Chamber Ag Breakfast draws crowd on a wet, chilly day

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[March 28, 2014]  Thursday morning before the sky was even light, folks started gathering at the Lincoln Christian University Laughlin Center for the 15th annual Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce Ag Scholarship Breakfast.

The breakfast each spring recognizes area young people for their interest in continuing their education in agriculture. Recipients are awarded cash scholarships.

Though that is the business at hand, over the years the breakfast has become a great opportunity for the agriculture community to gather and spend time with like-minded individuals. It is also a good time to spend getting to know some of the local businesses that serve the agricultural community.

Vendors this year with tables set up around the outer walls of the room included Central Illinois Ag's precision planting program, Edward Jones investments, Farm Mutual/Frontier Mutual Insurance, Graue Chevrolet, Lincoln Christian University, Lincoln Daily News, Lincoln Logan/May Enterprises and The Courier. WLCN radio of Atlanta was also on hand with a live broadcast of the event.

The morning began with Logan County State's Attorney Jonathan Wright delivering the invocation and guests being invited to serve themselves from a buffet breakfast prepared by Guzzardo's.

Chamber director Andi Hake spoke briefly at the opening, thanking everyone for coming and expressing appreciation for LCU allowing the chamber the use of the Laughlin Center free of charge. She acknowledged Guzzardo's and said they donate the service portion of the meal, charging the chamber only for the actual food.

Hake also called everyone's attention to Hartsburg-Emden ag teacher and FFA leader Betsy Pech. At the end of the school year, Pech is retiring from her post at Hartem after 35 years. Hake talked about the fact that in 15 years, Pech has never missed an ag breakfast. She often arrives with a contingency of her FFA students. Just for the record, Pech plans to continue to attend the breakfast and other events related to ag support.

Hake also noted that many young men and women have been influenced by Pech and that she is very well thought of in the community.

Hake asked the members of the ag scholarship committee to stand and be recognized.

Hake said that when the scholarship program began in 1998, the committee had only $2,000 total to give to recipients. This year, the committee had $18,000 to work with. She said they had decided that beginning this year, they would make no more than eight awards annually, which would allow them to boost the dollar figure upward from the traditional $1,000 each of the past few years.

Hake spoke about the selection process for scholarship recipients. She said that this year the scholarship committee had decided to do face-to-face interviews with the applicants. The results, she said, made the selection of eight recipients all the more difficult.

John Klemm, who chaired the ag scholarship committee, introduced this year's recipients: Chase Aylesworth, Cole Baker, Clayton Irwin, Todd Irwin, Cameron Jodlowski, Evan Jodlowski, Josiah Klokenga and Troy Rawlings. Information about the recipients can be found in an accompanying article in today's issue of LDN as well as in the online version of the LDN 2014 Spring Farm Outlook magazine.

As each recipient was called forward, he took the stage and spoke briefly about who he was, what his college major is or will be, and also expressed appreciation to the chamber of commerce for the scholarship.

When the recipients were all announced, John Hartman of Farm Credit Services and also a member of the scholarship committee was called forward to award the door prizes for the day while the recipients posed for pictures with Hake and Klemm.

The guest speaker for the day was Abrigail Temple, a 2003 recipient of the ag scholarship and the daughter of Dave and Gail Sasse of Beason. She is now married with two children. She and her husband, Doug, live at Fulton and operate a hog nursery, raising hogs from 12 pounds to 60 pounds before sending them off to a finishing operation. She is also a research scientist for livestock nutrition products.

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Temple divided her speech into sections, talking first about growing up on a Logan County farm. She recalled that her best memories were of riding in the combine with her mom at harvest. She said she learned from her parents how to be a responsible person by taking care of animals on the farm. She was also a member of the local 4-H chapter, where she participated in animal husbandry projects as well as cooking and sewing.

Temple attended the University of Illinois and received her degree in animal science. As a student she lived in the 4-H House Cooperative Sorority. She said she enjoyed being a part of that sisterhood and that it was a home where everyone chipped in and did their share of the work.

She was also a member of the collegiate livestock judging team and was on the team the year they won the international championship for team judging.

In her career off the farm, Temple now works in research at Agri-King, a company founded in 1968 in Fulton. The role of the company is to produce quality microbial and enzyme livestock additives. Temple said the company was the first to develop feed ration testing and develop balanced feeding programs for livestock.

She named off the many products the company manufactures, including Tri-Lution, Zym-O-Factors, Reap, Maximizer, Ru-Mend and Silo-King.

She noted the Tri-Lution product is one that has been developed for livestock and is now also useful in human consumption, and she said the company is currently working with Mayo Clinic on the uses of the nutritional additive.

Temple shared that in the company's research they have established three artificial rumens, which simulate the stomach of cattle. The company has kept the rumens "alive" for 21 years now, which she said is extraordinary. She explained how the rumens function and how the company has been able to sustain the models for so long.

Another piece of research Temple is involved in is growing cells on membrane. She said the study is being used to study how drugs are transported through an animal's system.

Temple ended by talking about Gail's Pumpkin Patch in Beason, which is owned by her parents. She shared one trade secret with the group, saying that when her father plants their 5 acres with 60 varieties of pumpkins, one of the biggest perils is that field mice will eat the seeds. To help minimize this, she said her dad feeds the mice by spreading shelled and cracked corn all around the field. She said it has been pretty successful thus far. She also noted that the seeds are row-cropped; which is not the standard practice, but that in the years since they started the farm, they have never had a failed crop.

At the end of the day, Hake came back to the stage and said she hated to end the event on a sad note, but she had just learned that Bill Martin, a Logan County Board member and former mayor of Atlanta, had died Wednesday.

In remembering Martin, Hake said he had been a valuable member of the community of Atlanta, was highly regarded on the Logan County Board and had been an integral part of the Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership's work on the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.

Martin was a much-loved person in Logan County, and he will be sorely missed. (Funeral information)

With the program coming to a close, many of the guests took time before leaving the building to acknowledge the scholarship recipients and congratulate them for their many accomplishments thus far.


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