The Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers presented its highest awards -- one, a double -- at its annual meeting held in Peoria on Sept. 24.

Receiving the Hall of Fame Award, the organization's highest award to a member, was Fred L. Hepler, AFM, AAC, Wexford Capital PC. Hepler was cited for his years of service to the organization as its most recent president as well as his role as a National Council Member on the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, the national parent organization to the Illinois Chapter. He is also a past president of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants.

In making the presentation to Hepler, Winnie Stortzum, ARA, Farmers National Company, Arcola, Ill., and the 2008 recipient of the award, noted Hepler's "untiring dedication to the betterment of the farm management, consulting, and rural appraisal professions through his long career in the industry."

Stortzum went on to praise Hepler for his "continued efforts at bringing new members into these organizations on a local and national basis" and his role as official host of the International Farm Management Congress which the Chapter hosted earlier this year in Bloomington/Normal, Ill. The Hall of Fame Award has been presented only 30 times since the organization was formed in 1928.

First Time for Double Award Presentation

The Service to Agriculture Award has been presented annually by the ISPFMRA since 1940 and is designed to recognize individuals who have excelled in their professions in the promotion of agricultural education and public interaction, and for the first time the Illinois Society recognized two individuals. Receiving the citation were University of Illinois Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Robert Easter, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International's Douglass G. Reeves. Reeves is Key Accounts Manager, BioFuels, for the company.

The presentation to Easter was made by Jerry Hicks, AFM, Agrivest, Inc., Springfield. He noted that Easter, who was only recently named to his current position, was appointed dean of the College Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences in 2002. "Since that time, then-Dean Easter was instrumental in fostering a close working relationship between the University and the Illinois Society, particularly in the area of the annual Land Values Survey, and subsequent Conference, that has become a model for other states to adopt.

"This close working relationship, which has been so much encouraged by Dean Easter, led to efforts to develop a Land Values Chair at the University. Fund raising to establish that chair is ongoing.

"On a more personal note, Dean Easter has brought great, positive national and international attention to Illinois and the University with the various personal and professional awards that have been bestowed upon him and the work he has directed and led," Hicks noted.

Leadership Above and Beyond

Pioneer's Reeves was noted for his "Leadership above and beyond," by Mac Boyd, ARA, Farmers National
Company, Arcola, Ill. Reeves was recently promoted into his current position after serving for 12 years as Eastern Farm Management Coordinator for Pioneer. That area included Illinois.

Boyd noted that during those 12 years: "Doug was more than just an industry contact. He was very heartfelt in his promotion of personal and professional improvement and excellence. It was through his continued efforts that the annual Leadership Institute, which is sponsored by DuPont, that so many Illinois and American Society members had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. and receive first-hand experience on how our national government works.

"Through this program, dozens of our members, me included, have had the chance to meet with our Congressional representatives in the House and the Senate and share, one-on-one, up close and personal, our concerns and make our feelings known in our nation's Capitol.

"In that regard, Doug has been more than just an industry representative. He has provided leadership above and beyond what was a part of his job. And we salute him for that."