Author Grace Speare advised “the more we give of anything, the more we shall get back.” In rural communities, helping others is a lifestyle and not a single act. This mindset is especially evident in a crisis situation. Farming is the nation’s most dangerous industry.  Nationwide, over 100 children die yearly in farm related incidents.  With planting season approaching, tractors and farmers will be out in full swing. Now is the time to consider safety for yourself and your family. Learning what resources are available is an great to start.

Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, IL developed the Center of Rural Health and Farm Safety in 1991. The center holds one key objective:  provide education to farmers and their families to prevent injuries and save lives. Amy Rademaker, Rural Health and Farm Safety Specialist at Carle Hospital, aims to increase healthcare knowledge in rural populations. Through school programs and community outreach, Amy teaches thousands of people yearly.

As a previous intern for Amy and the Center of Rural Health and Farm Safety, I helped with a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day at Gifford Elementary School teaching third, fourth, and fifth grade students about hidden hazards. According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, the leading sources of fatal injuries are caused by machinery, motor vehicles and drowning. My purpose was to hone in on injuries potentially caused by machinery. I taught children about pinch points and emphasized the importance of familiarizing oneself with equipment. I simulated an accident by running a hotdog on a stick through a mock gear system. Seeing the marred hotdog disturbed the children. The purpose of reaching out to rural children is to impress the importance of safe and healthy behavior and prevent fatal accidents.

Gifford Safety Day 9.7.12 010

Teaching the future agriculture leaders about prevention and proper response in a crisis will save lives. Farm Safety for Just Kids, a non-profit organization, strives to achieve this goal. They serve millions of rural families yearly across the nation through outreach coordinators and local chapters. They want to protect the next generation of farmers by presenting research based health and safety facts.


Helping others is one of the greatest gifts we can give. With generational farming being the norm in most communities, it is vital that we teach safety practices to our future farmers. When we serve our families safe methods, we give them a lifetime of healthy practices. In the end, we sow a safer, brighter future for our families.

How do you practice safety with your family? Add a comment below to share with us. How you teach health behaviors could be the answer another family is looking for.

ava carmienAva Carmien
Champaign County


There’s so much more to growing a corn crop than you might think. Significant financial investment, for one, including millions of dollars for seed, fertilizer, equipment, storage, and more. And when factors (like the flooding we’re getting here in Illinois) create less than optimum growing conditions, farmers start kissing a portion of their already small margins good bye.


catImagine a cute, cuddly puppy. Pets are a great thing to have around your house. It’s always nice to have a companion who will love you, no matter what. What kinds of pets have you had? Cats, dogs, hamsters or maybe a fish? A common misconception for livestock producers is that their animals, such as cattle or pigs, are treated as pets. This is far from true. By no means am I saying that livestock are treated cruel, but they are treated with respect as they are being raised.

cowFarmers and ranchers who raise livestock have one goal:  to raise healthy animals to be sold for consumers to eat. Do not be mistaken, they treat them very well in order to keep them comfortable and healthy year-round, but they would not normally give their cow name or put a collar on a pig. Livestock producers do care about their animals, just not in that loving, go fetch kind of way. Even though you may hear the horror stories in the news and on your television at home, I would like to paint a good picture in your head.

Being from a farm, I can attest to the fact that farmers and ranchers are not the cruel people that some may have thought them to be. We are constantly monitoring our animals. We make sure that if a cow seems to be sick, we get them to the veterinarian and get the medicine that they need. In the winter they get bedding put down regularly in the barn so that they can be warm and protected from the different weather elements. In addition to a protective building, cattle are provided with enough water, especially through this past year’s drought. We also have trees for added protection when they are grazing in the pastures. Even with the pastures, we have set times twice a day when we feed our cattle corn. Times may be difficult for the farmer, but they do everything in the power to make sure that their livestock are well-provided for during any weather condition, including blizzards, storms and extreme heat.

rancher in blizzardJust because a farmer does not consider their cow or pig a pet like you would consider your dog, that definitely does not mean that they do not care or that they are not concerned about their well-being. The cows and pigs are being raised for you and me to put on our dinner tables at home. You definitely would not want to think about eating your dog, so we as farmers do not treat our animals that we are raising as pets, such as we would a dog. The livestock are a part of the farmer’s life. It is their job to raise the healthy animals to produce safe meat for consumers to eat.

