ADDING AG IN THE CLASSROOM

Summer has finally come to an end, which means that yet another school year is ready to start. This means that both teachers and students alike will be transitioning back into a stricter schedule. This is also a time that students will be gaining more knowledge on many subjects. The obvious courses are math, science, history, and reading/English. However, there is another crucial subject that some schools or teachers simply overlook. One that, in fact, encompasses all four of these core subjects.

This would be an ag class. A course whose content is rooted within the agricultural industry and encompasses mathematics, different histories, scientific research, and lots of reading and interpretation. Some might beg to differ, implying that agriculture is solely being a farmer. This would be far from the truth. Agriculture includes math when a farmer must calculate how many plants he can grow within a given area of land, while hopefully achieving some profitability. Ranchers must keep track of their herds and be able to provide enough feed for each animal to properly grow. These topics lead directly into the science of agriculture. Each practice must become as efficient as possible, in order to feed a growing global population. This is only doable through research and precision technologies. History is also a necessity because agriculturalists must learn from past mistakes, in the hopes of continuous improvement. And finally, being able to interpret agricultural newsletters and markets is a must-have talent. Without knowing where past crop markets have been, it would be extremely difficult to predict where they might go.

If you are searching to become more knowledgeable about anything agriculture related, there are resources to help you! Especially if you are a teacher who wants to properly inform your students about where their food comes from or how it’s grown. One fantastic resource is known as Ag in the Classroom. This program is supported by the USDA and is typically developed through Farm Bureaus. Ag in the Classroom provides easily accessible information for anyone wanting to learn or teach others about agricultural practices. For example, AITC has developed a calendar for the school year that has an ag fact on each day, which can be found here! Did you know that wheat from Illinois is used to make cookies, cakes, and cereal? How about that the word “harvest” came from the Old English word haerfest, meaning “autumn” and “harvest-time.” Fun Fact: an acre of corn gives off 4,000 gallons of water per day in evaporation! People might think that agriculture science is boring or stale, but there are many interesting facts hidden just beneath the surface!

The Ag in the Classroom’s website has a whole page dedicated to providing teachers with reliable sources for agricultural topics. It can be reached through this link, and includes information ranging from lesson booklets to GED materials to eating a healthy diet to fact sheets for students! Ag in the Classroom is a wonderful tool for anyone to utilize, especially when learning about where food comes from as well as how it’s grown.

Rosie Roberts
Iowa State University

THE MAGIC WORDS: THANK YOU

I’m at a stage in my life when “thank you” means more than it used to.

This awareness of saying “thank you” first happened when my 11-year-old son first mentioned that I’m not grateful for anything he does.  And, although I continually ask more of him, I AM grateful for what he does, but I obviously wasn’t showing it.  I resolved to be more aware and more vocal about every little thing he finishes to contribute to our household and our family.

I thought about it again when my mom was sharing a story about a neighbor of hers on the farm.  This neighbor in particular and both our extended families back a few generations have been friends and helpmates.  She and my mom text to recap the weather last night, share the bounty of each other’s gardens, and help care for aging pets and family when schedules get busy.  Mom told me that she needed to drop what she was doing to give the neighbor a ride to town to fix a flat tire.  She didn’t mention it at the time, but it was another way of saying “thank you” for all the help the neighbor has provided to us.

As God continued to make me more aware of the blessings in my life and the importance of verbalizing gratitude, I thought about how farm families pull together to help each other out during planting and harvest seasons.  In fact, just this past spring, my dad helped his cousin get the crop in after a car accident that left his cousin with a broken vertebra.  It was a significant setback but just required a long recovery, so the community planted.

There are times when “thank you” doesn’t quite seem to be enough, but we say it anyway.

I believe that gratitude is something that some personalities more readily experience than others.  For some, being grateful is a paved road in our brains and it comes very naturally.  For others, saying “thank you” is more of a dirt road that we have to seek out and remember its there.

But I can’t help but wonder if growing up on a farm makes you a little more grateful.  A farmer and his or her family live a life of uncertainty.  Will there be rain?  Will there be a harvest?  Will the price I’m paid for the harvest be enough?  Will the farm be here for my family again next year?

That uncertainty makes you understand blessings in a new way.  The love and help of neighbors, of family, of community, is such an integral part of raising a family and making a living off a farm.

Don’t forget to notice the blessings all around you today and to verbalize your gratitude to friends, family, co-workers, strangers, and God.

