Do you ever meet someone and the more you get to know about them, the more deeply impressed you become?
That's me with Noreen Frye.
We first met two years ago at a Nabor House event at the University of Illinois. Noreen was there because her husband is an alumni and all three of her sons were living in the House. I was there because my husband is an alum and helped build the new house. We visited that night and I remarked to John on the way home what it must be to raise three sons like that.
Landon, Logan and Lucas Frye have become well-known in University and ag circles for their leadership and integrity. Landon and Logan have both graduated and now work for Granular Ag Service and Hickory Point Bank, respectively. Lucas is a senior and was elected as the student representative on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. As you might imagine, this is a tremendous honor, and it reflects particularly well on the Illinois ag program. And on his parents.
Noreen, as it turns out, is pretty accomplished herself. She was the first female state officer in the Illinois FFA organization, in 1979. She is one of six Nelson siblings hailing from Newark, Ill., four of whom were state FFA officers and five of whom attended the University of Illinois. One of those six siblings is Philip Nelson, former Illinois Farm Bureau president and Prairie Farmer Master Farmer.
She graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in agricultural communications, went into farm broadcasting and later worked with the Illinois Pork Producers. In 1989, she and her husband, Jay, returned to his family's Easton, Ill., operation to farm full time. There, they raised corn, soybeans, popcorn and boys, though not necessarily in that order.
Today, they (very nearly) have put three sons through the University of Illinois in not very many years. They are upstanding citizens, outstanding in every way. They give back to their community and their state and their University.
"Everything we've been blessed to be a part of is a definite credit to our parents. We let them know that as much as possible," Lucas says. "At a young age - middle school and high school – we had a lot of exposure to leadership in FFA and Farm Bureau. They were taking us to events and we saw a lot of the ag scene and got to be in tune with it at a young age. We saw the opportunities."
I have heard it said before that sometimes we rush through life and work our tails off and wonder if we're doing enough - if we're doing that great thing we're called to do. And that sometimes that great thing we're called to do might be to raise the people who will do the great thing they're called to do. Whatever Noreen's calling, she's done a tremendous job of both.
I can't help but think, too, of the family of agricultural leadership Noreen grew up in, and the one she's certainly fostered in her own home. And the influence she has. Like every other woman who's married to a farmer, farming alongside, raising the farm kids, getting them to do their chores and learn their way. That they will go out into the world and carry her vision along with them. If you think that woman doesn't have influence – at every level – well, that would be a mistake.
It's another reason why Noreen Frye – and other women like her – are agriculturalists who influence.
Agriculturalists Who Influence: The Series
- Day 1: Introduction
- Day 2: Jim Evans
- Day 3: Becky Doyle
- Day 4: David and Nancy Erickson
- Day 5: Katie Pinke
- Day 6: Joe Hampton
- Day 7: Noreen Frye