WSMI Agriculture Director

Gabriel Osborn was born and raised in Coffeen, Illinois, only 15 miles from the station where he works today as agriculture director for WSMI AM & FM (Litchfield/Hillsboro, Illinois). Growing up in a small town of 650 people, farming was right outside the city limits. Both sides of his family come from farming backgrounds. Through his father’s side of the family, he is one generation removed from a six-generation, centennial family farm that was started sometime  in the late 1850s/early 1860s. The farm unfortunately became a victim of the farm crisis of the 1980s. His maternal grandfather also was born and raised on a farm. “In the springtime, my grandma used to pick me up from school and take me out to whatever field my grandpa was working that day. I would ride along with him all evening. This is where my love for agriculture started. At that time, I also fell in love with baseball, and I had thought it would be neat to call baseball on the radio like Jack and Mike on KMOX, but I never thought that it was a practical idea. As I entered Hillsboro High School, I became involved in FFA and immediately fell in love with it,” Osborn explains.

Osborn then expanded his FFA projects and had four as a senior, two of which involved being hired as a farmhand for a family farm that neighbored some of the land his ancestors had owned for more than 100 years. “This is where my love and knowledge for agriculture grew,” Osborn admits. He earned many FFA awards, including Star Green Hand, Star Chapter Farmer, and, ultimately, his State and American FFA degrees. Also, he was chapter secretary as a sophomore and junior then chapter president as a senior. Additionally, he served as sectional treasurer as a junior and sectional reporter as senior for Section 19 in Illinois. As chapter president, he was in the top 20 in the state after his tenure; and as a sectional reporter, he earned the award as a Top 5 section reporter. At the time of his FFA career, NAFB President-Elect Rita Frazer was the agriculture director at WSMI radio. “I had done many interviews with her then and in her early days with RFD Radio (Bloomington, Illinois). Also, being a section reporter, that’s where my interest in reporting sparked, but I never thought of having a future there,” Osborn says.

He then attended college at Lake Land Community College in Mattoon, Illinois, and majored in agribusiness and supply. The major covered all the bases of production agriculture, and he took specialized classes in crop production. With his major, he had two internships, which gave him the hands-on knowledge that he never really had from the lack of growing up on a farm. “I graduated from Lake Land with an associate in applied science in 2016,” Osborn explains. “After college, I did not have any offers from a local agribusiness service, so I moved back home and took a job at the local auto parts store for about a year. Then, I moved on to the local co-op in Litchfield for a season, working part-time in the soybean treatment facility. As that position came to its end, I went back out on the job market, and the WSMI Agriculture Director position was open. I threw my hat in the ring in early October 2018 and started as the ag director on November 20, 2018. So things have really came full circle, from being interviewed by Rita Frazer, working with and interviewing farmers who have kids or grandkids with whom I attended high school, to now being back around on the other side of the table, so to speak. It still really hasn't sunk in, even though I've been on the job just over two months.”

Osborn also keeps busy outside the studio: “In my personal life, I am the president of the Hillsboro FFA Alumni, a volunteer fireman with the Coffeen Fire Protection District, and a member of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau Young Leaders. In my free time, I love to bowl and hold around a 200 average.”