Introducing Bill Long, a Franklin, Illinois farmer, a director for the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, a father of four boys and a grandpa of seven grandsons.

Bill is proud of the fact that he’s a fourth generation farmer, looking forward to passing his farm onto his second son, and that he’s made a career out of the job he loves. Want to get to know an Illinois corn farmer? Click play!


Today, the Normal CornBelters hosted an exhibition game and their first education day.  Area schools were invited to attend the game, and many schools brought their students as an incentive to finish out the year strong.  If you remember being in school, you might recall that the nearer students get to summer break, the more distracted they become, so the baseball game incentive was a win-win for local schools.

And a win for Illinois farmers, as it turns out.  Illinois Corn staff was present at the game to provide teachers with packets of corn Ag Mags, featuring the Normal CornBelters, to share in their classroom.   The benefit of the Ag Mags is that they often make their way into the hands of the parents, teaching the young and old alike about corn farming in Illinois.














Does seeing an Ag Mag interest you?  Click here to view a smart board ready version of the Corn Ag Mag and click here to see the list of all the Ag Mags available FOR FREE to Illinois teachers!

Becky Finfrock
IL Corn Communications Assistant


Did know you that today is National Teacher Day? Today students, parents, school administrators, and communities nationwide will take the time to honor the crucial role that teachers play in the lives of their students.

Where would our world without teachers? My personal favorite quote about the importance of teachers is by Henry Adams, an American historian and journalist:

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

If you are reading this, you should thank a teacher, but if you also understand the significance of the agricultural industry and where you food comes from, you should probably thank an agriculture teacher. On a day like today, I think it’s appropriate that we recognize these unique educators who make a difference in the lives of so many of their students.

growing, agriculture, educationTeaching agriculture is a difficult, yet rewarding career, so it is imperative that these teachers have a passion for what they do. If asked, most agriculture instructors would tell you that even though the school day is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., their job doesn’t stop there. Ag teachers not only teach in the classroom, but also have several other duties including overseeing student Supervised Agricultural Experience projects (where students gain real-world experience in the industry), advising the school’s FFA chapter, maintaining a school greenhouse or land lab, and other non-teaching assignments (i.e. Class sponsor, cafeteria supervisor, etc.) for the school. These responsibilities can easily result in a 12-hour workday. In my personal high school experience, I remember one specific example where there was a 6:30 a.m. FFA officer meeting, then a FFA contest later that evening and we did not return home until 10:30 p.m. that night. That example alone resulted in a 16-hour workday.

Unlike most other teachers, agriculture instructors are able to develop closer relationships with their students since most are enrolled in the agriculture program over multiple years. Because of this, students often turn to their agriculture teachers for advice about college and career choices. With more personal relationships, students are also more often to seek help from their agriculture teacher for tutoring in other subject areas, thus creating an additional role for the teacher.

Agriculture teachers are committed to the students they teach and recognize the “bigger picture” of WHY their role in the agricultural industry is important. In fact, part of the Agriculture Teacher’s Creed, as quoted from the National Association of Agricultural Educators website, reads: “I am an agricultural educator by choice and not by chance. I believe in American agriculture; I dedicate my life to its development and the advancement of its people.” In Illinois, nearly 1 in 4 jobs is directly related to the agricultural industry, and teachers recognize the importance of developing leaders for the state’s largest industry.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank my own agriculture teachers, Mr. Jesse Faber and Mr. Parker Bane, for the impact they have made on my life. It was because of them that I decided to (in their words) “join the fast-paced world of ag education” and study to be an agriculture teacher myself.

Feel free to use the comment box below to thank the teacher(s) who have impacted your life…

elizabeth harfstLiz Harfst
Joliet Junior College


We learn more when we have a first hand experience.

This fact is really just a matter of common sense really.  You learned math as a kid by manipulating blocks or coins.  You learned how to drive by driving.  You learned how the world works by whatever “hard-knock” experience you had as a teenager or young adult.

The same goes for the farm.  If we want people to understand the truth about food production and how farmers farm, our best option is to give them a first hand experience.  Except with less than two percent of the public actually farming, it becomes difficult to provide the other 98 percent who would be tourists an actual experience on the farm.

