LAMOILLE — Eleanor Zimmerlein of LaMoille was honored at this year’s Illinois State Fair by her fellow Illinois Agri-Women.
She was nominated as the second inductee into the Illinois Agri-Women Hall of Fame for her tireless efforts in promoting agriculture and for playing an active role in persuading politicians to rethink legislation she didn’t see fit for farmers.
Zimmerlein’s journey with the Illinois Agri-Women began in the 1970s, however it wasn’t until 1987 she began playing a more active role in the group, which seeks to promote a better understanding of agriculture and the family farm system.
Through her involvement in the association, she traveled to Washington, D.C., 15 years in a row to meet with congressmen, members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and other officials associated with agriculture to discuss legislation being put forth.
When issues or regulations arose that Zimmerlein did not agree with, she wasn’t the type to sit back and watch things unfold.
“I would get so perturbed when I would read something I knew was out of this world and I would write a letter,” she said.
Politicians were sure not to miss Zimmerlein’s bright yellow stationary she wrote to them on. Along the bottom of the paper, the motto read “farming is your bread and butter.”
Aside from her role in the Illinois Agri-Women, she’s served on numerous boards and committees, including the Lee County Board, Lee County Farm Bureau, state Rep. Christian Mitchell’s Ag Committee, Illinois Farm Bureau and more.
She’s served a term as president for the Illinois Agri-Women and was the Land Use Chairman for the American Agri-Women. She currently sits on the local affairs committee for Lee County.
Zimmerlein admits private property rights is something that’s always been important to her. Being on the farm her whole life and working around regulations made by people who have never experienced farm life is something that doesn’t sit well with her.
“You struggle for years to pay for your property and then someone comes along and says, ‘Well you should paint your house yellow,’” she explained. “They’ve got no involvement. So that’s one thing that get my blood up.”
To Zimmerlein, the U.S. EPA doesn’t take into account any of the improvements farmers have already made over the years.
“They keep raising the bar on you,” she said. “If you spend money to come into their rules and regulations, then five years down the line they change everything and make you spend a lot more money.”
Aside from her ongoing active role in political issues, Zimmerlein is known to still run a grain cart and offer a helping hand on the family farm. Her passion for the farm life stems from the idea of doing a job you can sit back and watch grow and development right before your eyes.
“You can see God’s work around here. I think that’s why more people around here are religious people, because seeing the stuff grow and rain come — Farming takes a lot of skill, but if you don’t get the rain at the proper time, we’re out of luck.”
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