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Programs- Ag Literacy

Ag Lit Bit

Shark Tank is a favorite program of mine as I have an invention in mind that I know would make me millions of dollars (or at least thousands).  I love watching the marketing pitch these entrepreneurs give to the “sharks” and enjoy guessing whether they will be given a chance or not.  Some great success stories from the show include Ava the Elephant (medicine dropper), Citi Kitty (cat toilet training kit), Chord Buddy (learn to play guitar chords) and Copa di Vino (single serving glasses of wine).  While these may have an impact on our lives at some point, the show got me to thinking about inventions that have impacted our Ag in the Classroom presentation. For years we have been showing students a demonstration on the properties of hydrosorb, which amazes all who witness it.  On a whim I decided to call the USDA and see if I could talk with someone about its invention and learn more about the uses of this product.  After leaving a message about my question, I was quite ce ...

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Chef Izard - Career Corner

Career Corner  This month we will focus on the career of Chef.  With many Cook County high schools offering classes in Culinary Arts and Food Science, there is great interest in the occupations in the food industry.  Chicago is the home of many great chefs, including Stephanie Izard.  Our thanks to Ms. Izard for sharing her story.    What is your job title? Executive Chef and Owner of Girl & the Goat and Little Goat in Chicago, IL What path led you to this position? It wasn't the typical path (or maybe the benefit of being a chef is that there isn't a standard path). But from a young age I've loved spending time in the kitchen, either cooking with my mom or now in my own restaurants. It just took me a while to realize that this was what I wanted to do. What is your educational and/or agriculture background and how did that prepare you for this job? I studied at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and then had the privilege of working under som ...

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Ag Lit Bit

If you watch TV, listen to the radio or read a newspaper you most likely will see or hear something related to agriculture.  This past summer I held our annual Summer Ag Institute (SAI) for teachers which brought the topic of farming to the forefront of these teacher’s lives (at least for one week).  I befriended one participant, William, who has forwarded “ag” related articles to me since our SAI program ended.  I always look forward to opening the envelope he sends as it is a wonderful reminder of how relevant agriculture is in our lives.  Whether it’s the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune or the New York Times someone is always writing about our industry.  At this time of year the focus of many articles in our county and region is certainly focused on the fall harvest of corn and soybeans (our state’s #1 and #2 top crops).  As farmers enter their fields to begin this harvest process, it is hard to explain the amount of work that goes into g ...

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Farm to School: Free 4th Grade Program

Do your students know where their food comes from? From GPS to drones, agriculture professionals are using the latest technology available to produce our food, fuel and fiber. Bring these and more STEM connections to your students through our 4th grade Ag in the Classroom Program. The Cook County Farm Bureau® invites you to bring agriculture into your current curriculum! Our inquiry-based program is designed to teach your students where their food, fuel and fiber come from. It’s time to schedule your In-School Field Trip” for the 2014-2015 School Year. Our calendar fills up fast, so be sure to call soon for your FREE presentation(s). What is the “4th Grade In-School Field Trip”? The In-School Field Trip provides fourth grade students the opportunity to experience Illinois agriculture without leaving the classroom! We bring the farm to you. Students will learn about: The science behind the farm to table process T ...

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Farm Camp Hands-Down a Success!

How many kids can say they finger painted a horse during their summer camp? Only those who attended our ‘Passport to the Farm’ Program held during the week of July 21st at the Chicago High School for Ag Sciences.  To see 50 smiling faces every morning was an amazing experience for our volunteers including presenters from University of IL-Extension, Nutrients for Life, Hintzsche Fertilizer, Chicago High School for Ag Science students and staff, along with many Cook County Farm Bureau volunteers.  The week included 12 learning stations (3 per day) with activities on the topics of corn, hydroponics, photosynthesis, nutrition, horses, pigs, cows, chickens, soil, plants, farm machines and worms/composting.  Campers made many crafts and came face to face with livestock, crops and farm machinery, while learning the importance of agriculture in Illinois. Some facts students learned as written in their daily passports included, “Worm poop is good for plants”, “Water, air, s ...

