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CCFB News» June 2024

Planting Seeds“Keep Learning”

06/06/2024 @ 8:30 am | By Katrina Milton, Director of Ag Literacy

I’ve always loved asking questions. Who, what, where, when, why, and how are my favorite ways to start a conversation.


Asking questions is a great way to learn something new. It’s the start of every Google search I make when I fall down a rabbit hole of learning new information. I often look up one topic on Wikipedia, and countless links and 25 topics later, I finally put down my phone having learned something new.


This past month has had a lot of learning opportunities, including the northern lights appearing overhead and cicadas underfoot.


Researching the northern lights led me to remember how much I love the movie animated movie “Balto,” and my internet sleuthing about cicadas led to this month’s Ag Adventure topic.


Just because school’s out doesn’t mean that learning has to stop!


The “summer slide” sounds like fun. Maybe you’re thinking of splashing down a giant twisty slide at a waterpark or sliding into home plate during a baseball game.


However, the real meaning of the “summer slide” is a little less fun – and a lot scarier!


The term refers to students losing the learning they achieved during the previous school year over summer break. According to a March 2023 article in the journal Sociological Science, the results are mixed on studies focusing on how much learning a student loses during the summer months.


According to the NWEA assessment, “kids forget much of what they’ve learned, up to three months’ worth, during the summer.” Other standardized tests have different results. The Early Childhood Longitudinal Students-Kindergarten series shows no loss, and the Renaissance Learning assessment “shows mild losses in reading and big losses in mathematics.”


However, keeping busy – and keeping up with learning – are important for the summer months. Some of my best summer memories of childhood are all about learning. Visiting a zoo or museum is a great way to learn something new and spend time with your family.


If you want an ag ed spin on summer learning, there are a lot of Cook County options!


In Chicago, you can learn about the uses of soybeans and climb in a combine during a visit to the Farm Tech exhibit at the newly named Griffin Museum of Science and Industry or learn about pollinators at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum of the Chicago Academy of Sciences by walking through the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, experiencing 1,000 free-flying butterflies.


Throughout the county, you can purchase fresh locally grown produce at local farm stands and farmers markets, as well as visit a greenhouse and shop for plants. A list of Cook County Farm Bureau agricultural and member ag businesses can be found online at


But don’t worry if you want to relax a little this summer! When I envision the perfect lazy summer day, I imagine relaxing in a hammock in my backyard, listening to the radio, sipping cold lemonade, and reading a good book. Illinois Ag in the Classroom has a Summer 2024 reading list with the theme ”Read, Renew, Repeat.” For a list of ag-accurate books and accompany activities and lessons, visit


Whatever you decide to do this summer, have fun! Remember to be inquisitive, ask questions, and keep learning – regardless of your age!

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