Suffering from “Testing Jet Lag?” Relax with Ag!

ImageStandardized testing is boring and draining of both student and teacher. Liven up your classroom by rewarding them with a fun, educational, and…tasty activity! Create a fun day for your students after testing as a reward for good behavior. (A little bribery can go a long way, as any good teacher knows.)

Homemade ice cream is not only exciting to make; it also engages students through a simple educational activity. Making ice cream can teach students the different components of milk, the process from producer to consumer, and different jobs available in this field. The dairy industry provides a variety of jobs for many Americans. Every student is somehow connected to the dairy industry as either a consumer or even a future producer! By opening your students’ eyes to another industry or career field that they may never have considered before, you are giving them more opportunities-which is why we chose this career in the first place.

One of the best aspects of this dairy lesson is that it can be catered to any grade level. The activity is definitely what you make of it! Even high school kids enjoy making ice cream! A great video for middle school students to assist this lesson is “Dairy Kids Club” by Heartland Farms.

In addition to making ice cream, try playing a guessing game on dairy trivia! Use the Purdue website link of dairy facts for content. Kids love to play games and the competitive aspect will take their minds off of their stressful testing days so you can have your lively classroom back! Every teacher has, at some point, experienced the “blank stare” which can represent a multitude of things-boredom, confusion, exhaustion. At times like these, you may feel like you’re talking to a brick wall. Take an opportunity like this to tie the dairy lesson into your own content.  Agriculture science can teach students many different things. The dairy industry and process in particular is great for tying into subjects such as economics, the digestive system, biology, animal science, nutrition, genetics, and even mathematics! Build off of their excitement from this lesson to make progress on your own. This will also ease the transition from testing mode to learning mode so your students are back in gear and ready to go!

The most beneficial part of this lesson is the amount of resources available to all teachers. The Illinois Farm Bureau-Ag In the Classroom has developed handouts to guide this lesson. These handouts, called “Ag Mags”, are free! They are also available online through Ag-in-the-Classroom.

Each county has a local Farm Bureau which are generally more than happy to come into your classroom and help with agriculture lessons like this. By establishing this line of communication, you are opening a line of support as well as more opportunities for your student’s education. Your passion for teaching will reflect through your efforts to expand your classroom resources. And most importantly, what teacher doesn’t want to sit back for a day and watch someone else handle their rambunctious yet endearing class of students-who are more than willing to get their hands dirty with the prospect of a tasty sugar high in their future!

Recipe for the ice cream:

 Try this simple recipe to make your own homemade ice cream!

1. In an empty and clean 1-pound coffee can, mix 1 pint of half & half with ½ cup sugar. Add a little vanilla or fruit if you like.

2. Place the lid on the can, secure it with duct tape, and then place it inside of an empty and clean 3-pound coffee can.

3. Pack ice around the small can. Then sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of rock salt on the ice. Finally, fill the rest of thecan with ice.

4. Place the lid on the large can. Secure the lid with duct tape so it does not fall off.

5. Sit on the floor with some friends and roll the large can to each other. You may want to put a tarp on the floor for this. After about 10 minutes of rolling your can, you will have made ice cream in the small can!

6. Remove the small can and rinse it with water before opening. If you don’t, you may end up with salt in your ice cream.

7. Enjoy!

Grace Foster


Ice cream image from:


-BeanWalkinEvery day, I count my blessings. I’m thankful that I have been raised on a farm, where working hard is second nature. And when I say working hard, I mean hard, physical, manual labor. Whether that’s baling hay, picking sweet corn by the dozens (I’m talking 100 dozen by hand), walking beans, or scraping old barns to prepare them for a fresh coat of paint. It all needs to be done, and I’ve learned the job is more enjoyable with some country music and a good attitude.

