Cindy and Ann Irhke on the farm near Roberts, IL.
The important role women play in conservation and land-use decisions is gaining recognition, and so are the benefits to soil, water, and wildlife.
Ann, Cindy, and Sage Ihrke are three generations of women who live and breathe conservation on their family’s farm near Roberts, Il. It started way back in 1970 when George Ihrke, a veterinarian from the south suburbs of Chicago, invested in 320 acres in rural Ford County. He and a couple partners started a hunting preserve now known as “Green Acres.” On the weekends, George and his wife Ann would come down from the suburbs to work at the farm implementing conservation practices and food plots for wildlife. Ann remarks, “We’d get to the country, and it always felt good.”
They grew to love the peacefulness of the rural landscape so much that in the early 2000s, George and Ann bought another farm neighboring Green Acres and moved to the country for good. Around the same time, their son Dan and his wife Cindy started managing Green Acres.
Over the last 50 years, the Ihrkes have created an impressive mosaic of conservation practices on their multiple farms including filter strips along creeks, native prairie field borders, pollinator habitat on larger fields, tree plantings, and wildlife food plots. Ann and Cindy have been very involved in the decision-making processes that has led to over 1,000 acres of contiguous conservation practices which are improving soil health, water quality, and local wildlife populations.
It does not stop there; Dan and Cindy now have 3 children carrying on the legacy. Triston, Sage, and Liah have all been raised on the farm. The kids have taken part in the conservation work, hunting and fishing on the farm, and living the rural lifestyle. Sage was recently on Pheasants Forever’s National Youth Leadership Council where she advocated for conservation efforts such as federal Farm Bill programs and state legislation for conservation. Sage has also hosted youth pollinator habitat workshops at their farm to teach others about the importance of pollinators and conservation on the farm. Most recently, the Ihrkes teamed up with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Pheasants Forever to create a series of wetland restorations benefiting water quality and wildlife.
For the Ihrke family, and especially for Ann, Cindy and Sage, conservation on the farm is a way of life.
For information on programs available through Pheasants Forever, visit http://www.ihuntil.com/