6021 Development Drive, Suite 2, Charleston, IL 61920 info@colescountyswcd.org 217-345-3901 ext. 3

Conservation Farmers of the Year: Wesley and Jane Orman

Coles County SWCD Board Chairman Bill Janes (left), Presents Wesley and Jane Orman (center) the award for 2021 Conservation Farmer of the Year. Coles County SWCD Board Member Pat Harrington is pictured at right.

Wesley and Jane Orman were chosen as Coles County SWCD’s 2021 Conservation Farmers of the year. After coming home from the Marine Corps in 1987, the Ormans started farming in 1991, primarily in the Gays area. Wesley and Jane have been active SWCD and NRCS Cooperators for many years. Throughout that time, they have been good stewards of the land in their care, actively adopting and applying conservation practices benefiting water quality, soil quality and health, and wildlife.

In addition to implementing conservation practices such waterways and terraces, the Ormans have been rotationally grazing beef cows since 1998. They’re also using no-till, and in 2015 seeded oats in the fall for grazing in place of wheat for silage for the first time. Since then, different species of cover crops have been used for grazing.  In 2018, they ventured into regenerative ag, and a few acres were seeded with a 10-way cover crop mix that included buckwheat, radish, clovers, oats, and peas. They were so pleased with the results that 100% of the farm ground was planted to a diverse mix of cover crops in the fall of 2019. In 2021, a 3-acre pollinator plot was installed. This year, they’re planning to start experimenting with biologics in addition to the conservation practices they’ve already started.

“Our goal is to improve soil health and drainage, rely less on fertilizers and chemicals while maintaining yields and improving (return on investment),” said the Ormans.

The Orman family, including Wes and Jane’s children Bobby, 37, Phillip, 34 and Marylee, 18, who all three help on the farm, are also actively involved in the community. Wes and Jane were previously active in Farm Bureau’s young farmers program, have helped with Illinois Ag in the Classroom, and assisted in ag classes at Windsor High School. Wes is a commissioner on two drainage districts. Jane is a past 4H leader, 4H Foundation member, and has served on various committees at their church. Bobby, Phillip, and Marylee were involved in 4H and FFA, showing their projects at the Coles County Fair.  Additionally, Wes and Bobby have graciously volunteered their time as a speaker at SWCD field days. The family is always happy to share their experiences in conservation with others.

The object of this award is to provide recognition to an outstanding conservationist in the Coles County Soil and Water Conservation District that exemplifies Total Resource Management.  It is open to all landowners and/or operators who are soil and water conservation district cooperators.  Recipients are selected based on their use of best management practices, implementation of new and innovative technologies, demonstrations of commitment to conservation and stewardship, participation in educational programs and community involvement, and leadership in community, government, and nonprofit or grassroots groups to further their work.