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CCFB News» September 2019

DownwindThe 80's

09/01/2019 @ 2:00 am | By Bob Rohrer, CAE,FBCM,Manager

The 1980’s left a big imprint on me. I graduated from high school, gained a bachelor-of-science college degree and landed my big career opportunity during this decade. The 80’s was when I came to love rock ‘n’ roll, rejected pop music, and learned that my bowl hair cut was not a cool fashion statement. I learned that smelling like a hog farm was not the first step to attracting the opposite sex and that I probably would not become the next Pete Gray in the Major Leagues. 


Impacting my future was Pres. Ronald Reagan with his America first, optimistic demeanor, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and the drought of 1988 (I remember the first night game at Wrigley Field in August of “88 when a deluge rained the game out on the Northside but that much needed rain did not fall on the thirsty crops in Northern Illinois).


I learned something very important in the 80s.  When I left for home to attend college, a self-absorbed “me” knew that farming was in my rearview mirror. However, it only took a short time away from the farm for me to come to realize how lucky I was to enjoy a life on the farm.


The 80’s gave me the incredible opportunity of becoming manager of the Carroll County Farm Bureau in 1988 which allowed me to maintain my connection to farming. This job taught me so much about the Farm Bureau organization, managing a non-for profit and working with wonderful volunteers (I recently returned to the Carroll County Farm Bureau for their 100-year celebration event and had a wonderful time reminiscing with friends from 30+ years ago).


I enjoyed reviewing the Cook County Farm Bureau archives from the 1980s, as the life of Cook County Farm Bureau moved in parallel with many impressionable times of my life…


There was a Co-Operator article on the Carter administration Russian grain embargo in 1980 - I gave a speech on this topic in high school. The Cooperator covered topics such as farm high interest rates, the energy crisis impact on agriculture, and farm economic stresses – my family and I “lived” those concerns.


News releases and photos found in the Co-Operator were ones that I saw and read as a new Farm Bureau manager over 30 years ago. The people, photographs, announcements, statewide programs and activities that I read about took me back 30 years.


I read in the minutes about Cook County Farm Bureau participating in the Changing How Illinois Education is Financed (CHIEF) effort created by the Illinois Farm Bureau…This was one of the first big volunteer efforts I was involved with at the Carroll County Farm Bureau.


I feel so privileged to be able to work at the Cook County Farm Bureau and help celebrate this history.


Enjoy the CCFB Decade of the 80’s!


CCFB History: 1980-89



  • The Board of Directors donated $12,000 to provide fencing in support of Lincoln Park’s Farm in the Zoo


  • Mr. Gordon Fox, Manager, retired and Mr. Alden Kilian was hired as his replacement.
  • The Carter administration’s grain embargo with Russia damaged local and United States agricultural markets.


  • Conversations were held with the DuPage County Farm Bureau regarding a potential merger of the organizations.
  • New membership benefits offered to the organization included Censible Life Insurance and the IAA Federal Credit Union.


















  • A retirement party was held for retiring Country Agency manager James Drake who served in the position for 34 years. Mr. Jerry Anderson was hired to serve as North Cook Agency Manager for Country Companies Inurance.



















  • The Board of Directors donated $250 to the Illinois Specialty Growers Association to assist in programming.
  • Don Zeldenrust participated in the Farm Bureau leaders to Washington DC program.



  • Howard Paarlberg was elected president of the organization replacing Jim Goebbert.
  • Ray Nykaza and Leonard Schultz were selected to represent the Cook County Farm Bureau on the Food for Thought committee.




  • $7500 was donated to the Northern Illinois Horticulture Research Center in St. Charles to support efforts for research to improve vegetable production in northern Illinois.
  • The Marketing committee developed a roadside stand/U-pick directory to distribute to the public to enhance marketing and access to local farm products.



  • The organization worked with the Soil and Water Conservation District to sell bare root trees to members.



  • The Women’s Committee and the Marketing Committee led organizational discussions about creation of a new “Ag in the Classroom” program to teach kids about agriculture.
  • The Board of Directors approved offering bail bond cards to members through a new Illinois Farm Bureau program.


  • The Board of Directors approved a resolution supporting an Illinois Farm Bureau proposal to create differential dues for Voting and Associate members.



  • $3500 was provided to the Northern Illinois Research Center to purchase a 2- row planter to assist in research on vegetable production in northern Illinois.
  • The Board of Directors approved signing a resolution for the Illinois Farm Bureau statewide effort to Change How Illinois Education is Financed program (CHIEF).
  • Member involvement in the bowling activities as a part of the Illinois Farm Bureau Sports  Festival continued to be very popular.




  • The Ag in the Classroom program reached 3083 students 
  • New membership benefits offered included an Encyclopedia Britannica discount, family photo portraits, and County Dental plan. Cook County Farm Bureau implemented a “no smoking” policy in its buildings.
  • The Board of Directors organized a bus tour to Washington DC.
  • Plans were underway for a New CCFB headquarters building in the village Countryside.
  • Max Armstrong, WGN Radio and TV personality spoke to the Farm Bureau Food for Thought Committee.

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