NASCAR and American Ethanol are natural partners: NASCAR is a great American sport founded on the sands of Daytona Beach more than 60 years ago, and American Ethanol is produced on family owned farms across our country’s heartland. It’s truly a winning combination.

American Ethanol is the name given to a coalition of groups, lead by Growth Energy and supported by the National Corn Growers Association and many of its member states including the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.  The partnership between American Ethanol gives corn farmers the opportunity to showcase their product to a national audience and it was one that they simply couldn’t overlook.

  • By using American Ethanol, NASCAR will demonstrate ethanol’s superior performance not only to the NASCAR audience, but to the broader public as well. 
  • A 15% blend of ethanol uses 50% more homegrown fuel than the current E10 standard blend in the U.S. NASCAR is leading by example by utilizing Sunoco Green E15 race fuel, showing that American ethanol-blended fuel works.
  • NASCAR is going green. And ethanol is the only commercially viable alternative to gasoline. We are honored to partner with NASCAR to show Americans that ethanol is clean, green and homegrown.
  • For the first time ever, starting in 2011 in Daytona, the NASCAR Green Flag will be branded with American Ethanol, representing the continued efforts of NASCAR and its commitment to environmental responsibility.
  • Also premiering in 2011, every lap of every NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be fueled by Sunoco Green E15 -– a fuel that includes 15% renewable American Ethanol, which is produced from corn grown and harvested on family farms across our country.
  • NASCAR fans will see the same great racing they have come to expect, but powered with a new, greener fuel.

What’s interesting and even more powerful is that while American Ethanol and NASCAR talk about E15 on a national stage, Illinois Corn continues to support the movement here at home with a partnership with Kenny Wallace and an opportunity for you to become part of the Family Farmers High Performance Team on June 4. 

The two programs are separate, but integrated.  One is introducing ethanol as a green, clean, homegrown fuel to audiences in the south and on the coasts that Midwestern farmers struggled to reach, while the other teaches about the family farmers behind that ethanol.

Watch and learn more!


The Normal CornBelters are now 2-1 in exhibition play following their win over the Joliet Slammers yesterday.  After a fourth exhibition game tonight, the Normal CornBelters celebrate their home opener on May 27.

Become a fan of the Normal CornBelters on Facebook to learn more about their players and their season!


The pork industry is the largest livestock user of corn in Illinois. For the 2009-10 marketing year, 72 million bushels of Illinois corn will be transformed into delicious and nutritious pork chops, pork burgers, ham, bacon, pork loins, etc. In celebration of everything “pork” (and we’re glad to say that corn is part of that!) we encourage Illinois youth to check out this leadership opportunity offered by the Illinois Pork Producers Association.

The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is seeking youth with an interest in the pork industry to attend the 2011 Illinois Pork Leadership Institute (IPLI) June 21-23. IPLI focuses on leadership, citizenship, and communication skills through hands-on experiences. Youth participate in a bus tour of various aspects of the agriculture industry and learn about pork promotion, research, consumer information and issues that affect the pork industry.

This year’s trip will be focused in the Chicago area. Trip itinerary includes: Chicago Board of Trade, Museum of Science and Industry, and many more interesting stops.

“IPPA supports numerous checkoff-funded youth related activities as a way to develop future pork industry leaders,” said Mike Borgic, IPPA Director of Membership & Outreach. “This program expands their knowledge of the pork industry and helps open their eyes to the many career possibilities in the pork industry and agriculture.”

IPLI attendees must be finishing their junior year in high school (or older) by the date of IPLI and no older than 23 years of age by March 31, 2011. IPLI attendees do not have to be pork producers or from pork producing families, but must exhibit a sincere interest in the pork industry and agriculture.

“The IPLI was a fantastic, educational experience that helped me meet fellow ambassadors, enjoy new learning experiences, explore various aspects of agriculture, enhance my knowledge of the pork industry, and become a better leader throughout all aspects of my life,” said Nathan Dobbels, previous IPLI participant from Galva, Ill. and Iowa State University student.  “I had the chance to attend this trip four times.  Each year, I realized I was truly fortunate to have this wonderful, life-changing opportunity.”

The deadline for applications has been extended until May 18th. A $100 registration fee per attendee is due at time of application. Attendees are encouraged to seek sponsorship from county pork producer groups for their registration fee and other expenses. IPPA covers the cost for any lodging, meals, and other expenditures which are a part of IPLI.

