FALL INTERNSHIP DEADLINE APPROACHING

Deadline for fall 2011 social media and video intern applications is this Friday, July 15.  If you are a college student looking for a paid growth opportunity, consider the Illinois Corn Marketing Board!

The social media internship is an independent project, focusing on either Twitter, Facebook, or blogs. If you love agriculture and want to promote it – or even just want to learn more about how your food is grown – join us!

The video intern will be provided with specific projects that could vary by semester or by month as new issues/needs arise.  Success will be defined by completion of the projects within the given timeframe and by accomplishing the desired outcome for each individual video/project. 

Questions?  Contact Lindsay Mitchell at lmitchell@ilcorn.org.

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

As the Communication Interns, part of our tasks includes creating videos that tell Agriculture’s story that slips through the seams of mainstream media and society. We recently attended Illinois’ FFA State Convention in Springfield and interviewed several bright individuals.

Lauren: I was never involved in FFA in high school, so this was a whole new experience for me. I quickly learned how dedicated and passionate these individuals are to their trade.

Jenna: Our FFA video has been my favorite video that we’ve put together. I was actively involved in FFA in high school and know what a big impact it had on my life as well as others. I felt that is was important to get the positive message about FFA out to everyone.

The Kernel video is our corny (okay, pun intended) imitation of “The Onion” satirical news spoof series.. We really enjoyed creating this video because it offers the message of corn’s importance in our economy and daily lives through humor.

Additionally, we’re running a weekly photo contest on Facebook to encourage IL Corn’s fans to share snapshots of their everyday lives with other Facebook users.  Each week has a various agriculture related topic, ranging from Farm Animals to Water.  

Lauren: Here is one of my favorite pictures that won the weekly photo contest for “Corn Farming”.

Jenna: Photography is a big part of my life so I thought it would be fun to have this contest so everyone could see agricultural related pictures through someone else’s ‘eye.’

They say a “picture is worth a thousand words,” and we wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Most people, even here in the heart of the Midwest, do not understand the daily tasks required to keep all cylinders running on the farm. It’s important for the farmers and those involved in that life to share their story in any way they can, and we feel that showcasing these photos and videos we created through social media applications tells their story… with and without words.

Jenna Richardson and Lauren Knapp 
Illinois Corn Communication Interns

SHARING MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT CORN

My name is Brittany Hosselton, the current Ag in the Classroom intern for the Illinois Corn Marketing Board/Illinois Corn Growers Association. During my internship I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel throughout the beautiful state of Illinois and share my passion for agriculture, more specifically corn production, with teachers at various summer agriculture institutes.

Sharing the message of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board/Illinois Corn Growers Association with all levels of educators has been especially exciting for me, due to my background in agricultural education. I recently spent three months student teaching in a high school agricultural classroom, and from that experience I realized who students rely on to receive a majority of their information; their teachers. From this realization, I find it vital to first reach out to teachers and expand their knowledge on the importance of agriculture and corn production.

Even though it is still early in the summer, I have met some wonderful teachers, who have been very receptive to the message I have shared as an intern. My main focus this summer is to talk about common myths when it comes to corn production and then share the facts. With this approach, I spend a majority of my thirty minute presentation talking to teachers about high fructose corn syrup and ethanol production. Before speaking about the facts on either topic, I ask teachers to share with me what they have heard, what they believe to be true, or what they are unsure about when it comes to corn production. At every summer agriculture institute, I get the response that “high fructose corn syrup is bad”. Teachers have also shared their thoughts that “ethanol production is taking away from livestock feed sources” and “the production of ethanol consumes more energy than it produces”. Although these are the responses I sometimes hear at the beginning of my presentation, teachers respond very well to the facts I share with them and have a positive outlook on corn production by the end of my presentation.

There are numerous misleading advertisements out there about corn production, and the responses I hear from teachers at the beginning of my presentation confirms that people are listening to them. In my opinion, the only way corn producers can change these negative thoughts is to educate the public on the facts of corn production, which has been my mission this summer. Again, I feel that teachers are a wonderful first step in this education process because they have the opportunity to share their knowledge with multiple children at one time. However, I am a firm believer that education can reach any person at any age. I have been given the opportunity to share the positive aspects of corn production at summer agriculture institutes, but I believe corn has very powerful message that should be continually shared by all of those who are passionate about corn production.

Brittany Hosselton
ICMB Ag in the Classroom intern

Educating Consumers About America’s Farmers

The “Professor” for the America’s Farmers Mobile Experience is Allan Ciha, pictured here with some NASCAR race fans who came out for the inaugural Nationwide Series STP 300 race. The Monsanto traveling education center was on display in Champions Park at Chicagoland Speedway.

Allan says they talk about the expansion of the world population, farming today and biotechnology that will allow farmers to feed that growing population. He says that people are surprised at the technology being used in farming today. He says that the educational effort has been very well received by both consumers and farmers themselves.

STP 300 Nationwide Series NASCAR Weekend Photos

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

I EAT. YOU FARM. SO WHAT?

