Uken spent his entire career working for Illinois Farm Bureau. During this time, he has served members in three counties including Stark, Bureau and Champaign.
“Farm Bureau is a great organization, one that continuously strives to serve our members,” said Uken. “I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of Wisconsin Farm Bureau. I look forward to helping the organization build on its rich tradition and meeting the challenges that agriculture faces now and in the future.”
I have been married to my wife Christine for 22 years. Christine works as a paraprofessional in the Mahomet-Seymour school district. We have three children: Nicholas, a junior at Southern Illinois University; Tyler, a freshman at the University of Sioux Falls; and Jill, a senior at Mahomet-Seymour High School. Tyler plays football at USF and Jill plans to attend Parkland College majoring in diesel technology. Nicholas is a member of the Illinois National Guard and Army ROTC.
What is your connection to and background in agriculture?
I grew up on a corn, soybean and wheat farm. We also had a small farrow to finish hog farm. My family continues to farm today, minus the hogs. I still help around the farm when I can, especially during planting and harvest season.
What is your favorite food or meal?
A bowl of homemade chili with crackers and cornbread.
What is your favorite season or time of the year?
Fall: you have harvest, football and opportunities for a backyard campfire with friends nearly every weekend.
Who inspires you?
Lin Warfel, one of our members in Champaign County. Lin has been very active within Farm Bureau serving as president of Champaign County a few years ago. Lin has helped me in so many ways, more than just volunteering at events. He has encouraged me to make sure we are looking at both sides of an issue, that we are continuing to build coalitions with various groups and studied Farm Bureau policy with me on numerous issues. Additionally, his understanding of board governance and long-term thinking is phenomenal. He’s an ideal leader for any organization he is part of.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Think big and do good.
What is your favorite Wisconsin agriculture product?
Cheese – especially when it is melted on a piece of pizza.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?
Doris Kearns Goodwin. She is, by far, my favorite author.
What motivates you on challenging days?
The confidence in the team around me to help work through daily challenges.
What is your favorite sports team?
I am a lifelong fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.
What is something people would not know about you?
I rappelled a 12-story building helping our county Farm Bureau Foundation raise money for scholarships and Ag in The Classroom efforts. While it was a lot of fun, I’m not looking for more opportunities or buildings to rappel from!
What is your favorite Farm Bureau moment or memory?
A couple of years ago, our county Farm Bureau was awarded the President’s Award and Liberty Bell Award from the Illinois Farm Bureau. The awards recognize the volunteer efforts and programs of the county Farm Bureau. The President’s Award recognizes overall programming efforts while the Liberty Bell focuses on local affairs and legislative efforts.
Why are you proud to be a Farm Bureau member?
The true grassroots nature of our organization; the voice of our members truly drives the actions of the organization.
What is your vision for the future of WFBF?
First, to continue to be the trusted and reliable voice for agriculture in Wisconsin. Second, to grow our membership to include more of the great diversity of agriculture in the state. Finally, build on the rich tradition of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau by providing our members with information critical to their farms, educating current and future consumers about agriculture, and advocating for our members locally, in the State Capitol and nationally.
Article originally appeared in the February | March 2023 Rural Route.