“IPLI gives youth the tools and skills to become spokespersons for the pork industry in their local areas, at their school, and in their careers,” said Borgic. “IPLI is an investment in the future of the pork industry.”

IPLI applications can be downloaded at or by contacting the IPPA office at (217) 529-3100.


Consumer choice is important, just look (really look) at all the choices your local supermarket has to offer. From organic to conventional, fat to low-fat and non-fat, whole milk to 2 percent and 1 percent and skim… the list goes on and on. Agriculturalists value our ability to meet your needs and we value your ability to make the choice that is right for you. As long as that choice is a knowledgeable choice.

Being a knowledgeable consumer is tough. With all those choices it becomes all the more difficult to make the best choice for you and your family and depending on how many people you talk to, with however many different opinions, it becomes even harder.

That is why it is important to talk to the right people who have the right knowledge to make you more knowledgeable. Makes sense, right? So that’s what I did.

I talked to people who have chosen not to eat meat on Mondays because they feel there are environmental and health benefits to limiting one’s consumption of meat. I talked to a dietitian about the importance of beef in the diet and I spoke with a beef producer-because producers do know their product.

What I learned about Meatless Mondays:

  1. Supporters say reduced meat consumption leads to reduced carbon footprints, reduced climate change and improved health.
  2. United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the meat industry is responsible for almost one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gases.
  3. Proponents of the campaign state the health benefits include: increased lifespan, improved diet, obesity avoidance and reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
  4.  “I would like to encourage everyone to learn about the food that they eat,” Meatless Monday proponent Melissa Dion said. “Ignorance is not always bliss.” Dion said she saw lots of improvements in her health and lifestyle since beginning this eating lifestyle in 2008. “I feel really great and I have more energy.”

What I learned from a dietitian:

  1. “I think food fads, generally, are untested in terms of their long-term effects,” said Dietitian and Professor of Food Science M. Susan Brewer.
  2. Heart disease and cholesterol are dietary issues. Brewer said it’s not just meat, it’s all that fat and the French fries that create these problems.
  3. Animal products provide the only source of B12, Brewer said. While vegetables contain iron, especially dark leafy vegetables, it is not the most absorbable form and plant materials bind up the iron making it unavailable compared to iron from meat, Brewer said.
  4. Anemia, iron deficiency, is primarily a problem facing teenage girls and young women in their reproductive years. Brewer said is hard to get enough iron on a regular basis without removing meat from the diet once a week.
  5. Vegetables do not provide complete protein that supports growth and reproduction with the right amino acids in the right proportions, Brewer said. “That isn’t to say you can’t put them together from this category of vegetables and that category of vegetables and come up with a complete protein, with a complete amino acid profile,” Brewer said. “You can do that. But you do have to know what you are doing.”
  6. According to the American Dietetic Association, the correct portion is the size of a deck of playing cards. Portion size, choosing leaner cuts of meat and leaner preparation methods of meat and are important considerations in lieu of removing meat from the diet, Brewer said.

What I learned from a beef producer:

  1. Beef has 29 lean cuts. Trevor Toland, president of the Illinois Beef Association and producer of 41 years said you don’t have to consume large amounts of fat to enjoy beef.
  2. A 154-calorie, three-ounce serving of lean beef has 51 percent of the recommended daily value of protein, 38 percent of zinc, 37 percent of vitamin B12, 26 percent of selenium, and 14 percent of iron, Toland said. There is a lot of value in a simple three-ounce serving of lean beef, he said. 
  3. To equal the amount of zinc in a three-ounce serving of steak, a person would have to eat 13 three-ounce servings of salmon, Toland said. Likewise, one would have to eat seven skinless chicken breasts to equal the amount of B12.
  4. Practices like Meatless Mondays cost the family “considerably more” than a three-ounce serving of beef with nutritious side dishes, Toland said.
  5. “I just want people to know that cattleman really care about this country and the food we provide,” Toland said. “We want to protect our land because that is what makes it possible for us to make a living and market a safe, wholesome, nutritious product that we are really proud of.”

So there you have it, three perspectives on one important dietary issue. If these answers raised more questions the best part is that you can keep asking those questions and gaining more knowledge. If you feel like an informed consumer you can stop by your supermarket and pick up a few steaks for the grill tonight—or not, the choice is completely, 100 percent yours. And that is the beauty of consumer choice, at the end of the day you decide what is best for you.

