Pesticide Use In Production Agriculture

It is clear that many people across the United States are concerned with pesticide applications in agriculture. Many citizens voice their opinions solely based on what they hear on social media and national and local news. The use of agricultural pesticides in the United States has decreased over the last few decades, but the application of glyphosate herbicide has increased due to the release and success of glyphosate resistant crops. Pesticides are used in agriculture to control weeds, insect infestation, and diseases. Insecticides are generally the most acutely (immediately) toxic. Herbicides are more widely used, with RoundUp and atrazine being the two most used pesticides in the world. Herbicides present chronic risks associated with the applications and handling.

Many people do not understand that these pesticide applications are necessary to increase or protect crop yield and increase crop quality. Herbicides reduce the amount of labor, machinery, and fuel used for mechanical weed control. Pesticides are a necessity to producers in the vegetable industry. Pesticide applications are valuable to keep produce appearance fresh for consumer preferences. The use of pesticides in the United States is heavily regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has primary authority to register and regulate pesticides. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act allows the EPA to register pesticides using risk/benefit standards. The regulation of pesticides in the United States is very strict to protect applicators and handlers of pesticides.

I interviewed my cousin who is a graduate of WIU who stated that he has noticed that many farmers are being more careful with the application of pesticides. “It is a smart management practice to rotate pesticides and modes of action to decrease the possibility of resistance” he said. He also stated that “chemical methods of eliminating pests are commonly the first or second choice for farmers, but there are other quality methods to manage pests in production agriculture”.

The environmental fate of pesticides rests on future producers and regulators to protect the environment from overusing pesticides.

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My name is Nate Mahoney and I am a senior here at Western Illinois University. I am an Agriculture Business major with a minor in agronomy. I grew up on a corn/soybean farm in rural Sangamon County, Illinois.

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Aquaculture

Aquaculture is also known as fish or shellfish farming. Aquaculture is the breeding and harvesting of a freshwater fish, marine fish, and plants. It can be performed in many different water environments including lakes, rivers, ponds, the ocean and tanks.  Aquaculture is used to produce the fish, shellfish, and for food, sport fishing, bait fish, and ornamental fish. Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food producing sectors.  It is responsible for almost 50 percent of all of the worlds fresh water and marine fish consumed.  There are two main types of aquaculture freshwater aquaculture and marine aquaculture.

Fresh water aquaculture is used to produced fish that are native to fresh water ponds and streams.  Fresh water aquaculture is primarily used to produce catfish. It is also used to produce bass, tilapia, and trout.  The farming is done in natural ponds or most bigger operations use man made ponds which can be better controlled.

Marine aquacultures farms are primarily done in the ocean.  The farmers use cages placed on the sea floor or they can be suspended from floating platforms. Marine aquaculture can also be done at in land man made salt water ponds.  Marine Aquaculture is used mainly to raise oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, and salmon, but they also raise cod, moi, yellowtail, barramundi, seabass, and seabream.

Nick Freeman is a 2012 graduate of Spoon River College. Currently attending Western Illinois University and will graduating in May of 2016. Born and raised in central Illinois. Joined the Air National Guard in August of 2010. Enjoys to do everything outdoors from fishing, hunting, camping, riding his four wheeler and dirt bikes, and farming for his long time family friend.

Lifetime Gifts For The Sacrifices Made

logo I have been asked more times than I can count what it means to be on a livestock judging team. I could always formulate an answer, so at least they could act like they understood. However, it took exactly one calendar year to actually know what it means to be on a livestock judging team.

Being on a judging team is not for the weak. There are many sacrifices that are to be made in order to give it your all. Many will compare being on a livestock judging team to collegiate sports, and in some ways they are correct. However, where we differ from dribbling a ball, kicking a field goal, or hitting a homerun is we never stop. “There is no rest for the wicked” is a motto that the Western Illinois Judging team lives by, and that is where what we do becomes so hard to understand. There are many sacrifices that are made for the gifts that are to be gained.

