GROWING YOUR ROOTS • Meet Young Leader Chair Rachel Tester

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The weather has changed since the last time we had a chance to visit. August left Montgomery County dry and wishing for more of the rains we saw in July. As we enter mid-September, harvest will soon be ramping up around the county and will determine if the estimates gathered in the yield survey last month were accurate. 

It seems for most people I talk to, harvest is a special time of year. A seasonal favorite for many. Cooler days, changing leaves and farm equipment working in the fields and driving down rural roads. 

For farmers, it’s busy season! If you are driving and approach a slow-moving vehicle or semi pulling out of a field, please have patience and use caution when passing. You can identify a slow-moving vehicle by the bright orange and red triangle displayed on the rear of vehicle or wagon that they are hauling.  As we like to say in Farm Bureau, slow down and share the road. 

For our September column I would like to introduce you to our Young Leader Committee Chairperson. Rachel Tester has been serving as the committee chair for the past two years. She grew up on a grain and cattle farm in Christian County and currently resides, with her husband Neil in Rountree Township of Montgomery County. Rachel serves as a Farm Loan Officer for the USDA. 

“I moved to Montgomery County and decided that I wanted to get more involved with the Farm Bureau. I checked in to see what I could get involved with and the Young Leaders Program sparked my interest,” Rachel said. 

The mission of the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader program is to develop tomorrow’s agriculture leaders today, educate consumers and legislatures, while giving back to local communities. At the local level, Montgomery County is doing just that. Rachel highlighted a few of the events the group has participated in recently.

“We meet monthly and discuss different events that we can put on in the county to promote agriculture and Farm Bureau and get the younger generation involved. Some of the events we look forward to each year are our Fill a Ford Food Drive, handing out popcorn in parades, and the State Young Leader Conference in Peoria.” 

This year the group’s activities have looked a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Food drives were cancelled and meetings have been hosted less often, but the group has still been able to provide community support. One project they worked on this spring was a picture collage in support of mental health awareness.  The collage was shared on social media and the photo of Rachel featured with today’s column is just one of several that helped complete the message.  The group also voted to make monetary donations to Montgomery County food pantries in lieu of the food drives.

Farm Bureau is always searching for new members and volunteers and Rachel encourages young adults with an interest in agriculture to join the Young Leaders Committee. “Our group will not disappoint! Besides the community service and educational events, we also have social outings where you can develop friendships with other area young farmers.” 

To find out more about the Young Leaders Committee, search for their Facebook page or send an email to kwilson@montcofb.com. And, if you like country décor, take a look at Rachel’s Facebook page too: Down on the Farm Designs. Happy harvest! 

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