Claire Benjamin
University of Illinois student &
author of the Rural Route Review


After a few warm days sees Illinois farmers head to the fields, and a report from the USDA on the progress of corn planting in the nation, how about a quick check in with some Illinois corn farmers?

Paul Taylor of Esmond, IL says: It’s May 10 … long held as the planting date when yield expectations for corn begin to decline for northern Illinois.  It is a good time to be wrapping up corn planting.  Local progress has been significant since we got back into the fields May 2nd.  Because of cold soil temps, very little corn was planted prior to that date around here, me included.   Now after nine days of uninterrupted field work and planting, my farming partners and I are down to the last field before finishing up our 2011 corn planting.  

corn fields planter illinois
Paul looks back at the 2011 planting season.

As I look around the neighborhood, I would estimate that 65% of the corn is in.  Considering we are a pretty heavy corn on corn area, that is incredible productivity for a few days since the weather has improved and machines started moving.   We should have major emergence of corn in the area within a short time frame.  That could raise a concern here as we enter the sensitive pollination window of mid-July. 

Most of the fields appear to be in very good soil conditions.  Only an occasional wet hole has been left and planted around.  We are off to a delayed, but now great start for the 2011 crop year.  Beans are now going in at a rapid pace.  For an industry that needs big crops to feed the needs of feed, food, and fuel, I hope the rest of the heartland can get a good start as we finally did.  Have a safe and profitable season.

Jim Robbins of Manhattan, IL: We are about half done with corn planting and we started a couple of days ago on soybeans.  We have about 300 acres of soybeans planted.  The corn we planted the 15th of April isn’t up yet, so we may be re-planting some of the corn.

Conditions are beautiful right now.  The last couple of days have been really nice out in the field.  When we started on Saturday conditions were marginal, but Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday have been good.  And now it’s too hot!

Martin Barbre of Carmi, IL: As of today there are a few farmers starting to spread fertilizer and do some spraying. Planting will probably get started today or tomorrow, but only on high ground. Flood waters are still covering a large portion of the bottom land in White county.

We can plant about half our corn and beans in the next week. Then it will be at least another week on the rest.  We lost about 250 acres of wheat during this wet spring. There were several thousand acres of wheat and planted corn lost in our area.

Illinois corn planting water flood
Martin looks for a dry spot to plant.


Bill Christ farms in Metamora, IL.  He lives on the farm his wife’s family settled in the 1800’s and raises cattle, corn, and grapes on the farm his family settled when they arrived in IL.  This is his grandparent’s house and where he still chooses to spend many of his weekends.

Bill showed us around his farm yesterday and I was literally moved to tears at the history, the stories, and the legacy he lives out with his wife and two children.

Learn more about Bill in the coming weeks right here on Corn Corps …


May 2 through 8 marks Children’s Book Week AND Teacher Appreciation Week . Why not celebrate both with a touch of Agriculture?

Students across Illinois continue to face an emphasis on reading and literature, so linking agriculture would be a natural fit. Several new books are featured on the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom website and I wanted to share some highlight with you here!

As a former History teacher, one of my favorites is Farmer George Plants a Nation  by Peggy Thomas. This is the story of George Washington’s life as farmer, and the impact agriculture had on his life. We have a companion lesson plan guide featuring lessons related to Soil, Trees, Horses, Agricultural Mechanization and Wheat all of which are featured in the book. This book is published by Caulkins Creek–an imprint of Boyds Mills Press–featuring historically accurate information. The book features beautiful oil painting art work, and although the reading level is listed as grades 3-6, it would be an excellent “Coffee Table Book” for audiences of all ages.

Who Grew My Soup by Tom Darbyshire takes a look at how agricultural products become consumer products, specifically soup. Most importantly the book introduces readers to farmers who raise the crops that become soup. It is a great look at healthy, nutritious food and where it comes from. Written at a 3rd grade level, the art and pace appeal to audiences of all levels!

Little Joe by Sandra Neil Wallace is a chapter book written for 3rd grade. I like this book, especially for ‘reluctant’ young boy readers. This is the story of Eli who is gaining experience raising his first show animal. It is very agriculturally accurate, and addresses the issue of a ‘pet’ versus livestock.

