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
 
 
If you liked this, check out:
WHY ARE FARMERS SO LAZY?
CITY PRODUCE PROGRAM PROVIDES NUTRITION, EDUCATION, UNDERSTANDING

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

REFLECTIONS FROM A CITY GIRL

I’ve spent 21 years in Illinois. I’ve never left for more than two weeks at a time, and let’s be honest, that Chicagoan dialect that spews out of my mouth doesn’t exactly allow me to assimilate into just any geographic region. Illinois is my home. Specifically, I was raised in Itasca, which is about a 40 minute train ride from Chicago.

Being a Chicagoan (or even a suburbanite) is a lifestyle. The pace at which I walk to work is probably better described as “jogging.” I know what a REAL hot dog looks like, I can direct you to the city’s best Italian beef and don’t even get me started on thin crust pizza. When my boss told me that we were going to volunteer our time to corn picking in Manhattan, I thought he was joking.

The thought of Nicky Hunter picking corn is akin to the thought of a cat swimming laps in a pool. Outrageous. I love sports but hate playing them because I hate to sweat. I’ve never tended to a garden because I don’t like dirt, and I don’t even know what I would do if I found a worm. I’d probably scream and jump up and down, hands waving in acute panic. The great outdoors and I never really got along.

“Sure, I’ll do it,” I replied because I talk a big game. I knew it was for the City Produce Project, which was a good cause. Monsanto, which is a huge company, got behind the project and Illinois Corn Marketing Board also participated in the program, so if such big forces can help out, what was stopping me? Some dirt and sweat? Pathetic, city girl, pathetic.

It would be easy, I thought, because it’s a farm. I thought I knew farms. After all, I’d seen one obnoxious farm comedy after another, I knew the routine. You get up early when the rooster crows and then you do various farm duties until someone rings that little triangle to announce that a large, bountiful dinner was ready. That dinner, of course, was provided by the farmer’s hard work and that was how they survived. That’s all I was exposed to.

Stupid.

What never really occurred to me was that the work that gets done on a farm is a business. The crops that grow on a family’s farm aren’t just exclusively for family meals that would make a Norman Rockwell painting look like child’s play. Once I arrived on the farm, I expected to see machinery going to town on those crops, with volunteers just packing away the corn that the machines left behind. After all, farms are so expansive, there is no way that we would actually be doing the harvesting. There are machines for that…right?

Not in this case. It was all hard work and human labor. It finally occurred to me that the vegetables I eat actually originate somewhere. It was humbling to realize that sometimes I’m just too lazy to get in my car and drive three minutes to the supermarket and pick fresh produce, then come home and prepare it. Instead, I shuffle through my kitchen, mumbling “There’s no food in this house” and chomping on a bag of chips and maybe a cookie, if I’m lucky. I realized that farmers have to plant, nurture and send off all their crops in order to get to the supermarket produce section that I rarely visit because I just don’t have “THE WILLPOWER” to eat correctly.

Spending a few hours on a farm went beyond just opening my eyes to the process. Being involved with the City Produce Project even at the most minimal level has made me aware of the daily challenges farmers face. If the weather is nice on Sunday, farmers are working. Weekend or not, there’s something to do on the farm. If the weather doesn’t cooperate at the right time; game over. The whole field could be washed out and there could be nothing to show for days or even weeks of work. No produce, no profit. No profit, no nothing. Farming isn’t a joke.

I was lucky enough to get to volunteer when the weather, though hot as the Sahara, was relatively good. I was informed that the week beforehand, volunteers trudged through mud in order to get the work done, and not many extra people showed up because they didn’t want to get dirty. The work had to get done, so the farmers spent the entire day in wet mud. They have no choice. That corn had places to be, City Produce Project participants to please, delicious flavors to unleash upon unsuspecting omnivores.

As a suburbanite who spends more than 40 hours in metro Chicago per week, I can say with confidence that I was completely unattached to my food. I don’t know where it comes from, I don’t know how it was grown, and I know even less about who is responsible for its production. If it reached my mouth, I was happy. After spending literally no more than two hours on a farm, I can say that now I appreciate fresh vegetables. They take work. I don’t know if larger areas are handled with machinery or not, because I’m only familiar with the sweet corn used in the City Produce Project. But I do know that regardless of machinery’s role, humans operate them. Humans purchase the seed, humans tend to the crops and humans wouldn’t exist without this kind of selfless dedication.

