THE CHRISTMAS GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

  While the rest of us are stressing over Christmas packages, errands, and holiday feasts, our high school and college students are stressed over finals, research papers, getting home for the holidays, and … what in the heck they are going to do for the rest of their lives.

Yes, while we may remember college as the best time of our lives, let us not forget the weight of your entire life resting on your shoulders during those years. High school and college students have tough decisions to make, life-altering decisions, and they hardly get a break from those during a few weeks in the winter.

Fortunately, the Illinois Agri-Women have one solution to all that worry and stress. Women Changing the Face of Agriculture will be held on March 4, 2010 at the Bone Student Center at Illinois State University. Early registration deadline is December 24, so be sure your high school or college daughter, granddaughter, or cousin are signed up before heading off to cook the holiday ham.

The inaugural Women Changing the Face of Ag (WCFA) event was held last year and it was a huge success. More than 100 students from Illinois high schools and colleges attended the event, learning about agricultural careers first-hand from women in various agricultural fields.

Maybe you have a senior thinking about ag communications? We’ve got women talking agriculture from several different companies with careers ranging from social media to news writing to marketing. Does your sister enjoy politics? Come visit with some of our female ag lobbyists to find out how they got where they are within their companies. Maybe her teachers have indicated that she has real talent in chemistry or biology. We have women who are soil scientists, plant breeders, and chemical reps that may help you along in your journey.
women in agricultureThis event isn’t exactly a job fair, although she is sure to meet some really great women and make some wonderful connections. It’s more of an opportunity for dialogue and mentoring. The event will help her understand how the women leading agricultural today got where they are and how they would advise her to accomplish her goals in the agricultural field. For Illinois Agri-Women, it is an investment in the future of our industry and in the well-being of our daughters.

Attendees can register online at www.womenchangingthefaceofagriculture.com and can also look up the Illinois Agri-Women on Facebook. Students are urged to talk to their ag teachers about bringing all the females in the ag program. Teachers are urged to contact Illinois Agri-Women to find out how we can help get your women to Bloomington for this event.

Give the high school and college students in your life a real gift this holiday season – some valued insight into their future, wherever they hope to end up, and how to get there. Consider registering for Women Changing the Face of Agriculture.

women changing the face of ag

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

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GROWING UP POOR, LIVING RICH

My friends Jeff Glascock and Destry Campbell, both good cowboys, notified me when I was 20 that I grew up in poverty. Until I heard these two swapping stories about their childhoods, I didn’t know it wasn’t normal to have more siblings than seat belts in the family vehicle. I didn’t realize my sister and I received free hot lunches form our public school because my family lived below the federal poverty line. I just knew the lunch lady made me finish my broccoli before she gave me seconds of fruit cocktail.

I called my older sister, Lacy, and asked, “Did you know we were poor when we were little?”

“Well, I slept in a drawer, so I kinda figured.” Dad insists the drawer was a temporary travel solution one night in a motel room. They left the motel and went home to a cozy mobile home/log cabin/shack tribrid.

Camping at the county fair was our annual family vacation. Nothing promotes family fun like a 113-degree tent by the demolition-derby racetrack and showering with your shoes on. I showed my bummer lamb at the fair, and Mom made him a blanket from a pillowcase. Dad helped win the team-roping event and we ate cotton candy, so a good time was had by all.

At home, Mom picked pears from the tree in the yard and made fruit leather in the dehydrator. We recycled soda cans. Mom taught us to make graham crackers from scratch and refrigerator magnets from Popsicle sticks. I never felt poor, probably because we always had plenty of food. Hamburger Helper nourishes a growing body as well as a filet mignon. What’s culinary appeal to a six-year-old? Just add more ketchup.

When I was nine, we moved from the family ranch, located in a remote canyon, to two-and-a-half acres in a rural subdivision. I was excited because now my horse, Karl, was in a pen by the yard instead of a mile away in a flood-irrigated hay field. Dad got a job as a carpenter and helped build the new hospital in town. My sister and I were happy because Mom deemed the family budget secure enough to splurge on Pop Tarts.

We had neighbors! And TV! Back in the canyon, we tried to watch channel 10, but all we could see were clumps of fuzzy gray dots moving around a lighter-gray, but equally fuzzy, background. Friends from town recorded the National Finals Rodeo and we watched each round on videocassette, peering around the Christmas-tree limbs to watch Ty Murray spur another bronc. Dad leaned forward in his recliner and pushed the fast-forward button during commercials using a large stick that a beaver had peeled and whittled smooth. DVR technology has nothing on a beaver-trapping hillbilly.