The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts is very similar to Little Joe, but is written for a slightly older (grades 5-7) female audience. As a father of 2 daughters, I like this book with its strong female main character, actively engaging in agriculture. Libby Burns walks in the shadow of her older brother and tries to prove her agricultural skills to her father and grandfather. Her ‘nerdy’ best friend helps her as she struggles with some unique challenges surrounding the county fair. This might be my favorite agriculture book on the market. Michelle Houts is a Junior High teacher in Ohio and also actively engaged in farming with her husband!

The Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry is set on a ranch in eastern Oregon. While both Little Joe and Beef Princess have many “Illinois” related topics—the books could be set here–This book describes ranching in Oregon. I like this book because the main character has to face many challenges of agriculture on his own, as his father is shipped off to the middle east with the National Guard. This is an outstanding book for all -especially targeted to grades 5-7.

Some other books worth checking out include: Seed, Soil, Sun by Cris Peterson, Clarabelle by Cris Peterson, The Hungry Planet by Pete Menzel, and Corn Belt Harvest by Ray Bial. Your county agriculture literacy program may have a number of books in a lending library to preview. Check your county program at or for more suggestions check out the Illinois AITC website or on the AFBF Website you can look at their Authentic Agriculture book list and even nominate a candidate for their book of the year!!

Kevin Daugherty
Education Director
Illinois Ag in the Classroom


On June 4, 2010, three high school students, two brothers and a fellow classmate were driving home on their last day of school.  The Illinois country road they were driving on became increasingly narrow.  The narrowest part of the road was at the top of the hill where an oncoming car was approaching.  In an effort to miss the car, the teen driver of the pickup truck swerved and hit a pot hole causing the driver to lose control and hit a tree.

Two of the teens sustained injuries and had to be extricated from the vehicle.  All three of the teens survived this horrific crash because they were wearing their safety belts.  They lived to tell their story because they took the extra few seconds needed to buckle their safety belts. 

Two teens await extrication from their pickup truck after hitting a tree in rural Illinois. The brothers and fellow classmate all survived the crash because they chose to buckle their safety belts. All three teens received Saved By the Safety Belt Awards from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety.

Unfortunately, not all crashes have a happy ending.  In 2010, more than 900 people were killed on Illinois roadways; many were traveling in rural areas.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), only 23 percent of the United States population lived in rural areas in 2008 but rural fatalities accounted for 56 percent of all traffic fatalities.  Speed, alcohol impairment and emergency response time may all factor into the increase in fatalities in rural areas, but the leading factor is lower safety belt use in rural areas particularly among pickup truck occupants.  In 2009, 68 percent of pickup truck occupants who were killed in traffic crashes were not buckled up.  Women are more likely to buckle up than men, especially young men.  In 2009, 66 percent of men ages 18 to 34killed in passenger vehicles were not wearing their safety belts.

Why are pickup truck drivers choosing to buckle up less than occupants of passenger vehicles?  Many feel pickup trucks are safer than passenger vehicles because they are large in size.  However, trucks have a higher center of gravity which causes them to roll over more frequently than smaller passenger vehicles.  The higher rollover rate combined with the lower use of safety belts is a deadly combination resulting in more ejections in fatal pickup crashes.  Safety belts offer the best protection in a rollover and can reduce the risk of dying by up to 80 percent.

During the month of May, the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety (IDOT/DTS) will join forces with more than 450 local, county and state law enforcement officers for the Click It or Ticket campaign.  During this campaign, law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for unbuckled drivers and passengers and will issue tickets to those choosing not to buckle up.  Many agencies will focus their efforts on nighttime enforcement to combat the increasing number of fatalities occurring during nighttime hours.

Our goal is simply to prevent injury and death on Illinois roadways.  The loss of one life affects hundreds of people- husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, neighbors, friends, co-workers and the list goes on.  It is as simple as this.  When you get behind the wheel, choose to buckle up choose to put your child in a safety seat; choose to put your cell phone away; choose not to speed and choose not to drink and drive.   These choices will save you money and could also save you the ultimate price – your life.

Visit today to learn how you can get involved in our Click It or Ticket campaign. 

Jennifer Toney and Megan Eairheart
Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety – Occupant Protection Program.


