About Us

About Illinois Wind

Located at Western Illinois University, the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs promotes improvement of the quality of life in rural areas by developing public-private partnerships with local agencies concerning small business development and community development projects. Institute supported programs include rural economic and community development (including value-added agriculture), health care, education, public transportation, public management policies, housing, and technology.

As part of its work, the Institute is committed to assisting rural residents and communities of Illinois in building knowledge of wind power as a sustainable development tool. This knowledge will lead to sound decision making regarding the development of wind energy and facilitate development where it is feasible to do so.

Main Projects:

  1. Illinois County Wind Zoning Research
  2. Statewide Wind Monitoring Program/Anemometer Loan Program
  3. Community Outreach & Technical Assistance
  4. Renewable Energy Education & Curriculum Resources



wind turbine 3Jolene Willis is the Sustainable Development Specialist for the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University who coordinates the wind energy outreach program. As part of its mission to serve as the state’s academic clearinghouse on rural development data and initiatives, IIRA provides technical assistance to communities on wind power and other forms of renewable energy. Willis has been closely involved in advancing several community- and utility-scale wind farm projects; working in county level community and economic development organizations.  She has 15 years of experience in professional economic development organizations and non-profit organizational management and programming.  She has a M.P.A. from the University of Illinois Springfield and has a B.S. in Agricultural Communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Program Funding Partners

National Renewable Energy Laboratory – National Wind for Schools Program

Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity provided funding for the Illinois Wind for Schools program, a collaborative effort with the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University.