Jon Yaklich ‘Growing Up’ in the Illinois Valley


Submitted Photo

Jon Yaklich scouts for bugs and weeds during his internship with Ag View FS in Princeton.

Elle Bottom, IV Leader Reporter

It is a warm, summer morning. A young boy is so anxious to be dropped off at his grandpa’s farm to help feed the cows. The young boy learns the basics about what the feed contains, when they should be fed, what percentage of hay and corn the cows are getting, when they best time to breed them and sell them.

His favorite part about working on the farm is riding on the 706 Case IH Farmall tractor. Whether it is hauling hay or moving around other equipment, the 1965 tractor does the job and will stay in the family for years to come.

Jon Yaklich, a sophomore at IVCC who is pursuing a degree in agriculture, has a deeply rooted family tradition of farming that he wants to continue on in his personal and professional life.

Growing up, Yaklich worked on the family farm, Pyszka and Sons Cattle.

“I helped out my grandpa a lot” said Yaklich. “My parents don’t personally farm, but my grandpa did, and my cousins did. I was at my grandma and grandpa’s house a lot growing up.”

Surrounded by cattle and all of the farming throughout his life, his love for agriculture grew into a passion and it only made sense for him to carry on the family tradition.

Last summer, Yaklich worked for Ag View FS under a paid internship as a crop scout. He currently has another internship with the Bureau County Farm Bureau where he gets more hands-on experience.

“I’m collecting nitrate samples from runoff from the fields and testing it to see the nitrate levels that are coming out of the ground,” he said.

Not only does Yaklich have a green thumb, he also has a heart for helping people in his community.

“I work with Bureau Fire Department and I’m also on Magnolia’s Fire Department. Bureau helps a lot with DePue, Princeton, Tiskawa, Hennepin, Wyanet and other surrounding towns and same with Magnolia,” he said.

Yaklich reminisces a fire, which happened in his home town, and remembers the adrenaline rush during the emergency.

“It was an early morning and I was planning on going hunting. Everyone else was in the fields already and already in their hunting spots.

“It was me, a guy my age, and his brother who was a junior [in high school] and we pulled up expecting to see like my fire chief and couple other guys that were a little higher up get out of the truck, but it was just us.” Yaklich explains. “We ended up knocking it down before everybody else got there and contained it to one room. . . it was quite scary.”

His girlfriend, Katie Cimei, remarks on his commitment to being a first responder and helping different communities throughout the Illinois Valley area.

“Jon is very committed to not only one fire department but two,” she said. “He attends every meeting for both departments and every call he can make. He puts in countless hours volunteering his time to help ones in need.

“Jon has a strong passion for being a firefighter and that is why he is on two different departments to extend his help to others and grow his knowledge on being a better fire fighter.”

 Yaklich encourages anyone to be a first responder because helping out the community is important.

“80% of fire departments are volunteers and they don’t get paid for anything. Having these guys in the small towns helps with the response time,” he said.

Yaklich plans to continue being a first responder and is transferring to Southern Illinois University to study General Ag or Illinois State University to study Communications and Leadership next year. Once he has his degree, Yaklich plans on returning to the Illinois Valley to use his skills on the family farm and in the community by working for an ag related company.

“I’d like to work for a seed company or a fertilizer company. That would be my ideal job,” Yaklich explains. “Anything in the ag field that has computer or office work, but where I can also meet people and go out to the field and see how crops are doing as well.”

Yaklich mentions that there are plenty of ag related jobs in our area.

“Between Northern Partners who are a big grain terminal that ship a lot of grain. . . same with Consolidated Grain in Hennepin,” he said. “There’s a lot of different fertilizer companies such as Ag View and Northern Partners. I’m not too concerned about coming back and not finding a job.”

Yaklich truly has a love for agriculture and he does not see farming as a typical nine to five job.

“I’d say it’s the passion I have for it. It’s just kinda like a daily and a weekend hobby of mine, so why not make it a living?”