You might see Illinois County Fair Queen Amelia Martens dolled up in an evening gown and crown at the Illinois State Fair, but she’s certainly not afraid to get her hands dirty. The 21-year-old University of Illinois graduate grew up on her family’s farm in Orion, and is no stranger to the physical labor agriculture demands.
“We have grain, corn, soybeans and hogs, and my brothers have a small beef cattle operation,” says Martens, daughter of Patrick and Annette Martens. “I grew up assisting with livestock chores and helping Dad with various projects on the farm. It’s a family operation, and we all pitch in where needed.”
Martens and her brothers, Ben and Wyatt, are the fourth generation to live and work on the family farm. Like thousands of farm families across Illinois, they hope to keep their operation going long after their turn at the helm.
“As long as I’m alive, I will work to ensure that our farm stays in our family,” Martens says. “Our farm is such a large part of who we are, and it means the world to me. In addition to preserving our homestead, I hope to invest in more farmland in the future to add to our family’s legacy.”
“I’ve been able to apply the lessons I learned through my responsibilities on the farm to just about every aspect of my life,” she says. “I love everything about agriculture – working with my family on the farm, the tight-knit industry, the connections I’ve made across the state and nation, and the abundance of career opportunities. In Illinois, one in four jobs is in agriculture, which is a pretty impressive number and provides terrific job security too.”
After winning the Miss Rock Island County Fair Queen title, Martens competed against 69 other county fair queens in January 2013 for the Miss Illinois County Fair Queen title.
Martens won a $1,000 scholarship from Prairie Farms Dairy and the opportunity to address the Illinois State Senate on Ag Legislative Day. She also travels the state visiting numerous county fairs, and will serve as hostess for the 2013 Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs.
“Being Miss Illinois County Fair Queen has been a dream of mine since middle school,” Martens says. “Ihave always wanted to advocate for agriculture. This summer, I’m hoping to educate people about farming and the hard working Americans who produce our food. It truly is an honor to represent Illinois agriculture in this way, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”
This fall after her summer fair queen duties are over, Martens will begin working for John Deere’s Construction & Forestry Division as a marketing representative. She says her life would have looked completely different if not for her experience growing up on a farm.
“The farm instilled in me values like hard work and responsibility and prepared me for the working world in many ways,” she says. “It was through organizations like 4-H, FFA and Agriculture Future of America that I developed public speaking skills and gained real-world experience in agricultural communications before I ever attended college. I developed a passion for agriculture that runs very deep.”