Illinois Family Farmers Educating Race Fans

Illinois Family Farmers entertained and educated NASCAR race fans again this past weekend. The exhibit featured everything from a large New Holland combine to games like this one and many Illinois family farmers took part in helping talk with the crowd.

During set up day I visited with Mark Schneidewind, farmer and manager of Will County Farm Bureau. Listen to my interview with Mark to learn what was in store for race fans when they come out to the track:

You can find lots of photos from this weekend’s activities here: 2012 NASCAR Dollar General 300 Race Photos

KENNY WALLACE TALKS TO FAMILY FARMERS

It was NASCAR race weekend once again for the Illinois Corn Growers and Illinois Family Farmers. Our favorite driver and just a stand out agvocate, Kenny Wallace, stopped by to visit with farmers before Saturday’s Dollar General 300 Nationwide Series race. Race fans love Kenny and you’ll see that in the video of his presentation below. Here’s Kenny posing with some of his young fans.

I also got to talk with Kenny after his presentation. He was excited to see some new farmer faces at this race weekend. He says farmers are interested in the same things as all race fans like team communication during the race, how many tires the team gets to run on and more.

You can listen to my interview with Kenny here:

You can find lots of photos from this weekend’s activities here: 2012 NASCAR Dollar General 300 Race Photos

I LOOK FORWARD TO MY CAREER IN AGRICULTURE

Moving Forward.

Two words that come to mind for me whenever I think of agriculture.

Despite the economy and recent droughts, the agriculture industry seems to always be moving forward, something I am very thankful for.

I am grateful for the jobs in agriculture mainly because even though I am still a student, I feel as if I have an immense amount of experience.  Employers in the agriculture industry work extremely hard to provide internships and hands on training so that students have a leg up in the classroom, and also so students don’t feel so overwhelmed when entering the workforce.  I take pride in knowing that through my internships I help those who feed the world.

This being my last year as a student I have started thinking a lot about the agriculture workforce and where I fit into it. I have come to realize the possibilities are endless. Unlike other industries that are struggling during this recession, the agriculture industry is thriving, “moving forward” and pressing on during these hard times. I love the fact that technology is growing within the agriculture industry allowing job opportunities as well.

Keeping it Real: Through the lens of a farm girlIn the past I have seen news articles such as Yahoo! stating that degrees such as Agriculture, Horticulture, and Animal Science are “useless,” so here are some facts from the Kane County Farm Bureau that I think future graduates will find reassuring:

  • Agriculture is the nation’s LARGEST employer.
  • More than 21 million people are employed in the agriculture industry.
  • There are more than 250 careers and 8,000 job titles in agriculture.
  • There are more than 48, 000 career openings annually in agriculture – And you just need one!

I am thankful that once I graduate, I will get the opportunity to move forward and use my education in the agriculture industry.

Cailah Brock
Southern Illinois University Agriculture student

LUKE BRYAN FREE CONCERT

Luke Bryan, a friend of American Farmers, will be performing the pre-race concert at Chicagoland Speedway to kick-off NASCAR’s playoffs this Sunday, September 16th.  He is known for his hit song, “Rain is a Good Thing”

This concert is FREE with your grandstand ticket for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race on Sunday, September 16th.  Purchase here www.chicagolandspeedway.com or call 815-722-5500 and mention code (FARM2012CLS) to receive up to $10 off!

Don’t forget to come visit us in Champions Park before the concert!

 

YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR CORN AND EAT IT, TOO.

As harvest gets underway, farmers are waiting to see how much damage this year’s drought has really done to their crops. We are not only hearing concern on the producer side of things, many consumers have also expressed concern regarding the higher corn prices and how it is going to affect their grocery store expenses. (How do corn prices affect consumers?)

With new drought resistant corn hybrids becoming available and expected to be more sought-after in years following this growing season, I am beginning to wonder: Are consumers more concerned with low yields driving the price of corn up or their qualms with GMO crops? If (heaven forbid) next year we have another drought, but farmers had all planted drought-resistant corn, would consumers be happy to see unwavering yields? Or would farmers get criticized for planting genetically modified organisms?

