BLOOMINGTON – The McLean County Chamber of Commerce honored the best in 2019 McLean County agriculture at the 2020 McLean County Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Awards Dinner Thursday evening.
· The Outstanding Conservationist Award: Ben Peters Ben Peters grew up on a small farm in an agricultural community in Southern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a Bachelor of Science. He currently serves on the board of Advance Trading and has been instrumental in the opening of branches of the company across the Corn Belt. Ben contributes to the environment through various initiatives including spearheading a large native prairie restoration project, planting hundreds of trees, engaging in habitat work, and constructing a large wetland on his farm.
· The Outstanding Young Farmer Award: David Schuler David Schuler is a grain farmer located in Lexington. After graduating from Illinois State University in 2011, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Agriculture, he has farmed alongside his father and family at Schuler Farms. Together, they continue to develop their family operation. David also enjoys raising livestock and works with a small herd of show pigs. David and his wife, Lauren, welcomed a son, Vance, to their family in May 2018. David was elected to the McLean County Farm Bureau Board of Directors in January 2019. He was the 2017 District 7 Farm Bureau Young Leaders Discussion Meet winner and competed at the statewide contest. He also is also active in the Lexington FFA Alumni.
· The McLean County Farmer of the Year Award: David Meiss David Meiss is known for his active work in the community. He was elected to the Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) board of directors in 2009, served as vice president of the McLean County Farm Bureau Board from 2007 to 2010, and is the board’s liaison to the Illinois Pork Producers Association. He also serves on the McLean County Governmental Affairs Committee and was the chairman from 2007 to 2010. In addition to his work in the community, David also owns his own farm on which he grows corn, soybeans, and value-added crops, in addition to previously producing pork for 30 years.
· The Outstanding Service to Agriculture Award: Bridget Caldwell Bridget Caldwell began her formal service to Agriculture in July of 2013. Between her role as a retired teacher, full time grandmother and farm wife, she has reached over 600 teachers and 9,000 students each year with a positive message about local agriculture and the impact it has on the lives of students, teachers and families every day. Bridget has also assisted in the educational efforts at the McLean County Fair annually, reaching more than 5,000 consumers.
· The Outstanding Person in Agribusiness Award: Chuck Spencer Whether it be in the halls of Capitol Hill or within the county lines, Chuck Spencer wants to do what’s best for agriculture. He has served farmers throughout his entire career and is dedicated to finding practical solutions for various problem areas such as water quality issues, tax provisions and sustainability. Beginning as a county farm bureau manager in Mason County, his journey has brought him into regions of influence such as the state capitol, where he advocated on critical issues such as the Livestock Management Facilities Act, and ultimately to working on federal issues such as the Renewable Fuel Standard and Section 199A. No matter what capitol building, he always brings these issues home to how they impact farmers here in McLean County.
· The Emerging Leader in Agriculture Award: Liz Harris Liz Harris has served as the Agriculture teacher at Normal Community High School for 6 years. She works tirelessly to inspire students to consider careers and positive consumer roles within the agriculture industry, and is a leader among her peers in creating a classroom that reflects and celebrates the diversity of their student population. Every year her students are motivated to perform community service activities, including their very popular 10-day milk donation challenge that became an online viral success. Outside the classroom, Liz has been sought to present at state and national agriculture teacher conferences to share her successful strategies.