There was a lot for me to do over the course of this month, but prepping for Summer Ag Institute was the most important. When I would tell people that I was an intern at the Cook County Farm Bureau, everyone would always ask me what that meant. The typical response that I would get was, “So you make copies of farm articles?” I would have to hold back my laughter because for some time, the preparation did consist of me doing that! The joke is surely on them because I have learned so much; not only how many pieces of paper come in each ream, but I had the time to read all of the information I was putting together for the teachers who signed up to take this course.
Once the “dirty work” of prepping for SAI was done, it was time for me to take a seat among the rest of the teachers. Since being an alumna of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, I had some background knowledge in agriculture. I have never lived on a farm and I don’t know anyone who lives on a farm, so when it came time to travel from farm to farm, I was thrilled to see what larger scale operations looked like.
From family owned farms like Tim Stuenkel and Carl Smit’s, to large scale operations like Fair Oaks, the teachers and I could see it all. Talking to the owners of these farms we learned a lot. It was a surprise to many that typically the clear majority of farms are family owned and the employees are members of the immediate family or close relatives. At the larger scale, we saw that there always needs to be people working to ensure the safety of the animals for the best quality for our food.
I think my favorite part of the entire SAI experience was having Ag in the Classroom come in and do a presentation of Ag Literacy. It is important for people to be educated about the food we consume and where exactly it is coming from. The more informed we are about our food the better we can be at making decisions for what goes into our body and what food lifestyles we choose to take.
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