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Ag Lit Bit by Diane Merrion

Give the Gift of STEM What toys do you get a child this holiday? It’s hard not to get caught up in the non-stop advertisements for toys and gifts.  Television ads started the day after Halloween, newspaper pullouts blind us with toy ideas, December issues of magazines list the “Best Toys of the Year”, and then there’s the vast increase of catalogs found in our mailboxes every week.  Here are some top toy suggestions I’ve found.  The Fingerlings Glitter Monkey (interactive finger toy that responds to sound, motion, and touch), Hatchimals (a revised version of last year’s hot item), and Nintendo Switch (imagine not being able to bring your gaming console everywhere you go).  I reflected on what toys were used the most with my kids.  Magnifying glasses (who knew you could start leaves on fire or burn bugs), yo-yo’s, roller blades, beanie babies, hockey sticks, Legos, play dough (the barbershop was a favorite), books (the kind where you turn ...

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Farming for our Future Gala… Sowing the Seeds of Greatness

A fundraiser to benefit Agricultural Literacy through the CCFB Foundation

Early bird tickets ($100 per ticket) are now available for purchase. Visit the Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation page for more sponsorship information. 

Harvest Season Emergency Declared, Overweight Permit Now Available

Gov. Bruce Rauner declared a state harvest season emergency earlier this month, giving road jurisdictions authority to issue Harvest Season Emergency Permits. Cook County farmers will need to seek a permit from the Cook County Transportation and Highway Department for Cook County roads.  A Transportation and Highway Department official indicated the department would use an automated permit, available at https://www.cookcountyil.gov/service/transportation-and-highways. Under a harvest season emergency, a farmer with a permit may haul up to a maximum of 10 percent more than the standard weight restriction of the gross, axle and registered weight restrictions. Harvest season permits are not available for interstate highways. With individual permits, local authorities may put restrictions, such as which roads are designated for the permits or times of day the permit is valid, or special conditions, such as not valid during a rainstorm.   In addition, farmers need to talk to township road commissio ...

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Downwind by Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager

“Everyone is from somewhere” “Where are you from?”  is perhaps the most commonly asked question posed when we meet a stranger after “What’s your name?” It’s usually a way of generating safe conversation in which we seek to find common ground. Everyone is from “somewhere” right? When someone asks me where I am from, I have a tough time responding. Sure, I’m from somewhere. However, the person that asked this question doesn’t really want to hear my life story as I struggle to come up with a good answer. My parents, during my youth, farmed for various other larger farmers as they attempted to become established farmers for their “living”.  They continually sought better opportunities so that they could eventually farm for themselves (finally happening in 1983 when I was 18 years old).  This meant that we moved from farm to farm, town to town fairly frequently. Where am I from? I could say I’m from the cit ...

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Manifolds, Manolos & Manure...by Bona Heinsohn

I grew up in a healthcare family. I could explain COBRA and DNRs before I could complete a multiplication table.  I also grew up in a farming family. Ultimately, I grew up trusting nurses, doctors, farmers, research and science. I grew up running between my mom’s and aunt’s offices after school while skirting between nurses, doctors, and patients.  Or running through my grandparents’ fields in search of my next great treasure or stray animal.  My farmer and I actually married next to one of those fields.   Between my upbringing and being married to a farmer, I’ve always had the luxury of knowing where my food came from and knowing the farmers who grow and raise my food because I was one of those farmers. I also remember raising crops before genetically engineered seeds were commercially available. Years ago, before GPS, my farmer’s “foamer” stopped working so he asked his then-girlfriend to hop in and out of the tractor, count rows, and then poi ...

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Ag Lit Bit by Diane Merrion

If I mention the name Sarah Hale, what comes to mind?  I’m guessing not much as it was a name I was not familiar with until several years ago.  When doing teacher workshops at this time of the year I always like to bring in some information beyond turkeys and feasting which is how I ran across Sarah Hale and the book by Laurie Halse Anderson, Thank You Sarah: the Woman who Saved Thanksgiving. The book relates how Sarah, a magazine editor and author, persuaded President Lincoln to transform Thanksgiving Day into a national holiday. As the story goes, she wrote thousands of letters asking politicians to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.  Hale often wrote editorials and articles about the holiday and she lobbied state and federal officials to pass legislation creating a fixed, national day of thanks on the last Thursday of November—a unifying measure, she believed that could help ease growing tensions and divisions between the northern and southern parts of the country. When Zach ...

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U of I Extension planning for 21st century

By Kay Shipman, Farm Week With tighter finances, Extension forced to get more creative in distributing information. University of Illinois Extension is looking to the future with an Extension 3.0 Task Force, comprised of Extension staff, researchers and stakeholders. College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Dean Kim Kidwell described the effort as “an action plan for Extension in the 21st century,” during her U of I Agronomy Day remarks. Kidwell noted she was continuing her goal to personally visit all the Extension centers from around the state. “Not a lot of people know what we (Extension) do matters,” Kidwell said. Extension changed along with farmers and agriculture, and no longer offers an Extension adviser to each farm, she explained. “We can’t afford to do it that way. We have to be creative on how we get information to you,” Kidwell said. The task force, which met recently, includes four ACES scientists, four off-campus Extensi ...

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Will-South Cook SWCD Conservation Education Scholarships

In the spring of 2018, the Will-South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District will award four $1,000.00 scholarships. In addition to the Allen May and Dick McHugh Memorial Scholarships, scholarships honoring the memory of Everett Moeller of Peotone and Harold Liberman of Green Garden Township will be awarded. Everett Moeller served as Associate Director of the Will/South Cook SWCD from 1994 until 2008 when he became a board member, serving as Chairman from 2013 until 2017. Everett was a kind and fair leader, was instrumental in the success of the SWCD’s Annual Meeting and Pork Chop Dinner and most of all was a loyal advocate for the conservation of soil and water resources. Harold Liberman served as Associate Director from 2004 until 2017.  Harold was a strong proponent of planting trees and deep-rooted grasses to protect our soil resources.  He worked tirelessly to encourage the adoption of Will County’s Conservation Subdivision Ordinance (2009) and in 2008 organized the district& ...

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NRCS Help For Cook County Urban Farms

Champaign, IL October 10, 2017— Urban agriculture is growing and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can help Cook County farmers conserve and improve natural resources on their farm.  Ivan Dozier, Illinois NRCS State Conservationist explains, “Urban farms are valuable resources for neighborhoods and the people who live in them. NRCS can assist these producers with conservation solutions and offer financial assistance to install conservation practices such as hoop houses, or what NRCS calls a high tunnel, or to plant pollinator species or cover crops.”  The urban landscape has many challenges for growing healthy food.  NRCS can help with financial and technical assistance to manage natural resources like soil, water, and plants that can improve the crops urban farms grow. Financial assistance from NRCS is provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  Individual growers or groups can apply to receive EQIP financial assistance ...

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Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation selects new CEO

The board of directors of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF) is pleased to announce that Leland Strom of Elgin, Illinois has been selected to lead the organization as its Chief Executive Officer and President, effective November 1, 2017.  In this capacity, Strom will be responsible for providing overall supervision of the IALF and its leadership program.  The program is developed and executed by a staff of four, including the CEO, who are responsible for development, education, alumni and external relations.  Thirty individuals, including producers and agribusiness associates, participate in a 19-month leadership development program funded by the foundation and its investors. Strom brings a wealth of experience in the agriculture industry to his new position with the foundation and the leadership program.  He was involved with various aspects of the nation’s Farm Credit System before being nominated by President George W. Bush to become Chairman and CEO of the ...

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