Of course, each consumer would have a different opinion on this matter, so I do not have the answers to these questions. But it’s an interesting thought. Some may say that farmers are caught in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation here, but I see a learning opportunity for those concerned with how their food is grown. This year’s drought and the resulting drought-resistant hybrids are a perfect example of why the agriculture industry has been and continues to use GMO crops. There aren’t scientists sitting in a lab somewhere conjuring up different ways to mess with your food just for the fun of it. These crops give farmers a fighting chance against the many factors we cannot control (i.e. weather, pests, disease, etc.) They help to make your food supply safe and abundant.

So, to those consumers who want high crop yields to keep our economy strong and our food prices affordable without the use of technology on our farming operations… think about what you are asking farmers to do. We can’t compete with the weather, we simply have to use the tools we are given to help our crops along the best we can. So the more tools we have available to our farmers, the better!

Image

Rosalie Sanderson

Membership Administrative Assistant

LEARNING OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM

When I meet with former students, they often talk about the college education that came from activities outside of the classroom.  Some of this education comes from the various “social” events that are part of college life, but beyond the classroom education also comes from the formal extracurricular activities in which college students participate.  These activities and experiences provide students the opportunity to develop what human resource people call “soft skills” such as interpersonal communications, organization and leadership.  The clubs, organizations and judging teams associated with the Illinois State University Department of Agriculture offer students the opportunity to develop this skills and establish friendships that last well beyond their college years.  I would like to provide a little background on three of the clubs.

Illinois State University, National Ag Marketing AssociationIllinois State Chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association was formed in 2005 and has become one of the premier chapters in the United States.    There are currently 36 university chapters in the United States and Canada and each of these chapters is sponsored by a professional NAMA chapter.  The Illinois State University Student NAMA Chapter sponsors several activities that help prepare members for employment in agri-business.  These activities include sponsorship of the Ag Career Fair, hosting a panel of Human Resource Specialist from several major companies and guest speakers at the NAMA monthly meeting. ISU NAMA members also attend the National Conference each year.  This conference allows members the opportunity to network with professionals in the industry and participate in the national marketing competition.  At the 2012 National Conference the ISU NAMA chapter was recognized as the top chapter in North America.

The ISU Horticulture Club and Planet Judging team gives students an opportunity to develop their horticulture skills and serve the community.  Each year the members of the Horticulture Club volunteer their time for landscaping projects at local schools. In the fall the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) landscape judging team competes in the Illinois Landscape Challenge Day and each spring it participates in the PLANET Student Career Days annual contest.

The Illinois State University Collegiate FFA has been another active organization. Students in CFFA participate in the Sales, Job interview, and Specialists career events at the state and national PAS organization.  In these events, students must use their skills and are judged on their ability to make a sale, to work with clients as a (swine, beef, dairy, crops, etc.) specialist, providing support to the client and helping to solve problems.  Lastly, the students compete in a job interview and are judged on their performance, as well as their written application and letter.

These are just three of the many clubs and organizations associated with the ISU Department of Agriculture.  Although their areas of interest are different, their ultimate goal is the same: give today’s agriculture students the opportunity to develop the skills that will make them tomorrow’s agricultural leaders.

Illinois State university, department of agricultureDr. Rick Whitacre
Agricultural Economics, Illinois State University

JOIN THE FAMILY FARMERS TEAM NEXT WEEKEND!

September brings harvest to many people, but it always brings another opportunity… you can meet Kenny Wallace at the Chicagoland Speedway!  With an ICGA membership, you can meet Kenny and join the Family Farmers team as he advocates for YOU and for corn farmers.  Kenny will drive the “Family Farmers” car on September 15 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race.  For more information on how you can attend this exclusive event, click here.

Tickets are limited, so call the ICGA office TODAY to purchase your family’s exclusive ticket package. Ask for Rosie, the ICGA Membership Administrative Assistant at (309) 557-3257.

If you already have your package, PRINT THIS INFORMATION for maps, directions, agendas, attire suggestions, and more.

Don’t forget to visit us in Champions Park as well, where we will have a lot of fun activities for all ages!

THE SILVER LINING TO THE CLOUDS THAT NEVER CAME


In spite of the worst drought on record in the last 50-80 years, U.S. corn farmers are producing a crop that ranks in the top ten crops in terms of yield.

Now THAT’S impressive.

Improved genetics and crop management techniques deserve all the credit.  Companies like Monsanto and Syngenta that are investing in research producing plants that grow more efficiently in stressed conditions have produced corn plants that produce even if horrible droughts.

Without these corn plants, without these genetics, your life as a consumer of meat products would be considerably worse.

It’s a silver lining to the clouds that never came in 2012.