SLEEP

Livestock judging team members are not the average college student. Not only are they incredibly competent livestock evaluators, but they are also outstanding students. In fact former team member Katie Lewis is actually graduating a semester early in December of 2015. She is a 3.6 GPA student and will graduate with honors with a Bachelor degree in Agriculture Science with a minor in Agronomy. This is far beyond being great at multitasking. Those eight hours of sleep that is recommended are hard to obtain if you are on the WIU livestock judging team. Not only do you get up before the sun to crawl in a dirty, pungent smelling van with ten other people, but most homework is completed either late at night in hotel rooms, or in the school van while on the road. I cannot tell you the amount of times we drove through the night to get to our next destination. I cannot tell you the amount of times we ran on fewer than three hours of sleep just to do what we love, but most importantly I cannot tell you the amount of time I laughed until I cried.

TIME AWAY FROM HOME

It comes to no surprise the members of this years judging team come from a very strong livestock and farming background from all over the nation. It is a very diverse team with many different species of interest such as: cattle, sheep, hogs, or even grain. Those that can relate know how hard it is to be away from home while babies are hitting the ground, or even when the crops are being taken out of the fields. After discussing some things with my teammates I came to the consensus that the hardest sacrifice made was time spent away from home. Hank LeVan, a stockman from Woodstock, Ohio says it best. “The hardest thing to give up to be on the team was the time spent away from home. However, that takes me to my next point, it was totally worth it. The memories made and the knowledge gained are both irreplaceable.” It is not very often we get to travel home and see our families. In fact Brenen Diesen, team member, stated in a Facebook status, “I can see my family for the first time since July.”

PERSONAL TIME

Some may think that this is not really a big thing to let go of, but until they drive 2,000 miles across the country in six days they do not realize how valuable personal space can become. For an entire year I crawled in the judging van, and spent countless hours with the same ten people. There is no doubt we have stories and memories that will forever remain trapped inside the doors of the van, but it also comes to no surprise that by the end of those trips we needed our space. One of Hank LeVan’s fondest memories was the very first van ride with the team, “Awkward and segregated on the way to our very first workout. But by the time we made it back to Macomb everyone was engaged in conversation and probably knew too much about each other.” For the girls, you can forget about your personal mirror time. Instead you are forced to share with at least two other girls, and that can become difficult with only one mirror.

Although there are sacrifices to be made, the list of positives far exceed the negatives. As my collegiate judging career came to an end on November 16, 2015, at the North American International Livestock Exposition, I reflected on my experience the past five years being a competitor, and I could not hold back my emotions. I can not wrap up into one blog post about what an incredible journey it was been. It was nothing short of extraordinary. I struggle to put words together on just how amazing it has been, so I will leave it to a few of my teammates. Hank- “Being on the team gave me an opportunity to work with great people who are similar to myself. Driven, passionate, and relentless to be nothing but the best. My time in the van will always have a special place in my heart.” Brenen- “At the end of the day, the banners will fade and the buckles will tarnish, but the relationships we have built will last a lifetime.”

This post was not easy for me to put together, but now that I have gathered my composure I would like to add a final few thoughts. At times I may have wanted to strangle a few of you, but there is not a single dollar amount that I would trade any of you or memories for. I cannot even begin to thank not only my teammates for being the coolest, most competent stock people, but I could not have grown into the person I am today without all seven of my coaches the past five years.board In the moment we complained about things like the weather, lack of sleep, and loss of free time. However, now that the day has come we stepped out of the pungent smelling van with poor climate control for the final time our lives as we “knew” it has come to a close. The only things we have left to complain about is how bored we are, and how much we miss life on the road with our makeshift family. If I had the opportunity to go back and do it all over again there would be no hesitation. I will cherish each and every one of you, and our memories shared together forever and always.

me

My name is Jennifer Livermore. I am a senior at Western Illinois University majoring in Agriculture Science with a minor in Animal Science. I am from Media, Illinois, and grew up on our diverse family farm with 1,500 acres of crop ground, 150 head breeding sheep operation, and 30 head show pig operation. I have a very strong passion for the livestock industry and hope to one day judge major livestock expositions. Being a part of a livestock judging team has been my life my entire college career. My journey started at Lincoln Land Community College where I not only competed for LLCC, but was also a member of the Illinois State 4-H team. I later transferred to WIU to further pursue my dreams. It has been an amazing few years, and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead of me in the future.