Because I was unknowingly raised up poor in the cattle business, I learned to seek happiness in nonmonetary ways. I don’t need money to smell rain on sagebrush, laugh when a colt touches noses with a barn cat, or listen to a wild cow-chasin’ story. I need very little money to eat a shredded beef sandwich from the cattlewoman’s booth at the county fair and get barbeque sauce all over my face.

I’m glad I didn’t know my family was poor while I was growing up. The social stigma attached to poverty might have ruined the fun of running through the sprinkler, building a tree fort, and sharing a blanket on the couch to watch the rodeo finals. We didn’t even have to watch commercials – how can it get any better than that?

Jolyn Laubacher grew up on her family’s commercial Hereford ranch on the Klamath River near Yreka, California. She graduated from California State University, Chico, in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business. After a big circle that included cutting horses and hog hunting in Texas, working at a ranch for troubled kids in Arizona, and five weeks in Fort Collins, Colorado, she is happily back in California, where she currently rides horses for the public and substitute teaches.

This article originally published in Range magazine.
 
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HOME IS WHERE THE COOKIES ARE

Growing up on a family farm there were a lot of things I never appreciated until I went to college. I never appreciated the open spaces and fresh smells that accompany life in the country. I took for granted watching the cows out of the kitchen windows or seeing the fields change with the seasons. Once I went to college my open spaces and fresh smells became crowded streets and not-so-fresh smells and the cows and fields got replaced with brick walls and chain link fences. I missed all of those things but what I missed most is mom’s home cooking, especially her treats.

christmas cookiesJust in time to prepare cookies for Santa and to give all the neighbors a plate of assorted goodies, I’m reminded of how lucky I was to have mom’s fresh, homemade cookies all those years of my life. Growing up we almost always had fresh cookies in the kitchen, especially during the holidays. I definitely took this for granted until I got to college. Sure, the dorms had cookies sometimes but they certainly weren’t homemade and not even close to as good as moms’. Now that I live in an apartment I can make my own cookies but even if I follow mom’s recipe they’re never quite the same. When someone makes a cookie for you it just tastes better because they make it with love. Now that the holidays are approaching I’m looking forward to going home and getting my hands on those tasty cookies. I can’t wait to spend time in the kitchen with my mom and sister frosting sugar cookies, giving gingerbread men buttons or topping of sprite cookies with a cherry. It doesn’t matter what type of cookie it is, I know it will taste better just because someone made it for me with love and that’s one thing I’ll never stop appreciating.

Help spread the love this Christmas by giving cookies in a jar:

Christmas Cookies in a Jar

Ingredients:
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup quick-cooking oats
• 1 cup orange flavored dried cranberries
• 1 cup vanilla or white chips

Directions:
In a 1-qt. glass jar, layer the sugar and brown sugar, packing well between each layer. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; spoon into jar. Top with oats, cranberries and chips. Cover with a cloth circle and store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

Attach ribbon and tag with the following instructions:
Pour cookie mix into a large mixing bowl; stir to combine. Beat in ½ cup butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drop by the tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Sarah Carson
ISU Ag Student
 
 
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THANKS AND GIVING: HISTORY

So fun to be guest blogging today at the Corn Corps! I’m in the midst of a month-long series at Prairie Farmer called Thanks and Giving, and when the good folks at Illinois Corn invited me over, I couldn’t resist. Today…giving thanks for our agricultural history.

During the fall of 1998, Mike Wilson sent me out on a photo shoot at an old grain elevator in Atlanta, Illinois. It turned out to be the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator, and it was on the National Register of Historic Places and it had just gotten a fresh coat of barn red paint. It was a photographer’s dream. The photos wound up being my first-ever cover, and Mike even took me to Pontiac to watch it roll off the printing press. And this one here won the top prize in the AAEA photo contest that year. As a fresh-out-of-the-gate ag journalist, I was giddy.

I love this photo in a very large way – large enough to print it on canvas and hang it where everyone who walks in my house will see it. In part because of the red paint and the majestic lines, but also because of the history it holds. I’m a sucker for a little heritage and a good farm history lesson, and the folks at the J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum are some of the best teachers you’ll ever meet. First, you must check out their website. Don’t skip the intro. I always skip the intros, but not this time. Very cool.

Anyway, you can get the full lesson from the website, but in short, the elevator was state of the art when it was built in 1904. It was abandoned in 1976, and ready to be torched for firefighter practice in 1988. Local citizens stepped in, and saved the building.

