On September 25, Maria Boerngen had a unique visitor to her AGR 213 Farm Management class. Around 70 students were able to meet Martin Barbre, who was recently appointed as the Administrator of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

In his time in the agriculture industry, Barbre has served in numerous leadership roles including president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, president of the National Corn Growers Association, as a member of USDA’s Illinois Farm Service Agency State Committee, and on the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee. Barbre’s family owns and operates a 6,000-acre farm in Carmi that grows corn, soybeans, wheat, grain sorghum, and specialty crops. He now lives and works in Washington D.C.  He has traveled extensively both in the United States and internationally, working with many groups to ensure the success of American agriculture.

Barbre’s visit was coordinated by Brian Frieden ’84. Frieden is currently serving as the regional director of the USDA Risk Management Agency in Springfield. This is a great example of our alumni continuing to support our students and grow their opportunities to network.

The students in Boerngen’s class were very excited to have the opportunity to speak with Barbre. He enjoyed interacting with them, and his passion for agricultural education and the future of American Agriculture was evident.

“This was an incredible opportunity for our students to meet and hear from a high-level USDA official who is involved in administering programs that affect farmers right here in central Illinois,” Boerngen said. “Students loved meeting him, and have told me how exciting it was to have him as a guest in our class.”

Barbre has a very strong and rooted passion for agriculture. Having him on campus to speak with our students was a great opportunity. He shared insights on the importance of the next generation going back to the farm, challenges they may face, tips on how to do so, and the importance of learning how to learn.