I feel less like a Chicagoan/Suburbanite and more of an Illinoisan. I am aware of the goings-on in other parts of this vast state, not just the deep-dish pizza feuds and seemingly endless roadwork of Cook County. There are things beyond my hamburger, beyond my debilitating fear of being touched by an earthworm, and beyond my selfish need for food to just appear.

I appreciate corn farmers now, because after two hours I was ready to throw in my sweaty towel and call it a day. That’s not an option for them, and I commend them for dedicating their lives to such an uncontrollable gamble. Without such skilled and charitable farmers, programs like the City Produce Project wouldn’t be possible, and some communities would be left without any resources to combat diabetes because they would have zero access to anything as nutritious as the corn grown in Manhattan.

I think every Chicagoan should experience just a few hours on a farm. It does bring perspective and opens up those smog-weary eyes to a different kind of existence that is only a few hours removed from Chicago.

And would you believe it, this city chick actually had fun on a farm. I touched some bugs, got sweaty and got a paper-cut on my hand (the horror!), but at the end of the day, I did something new for a good cause.

Nicky Hunter

NEW AG EDUCATION EXHIBIT FEATURED AT IL STATE FAIR


Illinois Corn and other commodity groups have a new and improved presence at the state fair. Aimed at occupying the little ones while educating families, the Farmer’s Little Helper exhibit walks visitors thru barns about corn, soybeans, cattle, pigs, horses, poultry, farm safety and more.

I spent the day in the Commodity Pavilion and the Director’s Lawn for Ag Day festivities, but made it a point to visit the Farmer’s Little Helper exhibit. Families were learning about Illinois agriculture, both that it’s supplying a safe and abundant food supply and the hard work, time and energy that it takes for farmers to produce food for our state as well as the world. This is an important connection between farm families and the citizens of Illinois encouraging an open and understanding relationship between the two.

Children that visited the exhibit had many hands-on learning opportunities. Such as: milking a cow, measuring their height compared to a corn or soybean plant, seeing a real live baby chick, and learning where the cuts of meat come from. All of these activities plant a seed of understanding and appreciation for agriculture in the minds of our youth.

In each barn kids played games relating to that industry and their winnings (i.e. eggs, milk, wool, etc) were collected to sell at the ‘market’ at the exit of the exhibit. This miniature scale market helps children understand the real-life business of agriculture. And if there is one thing agriculture needs, it’s for people to better understand who we are, what we are doing, and why we are doing it.
The Illinois State Fair has a long agricultural history, in fact the reason the ISF exists is to showcase premier agriculture products, so it’s certainly encouraging to see this highlighted at the fair again.
While I was walking thru the Farmer’s Little Helper exhibit I was stopped by a woman who was very impressed and enthused to see a quality ag education center at the fair. In her words, “It’s certainly about time we did something for our farmers”.

Indeed it is.

Becky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

REAL LIFE LESSONS

They can be hard to come by…actually, no, I take that back. They can slap you in the face when you’re least expecting that. College is definitely a time for learning and experiencing life as never before. It’s when you learn to survive in that big bad world out there. There are ways to better equip yourself, though. There are things you can do to learn in a positive environment, to better understand who you are, where you’re going, and what you want to do. One of these tools for better preparation is the idea of interning.

Internships introduce you to “real” work. You get to test your creativity, and learn some of the ropes of what you want to do. Or, you may better define your dreams and goals. I’ve done a few internships so far, and have a few more queued up for the next few years. One of these internships was as an Internet Communications person with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.

I’d like to think I directly blame them for me catching the ag comm bug. I loved agriculture before. Now, I’m hooked.

For a little backstory, I’ll clarify why I’m an odd case for agricultural communications. Most ag comm folks study ag comm, and pick up on Internet trends as they go. I’m the reverse. I’m majoring in Interactive Media Studies, with a minor in English composition. My school doesn’t even have an ag program. Yet, I found my way to some applications for Illinois Corn internships. While agriculture has always been an interest, the time I devoted to blogging for ICMB helped channel it into a very concrete passion. The pay was decent and the people were great to work with. I feel supremely blessed to have been able to do something I truly enjoyed with people who are incredibly fun to work with.