What I love, though, is how the thing was built in the first place. In the early 1900s, prairie farmers were producing more and more corn each year, as distant grain markets expanded. Greater trade led to the development of a bulk system for inspection, grading and storage in giant bins, instead of individual sacks. All this made storage facilities along rail lines quite necessary. Mr. Hawes simply took a look at the map and noted that Atlanta was the intersection of two major rail lines – Chicago to St. Louis and Peoria to Decatur. And that’s where he put his elevator.

We have a lot to be thankful for in Illinois agriculture, from perspective to opportunity to time. And on the lighter side, we’ve got farm boys and barn kittens and a cold drink. But it’s our history that will sustain us, and that’s worth being thankful for.

Holly Spangler
Prairie Farmer

WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT ILLINOIS AG EDUCATION?

The first blog post celebrating American Education Week talked about Agriculture Education. Illinois has a rich history with our Agriculture Ed Programs, FFA and SAE courses. In addition to other state Ag Education Programs that look to the ‘well oiled machine’ that Illinois has with our Agriculture Ed Program, other Career and Technical Education programs across the nation look to the model that Illinois has built. Career and Technical Education (CTE) may be a new term to you—but these programs exist in nearly every district in the state at the secondary level. You might know them best as former ‘Vocational Education’ programs of Business, Marketing and Computer Education, Family and Consumer Science, Health Science Technology and Technical and Engineering Education. Agriculture classes, Agriculture Education Teacher Training, and expectations in the work force have come a long way and the classes you might have know as Business, Home Economics, and Shop have also come a long way.

One advantage we have in Agriculture is the Agriculture Literacy effort across the state. Illinois houses our Agriculture Literacy within the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom program. This program combines the efforts of Illinois Farm Bureau, UI Extension, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and commodity groups at the state and local level to deliver high quality agriculture messages to teachers and students outside the traditional High School Agriculture program.
education agriculture classroomIllinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) can trace its roots to the early 1920’s as the IAA Record has photos and stories of local farmers bringing examples of crops and animals into schools across the state. In 1981, as John Block headed to Washington, he brought the concept of teaching students and teachers about their food, fiber and fuel system to the USDA. IAITC has undergone many changes in the past three decades, most importantly the emphasis of sharing the story of farmers and their work remains in tact.

IAITC is recognized as one of the strongest program in the nations, due in large part to the outstanding support of farmers across the state. Our decentralized distribution system of materials, classroom presentations and teacher training is one of a kind in the US. Each county in Illinois has a county contact, either a paid Agriculture Literacy coordinator or key volunteers that implement the program at the local level. During the 2009-2010 school year 2,899 volunteers assisted in local efforts. Our program is valued in urban, suburban and rural areas. Lack of understanding of the food, fiber and fuel chain exists across the state!

In the last school year, 30,454 teachers utilized IAITC materials in 2,392 attendance centers across the state. 486,610 students were reached with an AITC in classroom presentations. An additional 1,627 Pre-Service Teachers (University students ready to student teach) were presented with materials and training about how to incorporate agriculture into their existing classroom curriculum.
As local school districts become more focused on the ISAT/PSAE high stakes test, at IAITC we’ve worked to find ways to further incorporate agriculture into math, science, social studies and language arts. Teachers are very open to using IAITC materials, especially after they see the size and scope of agriculture. Many only associate agriculture with actual production. When we are able to show processing, research, sales, marketing among other career options teachers begin to see how agriculture has a direct impact on them as well as their students.
The cornerstone of Illinois AITC is our teacher training. Providing teachers with high quality, standards based, scientifically sound agriculture information that can be easily integrated by teacher into existing classroom curriculum is our goal at the state and local level. Although the program has had a mainstay in the elementary classrooms, our program is working to expand to the middle school and high school levels.
How can you get involved? There are multiple volunteer opportunities at the local level. Log on to our website http://www.agintheclassroom.org/ and click on contact your county to see where you could assist. At the state level, consider our ‘Adopt a Classroom’ program. For over 25 years, we’ve paired ‘farm writers’ with classrooms in Chicago in a pen pal program. In this program you can write to a classroom and share what you do on your farm, and share what goes on in Illinois Agriculture.
How are things changing? As teachers gain access to more technology, our AITC program has branched out to include SMART Board related materials, and we’ll be featuring new interactive Ag Mags with video and hot links on our website during the coming school year.
At Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom we are working to spread an accurate message about what it means to be an ‘Illinois Farmer’. Training teachers and working with students can help promote a positive dialogue about agriculture in classrooms and at home.
If you have additional questions, please contact me at kdaugherty@ilfb.org or check out our website!

