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    Colleen Callahan named director of natural resources

    Colleen Callahan, Chicago Farmers’ member and past TCF president, was named director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources by Governor J.B. Pritzker. Callahan was president of The Chicago Farmers from 2008-2010. 

    “I appreciate the opportunity to work again in public service.  It’s exciting to be a part of working together to help bring change to people and places,” said Callahan.

    According to the PrairieFarmer website, Callahan spent 32 years as a Peoria-area farm broadcaster and served as Illinois director of Rural Development during the Obama administration from 2009 to 2016. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is staffed by more than 1,000 people, and it oversees 35,000 acres of DNR-owned farmland. DNR is responsible for state parks, fishing and game law enforcement, coal mine regulations and research into soil, water and minerals.

    The PrairieFarmer also noted that Callahan co-chaired Pritzker’s Agricultural and Rural Development transition team with John Sullivan, who was appointed director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

    Callahan told the PrairieFarmer that when she returned a recent phone call from the governor he answered right away and said, “You called me governor. I’d like to call you Madam Secretary. I’d like to ask you to lead our Department of Natural Resources.” Callahan said, “I accepted.”

    The PrairieFarmer website went on to say that Callahan said her first mission on the job will be to ask questions and learn all she can about a department that has, much like the Agriculture Department, been underfunded and suffered a loss of employees. 

    According to Callahan’s website, she grew up on a purebred Hampshire hog, Angus cattle and grain farm near Milford, Illinois. While attending Milford High School she took agricultural classes, but was not permitted to be a member of the National FFA Organization because women were not admitted into FFA until after her high school graduation. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications from the University of Illinois, Colleen became the first woman Agribusiness Director for WMBD Radio and TV in Peoria. After 30 years there, Colleen started her own communications firm. She continued farm broadcasting at WGFA Radio in Watseka, IL, until April, 2010.