after growing it out for nearly a year during the pandemic.

Bell raises corn, soybeans, wheat, and finishes pigs in Viola.

Eagle Award Winner

James (Jim) Gay of Rockport is the recipient of the 2021 IFB Eagle award for his steadfast support and dedication to Illinois agriculture.

Photo Credit: IL Farm Bureau

His work on two key national issues frames his time in leadership. These opportunities include further developing the future of biodiesel through the creation of the national Soy Diesel Development Board, and his leadership on the national private property rights effort while serving as Pike County Farm Bureau president.

Gay has also provided leadership as president of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and as vice president of the National Soy Diesel Development Board. He was the first recipient of the Pioneer Award, the NBB’s highest honor, recognizing forward thinking leadership in the biodiesel industry. In addition, Gay served as chairman of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Soybean Advisory Committee.

Gay is a fifth-generation farmer. He and his son, David, raise corn, soybeans and maintain a cow/calf operation.

Charles B. Shuman Distinguished Service Award Winner

David Erickson has been awarded the 2021 Illinois Farm Bureau Charles B. Shuman Distinguished Service Award; the highest award given by the organization.

Photo Credit: IL Farm Bureau

The Knox County farmer has been honored for his contributions to Illinois Farm Bureau, having served as vice president of the organization from 2014-2017.

Prior to his election as vice president, Erickson served on the Knox County Farm Bureau board of directors from 2009-2014, and as president from 2012-2014. Additionally, he has been involved with the Illinois FFA as secretary-treasurer and as chairman of the Illinois FFA Foundation.

Erickson has also been involved in leadership at the national level, serving as president and chairman of the board of directors for the American Soybean Association. He has also served as president of the Illinois Soybean Association.

Erickson and his wife, Nancy, farm and operate a farm management business. He taught vocational agriculture and was an FFA Advisor for four years before beginning his farming career.

All awards were presented during the recent IFB Annual Meeting in Chicago.