Kevin Daugherty
Illinois Ag in the Classroom Education Director
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GET SCHOOLED ON AG EDUCATION DURING AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK!

This week is American Education Week and for me, education means Agriculture Education. I am currently a junior at the University of Illinois majoring in Agricultural Education so it’s easy for me to see the importance of ag education in schools. Unfortunately this is not the case for most people. When people hear “ag education” they either have no idea what you’re talking about, or they think of blue corduroy jackets. Although agriculture education can be college and continuing education through different programs it is most commonly known as a high school program. Agriculture education is extremely beneficial to students and is about more than just sows, cows and plows.

Agriculture education is broken down into three different overlapping categories, the first of which is classroom instruction. Ag classes are extremely varied from small engines, to horticulture, to ag business. It’s easy for students to find a class that suits their interests and gives them many hands on activities. Unfortunately many ag programs are cut from schools because administrators do not see the importance of the content taught in ag classes. Classes teach important content and life skills that pertain to agriculture, an industry that employs 35% of the workforce in the United States. Ag classes also teach science and math skills applied to real life situations. In horticulture, animal science, or vet tech classes students can learn biology through hands on experiences. Math can be learned through ag business and management classes using real life scenarios. Ag classes can be very beneficial, even for students who don’t think they will have a future on the farm.

The second component of Agriculture Education is Supervised Agricultural Experiences or SAE’s. If you are familiar with SAE’s you are probably groaning right now thinking about hours spent keeping and recording diligent records on a project. That is basically what an SAE is, a project, job or experiment that the student conducts with minimal guidance from their teacher. SAE’s can be almost anything, from building a lawn tractor, to hatching eggs, to working in a vet’s office. Students must then keep records on their experience and have the opportunity to compete with their record book for section, state and national awards. By selecting their own projects students get to gain knowledge in subjects they are interested in and expand on the content they learn in the classroom. SAE’s also teach the responsibility of record keeping and allow students to learn from personal experiences.

The final aspect of Agriculture Education is, of course, FFA. What used to be known as Future Farmers of America is now the National FFA Organization. The FFA is the largest national high school organization and provides endless opportunities to its members. Being involved in FFA gives high schoolers the chance to meet students from a school in the next town over, to a school across the country. Students can be learn how to become great leaders from their peers. They can also compete as teams at Career Development Events or CDE’s that pinpoint their interests. CDE’s can range from the very agricultural livestock judging or dairy foods to the very universal and beneficial public speaking, job interview and parliamentary procedure. These CDE’s allow for friendly competition and a chance for students to hone in their skills in the areas that interest them the most. FFA provides students with priceless opportunities that prepare them for the future with leadership skills, career development and working with peers.

Agriculture education can be a vital part any school curriculum and greatly benefits high school students. Whether a student comes from an agricultural background or not, or plans to go into agriculture or not, they can greatly benefit from the opportunities available through agriculture education. Throughout American Education Week keep in mind how important it is to educate youth about agriculture. Agriculture education represents a wide range of subjects and skills that can be learned in and out of a classroom from teachers, peers and the students themselves. It is important to support Ag programs in our schools to give students the opportunity to be the future of the agriculture industry.

Sarah Carson
University of Illinois student
majoring in Ag Education
 
 
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AGRICULTURE – MY HOME AWAY FROM HOME

I loved my house I lived in growing up. It was an average size house but what made it special was the land on which it sat. My grandparents lived next door; separating us was but a wooden pathway and a large fence of trees. All together my brother and I had about 10 acres of land filled with trees and grass to roam and explore. We lived in a crowded northwest suburb of Chicago but when we were home playing, “our town” was the ten acres that sat on a corner hidden by trees. We didn’t have neighborhood friends to play with, we had each other. I was raised with strong family ethics and morals. Sure I was blessed with my friends from school but my best friends were my family. Aside from my mom, dad, brother and grandparents, down a gravel road was a woman who owned donkeys, horses, pigs, and lots of cats. I remember taking walks with my mom and brother to visit her and her animals.