That’s A Wrap on Harvest 2015

The 2015 growing season was a strange one to say the least here in central Illinois. I have talked to many farmers who have said they have never seen so many extremes in a single growing season. It started with a nearly perfect spring to plant and get the crop off to a desirable start. During planting, the soils were warm and not saturated with water, but held adequate moisture. There were multiple days in a row without a significant rainfall allowing farmers to get all planting done with optimal conditions, and within the window of time that allows for maximum yields at harvest. It is easy to say that in our area of the state, we had a perfect planting season. Even in the next 4-6 weeks after planting was complete, we had timely rains, but not beating rains, or multiple inch rainfalls that could compromise yields at harvest. It was always just the perfect amount of rain.

As we all know, when June came the weather took a major change for the worse. We continually got pounded with multiple inch rainfall after multiple inch rainfall. It seemed as if the rain would never stop coming down.  Flat ground had many drown out areas, and visual signs of crops suffering could be seen everywhere. However, once the rain shut off late in the summer, it stayed off. Many farmers feared this would happen and due to the unbelievable amounts of rain early on, the crops lacked sufficient roots to pull out water deep in the soil profile. Consequently, the crops began dying prematurely and stalk quality in corn degraded very quickly.

As farmers in central Illinois began harvest, they quickly realized the moisture of the corn was much drier than they could have ever imagined for early September. Not only was the grain dryer than expected, the stalks of the corn were so dead and spindly that even the slightest wind storm could make any farmers nightmare come true. As October hit much of the corn was in the mid to lower teens in terms of moisture content. This was great for farmers because it really cut down on their drying bills, and also cut down on their trucking bills because they were hauling much less water to town. It was definitely a rough year for elevators as they did not make very much money drying, and gas companies didn’t sell much gas. Soybean moisture content became very low very quickly also. I heard of moisture all the way down to nine percent. We just never did get a rain to bring the moisture back up to the optimal range. Throughout the entire harvest season, conditions were very dry. There were many field fires, and the dust was terrible. I think there were about 45 days that farmers in my area could harvest, with no restrictions due to the absence of rain. It was definitely an easy going, no hold up kind of a harvest season, which ended for most farmers around the third week of October. This has given farmers  a lot of time to do other field work, and the weather has remained optimal for that. Now that the combines are in the shed until next year, as we look back at this past growing season full of challenges and odd weather it seems yields were much better than predicted. For many farmers it wasn’t their best crop ever by any means, but it was not as bad as originally thought.

A little bit about myself- My name is Brett Walker, and I am a senior at WIU. My major is agricultural science, with a minor in Agronomy. I grew up on my family’s farm which is located about 25 miles northeast of Peoria. We raise corn and soybeans, and we also have about 120 cows in our cow/calf operation along with a 200 head cattle finishing confinement. A hobby of mine is pulling four wheel drive trucks at county fair truck/tractor pulls.

The existance of Modern Ag vs Wildlife Conservation, with a Social Science Twist.

Throughout my collegiate career, and my short time of farming on my own, I have come to the realization that where people are from (example: farming communities vs. urban living) plays a role in how they think farming works, if they have a clue at all to start with. Although, I also developed my own theory that what people do as an occupation, or what they want to do, or even what they like (specifically, moreover, a hobby that is partly a lifestyle to them) can effect how they view agriculture differently. For this blog post, I went and interviewed two of my friends who happen to be directly involved in wild life conservation. They both grew up hunting and fishing and have developed a strong love for the outdoors; they are both biology majors at school and they both want to work in conservation after the graduate. I didn’t ask a lot of questions, but I left a lot of room for thought.

Now, apart from being an Ag major in school, I am also a Communications minor; I have a little bit of a thing for social psychology and because of this I find these interviews to be particularly interesting. So I’m going to put a little psychological twist into this post. When reading through their answers, it seemed as if they possess the same self-biases which, in turn, makes their logic nearly similar. But before you read the questions, perhaps I should define “self-biases” and “logic” for better understanding. The best way to understand them may by to think of them like this: while growing up, they’ve comprehended knowledge that they believe is credible, and witnessed events which in turn has shaped their identity, whether that info was credible or even accurate is irrelevant because that knowledge and those events build internal and external attributions within their character (self-biases). This, in turn, has a direct effect on their way of thinking. Such as what information they choose to draw conclusions upon and even how they go about communicating their thoughts and ideas (logic). Now, when you read these interviews try to keep that in the back of your mind and I think you may be able to grasp the concept.

