County Coalition Grants Help Fund Illinois AITC Programs
On Oct. 17, the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) program received funding to continue classroom lessons thanks to IAA Foundation grants to local county coalitions.
Eighty coalitions serving 89 Illinois counties were awarded $647,000 in grant dollars which can be used for materials, trainings, educational lessons and activities taking place during the 2022-2023 school year.
“Providing these grants ensures access to lessons with emphasis on STEM that incorporate accurate agricultural content for teachers and students,” said Kevin Daugherty, education director, IAITC.
During a typical school year, more than 650,000 students and close to 40,000 teachers engage in ag literacy lessons through IAITC.
“The last two years have been anything but typical in Illinois schools, however this past school year, we saw student reach increase by 25% and teacher reach increase by 55%, showing a positive trend as re-adjustments continue,” Daugherty reflected.
During the 2021-2022 school year, Cook County Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program reached 17,240 students in 811 classrooms in 334 schools. Six presenters conducted in-person and virtual presentations to fourth grade students throughout Cook County. Presentation topics included Introduction to Illinois Ag and There’s Ag on MyPlate, as well as two specialty seasonal programs, Pumpkin and Apple Fall Facts and Keeping Warm with Agriculture.
“Our AITC programs would not be possible without the coalition grant,” said CCFB Ag Literacy Coordinator Katrina Milton. “In addition to helping fund our fourth grade in-school field trips, the coalition grant supports our programs, including our summer ag institute, educator workshops, and Ag Day for Cook County third graders.”
County coalition grants are made possible through funding from the IAA Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois Farm Bureau. The IAA Foundation raises funds for the IAITC program each year, and in addition to county grants, provides funding for Ag Mags, teacher grants, Summer Ag Academies and more.
“Consistent outreach requires steadfast supporters,” said Susan Moore, director, IAA Foundation. “We are grateful to annual donors who understand how important efforts to enhance agriculture literacy can be. Every year there are new fourth graders to connect with, and our donors understand and appreciate IAITC’s efforts to get the job done.”
Partner organizations of IAITC include Illinois Farm Bureau, Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education, University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy Association, Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
In addition, annual donors include agribusiness partners and individuals with an interest in supporting the future of agriculture. For information on how individuals can contribute, visit www.iaafoundation.org. For information on IAITC, visit www.agintheclassroom.org.