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AG Literacy & Education



Scholarship opportunities

The Cook County Farm Bureau® Foundation enhances the future of agriculture by providing a variety of scholarships to members, dependents and others seeking a major in agriculture, agribusiness, or an agriculturally related course of study with intent on an agriculturally related career. The CCFB Foundation is intent on supporting future generations to help assure a well-qualified, professional agricultural workforce in the Chicagoland area and Illinois.


Adult Scholarships (Available year-round)

Available scholarships include reimbursement for:

  • Master Urban Farmer Training
  • Master Gardener Training
  • Illinois Ag Leadership Program
  • Ag Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT)


For more information and to apply for an Adult Scholarship, please click here.


College Scholarships **currently closed" check back in December for 2025 opportunities


Careers in Agriculture

Careers in agriculture are more than farming! According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, a total of 19.7 million jobs, or 10.3% of U.S. employment, was related to agriculture in 2020. Farming only made up 13.5% of agricultural employment; food service made up 53.4% and food and beverage stores made up 16.5%.

There are more than 1 million agriculture-related jobs in Illinois. Ag-related careers include plant science, animals science, natural resources, agricultural business, environmental science, agricultural mechanics, and food science.

Below are descriptions of a few of the “-ists” working in ag careers and descriptions of what they study from the Illinois Agricultural Education:

  • Agronomist – soil management and crop development
  • Apiculturist – bees and the art of beekeeping
  • Biochemist – the chemical and physical principles of living things and their biological processes
  • Biologist – living organisms
  • Biotechnologist – develops products and technologies that help fight disease, feed the hungry, use cleaner energy, etc.
  • Botanist – the science of plants
  • Climatologist – weather patterns over a period of time to discover trends over months, years, or even centuries. Also researches the impacts of climate changes
  • Conservationist – manages, improves, and protects the natural resources, including soil, the environment, animals, and wildlife
  • Economist – the production and distribution of goods and services
  • Entomologist – insects
  • Geneticist – the transmission of hereditary characteristics from one generation to the next
  • Horticulturist – the science of raising and caring for plants, flowers, and greenery
  • Microbiologist – living things seen through a microscope
  • Nutrient management/waste management specialist – develop appropriate methods for removing and managing animal and food waste from or in the environment
  • Pedologist (soil scientist) – all living and non-living aspects of soil, soil formation, and erosion
  • Product development food scientist – improves methods of processing, canning, freezing, storing, packaging and/or distributing food
  • Taxonomist – the structure of a species, maps its DNA and groups organisms into categories
  • Zoologist – animals and how they interact with their ecosystems





Recipients of the 2024 Scholarship Program have been announced...


The Board of Directors of the Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation have selected nine individuals as recipients of the 2024 Scholarship Program. They are:


Carmen Trotta – *Howard Paarlberg Excellence in Agriculture recipient

Trotta attends the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is majoring in Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications with a minor in Agri-business Management. He plans to become an Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor at the high school level in Illinois and hopes to teach at a school in an urban area.                                            


Brigid Heller - **Stuenkel Family Legacy Scholarship recipient

Heller attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is majoring in Biological Systems/Agricultural Engineering-Machinery Systems. She hopes to build a career which will involve the development of greenhouse technology that will focus on smart systems to monitor and control resource inputs, waste reduction and have environmental impact.


Daniel Lyons – General Agriculture Scholarship

Lyons will attend Joliet Junior College and will be majoring in Agriculture Production Management and hopes to own and operate his own beef cattle farm one day. He’s currently working at Wanda Farms as a farm hand and is already gaining the experience he’ll need to run his own farm.


Elijah Floerke - General Agriculture Scholarship

Floerke attends Illinois State University and is working on his Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness. He hopes to learn about the most up-to-date technology that he’ll be able to use in the field and within farm operations to help farmers with their crops. He’s had experience working on his grandparents’ family farm in Southern Illinois.


Jennifer Miller – General Agriculture Scholarship

Miller attends Southern Illinois University’s School of Dental Medicine and is working on her doctorate in Dental Medicine. Her goal is to provide dental services in a rural/underserved area in Cook County.


Matthew Smits – General Agriculture Scholarship

Smits attends Purdue University and is working towards a degree in Horticulture. After graduation, he hopes to return to his family farm and apply his education in Horticulture to successfully run a greenhouse business.


Leah Sheehan – General Agriculture Scholarship

Sheehan will be attending either the University of Minnesota or Iowa State University in the fall and will be majoring in Agricultural/Environmental Engineering. Her involvement in 4-H contributed to her passion for agriculture and with her degree, she hopes to develop systems and structures that can be useful in the farming industry.


John Dwyer – General Agriculture Scholarship

Dwyer will be attending Loras College and will be majoring in Engineering. With his degree in Engineering, he’ll be able to make many contributions to agriculture, agri-business and related fields.



Amelia Niedbalec – General Agriculture Scholarship

Niedbalec will be attending Illinois State University with a major in Exercise Science (Pre-Med) and hopes to work in a rural area where healthcare isn’t easily accessible to farmers.


A total of $19,500 of scholarship funds were distributed.


*Howard Paarlberg Excellence in Agriculture Scholarship

This scholarship is designed to honor Mr. Howard Paarlberg, the first President of the Foundation and President of the Farm Bureau for 16 years. The recipient of this scholarship carries the prestige of being the top-rated applicant and receives a greater financial reward.


**Stuenkel Family Legacy Scholarship

This scholarship was created to honor the many contributions made by the Stuenkel Family to the Cook County Farm Bureau, the Foundation and the organization’s agriculture education and literacy programming and has been designed for those who are pursuing higher education with a focus on an agriculture related career in the areas of technology, education, leadership development and/or mental health.



The Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation was established by the Cook County Farm Bureau to carry out charitable, literary and educational work in Agriculture.  The Foundation Board established the Agricultural Scholarship Program to provide financial assistance to students pursuing education for agricultural careers and to encourage the best and brightest young minds to return to Agriculture as their chosen career.



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