“Thank you.”  Those two little words can get you pretty far.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

BACK TO SCHOOL MEANS NEW AG MAGS!

I remember when I was growing up I absolutely loved going school supply shopping. I would beg my mom right after the fourth of July to go to the store and get all of my supplies that I needed for that upcoming school year. There was just something about brand new crayons, folders that weren’t bent and new pencils that had never been sharpened before that I absolutely loved. I loved going to school, I loved seeing my teachers and I just loved all of the new supplies that I got.

Here at IL Corn we are excited to kick start this new school year as well! Though we can’t be in the classroom all the time, we do have the supplies and resources that one would need to teach all about corn!

Recently a new corn Ag Mag was just launched and it is the best one yet! In this Ag Mag you will find information all about the steps it takes to grow corn, parts of a corn plant, corn uses, ethanol, technology, corn based products, corn exports and interviews with corn experts. Though these are concepts are sometimes hard for us adults to fully understand, this Ag Mag really breaks it down well and is super kid friendly. It also has some awesome graphics and images that tell the story of corn very well!

Another really awesome thing about these newly released Corn Ag Mags is that there is an online version that everyone has access to! If you go to www.agintheclassroom.org and click on teacher’s resources and then Ag Mags you can click on Corn and it will pull up with whole Ag Mag. This is a great resource if you just want to check out what Ag Mags are or need to print off copies quick for a lesson.

To all of the teachers and students going back to school, have a fantastic year! Work hard, study harder, stay healthy, and be kind!

Abby Jacobs
Illinois State University

ILLINOIS FARMER Q&A: HOW HAS YOUR FARM CHANGED IN THE LAST 50 YEARS?

Illinois farmers have been growing food with care for generations. For many of them, it’s more than just a job. So we asked, “How has your farm changed in the last 50 years?”

Over the last 50 years, we have started growing more crops and raising more animals – we’ve grown. In our fields, we do more no till or minimum tillage of the soil.”

Brent Scholl, Polo, IL

“Our farm has adapted to the demands of consumers. We are raising livestock more efficiently (think feed conversion) and in an environment that is more comfortable for the hogs (yeah – tunnel ventilation during the July heat). We are applying fertilizer at a variable rate that better meets the needs of our soil. And we have expanded our farm to financially support more people coming back to work.”

Genny Six, Chapin, IL

“When I joined the family in 1977 we had a small cow herd and a small feedlot, the feedlots were all “open lot” with access to barns, but the cattle were not fed in the barns. We always tilled the soil before we planted, used a 6-row planter, and cultivated the crops to kill weeds. Crops were harvested and put into an old corn crib (converted to hold shelled corn) and one 10,000 bushel grain bin where we could dry corn if needed. Alan and I farmed with his parents. 150-bushel corn/ acre was a big deal.

Today, Alan’s parents are retired and we farm with our youngest son. We have an employee and routinely hire summer interns from a local junior college. We got more cattle and all of the feedlot cattle are under a roof. We no longer till before we plant because our planter is specially equipped to deal with crop residue left from the previous year. We have several grain bins and no corn crib. Nowadays, 150 bushels corn/ acre is a bad year.”

JoAnn Adams, Sandwich, IL

Reposted from Illinois Farm Families

#TBT: A ZUCCHINI RECIPE YOU MUST TRY TODAY!

[Originally posted August 17, 2015]

This recipe was originally posted about this time last year. It is so good, we thought it deserved a second debut.

If you have your own garden or are near someone who does, you MIGHT have a ton of zucchini on your hands.  Use that zucchini to make this recipe immediately.  Pronto.  You seriously can’t wait another minute before tasting this deliciousness.

And if you must run to the store to grab a lemon (I had to), just buy a whole bag.  Because you will want to make this again and again … I promise.

lemon zucchini cupcakesGLAZED LEMON ZUCCHINI CUPCAKES

adapted from this recipe

You will need:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (leave the peel on!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, beat 2 eggs well, then add  oil and sugar, and blend well. Then add the milk and lemon juice and blend everything well. Fold in zucchini and stir until evenly distributed in mixture.

Add this mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and blend everything together, but don’t overmix.

Pour batter into prepared muffin pan (I used cupcake liners, but you could just grease well and go without) and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  While baking, make the glaze …

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice until well blended.  Spoon glaze over each cupcake. Let glaze set, then serve.

If you prefer a little less lemon taste – although I don’t know why you would! – use a little less lemon and a splash of milk to make your glaze.

Lindsay Mitchell
IL Corn Marketing Director