So when you see a farmer, thank them. They are doing everything in their power to provide you with deliciously nutritious food that you can put on the dinner table for your family.

Katlyn PieperKatie Pieper
Illinois State University student


Students seeking meaningful public relations, communications or marketing internships in agriculture should consider the Illinois Corn Marketing Board fall internships recently announced.  Applications are due on June 17.

For all students taking college level classes during the fall 2013 semester, the ICMB Social Media internship is an excellent opportunity to engage in promoting agriculture, learning key social media techniques, and keeping up on issues important to the industry.  Students who have completed the social media internship can expect to exit the semester with a meaningful portfolio of work and a new skill set to aid in their future job search.

The social media internship consists of managing a social media application for the semester and can be done from any college or university in Illinois.  Applicants do not need to reside in or near Bloomington, IL.

Students with video production skills may also wish to consider the ICMB Video Production Internship, available to students taking college level classes during the fall 2013 semester.  Throughout this internship, students will be shooting, editing, and producing videos that promote agriculture and Illinois farmers through on-site investigations of why farmers do what they do.  Examples of previous completed videos can be found on the IL Corn YouTube channel at

The video production internship can also provide much needed diversification for a video production student’s portfolio.

For more information on either of these opportunities, please visit or email Lindsay Mitchell at

Click here to download an application.


In one of his beloved children’s books Dr. Suess wrote, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so…get on your way.”  I feel like this quote accurately describes an opportunity that I experienced about a month ago in Washington, D.C.

In the middle of March I traveled to Washington, D.C. as one of 60 student representative from the Agriculture Future of America organization to be an advocate for agriculture on Capitol Hill during National Ag Day.  National Ag Day, March 19th, is a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture.  National Ag Day, and my trip, were both funded by the Agriculture Council of America.

ag-day-logoDuring my stay in Washington, D.C., I attended two days of training sessions for National Ag Day, participated in National Ag Day on Capitol Hill where I met with Representative Kinzinger and Senator Durbin, taught an Ag literacy lesson to urban 7th graders, and spent a final day doing round table discussions about international agricultural policy and trade.

Perhaps the most rewarding experience during my time in D.C. was getting to teach two urban 7th grade classes about agriculture.  In order to do this, I was chosen by the National Association of Agricultural Educators to be one of six future agriculture teachers and three mentor teachers who would teach an ag literacy lesson on National Ag Day.

University of Illinois Ag students in Washington, DC

The topic that I chose to teach the students about was Urban Agriculture, and how they could become urban agriculturalist themselves. After some explanation, the students were able to make their own “garden in a glove” were they could see vegetable seeds germinate and eventually be able to transplant these seeds into an urban garden. Little did I know that the school was in the process of completing a rooftop garden where these students would be able to transplant their vegetable plants.

Harfst working with DC studentsIn reflection, I realized that these students were truly interested in agriculture and how their food is produced; however, they had never been in a situation where they were able to ask someone involved in agriculture.  I spent some time tell the students how I grew up on a farm and raised pigs, and the students had an overwhelming number of students about that. One of the students asked me, “Living on a farm means you live a barn with the animals, right? You don’t have a house?’

Overall, my experience in Washington D.C. was humbling because I was able to see agriculture in a different light that I always have.  It’s much easier to advocate for agriculture when you’re standing a mile or less from a corn field, but I was teaching students who have most likely never seen a corn field ever.  It is my hope that these students will remember my time spent with them on National Ag Day because they are future consumers who will be making the decisions that affect the agricultural way of life.

Liz HarfstLiz Harfst
University of Illinois Agriculture Education student


No farm photos to show today … only flood photos.  Take a look at the damage that somewhere between 7 and 10 inches of rain can do to an Illinois field that should be turning green with new corn and soybean seedlings right about now …

Flooded fields in Christian County Illinois

Here’s water covering the road in Christian County, Illinois.

flooded fields in Central Illinois

And another showing the water trying to drain into flooded ditches, also in Christian County.

flooded fields in LaSalle County Illinois

Here’s a field in LaSalle County that looks considerably more like a lake.

flooded fields in Iroquois County, Illinois

And a little less, but still significantly impactful, water damage in Iroquois County.  Notice what looks like hail along the roadsides?

Flooded field in white county, Illinois

Still looking pretty dark and dreary in White County … the last thing this farmer needs is more rain.

flooded fields in winnebago county, IL

It’s going to be a long time before this farmer can plant in Winnebago County.

