From the category archives:

Programs- Ag Literacy

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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Ag Lit Bit

Tests, tests, tests! March is upon us and brings happy thoughts of daylight savings time (spring ahead), warmer weather, St. Patrick’s Day and maybe spring vacation. For many, however, March is the dreaded month of tests, tests and more tests.  In Illinois, many students in 3rd through 8th grade take a standards-based test called the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). Standards-based means that test items are based on grade-specific Illinois academic content standards. The ISAT tests third through eighth grade students in reading and math. Students in 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th grade also take a writing test, while students in 4th and 7th grade take a science test.  If your school doesn’t use the ISAT test, they may use the Terra Nova Assessment.  Typically used from Grade 2-Grade 8, the Terra Nova tests are standardized, norm referenced tests used to assess student achievement in various areas of the curriculum and in comparison to the performance ...

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School Food Drive - Food Checkout Day

 If your school is looking for a community service opportunity, we welcome you to join us by conducting a food drive this February. All food is donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Participating schools also may receive an assembly with Ronald McDonald himself and/or gift cards to use towards books for your school library.  Please contact us at 708-354-3276 to find out more information about how your school can join our 10 day food drive this February. 

Cook County Farm Bureau wins National County Award of Excellence

Twenty-four county Farm Bureaus nationwide were recognized by the American Farm Bureau Federation for innovative program ideas in this year’s County Activities of Excellence Awards program. The Cook County Farm Bureau’s “Passport to the Farm Camp” received one of these awards. The summer camp was held in July at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences where Farm Bureau staff and volunteers created a program that connected urban youth with agriculture.   Our objectives for this program were to provide hands-on agricultural experiences that kids will remember for the rest of their lives; to provide a broad spectrum of agricultural information and learning opportunities; to reach parents through their youth to deliver farm facts and information; to create a camp that kids and parents alike wanted more; and to create an atmosphere for “seeking agricultural knowledge” that would carry into the future.    Three groups of students (40 in all) rotated ...

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Culinary Arts: Dairy, Meat and Vegetable Grant

We are pleased to once again be offering grants of up to $300 for use by middle and high school teachers for units of study relating to the importance of a well balanced diet using locally grown foods.  This grant is for food science, culinary arts, life skills or closely related curriculum topics.  The deadline has been extended until November 1st.  Refer to Ag Literacy/Grants section of our website to obtain complete application or call 708-354-3276 for more information. 

Core and Stem

When you hear the words core and stem, what comes to mind?  Apples, right?  Well, maybe or maybe not.  These are two of the many new buzz words that describe the changing landscape of education that is taking place across our country and state right now.  If you are a teacher, these are familiar to you and you are probably enduring a great deal of education and training on these new initiatives.  If you are a parent, perhaps you have begun to hear information about new testing procedures, new “benchmarks” for your children to strive for and new ways of evaluating your child’s progress that are coming in 2014/15.   So what is CORE?  “The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for succe ...

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Teachers go back to class after Summer Agriculture Institute

We were pleased to have Ms. Jeannine Otto from AgriNews join us this July on our Summer Agriculture Institute.  This program took 14 teachers (K-12) on a four day tour of Illinois Farms and agribusinesses.  See her article below: Teachers go back to class with rural tour Jeannine Otto, Field Editor Thursday, August 22, 2013 8:00 AM Larry Clay of Akron Services in Brimfield, Ill., shows how corn tassels as teachers on the Cook County Farm Bureau Summer Agricultural Institute take pictures. The Akron Services elevator was one of the stops on the four-day tour earlier this summer. Fourteen teachers representing grades 3 through 12 in 12 Cook County schools toured farms and agribusinesses throughout central Illinois. PEORIA, Ill. — What do a central Illinois dairy plant and a group of Chicago-area schoolteachers have in common? “ ...

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Urban Summer Farm Camp A Success

Summer fun at “Passport to the Farm Camp” Children from Chicago and surrounding suburbs had their passports stamped as they progressed through 12 learning stations during our first ever summer farm experience.  With 40 attendees between the ages of 7-11 (and some 12 year old  Sr. helpers), campers learned about crops, livestock, nutrition, soil and more while reading books, making crafts and sharing snacks. The camp even included a station on Aquaculture/Hydroponics where students saw how tilapia are used in agriculture (we had goldfish for our snack that day!).  Favorite projects included dirt babies, nutrition bracelets and seed planting/germination.  Each child received a drawstring bag, animal pencils, cow key chains, soy crayons, coloring sheets on all livestock, finished crafts and a bookmark to use with their book, “Seed, Soil, Sun” by Cris Peterson which was given on the last day of camp.  Our thanks to the many volunteer presenters, camp counselors an ...

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Cook County Teachers Tour Farms

Fourteen Cook County educators toured Central Illinois farms and agribusinesses during our Summer Ag Institute of Fuel, Fiber and Food.  Teachers headed out from the Cook County Farm Bureau on July 9th and began their tour at the Apple Tree Alpaca Farm in Utica, IL.  Learning about the fiber business directly from the owners, teachers were made aware of the unique characteristics of these gentle animals and how this couple succeeded in starting their operation from the ground up. Other stops during the program included LaSalle County Historical Museum, Patriot Fuels (Annawan), Prairie Farms Dairy (Peoria), Monterey Mushrooms (Princeton) and Twin Groves Wind Farm in Bloomington (see photo), to name a few of the 14 stops during the week.    Educators learned new ways to connect agriculture to their K-12 curriculums incorporating Common Core and Next Generation Science standards.  During a 2 hour workshop at  Illinois Ag in the Classroom, teachers made DNA bracelets, studied fa ...

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Teacher Professional Development

Calling all teachers! There are a few seats left for both our Summer Ag Institutes. Join us to learn about the farm to table process, including food, fiber and fuel. Walk away with knowledge to develop new ideas and curriculum for your classroom based on a wide variety of topics. Speakers will provide you with possibilities on using agriculture in your math, reading. science, and social studies CORE lesson planning. Earn CPDUs or graduate credit as well!