I vaguely recall going with my parents and grandparents to a meeting at our city hall. I was probably about seven years old at the time and there are two things that I still remember about it. One, it was boring. Second and most of all, I remember the woman down the street from me. She was upset; she was opposed to the building of apartments and townhouses behind her property. I remember her tears as she pleaded with the men and women in suits not to build. About a year later that woman moved away to a rural town in northern Illinois. It wasn’t long until we too sold our house. I was devastated the day my mom told my brother and me we were moving. We weren’t moving to a different town, just five minutes down the road to your average suburban neighborhood. I knew that my house was special, now we were leaving it and deep down I knew things were going to change.

Although my grandparents and parents did not sell our houses to developers, we knew it would only be a matter of time until some car dealership got their paws on our property. Sure enough, five years after we moved the trees that sheltered our home and my childhood were gone, vanished like they never existed. I told myself I would never forget what it was like to grow up there. To always remember everything that made it so special. And I do; I remember what it looked like, the tractor rides, playing in our tree house and on our giant tree swing, running through the “forest” with my brother, and having the best birthday parties. However, up until recently I forgot the feeling growing up there gave me.

This may sound outrageous to some, but I think those of you who are a part of agriculture will understand. When I entered the agriculture program at Illinois State University (ISU) I found a familiar feeling that I had almost forgotten. Tens years after I moved away from my old house I discovered that being involved in agriculture gives me the same comfort. If asked four years ago if I could ever see myself in agriculture I would have said no way. Now I can’t see myself anywhere else; I am at home.

When I entered the agriculture program at ISU, before classes started, I thought I would be transferring out within a semester. But after the first two weeks of my classes I was hooked. I instantly felt at home and recognized that the agriculture industry is unlike any other. All my teachers and classmates share a personable quality that I’ve learned goes beyond the classroom and into all aspects of the industry. Agriculture is truly the heart of the world. There is a negative misconception amongst consumers towards farmers that is ignorant and misguided by mediated propaganda. The true faces of farmers are hard working, loyal, and honest. Becoming apart of agriculture has given me this insight and now I wish everyone could see agriculture through my eyes.

At ISU I have become very active in the agriculture department and have built strong relationships with my professors. I am vice president for National Agriculture Marketing Association (NAMA) and will be attending my second Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leader’s Conference this year. I am a senior this year and it will not be long before I enter the professional field of agriculture. I do not yet know where I will start my career or with whom, however I do know that I want to be a part of the relationships that together, make this industry what it is today. I know that my opportunities are endless and wherever I find myself in a year, I will be a part of something unique. I am confident that ISU and the organizations in which I am involved have prepared me for the professional field and I can not wait to continue my life in agriculture. I know I still have a lot to learn about this industry, but I feel so blessed to have found something that sparks such motivation within me.

Maggie Henning
ISU Student

EXTREME HOMEPAGE MAKEOVER!

I’m very excited about something I’ve been working on for a few months now. Very diligently working, and it’s all for you.

That something is the redesign of the Illinois Corn website! When I was hired on as the Communications Assistant one of my main tasks was to get a new, updated website. For any of you that remember what the old one looked like, let’s just be honest, we were in dire need of change.

When we first launched the new look of the website two summers ago (August 13, to be exact) I was very pleased with how it turned out. But I also knew there were still some tweaks and adjustments that needed to be made to fit with the vision I (as well as others in the office) had.

I think this time we may have gotten it right! Of course, I’m sure along the way we will find more things that we want to modify, that’s just the way it goes. Technology is always changing and with that a website must keep up with it. So if there is something you see that you really don’t like and would like to see a change, or something you see that you love, please let us know!

Here a few of my favorite changes:

CSS Fader
This is a fancy term that the programmers like to use for the main picture on the homepage. It fades into new pictures. I like this feature a lot.

Auction Page
We’ve added a special new section for our members only. It’s like an eBay for Illinois Corn. Pretty cool if you ask me. Not a member? You can sign up here and not miss a thing!  (But its still under construction so be sure to check back for this feature!)

Social Media Tools
We have taken a large leap into the world of social media, this blog being one example. On the redesigned site, we make it easier for you to stay in touch with us. There is a section for our latest tweet and tabs at the top of the page for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Corn Corps. See a story you’d like to share? You can easily tweet or facebook it from that page!

Background
The background itself has been updated. I love the cleaner look of it as well as the colors.

Archives
I’ve had requests in the past for old Corn Scoops stories. On the old site we only had 15 stories up at a time, with this feature we will be able to archive the old ones.