What career allows a person to discuss breeds of beef cattle, create a floral design, discuss selling corn on the futures market, and make ice cream all in one day? An agricultural teacher is able to do all of these things and so much more in one day. An agriculture teacher is not only an educator or an FFA advisor, but they are a mentor to all of their students which includes guiding them to figure out their career interests and determine future plans. Although the career can be demanding, crazy, and hectic, it is extremely rewarding and no two days are ever alike.

In today’s society, a surplus of jobs in most industries does not exist, and many college graduates are struggling to find jobs. However, in the agricultural industry, this is not the case. As the world population continues to grow, all of these people have to be fed and clothed and the only people that can get that job done are farmers and other professionals in the agricultural industry. For this reason alone, it is vital that agriculture is taught in high schools. If young people are not exposed to agriculture through high school programs and do not know about the opportunities the agricultural industry provides, there will not be anyone to meet the future world demands nor anyone to fill those 300 + careers related to agriculture.

By having agricultural classes in high school, agricultural educators are given the opportunity to share their passion of agriculture with students and get them interested and curious about a major industry that provides so much. Today’s agricultural classes are no longer just about “cows, sows, and plows”, but they incorporate so many more aspects, such as horticulture, natural resources, agribusiness management, and leadership and communication. These classes will not only prepare students for the many careers available in the agricultural industry, but they also teach students valuable life skills which include how to keep financial records, how to speak in front of groups, and how to effectively communicate with others in a diverse settings.

In many of today’s schools, administrators believe that agriculture is not an important part of the school curriculum because it is not teaching subject matter related to the standardized tests. However, the curriculum used in agricultural programs incorporates all of these subjects that students are being tested on annually. For example, in one day students may be writing an essay on the benefits of GMOs, or reading an article about wind energy, or calculating interest on a car loan, or testing the pH of different substances. All of these activities relate to core concepts like reading, writing, math and science, taught in schools but agriculture classes just focus on them in unordinary ways and put them in a context students find meaningful.

If you are not fortunate enough to have agriculture in your school, there are a multitude of resources available to use to incorporate agriculture into your daily lessons. One of the best resources to use that will give you a lot of useful general knowledge about different areas of agriculture is the Illinois Farm Bureau-Ag in the Classroom website, This website has great activities that do not take very long and are easily implemented yet at the same time teach key agricultural concepts to students. Another great resource for information about corn is the Illinois Corn Growers Association.  This resource has great ideas for how to teach students about corn and many different activities that can be used with all different ages. If you want to know more about agricultural education or get a program started in your area, contact FCAE (Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education) by visiting their website,

Jessica Collins
May 2011 Ag Education Graduate


May is Clean Air Month, a topic that is very important to the American Lung Association in Illinois (ALA-IL). Many people are aware of the ALA-IL’s involvement in cleaning the air of unhealthy cigarette smoke, but ALA-IL is also involved in the use of biofuels as a Clean Air Choice. One of our areas of focus is the promotion of the use of E85 fuel – a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline – which is a cleaner-burning and renewable alternative to petroleum gasoline.

The use of E85 and purchasing of Flex-Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) are a significant source for clean air in Illinois as a single car can prevent 4 tons of CO2 as well as other harmful pollutants from entering the air we breathe. With over 9 million FFVs on the road in the U.S. today, this has the potential for a major clean air improvement. Production of E85 also sustains jobs in Illinois as we are the 2nd leading producer of ethanol in the country, with over 470 million gallons of ethanol being used for fuel each year.

How is the ALA-IL promoting E85 and FFVs? In the year 2010, the ALA-IL assisted in the funding of constructing 12 E85 pumps throughout Illinois. With “The Obama Administration looking to add 10,000 so-called ‘blender pumps’ over the next five years to the inventory of about 2,350 pumps that can distribute E85,” (Auto Observer) the ALA-IL plans to stay involved in this infrastructure program for years to come. Additionally, the ALA-IL has been running a Flex-Fuel Vehicle Dealership Development Program throughout Illinois since mid-2010. This program has aided in the sale of nearly 700 FFVs in Illinois in less than a year and has expanded consumer education on the topic of E85 fuel.  Also, be sure to check out our E85 Coupon Program website to learn more about our programs and for an opportunity to request a $10 E85 coupon for use at any of the over 150 participating stations in Illinois.

So the next time you think of the American Lung Association in Illinois, think clean air through E85 fuel.

Crystal Bolliger
Environmental Programs Coordinator
American Lung Association in Illinois