A staple of the Monroe County farming community has become less visible in recent weeks, and for good reason.
Monroe County Farm Service Agency Executive Director Wendy Mueller recently earned a promotion to the Illinois State FSA office in Springfield, ending her over three decades of service directly to the county’s agriculture industry.
“I’ve enjoyed working with the Monroe County farmers,” Mueller said. “After this many years, I have been through three generations and starting on the fourth.”
A Valmeyer High School graduate, Mueller first learned of an opening as a program assistant in the county’s FSA office from her principal.
As someone who grew up, and still lives on, her father’s farm near Maeystown, Mueller thought the job would be a good fit for her.
“I knew a lot of the farmers in the area and the office was close to home,” she said. “Since I had always been involved with farming and helped my father with his recordkeeping, I figured I would have an understanding of the office. However, there are a lot more regulations and financing options in farming than I ever thought. Farming is more than planting and harvesting a crop.”
Mueller became quite familiar with those options over the next few decades working in the county office, eventually becoming the program technician in charge in July 2014.
About 13 months later, she earned a promotion to executive director of the county.
In that position, Mueller has been responsible for managing the county office, processing numerous reports on subjects like farm program subsidies, crop loans and disaster payments and supervising the conservation programs aimed at conserving soil and improving water quality.
“As county executive director, it is very important to communicate with your producers and have a pulse on what’s happening in their life each and every day,” Mueller noted.
Just over five years later, Mueller became the conservation environmental/compliance chief program specialist at the state office, getting that promotion in late September.
She applied for the job when she saw an announcement about it being open.
“We have the greatest country with endless opportunities,” Mueller said. “You just have to believe in yourself and never stop trying to be the best you can be.”
Mueller is settling into her new role, though she said part of why she wanted to take this step was to find a new challenge.
“I always feel like I want to learn more and achieve the most that I can be,” she said. “It is my belief to never stop learning.”
In her 38 years with the FSA, Mueller’s job has allowed her to do just that.
Her husband, Leland, has also worked for 38 years at his job at Ken Valentine Auto Body, and the couple has a son, Ryan, in his fourth year of medical school.
“Our jobs have given us the opportunities to have a good life,” Mueller said.