As was reported in today’s edition of The Pantagraph, the daily newspaper in Bloomington, IL, a traveler from Clinton, IL, spotted two Illinois corn farmers featured in a lighted display ad at the airport in Rome, Italy. You can find the original article here. (Scroll down to find the appropriate part of the article.)

Just how in the world did that happen?

Well, it started with an ad campaign placed by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board at O’Hare International Airport. The idea was to give travelers just a bit of information regarding the important role corn farmers play in the Illinois economy. To find out more, interested readers are directed to the Illinois Farm Families website,

The image is attractive. The message is not controversial. It references a not-for-profit run website.

Basically, it was the perfect choice for the company that sells ad space in airports. They had an open slot. They needed something in it. They chose the IL Corn ad.

That’s how John and Sue Adams, of Atlanta, IL, became messengers of a positive corn message in Rome.

Who’da thunk?

Here’s a picture of the ad in O’Hare. It was placed in areas travelled heavily by those going to and from Washington, DC, in the hopes of influencing those “influential people” who speak to our elected officials.

Ohare Ad, Illinois corn farmers, john and sue adams

Braid Terry_Tricia  mugshotTricia Braid
ICGA/ICMB Communications Director


October in my book, is one of the best months of the year.  And with the help of our Pinterest page, here is why:

  1. Pumpkins – This seems to be one of those things that people either love or hate.  I’m on the love side here.  Pumpkin bread, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin cheddar mac & cheese, the list goes on and on and on.  How could you NOT like pumpkin, it’s so versatile!  More on this tomorrow…
  2. Pumpkin farms – We are lucky to have an amazing pumpkin farm right down the road from our office and I take my daughter there every year.  Rader Family Farms is fun for all ages, it’s especially great for those families that aren’t from farm.  They get a chance to spend the day on a farm and learn a few things while having fun.
  3. Cooler Temperatures – While I love summer, it’s just not as great as fall.  When the temperature drops and you can wear jeans and a sweatshirt while sitting around a campfire – nothing beats it.
  4. smoreS’mores and Cookouts – Cooking over a campfire makes some of the best food and it’s just downright fun.  Kids can even get involved by roasting hot dogs and s’mores!  What kid doesn’t love a s’more?
  5. Soup – What goes great with lower temps?  Soup of course.  It’s not very appetizing to me to eat a blazing hot bowl of soup when it’s also blazing hot outside.  But when it’s nice and cool out?  Oh yes, bring on the soups!
  6. Fall Decorations – Indian corn, burlap, pumpkins, squash, acorns, pine cones, the list goes on of great decorations.
  7. Halloween – It doesn’t matter how old you are, get dressed up and have fun on Halloween!  Who needs a costume party?  Put on your best mummy or witch makeup and scare the neighborhood kids as they come to your front door for treats!  And I would be remiss if I left out Halloween candy here.  Eat as much as you want, it’s the one time of year that candy is fat and calorie free… right?
  8. Bow-hunterBow season – October 1st marks the beginning of bow season!  There really is no way to feel closer to nature than sitting in a tree stand as the sun rises and waiting for the perfect deer to come across your path.  Filling your freezer with enough meat to get you through the year is a nice perk as well.
  9. Piles of Leaves – Come on, do I even have to explain this one?
  10. 1Harvest – Of course, I saved the best for last…. Such a great feeling comes with harvest.  It’s the time when all of a farmer’s hard work is coming to fruition.  The sights and smells of harvest are the best of the year.

Did I leave one of your favorites off?  Tell me what you love most about October!

Becky FinfrockBecky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant


GMO corn

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) has turned into a huge buzz word in today’s society and has also caused a lot of fear of what is in our food. Misconceptions of GMO’s are all over the internet. Whether it be how “unhealthy” they are for you, or how the agriculture industry is “farmed and dangerous,” many have only heard about one side of the story and look over why GMO’s were created in the first place. Here are a few reasons why GMO’s are used and why they may not be as scary as you may think.

Selective Breeding FlowchartSelective breeding is not a new wave thing 

Selective breeding has actually been around since human civilization, and is not something that just recently “popped” up within our crops to harm us.  Cross-bred crops are bred by closely or distantly related individuals which contain desirable traits the other individual plant may not contain. This creates a new genetic code that produces desirable, more controlled traits and yields.  The reason agronomists breed genes is to create foods that are resistant to extreme weather, insects, and diseases. GM (genetically modified) crops are strong, healthy crops that can better withstand the environment.

pesticide warningGMO’s actually cuts down on pesticide use 

A huge fear many seem to have with genetically modified food is they believe we are just eating pure chemicals. Many assume non-genetically modified food contains less chemicals and are healthier for you. The difference between the two is that genetically modified crops are bred to withstand disease and pests to reduce pesticide use, while non-genetically modified crops actually use more pesticides and chemicals to keep the crop “healthy.” Pesticide application can be far more abused due to spraying too much pesticide on a non-GM crop, which actually results in higher toxins than a GM crop even contains. This also ties into people claiming non-GM crops are healthier. It has been proven that the nutrient levels in both GM crops and non-GM crops are the exact same, and that there is no difference between the two, except price differences. Claiming organic or non-GM crops are healthier is a marketing ploy done by producers to sell their products.

farm familyunpopular puffinFarmers have families they care about just like we do 

Farmers and workers in production agriculture are not people that should be feared. I know my farmer would never grow anything he wouldn’t eat or feed his children. Farmers have families just like everyone else in the world and want to be able to provide the best food they can on their dinner table for their families as well. Farmers also do not want to see anyone go hungry and they are doing their part of controlling hunger by planting genetically modified corn to increase yields to feed the world. By 2050 farmers will have to increase yields by 50% since the world population is expected to double. Land is a limited resource, so farmers are doing everything they can to produce as much food as possible with limited resources.

