An early interest in agriculture helped make an agricultural office manager excellent in her field


Lindsay McQueen wasn’t sure what she wanted to be when she grew up on the rural farm in Franklin where her parents still live, but she knew it was ultimately going to be something to do with farming.

This self-fulfilling prophecy has come true for McQueen, who has spent her entire working life since college with the Illinois Farm Bureau and has been the county manager of the Cass-Morgan Farm Bureau in Jacksonville since 2014. McQueen is the first female to hold the position. .

“When I was growing up, I wasn’t really looking at a job and thinking, ‘It’s only for men,’ so I didn’t think about that when I was looking for a job,” McQueen said. “I am not the only one in this case when I talk to my colleagues. Us young women think we can do anything a guy can do and I love that.

McQueen’s journey to Jacksonville began when she was a senior at Western Illinois University. She was majoring in agricultural business and had received a scholarship from the Illinois Farm Bureau the previous year, so she decided to apply to the Farm Bureau. She was hired before she graduated.

McQueen’s first position at the Farm Bureau was in Cumberland County, eastern Illinois. Then she spent several years in Jackson and Union counties in southern Illinois. When former Cass-Morgan County Farm Bureau Director Jim Carlton retired in 2014, McQueen applied for his position and was hired the same year.

Although all three of her positions have been with the same organization, McQueen said each region of the state interacts with the Farm Bureau differently.

“In the eastern part of the state, where I started, it was very convenient, the Farm Bureau is there if needed,” McQueen said. “So it gave me a good opportunity to learn about the organization and not get overwhelmed.”

“In the south, it’s very different. We have lots of wheat, orchards, vines and trees. I would go from office to office and sometimes I wouldn’t even see a field of corn or soybeans,” McQueen said. “We have different types of growers to work with and since I grew up on flat land they always called me a ‘Northerner’ and joked that ‘it takes a real farmer to farm in the south of Illinois”.

McQueen said southern Illinois counties often combine efforts, and she often works side-by-side with Farm Bureau colleagues from neighboring counties.

“The whole southern tip of the state looked like a giant agricultural office; we all did the same programs together,” McQueen said. “Here in central Illinois, the counties are doing their own thing, but there seem to be a lot more problems in our area. I do a lot more local business work here than I ever have. “

McQueen said farmers in Cass and Morgan counties have seen a lot of energy-related activity in recent years involving pipelines, wind farms and solar installations. She likes to stay engaged with every issue in order to better advise Farm Bureau members.

“I know exactly what our farmers are going through, who they’re talking to, and I make sure they’re protected as much as possible and I know what they’re signing,” McQueen said. “We like to educate them before they do anything serious because it can be a 30 or 40 year commitment.”

The Illinois Farm Bureau has state staff dedicated to certain issues, and McQueen often communicates with these experts to stay current on issues that affect area farmers. The next big issue, she said, will be the Navigator CO2 carbon sequestration pipeline.

“This pipeline will come from the Dakotas through Iowa and all of Morgan County and then into Christian County,” McQueen said. “They’re trying to get property surveys right now. They haven’t filed a case with the Interstate Commerce Commission yet, but that’s the next possible thing on the horizon.

The Illinois Farm Bureau is a membership organization, so it’s important that McQueen is able to educate its members about the choices they face.

“What these energy companies are offering is, in the long run, sometimes better for their bank accounts. They wouldn’t have to farm if they chose not to,” McQueen said. “Then there are the farmers wondering what grandpa would think, what would they leave for their children. There are a lot of things to weigh when considering certain easements on your land.

McQueen also enjoys working with the non-farm community so they understand what farming is.

“Make sure people understand that their food doesn’t just start in the grocery store, it starts in the ground where farmers plant it,” McQueen said. “Just keep that in everyone’s mind about our industry.”

McQueen also serves as a role model. The Illinois Farm Bureau has existed since 1916, with Morgan County joining in 1917, Cass County joining in 1918, and the two counties merging their offices into one in 1970.

“Being in that position, in front of the FFA kids speaking on different programs, they see a leader in the industry, not just based on gender or age,” McQueen said. “They see that maybe that’s where they could get out of high school or college. The agricultural industry is open and has something going for them.

McQueen started a youth internship program at the Cass-Morgan Farm Bureau that opened the eyes of many young people to the future.

“When a lot of people think of farming, they only think of the field, and there’s so much more to farming now,” McQueen said. “I wanted to make sure that the kid who doesn’t necessarily want to dig the ground every day knows that there are other ways to work in agriculture.

McQueen is active in the Jacksonville area. She helps with University of Illinois expansion, is involved with the Agriculture Committee of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce, serves on the Jacksonville Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, is a board member of the Kiwanis club and volunteers at the Jacksonville area museum.

McQueen also picks up trash once a month as part of the Community Improvement Initiative, “which I love and it’s therapeutic for me. I hope it will elevate the pride of people in our city,” she said.

McQueen is proud of her Cass-Morgan Farm Bureau board and the farmers “who support my sometimes crazy ideas.” McQueen is also happy to be able to do a job she loves in a vital industry and attributes that success to her upbringing in Morgan County.

“Growing up on the farm was a privilege, but I didn’t know that at the time,” McQueen said. “I was jealous of the kids who lived in the city and didn’t have to take the bus home, who could hang out and play in the park. I had to sit on the bus for an hour before going home.

“But looking back, I wouldn’t have changed the way I was raised.”

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