Priority Issues
In this section, we have a permanent home for many of our priorities like locks and dams, exports, public education, and Farm Bill. I’m excited that new visitors will be able to read through the main things we’re working on without having to dig even further through daily news stories and news releases. We also have much more flexibility on our homepage to feature the most important stuff which hopefully makes your visit to our website that much more enjoyable.

There are more added features, some behind the scenes that will ultimately help me help you, and others that will subtlety make your viewing experience a better one, like the font size and color. All in all, I love the new look and hope you do as well.

Please remember though, creating a new website is a time consuming procedure.  Cut us a little slack as we continue to finish new pages and update old ones!  We are under construction!

I would like to thank the folks at Cybernautic for all their patience and help. And patience. I’ve been in constant contact with them about changing the color of that or the position of this. So much so, that I worry when they hear my name or see an email from me that they cringe and hide under their desks. They assure me that’s not the case, but I’m certain they are happy to have me off their backs with the launch of the updated site. So again, thank you Cybernautic team, without you this would’ve been a much more stressful time for me!

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

CONG HALVORSON, JOHNSON SUPPORT IL CORN EFFORTS

My kids, four and six, often ask me what I do.  My job isn’t easy to describe to a four year old or a six year old or even the class of first graders I talked to the other day.  Put simply, all the staff at Illinois Corn are trying to help farmers, support farmers, and make it as easy as it possibly can be to do their jobs.

One of the ways we’ve been trying to do just that is to address the federal crop insurance program.

Have we fixed it yet?  Not at all, but we are working on it.  Will our current solution make a dent in the problems crop insurance presents to Illinois corn farmers?  Definitely.  In fact, experts predict that the current route we’re taking to fix crop insurance will “fix” about 50% of the problems farmers have with the program.

As with any federal program, our fix for crop insurance is complicated.  If I were to put it in layman’s terms, I’d tell you simply that Illinois Corn Growers Association is working on an endorsement that will take into account the exponential growth in corn yields over time.  Right now, farmers are typically underinsured because the current program assumes that yields stay the same over time.  The “fix” will help farmers who try to insure 80% of their expected yield actually insure nearly 80% of their expected yield.

But here’s the take home message.  Because we’re working with the federal government (USDA Risk Management Agency) on this possible new endorsement, its a long and complicated and involved procedure.  So the Illinois Corn Growers Association would like to express their sincere appreciation to the Illinois Congressional Delegation that sent a letter to the RMA Administrator this week in support of our proposal.

Thank you, Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, for spear-heading a letter that was signed by Congressmen Hare, Foster, Bean, Costello, and Lipinski among other out of state Congressmen.  And thank you to Congressman Tim Johnson for heading up a letter signed by Congressmen Schock and Shimkus as well as other Congressmen from Iowa and Nebraska.

Illinois corn farmers appreciate your assistance and your support!

 

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

ENGAGE IN SOCIAL MEDIA USING THESE TIPS AND TRICKS

Farmers and “agvocates” from around the country met in Chicago recently to fine tune their social media skills.

As a board member on the AgChat Foundation, I was so impressed to see the instant camaraderie amongst the group as we clearly had some things in common: a love for American agriculture and a willingness to engage non-farmers on issues.

I was one of the speakers at the conference and I focused on basic communication skills. Don’t let the “social media” part of social media get in the way. I’m talking about moving the coffee shop to your laptop. Here are some of my tips and tricks regarding communication that I sent home with the more than 50 attendees:

If we were to summarize what non-farmers are saying to us, it is this:
• I don’t know much about what you do.
• You do something very important to me.
• You raise the food my family eats.
• The most important thing to me is protecting my family and ensuring their health.
• I know you work hard.
• I want to trust you.
• But I’m concerned based on what I see and hear.
• Give me reasons to trust you.

Tap into the Emotions that drive trust: Authenticity (openness, transparency, the “truth”) Shared Values (“you” care about what “I” care about; Protecting me, my family, and my world) Responsibility

Engage in a dialogue, not a monologue

3 F’s: Feel, Felt, Found
• I appreciate the way you Feel
• Others have Felt the same way
• Here’s what I’ve Found

Squint With Your Ears!
• Know why you are listening
• Focus on content and the non-verbal messages
• Organize what you are hearing through observation, reflective listening and note taking
• Give your attention; if you cannot, say so
• Avoid giving advice, moralizing, predicting the future
• Avoid interrupting
• Listen with your heart as well as your head

Watch this video to get a flavor for what brought the group together.

http://www.youtube.com/v/eYoADgvJgE4?fs=1&hl=en_US
 

Tricia Braid
ICGA/ICMB Communications Director