Originally published on the Gate to Plate Blog by Michele Payn-Knoper

A recently overheard conversation at a suburban grocery store between a person buying food with comments from a farmer who was visiting and knew how to meet people on common territory instead of talking “ag.”

_______

Here’s the thing; I don’t really get why farmers are on the warpath. Really! We can get our food from anywhere. I just care that our family has food that’s affordable and safe. And I’ve heard some pretty bad things about you farmers.

You are poisoning water and soil by using pesticides and insecticides. Our family plays in the creeks and ponds on our land. Our kids chase fireflies through soybean fields, while playing hide and seek in corn fields. Do you really think we’re going to pour poisons in fields that surround our family home?  By the way, our well for water is between the house and the field. We understand that it’s not cool to use bad chemicals, which is why we rely on a whole lot of science, research and technology to ensure we’re using the right products.

Big farms are bad, and you all seem to be getting bigger. What size of school does your child go to? There are many different sizes of schools that offer options and choices for families. Likewise, we have a mix of large and small businesses in America due to our free marketplace. The same is true for farm families; some choose to farm a large number of acres or work with many animals, while others have small operations.  97% of farms in the U.S. are still owned by families; they deserve a right to choose the best option for their family and business like other Americans, don’t they?

Animals are abused on today’s farms. I’ve worked with animals my whole life. If you’ve seen the sensationalized videos from animal rights groups, I want you to know they probably impact me even more than you.  Animals that live in barns are actually in a lot better conditions – they get to stay at one temperature, avoid predators and have a environment that’s customized to their every need. Barns do look different today than in 1970, but isn’t the same true of computers, doctors offices and stores? Yes, animals die to feed humans, but we respect their sacrifice and care for them in the best way possible.

I’ve heard farm subsidies are making you rich on our tax dollars. There are a lot of mixed opinions on this, even within agriculture. However, the big thing people don’t realize about the “farm” program is that 86% of it is for mothers and children in need of food assistance. And I’m not asking for a handout from anyone, but we manage millions of dollars of risk every year – sometimes the safety net has kept our family in business – and is a tiny part of our national budget.

Biotechnology is evil. Do I look like Satan? Sorry, just joking. Our family chooses biotechnology because it’s the right tool for our farm. But more importantly, there are a lot of hungry people around the world, a problem that’s getting worse with a growing population. I was on a mission trip last year to Africa and saw some this myself. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a hungry child? It haunts me – and that’s why biotechnology is a tool that we choose.

Hormones are making our kids develop way too soon! I have a daughter, so I get your concern – we don’t want to have kindergarteners in bras. Kids are growing more and faster because our diets are better.  Did you know there’s more hormones in a serving of broccoli than in a steak? People need to remember that all food has hormones – and it always has.

It’s been interesting to talk with you.  Are you on Facebook or are there ways we can stay connected? Sure, would be glad to connect with you. Our farm’s Facebook page has a lot of pictures to give you an inside look on what’s happening.  I’m also on Twitter and will put up some videos to show you what we’re doing during harvest. I’d also suggest you check out these websites…

Cool. I like that we share the same values. We may not always agree, but I appreciate what you do as a farmer a lot more after we’ve talked.  And I’ll remember you when I shop for our food.

______

If you’re buying food, when have you sought out a person involved on a farm or ranch? Same for those in agriculture… when was the last time you truly made an effort to relate on human terms instead of ag terms?

NASCAR Promotion Works

Past Chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Jim Rapp, visited the Marquis Energy Appreciation Day. He’s pictured on the far right next to NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace and Jim’s sons, Nick and Ben. Jim says that the NASCAR promotional opportunity that the industry has become involved in proves that a fifteen percent blend of ethanol works. He’s a major advocate for the renewable fuel that’s good for our country! As a family farmer he’s thrilled to have Family Farmers emblazoned on the #09 car that will be driven in the STP 300 Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

You can listen to a short interview I did with Jim here:

Marquis Energy Appreciation Day Photos

Chuck Zimmerman

Posted by Chuck Zimmerman, AgWired

CAN’T WAIT FOR THE ILLINOIS STATE FAIR!

Welcome to Photo Week on Corn Corps! To celebrate National Photography Month, we’re bringing you one photo every day this week that celebrates Illinois agriculture, corn production, and farm family life!

The Illinois commodity groups (Illinois Corn, Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association and others) worked together on a new exhibit at the Illinois State Fair last year that provides children a rural life educational experience!  Here, two boys learn how to plant a seed.

Illinois Corn is excited to update the exhibit and provide another farm experience this summer!

APPLICATIONS SOUGHT FOR THE IL PORK LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE

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 www.ilpork.com or by contacting the IPPA office at (217) 529-3100.

AG BOOK REVIEW FOR CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK!

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 http://www.agintheclassroom.org 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

AG TEACHERS TEACH SCIENCE, MATH, WRITING WITH CONTEXT

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, www.agintheclassroom.org. 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, www.agriculturaleducation.org.

Jessica Collins
May 2011 Ag Education Graduate