The optimum time to plant is April 15, which we blew by earlier this week with weather too wet and too cold to plant. Now, the rains we’ve seen this week will prevent field work for at least another two weeks, with days of rain forecasted again next week! It’s shaping up to be a late season.


queenie and roxGrowing up on a farm was one of the best gifts that I have ever received.  With it came with great responsibility at a young age. There were several animals to take care of, all of which my brother and I tried our best to do so all by ourselves. We had dogs, several cats, rabbits, pigs, and cattle. Now, not everyone would think that farm animals would be considered as pets; however, to me they were some of my favorite pets. I always enjoyed the cats and dogs to play with and have companionship with, but I liked the livestock the best.

KK sheepUniversity of Illinois student, Kiersten Kasey, also wanted to share her experience of growing up on a farm.  She says, “I was raised on a sheep, cattle and grain farm and I am thankful for that. I have exhibited at livestock shows across the nation and planted seed test plots around the Midwest with my father and sister. From an early age, we were incorporated into the family farm and started going to livestock shows at infancy. I stepped into the sheep show ring with my parents when I was two and have been a part of the showing circuit since then. Having livestock, and other pets including my border collie, Nellie, and barn cats have taught me responsibility and many life lessons. It was not until I was 9 years old selling my first weather, ‘Jason’, that I realized my livestock were not necessarily pets and that they were providing products to people. However, I still treat them with the same care I would my pets because I am proud of the animals we raise.”

show pigAnother University of Illinois student, Liz Harfst, also has her experiences to share of growing up on a farm.  She states, “Growing up on a farm, I developed a deep passion for animals at a young age, especially for my pigs. I especially loved the mother pigs. As a child, I made sure each of them had a name and EVERYONE knew it. As a farm kid, I quickly learned to appreciate the circle of life, and that we couldn’t keep ALL of our pigs, but to care for the ones that we had at the moment. I wouldn’t trade my experience as a farm kid for anything!”

Many farmers treat their animals with great care, which is the equivalence to how people would treat their pets. Here were just a few personal examples to how farmers view their animals. In the below picture, one can see how much this man cares about his calf, carrying it in during a blizzard.

blizzard calf

cattle, show, fair, illinois farm girlNaomi Cooper
University of Illinois Student


Farmers are itching to get back in the field.  An optimum planting date is April 15 – yesterday – so all this wet and cold weather we’ve been getting that’s preventing planting is starting to get under their skin!  But never fear!  Planting won’t really be considered “behind” until sometime after May 1.

Here’s what a couple of Illinois farmers are saying about the field conditions in their areas:

jeff scatesJeff Scates, Shawneetown, IL:

We received about an inch and a half of rain last Thursday.  It was very welcome but not the frost on Friday.  My truck read 38 degree that morning! 

Planters have been rolling down this way.  Our first 20 acres went in on the 4th with a ground temperature around 55.  We are now sitting at about 20% planted.  We have a neighbor that started a few days earlier and probably has 4000 acres in.  Several were waiting for this last cold spell to go through before they started.  We are probably 10 to 15% off normal pace and 50% off last year.

Jim ReedJim Reed, Monticello, IL:

Last week we got 2.5-3.0 inches of rain I think. The hail knocked our gauge off the post.

Some neighbors started around April 8 but not really pushing it too hard. Between
the 12 inches of snow a few weeks ago and this rain, tiles are running and for the
first time in awhile we can say we have adequate moisture. I am trying to read
all the way through the manual for my new row shut off/ auto steer setup so may
not get started till sometime in June.

If you’re interested in following along as the planters start running and crops are going into the ground, “like” us on Facebook!


We all know today is Tax Day, but did you also know it’s National Take a Wild Guess Day?  If you’re a fan of hunches, speculation, conjecture, or even good old-fashioned gut feelings, you’re in for a real treat!  See if you can guess what these photos are of… hint, they all are things you would see around a farm!  Leave a comment with your wild guess and check back later for the answers… good luck!

Take a Wild Guess Collage

And the answers are….

Take a Wild Guess Answers

A – Tooth from a hay rake

B – Door latch on livestock trailer

C – Tooth on bucket of back hoe

D – Gate Stop – This may have been a trick question as I have never seen one anywhere other than my dad’s farm.  It’s a homemade tool we use to keep gates open.