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CCFB News» March 2021

Ag Lit BitAre you clearing a path?

03/04/2021 @ 9:30 am | By Diane Merrion, Director of Ag Literacy

February saw us clearing a lot of paths! The snow just did not end. Snowplows, snow blowers, and shovels worked hard all month long. I am hopeful that in March we get much needed sunshine and not more snow!


As we were working hard to clear our paths, author Peggy Thomas released her new book Lincoln Clears A Path. This is not a story about President Abraham Lincoln and endless snowstorms, but rather a book about a recurring theme in his life: clearing paths. In Thomas’s book, she shares how Lincoln cleared a path that changed the landscape of agriculture including the creation of the USDA and the Morrill Act.


The Morrill Act provided each state with 30,000 acres of federal land for each member in their Congressional delegation.

The land was then sold by the states and the proceeds used to fund public colleges that focused on agriculture, engineering, and the mechanical arts. Some states established new schools with their land-grant funds; others turned the money over to existing state or private schools to be used for the establishment of schools of agriculture and mechanics (these came to be known as “A&M” colleges).


Today there are a total of 112 land grant institutions including University of Illinois. We are thankful to Lincoln for opening that path to further education and create opportunities for research and science in the field of agriculture.


Yet, here we are almost 159 years later, and these educational fields and college majors are still not well known in and around Cook County. The Cook County Farm Bureau® Foundation is clearing a path to help fill this gap with our Farm Shadow Program. These land-grant universities, as well as many other community colleges, colleges, and universities are here to provide degrees in agriculture, but many students have no access to what the careers options are or how to get information about them.


We would love to have you join our volunteer efforts to connect with a local high school classroom if you are an ag professional so you can continue the efforts that began so long ago. As Thomas’s book reminds us, we all need to do our part to clear a path for the next generation.


For more information, contact Diane Merrion, [email protected].

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