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Interview with Student #1:

Hometown: Rochester, Illinois
Education: Biology major with emphasis in Zoology, minor in LEJA
Occupation: Full-time student

For starters, how would you rate your knowledge of wildlife conservation?

I have a pretty decent background into the conservation of wildlife. I would say I am about midrange for my knowledge level as I have a good amount of experience with hunting and fishing, which is the management of wildlife. Also being a bio major, I have learned various other conservation methods.

How would you rate your knowledge of production agriculture as practiced today?

I am not too well with it, but I do work for a farmer back home for the last couple years and I have learned a decent amount from that experience.

Do you believe that modern agricultural practices have an impact on wildlife conservation? Why?

Yes it does and for the most part has destroyed a lot of natural land. Also several habitats have been destroyed due to the land being cleared and turned into agriculture, for example the greater prairie chickens who have been endangered and pushed very closely to extinct in Illinois. I do also understand the benefit of agriculture and the benefits of having crops.

What is directly the largest negative impact(s) that agriculture has on conservation? Why?

The loss of natural habitats, destruction of native prairies, the intoxication of soils and water sources. The chemicals and the cultivation of the land has had the biggest impacts on the conservation and preservation of the land and wildlife.

What about indirect negative effects agriculture may have on conservation? And why?

Politics and money have a huge indirect effect on conservation for the fact that more money goes toward agriculture instead of the conservation of the true natural resources. Corn and soybeans are an invasive species that without help could never make it on their own, but sometimes just a little help with natural species of plants and trees can go a long way in conserving the natural species.

Are there any positive effects (either directly or indirectly) that agriculture may have on wildlife conservation? If so, Why?

Agriculture can provide invasive habitats and a food source for species that is more available and readily.

Have you ever witnessed any of these impacts in real life?

Yes I have seen how deer can destroy crops while they eat the seeds and I have also came across coyote dens that are in fields since the land is usually easier to burrow into the ground.

If you believe that agricultural practices are harmful to wildlife conservation, how would you go about limiting or eliminating their impact?

The use of chemicals to make practices easier would be a good starting point in helping increase better wildlife conservation. Farmers can create more work for people by walking fields and cutting weeds instead of applying herbicides that can kill native weed species in ditches and field lines.

Is there any practice (or practices) of modern agriculture today in the US that you know of that is minimally impactful to wildlife conservation? If so, why?

The smaller farms have a lot less impact on wildlife in the fact that they tend to leave woodlands and the bigger facilities often clear all the land to gain more bushels of crop.

Do you know of any agricultural practices in modern agriculture today that are beneficial to wildlife conservation?

The farmers that turn land into CRP offer habitat for a huge variety of wildlife.

Interview with Student #2:

Hometown: Burlington, Iowa
Education: Associates of Science and 1 Semester to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a minor in Environmental Science.
Occupation: Student and Fisheries Research Biologist.

For starters, how would you rate your knowledge of wildlife conservation?

I am very knowledgeable about wildlife conservation. I am a member of several conservation organizations, including The Wildlife Society and the American Fisheries Society. Through these organizations I am able to discuss conservation practices with others in the field along with read published articles about on going and finished conservation research. I have also worked in a conservation department where I implemented conservation practices.

How would you rate your knowledge of production agriculture as practiced today?

I would say I my knowledge of production agriculture is sufficient. I grew up on a farm in Iowa. I also have many family members who have large scale farming operations.

Do you believe that modern agricultural practices have an impact on wildlife conservation? Why?

Yes very much so. Agriculture can be very detrimental to conservation in several ways. One of the largest impacts agriculture has had on conservation is loss of habitat.

What is directly the largest negative impact(s) that agriculture has on conservation? Why?

