University News

Family of WIU Alumni Named IBA Commercial Producer of the Year

June 25, 2021

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MACOMB, IL – The family cattle operation, run by two Western Illinois University alumni, has been recognized as the 2021 Illinois Beef Association Commercial Producer of the Year.

Larry Joe O'Hern, a 1982 agriculture graduate, and his son, Patrick, a 2004 agriculture graduate, are two of the owners of O'Hern Stock Farms, a 5,000-acre operation. Both men were members of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity during their time as students at WIU.

O'Hern Farms was nominated for the award based on its operation in Vermont, IL, about 30 miles southeast of Macomb. In addition to raising cattle, the operation grows corn and soybeans, as well as cannabis under the business name Nature's Grace and Wellness, LLC.

The O'Hern family has farmed in the area for five generations, with two generations currently working there together. The O'Hern grandchildren will soon begin working on the farm, adding a third generation.

Larry, and his wife, Kelley, began farming in 1981, but the O'Hern family began working the family's land in the 1950s.

The O'Hern family stays connected to WIU in a variety of ways, including Patrick's service as a member of the School of Agriculture's Advisory Board. The family has also supplied cattle for research at the University.

"My education at WIU was the launch pad for a successful career in agriculture," said Larry Joe. "The lessons learned during my time at Western, and the relationships that were made there, have stayed with me through my career."

For more information about the WIU School of Agriculture, visit For more information about the IBA award, visit

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