CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Leadership in agriculture is important because of the diversity of industry. Sometimes, leaders of a farm organization come out of the blue; others are born with innate qualities.

In its more than 100-year history, the Illinois County Fair Association has been led by men, until now.

“The next two years, ’22 and ’23, I am president of the state organization,” said Jill Hardesty.

Charlyn Ware, the Secretary-Treasurer of the State Fair Board, is looking forward to Hardesty’s leadership.

“Jill is going to be an amazing president,” Ware said. “She is so personable, she is not afraid to get her hands dirty, she’s been at the Fisher Community Fair forever.”

And Jill Hardesty is passing down her heritage.

“My youngest son is on our fair board,” Hardesty said. “He’s one of our directors at Fisher.”

Another lady leader is Pam Jansen of Minonk, a recent president of the Illinois Pork Producers

“We had been going to county meetings off and on with some neighbors and they said ‘You need to be on this. You need to be on this.’ It was like ‘OK, fine, I’ll see what its like,'” Jansen said. “So 10 years later, her I am. Never thought I would be President of Illinois Pork Producers, but I am.”

Angus cattle breeders across the nation know the name of Curtin. John, Fred and now T.J. Curtin have led the Illinois Angus Association, most recently T.J. with his dad, who operate Curtin Land and Cattle Co. in northeastern Christian County.

“We’ve all three been president of the Illinois Angus Association and my grandpa served on the American Angus Board of Directors in the late ‘90s and early 2000’s,” T.J. said.

And then, there’s perennial leader Len Corzine.

“The passion was the future of agriculture,” Corzine said

Corzine farms at Assumption with son Craig, but why did he accept the National Corn Growers presidency?

“We all have to, in our society, try to give back or try to help our society, to help our industries and to help the future for our own families as well as the future of Assumption, Illinois, as well as our country,” Corzine said.

He says younger leaders need to step up.

“You have to have stars line up, if you will,” Corzine said. “Your family has to be in the right spot, your farming operation has to be in the right spot to make a commitment.”