Jacquelyn de Batista

Ana, Armando, Madelina, Jackie and Marcelo de Batista
Ana, Armando, Madelina, Jackie and Marcelo de Batista

Jackie de Batista
MA, Environmental Studies
Pecatonica, IL

Jackie (Flynn) and Marcelo Batista have managed Irish Grove Farms, Inc., since 2006, when John Flynn (Jackie’s father) died unexpectedly. The 250-acre farm, which has been in the Flynn family for over 100 years, is located in the beautiful rolling hills country of northern Illinois.

On the farm, Jackie shares the daily chore responsibility and is in charge of marketing, finances and record-keeping. She works part-time off the farm for the University of Illinois Extension where she coordinates various educational programs including the Illinois Master Naturalist Program and local foods programming.

Jackie has a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and graduated this year from UIS with an M.A. in Environmental Studies, which she undertook for career advancement and more fulfilling career opportunities. Eventually she would like to work in sustainability education, so she can “help individuals, businesses and political leaders make positive environmental changes at work, in policy and in their personal lives.”

Now that Jackie is finished with her Master’s degree, she looks forward to “being able to really focus on taking my farm that is in transition to organics to the next level of sustainability.” She also has a strong interest in working with minority and special needs populations to increase their access to nature and help them cultivate a closer relationship with the natural environment.

Jackie met her husband, Marcelo, while she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama. Marcelo is a very talented auto mechanic and works full time for the City of Rockford. Jackie says, “Between his amazing ability to fix everything and his inability to sit still for more than a few minutes, Marcelo truly is the backbone of this operation. He’s also the only Panamanian in Pecatonica. Go figure.”

Jackie and Marcelo have three wonderful kids, two dogs, two cats, two horses, and two goats. “Thankfully,” Jackie says, “we work well together and our happiest times are often during a cattle round-up or while moving fences. We believe happy farmers make for happy animals. So far, it’s worked pretty well.”

She offers this advice, which is valuable for any student:

“I started each semester at UIS with the attitude that I was starting with a perfect grade  and could choose to either maintain it or watch it slowly drop. This attitude helped me give 100% effort from the start and maintain excellent grades throughout the semester and reduced my stress at final exam or final paper time. I’ve tried to instill this attitude into my children when it comes to their school work. I remind them that they absolutely should sweat the small stuff because the small assignments often make the difference between one grade level and the next.”

(Some of the content for this story is quoted directly from the Irish Grove Farms website and blog. Thanks, Jackie!)