-SweetCornMy farming parents always challenge me to grow, become better, stronger, and healthier, just as they wish for their crops. There are plenty of opportunities to be challenged on the farm. There are always new things to be learned, and sometimes that requires me to step out of my comfort zone. That includes learning to change my own oil, driving a tractor for my first time, or trying to understand marketing concepts my parents use. I’m the kind of gal who likes to have all the answers, but sometimes you have to forget about your pride and ask -cropcheckinquestions.

Farming is a job where what my family and I do today can affect results several months later. So decisions must be made accordingly and priorities must be in place. I love that I get to look out the window of the farmhouse each morning and watch the crops progress until harvest comes. Harvest time is filled with hard work and long hours. When we were younger, we associated harvest time with homework in the grain truck, lollipops from the local elevator, and a harvesttired mom and dad. Now we realize that it is a lot more than that. Harvest time means that we are finally able to reap the rewards of the time and work put into that year’s crop.

Farming is working alongside my family day in and day out in order to raise crops that helps feed the world. Can it get any better than that?

Turn the Paige to hear more of my farm story. You can find me on Facebook at Turn The Paige: The Story of Farmer’s Daughter

paige ehnlePaige Ehnle
Illinois Central College Student
Turn the Paige Blog



Did you know this week is National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week? If you’d like to write a letter to a farmer, rancher, parent, grandparent, etc… we’d like to feature it here on our blog! Send your letters to and we’ll also throw in a special gift for taking part!

Today’s letter comes from Susan Parrish of Edenton, NC:

Dear Dad:

Growing up on a farm was one of the best things that I have ever experienced. We raised corn, peanuts, cotton, soybeans, wheat, rapeseed and about 150 head of cattle in a small rural town in Eastern North Carolina.  I used to think life was unfair when I was little, being the oldest of 5 children, I felt as though I had a lot of responsibility.  When my friends were running the streets, I usually was home helping on the farm, whether it be preparing the next meal, helping you with the cattle, or driving a truck or tractor. At the time, I thought it was punishment but now I realize these days were teaching me a major lesson in life.  You taught  me to love the land, hard work, respect, honesty, and determination.  When school was out, our friends were playing, watching TV, and hanging out.  We were scouting cotton, chopping peanuts, working in the garden, hauling hay, moving cattle, or just helping with equipment. Mom would be in the kitchen cooking 3 meals a day as well as helping you around the farm.  She was one of the best non-judgmental people I know.  We lost her way too early, but she had raised 5 children and helped you with a successful farming business.

After mom passed away at age 50, you stepped up to the plate and took things over as well as kept your business going.   Now you and my brother are partners in the farm and have a very successful business going.  We all still help when needed and that will never change.  Being part of a family farm, I believe is one of the best things that anyone could go through.  It has blessed us in so many ways.  I appreciate all you have taught me and through all my ups and downs you have been there 100%.  You will help anyone in need, will give the shirt off your back.  You are one of the greatest people one could ever meet.

Susan L Parrish

Parrish Family



Did you know this week is National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week? If you’d like to write a letter to a farmer, rancher, parent, grandparent, etc… we’d like to feature it here on our blog! Send your letters to and we’ll also throw in a special gift for taking part!

Today’s letter comes from Coleen Bedford of Shoals, Indiana:

Dear Ag Teachers,

Thank you for pouring your life into the future of agriculture. Thank you for the early mornings, and late nights. Thank you for sincerely caring about each and every one of your students, and making your FFA chapter like a family. Thank you for being a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on. Thank you for believing in your students, and doing whatever you can to help them achieve their goals. Thank you for teaching us not just how to fix fence and judge a dairy cow, but also to be honest, humble, and to persevere. Above all, thanks for making a difference in the lives of your students.

Coleen G. Bedford

student and ag teacher
Coleen Bedford with ag teacher Logan Felts


In life’s hectic day-to-day grind, we all probably take many things, and people, for granted.  It’s easy to do.  This week is National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week, so take a few minutes today and think about something, or someone, you’d like to show appreciation for and write a letter.  You can send yours to and we’ll feature it here on our blog…. We’ll also throw in a special gift for taking part!

