Originally posted on CountrySpirit by Karen Blatter

Erin EhnleGoing viral on the Internet was never in Erin Ehnle’s plans for Keeping it Real: Through the Lens of a Farm Girl project.

But, a year later, she has more than 17,120 “likes” and followers to her Facebook page.  Even though other businesses, places and movements can gain millions of fans, 17,120 is more than the farm girl, with a high school graduating class of less than 50, could imagine.

“I thought I would have 100 or so people following me – just like friends and family,” she said.  “But I never thought I would be over a 1,000 or even at 10,000.”

As a social media intern with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board in the spring 2012 semester, Ehnle created the page as part of her project.  She did weekly and daily posts using her own pictures and statistics and facts about agriculture.


Raised on a corn and soybean farm, Ehnle said her passion and heart are 100 percent in agriculture and farming.  Creating a page that showed her passion was easy.

“I just wanted to talk about agriculture and clear up some of the misconceptions that people have,” she said.  “I’m not an expert, but it’s what is most important to me.”

She started tinkering with photography in high school and bought her first camera with the money she earned while working ground on her family farm.

The hobby turned into a business as people started to see her pictures and asked her to take family pictures and others.  When she started the internship, linking her two passions into a social media concept was easy.

She said people from across the country have liked her page, which has gotten much more exposure than she ever imagined.  She said some of her posts lead to conversations about agriculture, and fans have also helped to speak the truth about agriculture.

“I wanted to give people something to think about,” she said.  “The page did that, and led to a conversation between producers and consumers.”

Even though the internship is over, Ehnle said she keeps up with weekly posts to give her fans something to “like,” while juggling school full time.  She takes the time to go home most weekends and participate in the activities of her parents’ farm, but she misses the ability to take agriculture pictures every day.

The connections she’s made through the page have given her opportunities and allowed her to get to know other people, and career paths, in agriculture.

“I don’t know what I’ll be doing, or where I will be doing it, but I know I will be an agriculture advocate,” she said.  “All of us have something ot say about agriculture.”


Originally posted on Corn Commentary

indiana-cornHoosiers are mourning the loss of Indiana Corn Marketing Council President Gary Lamie who died unexpectedly on Friday at age 52.

For the past 10 years, Lamie has served in leadership roles for various organizations including president of the Indiana Corn Growers Association and vice chair for research and business development with the National Corn Growers Association. He traveled extensively with these groups, planning strategy and conferring with elected officials in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. He was instrumental in helping establish Indiana’s corn check-off program. Gary was also a strong champion for the Purdue Student New Uses Corn Contest that encourages college students to find innovative new uses for corn, and his farm was a frequent stop for students and international trade teams. In 2008 he was selected to represent Indiana in the Syngenta “Leadership At It’s Best” program.

“He was an exceptional farmer, leader and friend to many, and we will miss him dearly,” said Jane Ade Stevens, Executive Director of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council. “Our sincere condolences are with his wife Kathleen and the entire Lamie family.”


Each person may have a different definition of the word “pet”.  The Webster dictionary defines the term as “a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility”. Many people have the discussion on a horse being considered as a pet, or companion animal, or livestock specie like cattle, pigs, and sheep are thought of.  To me, a pet can be considered as any animal that you may have a personal bond or connection with, and not just the typical cats and dogs.

Growing up with a farm background, I was introduced to a whole different environment. I showed animals at various fairs, and raised them as well. The very first animal I ever owned, I had that special connection with it. The more years I put in to working with the animals, the closer the connection got. I remember the first time we had sows farrowing, or cows calving (process of giving birth to their young), I was so excited about it and would spend hours out in the barn to see the little ones! The first calf that my cow had, I had a halter on her in less than a week to walk her around and have her used to being around me. I have always told people that my animals are like my babies, always tame and always partial to only wanting to be around me.

cattle, show, fair, illinois farm girlThe picture to the right is me with one of my heifers at our last show of the summer. She and I definitely had our ups and downs in getting halter broke (being able to lead on a halter) and getting ready for the show season. I would walk her every day around the pasture to get her used to walking on a halter and walking with me, and she would be washed every day as well to keep her cool and clean.  As you could probably see though, we ended up getting along pretty well in the end.

I have heard many other people tell similar stories like my own with their personal connections with their animals. Many producers treat their animals with respect and can be seen as their pets too. I’m sure many of you watched the super bowl this year, along with all the new commercials as well. The Budweiser commercial with the Clydesdales, titled “Brotherhood” was one of my personal favorites, and really showed how producers truly can view their animals as pets. The horse and the owner have a connection since it was a little colt (a young male horse) and kept that connection as the horse grew and got older, to even after he left on the Budweiser trailer, the horse still recognized him when he saw him.

Naomi CooperNaomi Cooper
University of Illinois


They say February is the season for love … and we’re celebrating by giving you a glimpse of five Illinois farm couples throughout the week!  These couples practice their love for each other and the land every day on their farms.  Get to know them and the work they love to do!

farm wedding, valentine's day, illinois farm familiesJim and Nancy Rapp were “re-rapped” (reunited in marriage) on Sept 16th 2012.  Their story actually began over 35 years ago when they met at a small restaurant where Nancy was working while she was going to  school to earn a nursing degree and Jim was a young, eager farmer.  They fell in love and were married on June 3, 1978.

They were very busy for the next several years raising 3 children, a daughter, Amy and two sons, Nick and Ben.  Sadly, the marriage ended after 18 years.  Jim and Nancy always maintained a good relationship by being together with the children for all significant events and holidays.

