By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSARHerald-Whig Staff Writer
LAHARPE, Ill. -- Brexton and Dalton DeJaynes learn plenty about agriculture growing up on the family farm near LaHarpe.
Their mom, Cassie DeJaynes, said it's important to share that message to people living off the farm -- and she'll get some additional opportunities and pick up some skills as part of the Illinois Soybean Association's new leadership class of soy ambassadors.
The program "helps develop leaders in the industry through educating us about different issues that are going on," DeJaynes said. "I think it will allow me and the rest of the ambassadors to gain the knowledge that we need to help educate the public and the industry on what we need for the producers and for the buyers, especially buyers in India, China and other places that buy our soybeans and agricultural products in general."
The two-year Soy Ambassador program, funded by the Illinois soybean checkoff, targets a select group of soybean farmers chosen to develop qualities that can be channeled toward future leadership roles.
"The Soy Ambassador program provides participants with the opportunity to gain expertise, exposure and perspective that is critical to becoming an effective soybean industry leader," Illinois Soybean Association President Bill Wykes said in a news release. "A number of past soy ambassadors have assumed not only state, but also national leadership positions."
Training sessions and travel will take DeJaynes away from the family farm where she lives with husband, Royce, and their two sons. The DeJaynes, along with her grandfather, dad and brother, have a no-till/strip-till corn and soybean operation and a 250-head cow-calf herd.
"It takes everybody to run it," DeJaynes said.
She starting helping out on the farm in high school, continued during her college years at Western Illinois University and wants her boys to be just as involved.
"My youngest will be two in January, and the oldest will be four in March. They love it," DeJaynes said. "Every farmer's goal is that their operation can be taken over by their children."
DeJaynes targeted farm profitability in college, researching different specialty crops and their value. Chestnuts was the top producer followed by grapes.
"I got really interested in grape and wine production in Illinois," she said. "My goal in the future is to raise grapes, but corn is just way too profitable right now, and soybeans are more profitable than ever," she said. "It changes the game a little bit when the price changes like that. If corn and bean prices ever go down, grapes are definitely in our business planning."
More information on the Soy Ambassador program and soybean production is available from the Illinois Soybean Association online at ilsoy.org.