November 30, 2022

Letter to the Editor: Celebrating Farm Bureau career of Blake Roderick

Dec. 1, 1981-May 2, 2022 are important dates in the life of Blake Roderick, retiring executive director of Pike-Scott Farm Bureau. These dates of Blake’s employment as manager are important; however, the dash between the dates tells the story.

He began his Farm Bureau career in Sangamon County in February 1981 and was hired by Pike County Farm Bureau in December.

In 1987, he took on duties with the Scott County Farm Bureau. He continued managing after the 2018 Pike-Scott Farm Bureau merger.

It’s unusual in today’s workplace for a person to stay in the same job for an entire career. This is very commendable and a tribute to Blake’s excellence and commitment.

Blake has always been successful in achieving goals for the organization, as indicated by the numerous CAE and Liberty Bell awards earned by the Scott County, Pike County and Pike-Scott Farm Bureaus.

I contacted a few Farm Bureau directors who served with Blake in the beginning and through the years. One former president told me that prior to 1981, Pike County had not been recognized for state achievements.

This changed under Blake’s guidance and with his organizational skills. Pike and Scott counties have achieved numerous awards and are also proud to have some Eagle Award and Distinguished Service Award winners.

Politically, Pike-Scott Farm Bureau has been instrumental on the state and national level in dealing with major issues such as wetlands, WOTUS and property taxes, as well as in developing Illinois wildlife management and biodiesel policies. All of this advocacy has been done while maintaining our high priority of protecting members’ private property rights.

This battle continues with potential new energy projects such as wind, solar, electric transmission lines and pipelines in the area. Blake has been a tremendous guide and reference on these topics.

In 2019 for Pike and 2021 for Scott, Blake guided the counties through centennial celebrations for the members. In Pike County, the Centennial Committee also decided to produce a play relating stories of members throughout the 100 years of Farm Bureau.

These stories were researched by members and written by a playwright. Blake was a cast member, along with others from the community. The four performances around the county were attended by approximately 500 people.

Even though Blake was not born here, he threw himself into becoming a member of our community. He led Illini Community Hospital through some trying times, helped economic groups in the two counties, continues to serve on the Port Commission and volunteered to serve many other local, state and national organizations.

His community involvement and compassion for the people of Pike and Scott counties were reflected in his work on emergency flood efforts, both fighting rising water and recovering from flood effects.

Blake has also assisted and helped to organize farm workdays and assisted Farm Bureau member families in times of death, accidents and illnesses. Even if you take his many Farm Bureau accomplishments away, he has been good for Pike and Scott counties.

Although not raised on a farm, Blake adapted to the farm community well. His writing, communication, and organizational skills, with both farmers and civic leaders, are unmatched.

Blake’s hard work of developing farmer leaders, while stepping back himself, proved to be an effective method for advocating members’ issues on trips to Washington, D.C. and Springfield to meet with elected officials.

This method has also helped develop Farm Bureau members into other community leadership positions, like county officials, and offices in school, church and community organizations.

The Pike-Scott Farm Bureau thanks Blake for his years of service and wishes him well in his retirement.

As recognition of Blake’s long service, the Two Rivers Farm Bureau Foundation has established a scholarship in his honor — the Roderick Family Scholarship.

Anyone who would like to wish Blake congratulations can send a donation or card to the Two Rivers Farm Bureau Foundation, P.O. Box 6, Pittsfield, IL 62363.

Kim Curry, president

Pike-Scott Farm Bureau