BY KAY SHIPMAN
Dennis Green remembers exactly when he let a young Chicago legislator drive her first combine. The impromptu offer made an impression and strengthened the bond between the state lawmaker and her adopted downstate county Farm Bureau.
“She’s never forgotten. She said, ‘I told everybody back home I drove a combine and picked corn.’ Her dad was amazed,” Green said with a big smile.
Unique personal connections and opportunities to make a difference for agriculture are among Green’s memories of 10 years on the Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors. This month, the Lawrence County farmer retires from representing District 13.
Green will be remembered not only for his tenure on the IFB Board, but for serving Farm Bureau for many years as a county Farm Bureau director, said IFB President Richard Guebert Jr.
“Dennis has been a great asset because of his background,” Guebert said. “His service to Farm Bureau goes back 40 years, the challenges of the ‘90s and county (Farm Bureau) finance. He knows the history of how that was resolved between the county Farm Bureaus and the IAA. You name it, and Dennis could recall and reflect the conversation. From time to time, that’s really important in the board room to give board members that perspective.
“We’ve had our own historian,” the president added.
Serving as an IFB director means a big commitment.
Green estimated he participated in 90 to 100 Farm Bureau activities each year, excluding the pandemic years that involved mainly virtual meetings. And he traveled an estimated 20,000 miles because IFB’s Bloomington office is located 175 miles from his Lawrenceville farm.
Serving on the IFB Board reinforced Green’s understanding of the organization’s grassroots and the members’ importance to establish policy.
“The perception of the general membership is that the board decides priorities. The board does that, but is guided by policy. Those policies guide Farm Bureau no matter who is in office, either IFB or elected officials. Long-term (IFB) policy causes us to oppose policy on the federal and state levels,” Green explained.
He described how IFB’s unique structure emphasizes ideas from individual farmers that are submitted to county Farm Bureaus, then to the IFB Resolutions Committee.
From there the proposals may be adopted by delegates at the IFB Annual Meeting. If the matter deals with federal issues, the policy can be considered by states’ delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation meeting to become national policy.
But Green reminded Farm Bureau members their organization is unique in other ways, especially in working with nonfarmers. Consider Ag in the Classroom, Adopt-a-Legislator and FB ACT (Farm Bureau Agricultural Contact Team), he noted.
“We have to continue to grow those programs,” Green said. “They broaden not only the understanding of agriculture among adopted legislators, but also expand our knowledge of their urban areas.”
IFB’s Christina Nourie, who coordinates the Adopt-a-Legislator program, praised Green for being a strong advocate for the program that links Chicago legislators with rural county Farm Bureaus.
“He understands the importance of educating urban legislators,” said Nourie, IFB northeast legislative coordinator. “He really understands bridging the urban-rural divide and hearing urban counterparts’ stories. That’s so important.”
An important part of Green’s service on the board has been the support of his wife, Debbie, and help from their son, Jason, and his family. Celebrating 48 years of marriage this year, the Greens hadn’t been apart many nights before Dennis was elected to the IFB board, he said.
“I’ve been gone more the last 10 years than all the previous years together. I can’t thank her enough for allowing me to do this,” Green said.
Green considered the last 10 years as “a great experience and a privilege to represent the county Farm Bureaus in my district.”
As for the IFB board’s unofficial historian? Guebert valued the years the retiring board member has served Farm Bureau on the local and state levels: “Dennis is dedicated to whatever the president asked him to do. He never hesitated to serve.”
This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.