Loss of habitat is the biggest reason. First just in Illinois there was 22 million acres of prairie before settlement. Today 99.9% has been turned into agriculture or urban areas. (http://wwn.inhs.illinois.edu/~kenr/prairiesettlement.html ) Because of this extreme loss of habitat the ability to sustain wildlife is severely impacted. With much of agriculture being corn and soybeans in the Midwest, there is little for habitat once the crops have been harvested. This leaves very small fragmented islands of habitat for wildlife. These islands create many problems within populations of animals. One of the largest problems is the lack of resources. Another major issue is genetic drift, which occurs when there are very few individuals of a species mating. This can lead to extinction of a species. A prime example of this in Illinois is the Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnates). Due to loss of prairie habitat the prairie chicken has become greatly reduced in numbers (only around 50 today). They lost genetic diversity when habitats were fragmented and now only live in two places in southern Illinois. With no habitat there is no hope for the prairie chicken to rebound and I believe in my lifetime it will become extinct.

What about indirect negative effects agriculture may have on conservation? And why?

I believe that agriculture indirectly effects conservation by receiving a large share of federal money. This money goes to subsidies and farms when it could go to conservation. However programs such as CRP,CREP, and WRP are farm programs that receive money, yet create wildlife habitat. I also believe agriculture receives much more attention than conservation which allows more people to care about farming than conservation.

Are there any positive effects (either directly or indirectly) that agriculture may have on wildlife conservation? If so, Why?

I believe agriculture does create habitat of a certain type and food for wildlife. Agriculture provides an edge habitat. This is beneficial to species such as whitetail deer, pheasants, and coyotes. It also provides a non-native food source for species like the deer and pheasants.

Have you ever witnessed any of these impacts in real life?

Yes, I have worked in a conservation department and also lived in the Midwest where I see these things everyday.

If you believe that agricultural practices are harmful to wildlife conservation, how would you go about limiting or eliminating their impact?

I believe that agriculture needs to have stricter regulations on uses of fertilizer and chemicals. I also believe that regulations should be put into place for fall tillage and cover cropping. I understand that agriculture is important to humanity; however wildlife is also important for us. There must be a way that both can coexist without harming being detrimental to eachother.

Is there any practice (or practices) of modern agriculture today in the US that you know of that is minimally impactful to wildlife conservation? If so, why?

Yes, no till planting, strip till, terraces, Iowa State Universities STRIPS program (https://www.nrem.iastate.edu/research/STRIPs/ ). These practices are new, which help stop some of the problems that agriculture has traditionally caused to wildlife.

Do you know of any agricultural practices in modern agriculture today that are beneficial to wildlife conservation?

Not really. I believe that the only thing agriculture provides to wildlife is an alternative source of food. There are not many direct benefits of agriculture to wildlife conservation.

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I think after reading this their answers and explanations are a lot more similar than different. I brought up the whole topic because I think as an agriculturalist it’s beneficial to think about what may go into someone’s thought process. Everyone has their own self-biases, even myself. But thinking critically enables us to look past our own biases, and gauge who ever we’re talking to to try and determine where their biases lie. Once you know that you can more effectively communicate your message to them.

Why is this important? It’s no myth, for those in the ag industry, that the common public is near clueless about food production and the aspects within it. There is an information war being waged against the ag industry and if we as agriculturalists don’t reach out to the public and try to counter flawed logic spewed by “anti-ag” groups agriculture could change for the worse. I believe it is very important that before engaging someone in a conversation about ag to be somewhat knowledgeable about the social sciences because if you’re familiar with different techniques on how to critique your message to your audience, that in turn will your arguments more effective and may even cause more persuasion to take place.

Now, I know a number of people who may just disregard this advice, they have the kind of attitude that’s all like “I call it like I see it and if people don’t like that then oh well who cares” and may I just say that kind of mentality is not only going to fail in convincing people away from the flawed logic of things like anti-gmo advocates and PETA schemes but it’s also going to give people a false perspective of what the people are like who live and work in agriculture. If they think we’re stuck up and rude they will be less likely to accept any information from anyone else in ag. We need to be able to display our industry in the most positive light and doing that first starts with how we act towards others, and it ends with being able to effectively persuade them to think past any kind of self-bias or expose any false logic within claims they may hold true. The best way to do that is to have some sort of social science understanding.

