Planting seeds for the future

As spring arrives we immediately think about blooming flowers, corn planting season and planting seeds in our gardens. The legis­lative session also blossoms in both Springfield and Washington D.C. But I want to talk with you this month about the co-op programs that help plant the seeds of future leadership – the scholarship and youth […]

Five things I’ve learned about saving energy

It wasn’t long ago we were in the throes of below zero weather. While your heating bills this winter probably weren’t as bad as the ones we all experienced a few years back when fuel prices spiked, it is ALWAYS a good thing to plan a bit ahead and consider improving your home’s energy efficiency. […]

Down to earth answer for EPA rule

Climate change is a hot-button issue worldwide, as nations wrangle with ways to cut carbon emissions that are warming the planet. The Obama Administration has voiced its commitment to the cause, and through executive order has directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to come up with solutions. Last June (2014), EPA proposed a rulemaking […]

A tribute to Grandma

This column is in memory of my grandmother, Ruth Harlan, who passed away August 8 at the age of 97. The farm. While I did not grow up on a farm or a ranch, I did grow up visiting my mom’s family farm in Illinois every year, and sometimes more often. We went to the […]

Townships the oldest form of government

Township government is not as high profile or as ­politically ­oriented as other forms of ­government. Most township ­officials are just ­average folks who want to have a leadership role in their ­community and make a difference. And most of the services they ­provide aren’t headline ­grabbers — just ­fundamental services like road maintenance and […]

Promotion of education

One of my favorite bumper ­stickers is, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” The importance of education was drilled into me by my parents and grandmother from my earliest memories around the age of four. It is no accident that we educate children from a very early age while their young minds are […]

Ditch the rule on ditches

The Illinois Farm Bureau® (IFB) has carefully analyzed the proposal to change the Clean Water Act that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) published in the Federal Register on April 21. In doing so, we have concluded that it broadly expands federal jurisdiction, threatens local land-use […]

Mapping out a path from school to career

The idea that all college students are the same, or that there is only one way to prepare for a productive work life, is harmfully wrong. High school to college to career works for some. High school to work to ­college — or high school to trade to retirement no college — also works. Universities […]

EPA rules have consequences for consumers

Today’s political environment for Illinois coal producers is ­hauntingly similar to that of the 1990s as an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty prevail. While the cause of it might not be the same, the threats and consequences today are much graver for the industry, the U.S. ­consumer and those in poverty-stricken countries. Back then an […]

Let’s change how we make state budgets

The state budget is in a terrible mess. According to the Fiscal Futures Project, Illinois has a ­growing gap between sustainable revenues and projected spending levels and the largest unfunded pension liability in the nation. However, tax increases, spending cuts and aggressive pension changes alone are not enough to fix Illinois’ problems permanently. In May […]