Large farm to benefit community

A 105-acre farm off JJ Road near Maeystown Road is now the property of the Monroe County U of I Extension and 4-H Education Foundation, thanks to Vera Baebler and her family.

After lengthy negotiations, the 93-year-old Baebler, now a resident of Oak Hill, signed over her farm to the foundation last Wednesday with her lawyer present.

Don Schrader, 4-H Education Foundation Board member, said that although they don’t have a formal plan for the farm just yet, plenty of future opportunities exist.

“We are honored that Vera Baebler and her late husband Kenneth chose to donate this property that she and her husband cherished so dearly, so that generations to come could enjoy the beauty of its woodland, lakes and farmground,” he said. “It is very humbling to all of us who serve on the foundation board.”

It will take money to develop programs for the farm, Schrader said, but many trips could be implemented.

Pam Jacobs, regional director of the U of I Extension Office which administers the 4-H program, said 4-H club projects, workshops, Master Gardener and Master Naturalist training and field trips could take place on the farm.

“The Monroe County Extension and 4-H Education Foundation will begin studying the property regarding the next steps,” she said. “The foundation is looking forward to developing future unique outdoor educational programs.”

Schrader said the property, which includes timber and farmland with some lakes, will remain in its original condition, per Vera’s request.

“It cannot be sold, but will generate income and provide a site to help with 4-H programs, adult education, Master Gardeners program, etc.,” he said. “There are many opportunities before us, and we are very grateful for this generous gift.

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