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Ag Lit Bit

We are pleased to have Kendall Herren as our Summer Intern this year.  Enjoy Kendall's column featured as our Ag Lit Bit this summer. Kendall’s Korner Application. That is the best thing about internships: being able to apply the things I have learned in the classroom.  I grew up just west of Sandwich, in the small town of Somonauk, Illinois. I was not raised on a farm, but grew up in the middle of a field that we cash-rent to a local farmer. I was a 4-H member for 11 years and watched friends show their livestock. My sister and I have shown rabbits and sheep for the past few years, and I occasionally helped hold the grand champion chickens at the 4-H livestock auction. We also took photos during the summer in the fields surrounding my house when the corn quickly grew over my five-foot frame. Despite all of this, I never knew much about agriculture until I went to college. At school I live in 4-H House, a very ‘farm oriented’ sorority. Within my first few weeks, I realized ...

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Over 300 Cook County schools see Ag in the Classroom

By the end of May, over 23,000 4th grade students had a visitor at their school this year to learn about how farmers produce their food, fuel and fiber.  Our Ag in the Classroom Presentations expanded to two programs this year.  Our first program, wrapping up its 27th year, is a general agriculture presentation teaching children about the importance of Illinois agriculture including the production, processing, manufacturing and distribution of agriculture products. The new Part Two program titled, “There’s Ag on My Plate” takes a more hands-on approach to reviewing the USDA MyPlate and its connection to the farm.  Students discussed their food choices, learned about the importance of a balanced, healthy diet including whole grains which were examined by all participants.  Students were amazed at what they learned, especially when it came to the sugar content in their beverage choices. From analyzing the ingredients on food labels to threshing and winnowing wheat, students ...

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Ag Lit Bit

School’s out for summer Most students in Illinois are now partaking in the annual celebration known as summer break. Our sympathy to those schools still plodding along to make up for all the snow days.  I recall how excited a snow day seemed in January, but how dreadful it is to make them up come June.  It’s hard to believe another school year has passed as it seems like last week that it was September.  Summer isn’t what it used to be when I went to school.  We basically turned off our brains (or so we thought) and did nothing.  What I mean by nothing is we created our own agendas and created our own learning, even though we didn’t know it was learning.  We planted gardens (horticulture), harvested gardens (culinary arts), caught butterflies and bugs(entomology), made dirt pies (soil science), had lemonade stands (entrepreneurship), walked our dogs (animal science), fixed our own broken bike chains (mechanics), went running when the mosquito trucks spray ...

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Ag Lit Bit

This last month  Ag in the Classroom has been filled with special moments with the children of Cook County. Let me provide a few “Ag Lit Bits” direct from the mouths of the youth who participated in our spring programming.  Ag Day 2014 student feedback (3rd grade): What did you learn? Worms have no eyes or ears, 5 hearts and 2 stomachs. It takes 21 days for a chick to hatch. Worm poop is good for soil. Goats eat anything…even nametags! Shampoo, paint brushes, candles, buttons and crayons are made from pigs. In the winter pigs have the temperature turned up high and in the summer they have fans and water.  The stages of development for chicks. That agriculture is food, clothes, shelter. How eggs are graded. Only female cows give milk. Illinois grows a lot of soybeans. I learned popcorn is the state snack. That soy beans are in most of the products we have.  Corn has 800 kernels on one cob. That field corn/dent corn is the most popular kind. Le ...

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Ag Lit Bit

We used to have an electric fryer and it produced the best French fries, fried chicken and many more healthy foods (not!).  If given the choice, my kids would have demanded something fried with every meal because doesn’t everything taste better fried?! After making a few batches of food, however, I was left with the question of what to do with the grease.  It left me wondering what restaurants did with all of the used grease they used each day.  I envisioned their leftovers compared to my little home fryer.  It’s amazing to learn how many local schools are not only educating students on what to do with this “leftover grease”, but also creating their own labs to make biofuels.  Yes, biodiesel fuel is a renewable fuel made from oilseeds, as well as waste fats from cooking.  Vehicles using biodiesel emit fewer harmful toxins into the air.  Locally, high schools including Lane Tech and Bloom High School are making biodiesel in the ...

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