Now, about the interviews themselves. I believe a lot of their explanations were sound. One misconception that I believe they may hold it being more true than it actually is is use of chemicals. Chemicals can cause problems, depending on what the chemical is it can be anything from the killing of macro and micro organisms within the soil to spilling chemicals to polluting local ecosystems by run-off. The biggest misconception I hear about is specifically spraying of herbicide, and pesticide. Spraying today, is a lot different than spraying back in the 1950s. Today, spraying chemicals is just one tool of many within the care for crops most refer to as IPM (Integrated Pest Management). Spraying is a chemical method, many are nto aware that there are also cultural methods (Example: resistant crops) and mechanical methods (example: tillage) to controlling weeds and insects within fields. Plus, most people are under the general assumption that when farmers do spray crops they just poor on the chemicals, when in reality the chemicals are so effected they are applied in quantity as small as “ounces to the acre.” When these chemicals are applied, it doesn’t take long for them to complete what ever process it is necessary to kill the bug or weed. Any residue that is left on the plants are broken down by ultraviolet rays to ineffective forms, and if any get into the soil they are broken down by the micro-biology within the soil. By the time the herbicide would even reach ground water, or get washed off into a ditch, the chances are highly likely that the chemical is no longer in a form where it could be harmful. I approached both of my friends and explained this to them, they were very understanding and even asked a few extra questions that went into the specifics of how herbicides killed weeds so rest assured they are more aware of that particular process now than they were when they filled out this interview.

There is one last thing I would like to touch on. In my experience of what I’ve seen from large farms and smaller farms, I agree with the statement made that smaller farms have less impact on the environment than the larger farms do, and I seem to be one of the few within my school and even within ag in general that shares this view. It’s simple logic; smaller farms, especially those smaller farms that own all their land and rent little to none, have a larger margin of profit than the larger farms do because they can make more money per acre. Not only that, but there is a biological window that farmers have to plant and harvest, even sometimes spray depending on the weather that growing season. Farmers with less land are not only more able to get their work done in this biological window, but they’re able to take better care of their land. It’s easier for a farmer with 800 acres to tend to their land than a farmer with 8000 acres. Growing up on a farm, working for a number of farmers through out my life, and even being an actual farmer myself: I know of 2 larger scale farmers that are currently clearing forest to make more farmable ground, I don’t know of any smaller farmers that are doing that. I know of a larger farmer that has got in some hot water with the state and wound up in a lawsuit, I don’t know of any smaller farmers that have. I’m not trying to form the impression that every large farmer is a “bad” farmer by any means, I’m well aware that even small farmers can be less than adequate; but what I’ve witnessed through out my lifetime is congruent with that statement “smaller farms have less impact on the environment.” And when you think about the trend that our industry has, smaller farms disappearing and larger farms getting bigger, what impact do you think that has on conservation? Food for thought I suppose.

Alpha Tau Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho Golf Outing Philanthropy

Photo taken by current President of Alpha Gamma Rho Alpha Tau chapter Christian Thurwanger of a few golfers at the event.

Alpha Tau chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho at WIU has had a golf outing philanthropy in the spring for the past seven years. With spring 2015 being our 7th annual we decided to donate the money we raised to Reagan Shippert’s educational fund. Reagan Shippert is the daughter of one of the Alpha Tau chapters Alumni. We were fortunate enough to raise four thousand dollars for this special cause. There were close to fifty sponsors who helped sponsor this event. Sponsors receive flags with their name on it after the outing is complete. During the event the flags get placed at every hole and at the club house. This is one way we make sure each sponsor gets recognized at the golf outing.

Christian Thurwanger and Jesse Williams active brothers of Alpha Gamma Rho grilling ribeyes for lunch for the golfers.

We cook a great lunch including rib-eye steaks for the golf players. With more than 16 teams in in the golf outing and around 60 golfers we had a great turnout even in the rain this year.The winning team at the event earn their entry team donation of $40 back. We also hand out other prizes such as hats and golf balls with our raffle we hold at the event. This event is held at the Gold Hills Golf Club located at 10980 East 900th Street Colchester, IL.