The experience was not just limited to finding passion within myself. There were valuable learning opportunities. As the internship went on, I began interacting with other interns. Abby Coers and I integrated our separate projects to promote each other a bit. We were given creative liberty, but we also had guidance when we needed it. It was ultimately a great learning experience. I got to experience a conference room setting, where they presented to each other about our specific projects. I learned about networking and professional connection. I even got to wear a suit and present to the Board of Directors at the end of my internship.

I am eternally grateful to Illinois Corn for the things I learned under their wing. I only wish I could have exploited the experience a bit longer. Because of them, I know where my heart lies, as far as the professional world goes. I also got another big fringe benefit: because of my internship, I now run Midwestern Gold, a blog devoted to Illinois corn and agriculture in general.

So, when you start thinking about ways to build some professional experience, think of me. I attend a liberal arts school in the Chicago suburbs. Because of an internship, I got to stay in touch with my agricultural roots. I realized I could really pursue my passions with my skills and talents. When you start checking out those internship applications, don’t pass over Illinois Corn. I’m glad I didn’t!

Kelly Rivard
North Central College

AMERICAN CORN FARMERS FIND CONSENSUS

During the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Corn Congress, corn farmers from 28 states came together in our nation’s capitol to debate issues and set policy for the organization.  The highlight of the week was the election of four members of the NCGA Board, one of which was our own Rob Elliott of Cameron, IL!  Pictured above is Paul Taylor (row 1, fourth from left) and Bill Christ (row 2) who represented Illinois during policy discussions at Corn Congress.
Of course, as mentioned earlier this week, we also visited with every member of Congress (or their staff) and both Senators while in Washington, ensuring that they understand the business of corn farming, the need for markets, and the sustainability of American corn farmers.

CORN IS A RECORD CROP

Out here in DC where many corn farmers from many different states have met to visit their congressmen and work on corn policy, one topic of conversation that bridges all gaps is this season’s crop. Fairly often, you hear one farmer walk up to another they barely know, and overcome any political or ideological differences with one question: “So, are you going to have a record crop this year?”

Unfortunately, extremely wet weather in IL makes most of the IL corn farmers answer no, but the subject of record yields and yields that trend upwards and offer less variability are a common topic in our congressional visits too. In fact, growing corn yields are addressed in the new Corn Fact Book that we are giving to each of our elected officials this week.

We as farmers understand that when we used to get 150 bushel to the acre, we’re now getting more than 200. Consumers, legislators, and thought leaders both in DC and in our communities in Illinois don’t know that.

This is one place where you can help. Explaining something as simple as Illinois corn’s yield trend to your neighbors and non-farm friends can help people understand that there is more than enough corn to provide for all our markets and that our efficiency and yields are still growing!

I am proud to be a part of the latest Corn Farmers Coalition ad campaign in DC and around our state and I am equally proud to share the below excerpt from the Corn Fact Book where we explain growing yields. If you could use a copy of the Corn Fact Book in your community work to educate friends and neighbors about corn production, please leave a note in the comments and we will be happy to help you obtain a copy.

Scott Stirling
ICMB Vice Chair

Record After Record

How do America’s family farmers out-produce everyone else? The roots of this success run deep and wide.

There’s know-how – the everyday working knowledge and understanding of how best to plant, raise and harvest a crop. This is not simply tossing a few seeds to the ground and hoping for the best. It involves high-tech equipment that places hybrid seeds at the desired depth in the soil and the optimal number of seeds per acre. It’s the ability to help keep that crop healthy during the growing season. The understanding of where plant nutrients are needed and when – and the technical savvy to do just that. The optimism to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into a crop Mother Nature can wipe out in an instant.

Then comes the continuing advancement of hybrid seed corn – every year means better hybrid seeds for farmers. Plant breeders today have advanced tools to better predict which desirable characteristics will come from its two parents. They can identify those with potential and run tests before a single seed is ever planted in the ground. Add the advances gained through biotechnology and the potential from mapping the corn genome, its DNA, and it’s safe to say today’s yields – unimagined a generation ago – are just the beginning.