So, we go virtual.

Illinois Farm Families are trying to provide virtual on-farm experiences to interested city-dwellers on their site,  Have you checked it out?

Here’s a taste – do any of these videos answer your questions?

Click here to virtually tour a beef farm and a pork farm. Each video is around 3 minutes. Think of what you could learn in the next hour!


Historically speaking, it is sort of a rarity for farmers to be finished planting corn by May 1.  In fact, often, farmers are only just starting planting corn on May 1!

Here’s what some of our Illinois Corn leadership have to say about their planting status and the fields in their area:

corn seedlingApril 26: Finished planting today. About 1/3 of our corn is out of the ground. Looking like a really good start.  Justin Durdan – Utica, IL

April 26:We finished planting corn on the 23rd .  Start replanting tomorrow.  One field for sure, two more are suspect.  Earliest finish for us in a long time along with most corn acres planted.  Beat second earliest planting finish by over a week.  A light inch rain would be great.  Crops are looking good and I believe the cold spells are over.  Jeff Scates – Shawneetown, IL

There’s more info about how the spring planting season is going for central Illinois farmers in this article.  Our own Executive Director is even quoted in it!


“I will never marry a hog farmer.”

Well, you know what they say, NEVER say never.pigs, hog farm, Illinois farmers, livestock

My Aunt Megan grew up as what I suppose you’d call a “city girl.”  She had no interest in raising livestock or working on a farm.  But, it just so turned out, the good Lord had indeed chosen a hog farmer as her mate, and that man just happened to be my Uncle Fred.  Her family finds great pleasure in never letting her forget the insistent declaration that she would never live on a hog farm and the fact that things turned out quite the contrary.  Life is full of surprises, and I think that’s a good thing.  We sure love having Megan in our family, and she had found it a blessing to be a farm wife.

farmers, livestock, Illinois pig farmOne dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon, I walked down the familiar gravel path at the farm my grandparents had lived at during my childhood to the farrowing house, the building housing the mother pigs and their babies. The door of the house opened and out came Aunt Megan in her polka-dot “hog boots” (rubber rain boots) holding a baby pig wrapped up in her sweatshirt.  The poor little thing was sick, and she was taking it to the house to nurse it back to health.

As I walked with her to the truck, we talked about life and how it has changed for her.  Before falling in love with my uncle, she would have spent this dismal afternoon curled up on the couch with a good book, or perhaps scrap-booking.  Now, she works alongside her husband doing chores.  It’s work that has to get done and she welcomes the chance to spend time with him. farmer, hog farm, Illinois

“It gives him a chance to tell me about something he knows a lot about,” she says.

For Fred and Megan, life is a team effort.  They’re in it together, whether that means   packing up supper and delivering it to the field or caring for newborn piglets.

Farm life is an adjustment.  So much of it depends on weather and other things a person has no control over, which mean the schedule is irregular and unpredictable. Even so, it’s also a worthwhile adventure.  There are lots of new experiences and things to learn.

Illinois farmers, farmLiving on a hog farm also means lots of pork.  Prior to meeting Fred, Megan hadn’t cooked a lot of pork, but now she has a collection of recipes for pork chops, pork loin, and other pork products.  She shared one of her latest favorites.                                                              

Boneless Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Thyme

10 oz pork, boneless loin chops, 2-5oz center cut chops, trimmed, 1/4″ thick
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium shallot minced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 cup dry vermouth or unsweetened apple juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp thyme

Sprinkle Pork Chops with salt and pepper.  Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat.  Add the pork chops and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side.  Transfer to 2 serving plates; tent with foil to keep warm!

Swirl oil into the pan, add shallot, and cook, stirring until soft about 30 seconds.  Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and begin to brown about 2 minutes.  Add vermouth/juice and cook for 15 seconds.  Stir in mustard, thyme, and any juices that have accumulated from the pork; cook until the sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, 1-2 minutes more.  Spoon the sauce over the pork chops and serve immediately.

Also good for leftovers too!

Danielle Robinson
University of Illinois student