So spring 2016 I encourage you to attend or sponsor the upcoming golf outing for Alpha Gamma Rho.  The date is to be announced early on in the year of 2016. For more information contact our vice noble ruler of activities Trent Zwicker at tj-zwicker@wiu.edu. Hope you can join us at this years golf outing.  Also here is Alpha Gamma Rho’s website were there is additional information posted http://www.wiuagr.com.

Thanks for reading my post! My name is Jeff Beeler I am from Raymond, IL.  I grew up on a corn, soybean, and wheat farm along with 6,500 head of swine. I am a senior at Western Illinois University. I am majoring in Ag Science with a minor in Ag Tech Management and Forestry. I am a member of the agricultural Fraternity Alpha Gamma Rho, Ag Mechanization club, and Forestry club.

Day in the Life of a Farm Bureau Manager

Kristin Huls          Farm Bureau Website

Kristin Huls has been employed as the Hancock County Farm Bureau manager since April 2014.  Prior to that she worked for University of Illinois Extension for over 16 years. She grew up on a farm near Carthage, IL. She was actively involved in 4-H, showing sheep and horses for over 10 years, and an FFA member throughout high school. She received her B.S. in Agriculture Business and minor in Management in 2002 from Western Illinois University and her M.S. in Education from WIU in 2009. She lives just south of Carthage, where she has a dairy farm,  with her husband and two daughters, McKenna (7) and Maci (1).  Her  hobbies include watching her daughter show dairy cows and horses, cooking, and making crafts. I was able to conduct an interview with Kristin to see what the life of a farm bureau manager looks like.


1.What are some of your responsibilities as a Farm Bureau Manager?

  • Managing the daily operations and administration of our county Farm Bureau office
  • Supervising clerical staff
  • Reporting to a board of 24 directors
  • Preparing annual and monthly budgets and financial statements
  • Working with volunteers and Illinois Farm Bureau staff to plan and conduct programs in the areas of farm safety, legislative/local affairs, marketing, etc.
  • Assisting with Ag in the Classroom programs as needed
  • Promoting and marketing the county Farm Bureau organization and programs (writing press releases, newspaper ads, conducting radio interviews, etc.)

2. What is the most enjoyable aspect of being a Farm Bureau Manager?

  • I love working with young people who are engaged and excited about agriculture!  FFA students, 4-H’ers, Collegiate Farm Bureau members, Young Leaders, etc.  It is great to see young people so involved with agriculture!

3.What is the most challenging aspect of being a Farm Bureau Manager?

  • As you know, COUNTRY Financial clients are required to have a Farm Bureau membership.  Sometimes these members may not understand or appreciate the value of their membership because they might not be actively engaged in the agriculture industry.  It is sometimes challenging to help those members understand what Farm Bureau does and why it is important.

4. Why is it important for those in the agriculture industry to be a member of Farm Bureau?

  • Since I started working with Farm Bureau last year, I truly have a new appreciation for the organization!  Farm Bureau is working around the clock to fight for legislation that will benefit farmers with their daily operations, as well as fight against legislation that will make farming more challenging.  One example of this is WOTUS, or Waters of the US.  The organization is working every day to ensure that our food remains safe and affordable, and educating consumers on where their food comes from.

5. If someone is interested in becoming a Farm Bureau Manager in the future, what advice to do have for them?

  • I would encourage them to contact their local Farm Bureau manager to schedule a time to “shadow” them or a time to spend time volunteering with their programming efforts.  Your local Farm Bureau manager can also give you information about the Farm Bureau manager trainee program.  The Farm Bureau organization provides great incentives and truly values its managers and other staff.  I would say “Go for it!”

If any student is interested  in  more information about the Illinois Farm Bureau they can visit: http://www.ilfb.org/

For additional information to apply to the Illinois Farm Bureau Manager Trainee Program, please visit: http://www.ilfb.org/5136.asp

Hello, my name is Stephani Mulch and I am from Sutter, IL. I am currently a senior 10513464_10152490480276284_1340849780658102117_nat Western Illinois University studying Agricultural Business. I grew up on a grain (corn and soybean) and commercial swine farm. My family has been members of the Illinois Farm Bureau for over thirty years now.  I had the privilege to work for Kristin at the Hancock County Farm Bureau this past summer.