Dear Farmer – more specifically – Dad,

Hollands 006Growing up on a family farm, life wasn’t always easy or ‘fair’.  I wasn’t able to run down the street to play with my friends after school or on many weekends like the rest of the kids in my class.  You expected me to be at home helping in the garden, in the field mowing hay, or in the pasture checking cows.  And you didn’t pay me for doing these things.  If I wanted to buy something extra, then I had to earn the money for it.  Summers of my youth were spent detasseling and baling hay.  Once I hit sixteen, I worked part-time outside of the farm.  You were always there for me and supplied me with the necessities, but if I wanted more, I was expected to earn it myself.

I wasn’t able to have all the coolest, up-to-date clothes that the other girls in my class sported.  Mom took us shopping at Farm & Fleet and we got the Wranglers that were on sale.  Boots were handed down from older siblings, it didn’t matter if they were boys or girls, we wore what fit.

While my town friends were sleeping in or watching Saturday morning cartoons, we were working cattle before the heat set in for the day.  Sometimes even being woke up in the middle of the night to round up loose cows.

You know what though… I wouldn’t change it for anything.  Life on the farm taught me many lessons that I have carried with me into adulthood.

  • Determination and Commitment – When I got bucked off a horse, the world didn’t stop turning for me, I had to get right back on and ride.  You taught me that when something isn’t going right, you don’t give up, you dig your heels in and finish the job.
  • Roll with the Punches –  Things don’t always go as expected on a farm… you’ve got a 30 acre field of hay cut and an unexpected thunderstorm rolls in, or a heifer is having problems calving at 2 in the morning, you’ve got to deal with the obstacles as they come at you, not everything can be done by the book…. Not so different than the hurdles I face in life now.
  • Caring – Farmers care about the welfare of their sources of livelihood – the livestock and the land – like no other profession I’ve ever come across.  You taught me this.  How many corporate folk do you know that would go out in the driving rain and sleet to help a downed cow?  I can’t name any.  That’s part of a farmer’s job though.  You care about the quality of life of your animals and that extends to caring about others as well.  When a neighboring farmer is going through a hard time and needs help getting the crops in, we helped.  You don’t stand by and watch others struggle, you do what you can to lift them up.
  • Respect – You taught me to respect my elders, the land and the animals we raised.  Without them, we wouldn’t have anything.
  • Be Independent and Work Hard– You can’t rely on others for everything.  You taught me that if I wanted something I had to work for it and do it myself.  There wasn’t going to be any magical Fairy Godmother to wave her wand and pay for my first car or my college tuition.  You taught me how to change a tire so I wouldn’t have to be stuck on the side of the road waiting for help.

This is just a short list of the things you taught me, but what I’m really trying to say is, thank you Dad, from the bottom of my heart.  I appreciate all the lessons learned and quality time spent together.   Without you and Mom showing me the ropes of farm life, I don’t think I would be the person I am today.  And to all the other farm parents who have created such an amazing environment in which to raise their families, you are appreciated.

Becky FinfrockBecky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant




Did you know this week is National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week? If you’d like to write a letter to a farmer, rancher, parent, grandparent, etc… we’d like to feature it here on our blog! Send your letters to and we’ll also throw in a special gift for taking part!

Our first letter comes from Christopher Carpenter of Granby, Missouri:   

Dear Dad,

I owe everything I’ve learned in my entire life to you. It was you that taught me how to use a socket wrench to take off my training wheels, change my oil, and fix numerous other things. You took time out of your day to teach me and my brother all that you knew about farming and cattle. You raised us in a way so that when grew up we could support ourselves and eventually our families. You raised us in a place that others only see on the internet, where you can drive down the road and know everyone you meet. A place that people recognize you, and the person that you are, by your last name. But most importantly, you raised us up right, it was the man that you were on us that made us the men we are today and will be into the future.

Thank you for everything you’ve ever done and continue to do.

Christopher CarpenterCarpenters