Just like IPhones, you either fear how they have taken over the world or you embrace them

You hear horror stories about all the popular items on today’s market every day. GMO’s are just like smartphones, no matter how much you fear they are taking over the world, you won’t live in a world without them! Taking the time to sit down and talk to a farmer instead of listening to second-hand stories the media has put out there will help lessen your fears about how our food is grown. So, step out onto the farm and see all that our food producers do for us!

corals profile pictureCoral Johnson
Illinois State University Student


Have you ever had a student say “Why are we learning this? I will never use this.” Or have you as a teacher just wanted to spice up your everyday lesson plans and have someone else come in and explain/show how this topic can be used on a day to day basis? There is a solution for you! A Farmer!  Here are just 8 simple ways a farmer can come in and make a topic come to life!

#1 Color#1

Have every Friday be a different color theme. For example one Friday have your color be Green and have a farmer come in as a special guest and tell the class about all the types of green things that are on their farm!

#2 Fractions

Invite a farmer to come in and do a math lesson about fractions with your students. Ask the farmer to explain why he uses fractions on his farm and how it helps them to determine how much each field makes.


#3 Animals

In a science unit talking about animals invite a farmer to come in and tell the class about the animals they have on the farm and what they are used for. Maybe even ask the farmer if he can bring a small animal into your classroom or see if your class can visit the farm and see the animals live in action!


#4 Transportation

Doing a Unit about different types of transportation? Have a farmer come in and talk about all the types of equipment they have on the farm like lawn mowers, combines, tractors, etc. and what they are used for. If your area is accessible maybe invite a farmer to bring a piece of equipment to the school and take a mini field trip outside so students can physically see what it is!

equipment collage

#5 Food

Invite a gardener to come into your classroom and talk about the types of fruits/vegetables he or she grows in their garden. Have the gardener explain what they grow and why they grow it. Also have the gardener explain to students why fruits and vegetables are very healthy for them to eat!


#6 Weather

Ask a grain farmer to come into your classroom and talk about how weather effects the outcome of what they grow. For example: without rain corn cannot grow and without corn some foods that we eat, like corn flakes, cannot be made.


#7 Reading

In your designated reading time of the day have a farmer come in and explain to your class how they have to read newspaper, magazines, and articles practically daily to learn about new inventions being created, trends in their business, and rules they need to follow.


#8 Pilgrims and Indians

When discussing pilgrims and Indians in your history lesson ask a farmer to come in and talk about how the ways of creating food have drastically changed over time and the technology they use to help them now. Ask the farmer if they can possibly bring in a piece of technology and show the class how it works!



abby jacobsAbby Jacobs
Joliet Junior College Student


Office CubicleFarm jobs and office jobs are almost polar opposites.  Non-ag folks cringe at the thought of working outside every day, while I know many farmers who couldn’t imagine waking up, commuting into town, and sitting at a desk for 8 hours.  While there are some similarities between farm jobs and office jobs, there are also some big differences.  Here are some of the top differences I found between office jobs and farm jobs.

 1. Having a boss vs. being your own boss 

We’ve all had to put in our time under a boss we didn’t get along with—if you haven’t, count your blessings!  Having a strict, mean, rude boss can make going to work something you dread.  Farmers have the luxury of being their own boss.  They are the ones making the vital decisions about their job. There’s no one else to answer to, no hoops to jump through as they try to climb up the corporate ladder.

Dow Image 2. Learning company history vs. knowing your family history 

Learning about the company’s history is one of the tips I’ve heard over and over from professors.  You have to do some research and know your stuff before going in for an interview or the first day on a job.  For many farmers, this is a no brainer! Knowing the history of their job is as easy as knowing their family tree.  Family farmers have worked alongside their family for generations—the history of their job is in the fields they farm and the barns they work in.

3. Working weekdays, 9-5 vs. working every day, all hours

Office jobs have set hours that some people crave—there’s a time you come in, a time you eat lunch, and a time you pack up and go home. For farmers, this is very different.  A farmer’s day begins as the sun rises and ends when the daylight ends—sometimes later if there is still work to be done.  And farmers don’t take two days off for the weekend or countdown the days until a holiday closes the office.  Farmers work every day, long past the normal 8-hour workday.

 4. Creating something on a computer vs. creating something with your own hands 

Hands in SoilPerhaps the most rewarding thing about being a farmer is bringing life to another being, whether it is a plant or an animal.  There is nothing quite like seeing a newborn calf after you help bring it into the world.  Or seeing the crops that you tended to for all those hours growing tall and healthy in your field.  It’s a feeling you just can’t get in an office cubicle.

Office jobs are great for some people, and not so great for others—to each his own, as the saying goes.  Our world can’t have one without the other; there are even many times when agriculture and office jobs go hand in hand.  Farming is a job unlike any other—a job where nothing is for sure, where often times you put in much more than you are likely to get out—but it’s job that I can’t imagine living without.

Barn Picturesydney laySydney Lay
Southern Illinois University student