Bloomington, Ill. – June 13, 2023 – After undergoing a rigorous judging process, 20 farmers were identified as the second class of Illinois 20 Under 40 award winners.

The 2023 winners showcased an impressive array of diversity, ranging from a corn and soybean farmer in Maroa to a cattle farmer in Flat Rock. The range of expertise and agricultural pursuits among the awardees was truly remarkable. These individuals are at the forefront of agriculture, demonstrating exemplary citizenship within their communities and serving as inspirations for their generation and the ones to come. They not only honor family traditions but also forge new paths while extending a helping hand to their neighbors.

The winners are as follows:

  • Adam Holste, Altamont, IL
  • Austin O’Neall, Le Roy, IL
  • Cassandra Schleich, Monmouth, IL
  • Chase Brown, Warrensburg, IL
  • Cody White, Clinton, IL
  • Daniel Elmer Grebner, Metamora, IL
  • Ellen Rahn, Mount Carroll, IL
  • Erick Kane, Ottawa, IL
  • Jake Perino, Deer Grove, IL
  • Nik Jakobs, Sterling, IL
  • Jeffery Landers, Mendota, IL
  • Jarod Stock, Beardstown, IL
  • Justin Rahn, Mount Carroll, IL
  • Kate Huffman, Galva, IL
  • Kayla Gallagher, Mansfield, IL
  • Rosalie Trump, Clare, IL
  • Seth Lambert, Maroa, IL
  • Thomas Titus, Elkhart, IL
  • Thomas Weger, Flat Rock, IL
  • Bill McDonnell, Ottawa, IL


The future of agriculture lies in the hands of young farmers, and when it comes to Illinois, their prospects shine brightest. Within the state, there is an abundance of exceptional farmers specializing in various fields, each operating in a league that sets them apart from the rest.

After the nomination window earlier this spring, a panel of judges meticulously reviewed over 70 applications from aspiring young farmers across the state. These individuals were nominated for their outstanding contributions and initiatives aimed at improving both their farming operations and the well-being of their communities. 

Steve Pitstick, Chairman of the Illinois Soybean Association, emphasizes the significance of acknowledging the emerging leaders in agriculture and credits this program for empowering young farmers. “Enabling these future leaders to take charge and forge their own paths ensures a promising future,” said Pitstick who reminisces about his own experience as a young individual admiring others in the field, and today has the opportunity to occupy a similar position of influence.

The Illinois Soybean Association checkoff program received valuable support from esteemed partner organizations including the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, Illinois Grain & Feed Association, and Illinois Pork Producers Association. Asgrow and John Deere also played significant roles as corporate sponsors of the program.

To learn more about the accomplishments of the 2023 Illinois 20 Under 40 award winners and learn more about the program, please visit

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and government relations efforts, while the membership program, Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) and the Illinois Soybean Growers PAC actively advocates for positive and impactful legislation for farmers at local, state and national levels. ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean farmers through promotion, advocacy, research and education with the vision of becoming a trusted partner of Illinois soybean farmers to ensure their profitability now and for future generations.

Published On: June 13, 2023Categories: Latest News, Press ReleasesTags: ,

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