In 2012 the communication between Jim and Nancy became more frequent with Jim making more phone calls “just to talk.” During one of those phone calls, Jim suddenly invited Nancy to join him in Portland, OR in July for a little vacation while he was attending an ag meeting.  She accepted the invitation.  While in Portland, Jim and Nancy enjoyed the time they shared while dining, shopping, and sight-seeing together.  After several days, Nancy confronted Jim by asking him “what is going on?”  They were having a wonderful time together.  He had been very thoughtful, kind and generous. Jim responded by saying that he just wanted to be with her. Of course, that just brought Nancy to tears and they hugged each other. That was when their relationship changed and they reconnected by daily phone calls after their trip.

In September, Nancy returned to Illinois to enjoy the Homestead Festival in Princeton with family and friends. On the first evening in town, Jim and Nancy got together, when Jim popped the big question – “Would you marry me again?” – and Nancy replied, “Of course I will.”   They both decided to keep their relationship a secret until they could tell the whole family when they were all together during the Festival weekend. They were really going to shock them by telling them that they were planning on tying the knot again.

Illinois farm family

To surprise the family, Nancy planned to get the children and grandchildren together for family pictures. When Jim walked in for the family pictures, Nancy announced that she wanted Jim to be in the picture – because he was in the picture again.  Everyone had a confused look on their face until Jim walked over to Nancy and presented her with a beautiful engagement ring. The room exploded with happy tears, shouts of joy and many hugs.

The wedding was planned for one week later at the family home with a very happy family present. Two months later Jim and Nancy celebrated their happy reunion with their family and friends for a “Re-Rapped Celebration.  The celebration was a time for Jim and Nancy to show their appreciation to all their family and friends for their love, caring, and support of their reunion.

Nick and Ben have joined their father in the farming operation and now their family is a true “farm family.”

The Lord truly works in mysterious ways and in His own time.

This wonderful story of love submitted by Nancy Rapp.  THANK YOU NANCY!


illinois farm couple, valentines love

Bart and Glenna were high school sweethearts.  They dated for six years and were married while Glenna was in college. During those six years, they had a lonnnnng time to think about what month they might get married.

Both coming from farm families, they knew to avoid planning a wedding around spring planting, summer spraying/mowing/baling or fall harvest; so, they planned a winter wedding.  Bart suggested February and the Saturday in February that worked happened to be the twelfth.  Glenna says she assumed that putting their anniversary so close to Valentine’s Day would be an easy way for Bart to remember their special day and agreed to the date.

A Valentine wedding would be romantic right?  And, it was.  Glenna imagined the romantic anniversaries that they would celebrate over their lives….Paris, Rome, Venice….

Fast forward 19 years:  February 12th-17th, 2013, Bart and Glenna will be on their yearly anniversary trip….to the National Farm Machinery Show and Championship Tractor Pulls in Louisville, KY.  And, as per every year, Glenna will tear up as Lee Greenwood sings “God Bless the USA” to a video montage of farm life, not because she is sad to be celebrating her anniversary at the NFMS and tractor pulls but because she feels so blessed to be celebrating her anniversary and way of life with her husband and best friend.

Glenna said, “I wouldn’t trade our anniversary week tradition for anything.  It’s so perfect; it’s like it was planned.  Hmmm……”


They say February is the season for love … and we’re celebrating by giving you a glimpse of five Illinois farm couples throughout the week!  These couples practice their love for each other and the land every day on their farms.  Get to know them and the work they love to do!

illinois farmers, love, valentines day, farm families

Justin and Rachel Durdan were married on March 19, 2010.  They have two kids, Ella and Ian, and enjoy travelling together.  In fact, they have just enjoyed a recent visit to Mexico!

The couple live in LaSalle County, IL where Justin has farmed since he was a little boy and finally joined the partnership in 2004.



They say February is the season for love … and we’re celebrating by giving you a glimpse of five Illinois farm couples throughout the week!  These couples practice their love for each other and the land every day on their farms.  Get to know them and the work they love to do!

Bill & Jill Bell

Bill & Jill (Hood) Bell married 2-4-67 during an ice storm. Jill is a farmer’s daughter and was very lucky to marry a farmer.  They met in High School and have been farming ever since.

Congratulations on 46 years together!


They say February is the season for love … and we’re celebrating by giving you a glimpse of five Illinois farm couples throughout the week!  These couples practice their love for each other and the land every day on their farms.  Get to know them and the work they love to do!

Illinois farm family in a wheat field

Sandy and Bill met over the salad bar at their little local restaraunt many years ago. It was Mother’s Day, so they were both celebrating with their families who knew each other and were friends. Actually Bill and Sandy went to school together as kids, but had never met. Sandy was dis-interested, as she thought Bill’s younger sister was his girlfriend! Later, Bill had a hog roast out at one of the farms for all his college friends, and that was their first date. The rest is history!

Bill and Sandy will be married 31 years in July.

“Wow, does time go by fast, when your having fun!!!!!” Bill said.


Illinois farm couples, farmers, loveKent and Sara Kleinschmidt were high school sweethearts.  They started dating in the spring of 1970 and got married on July 13, 1974.  They have two grown sons, two lovely daughters in law, and four grandchildren.  Both sons continue a career in agriculture, with one still living on the farm and helping Kent out as the need arises.

Kent and Sara enjoy their family and family activities, traveling together, and the life they have built on the farm.

Illinois farm family