IAA Foundation boosts Cook County Farm Bureau Ag Literacy with Grants
County Farm bureaus and other Ag literacy coalitions in the state of Illinois are the local delivery system of agricultural information to students and teachers. The IAA Foundation recently distributed $630,000 to these organizations to further their mission.
The Illinois Farm Bureau’s charitable arm, the IAA Foundation, awarded a $9342 grant to the Cook County Farm Bureau with other grants going to 77 other county coalitions that serve 87 counties. The Cook County Farm Bureau grant will use the funding for materials, educational lessons, activities, and teacher training during the current school year.
Kevin Daugherty, education director of Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC), explained the grants’ importance on the local level. “Providing these grants helps ensure students are reached with accurate agricultural messages, which help them connect food, fuel and fiber systems back to farming,” Daugherty said.
Typically, the coalitions reach more than 650,000 students and 40,000 teachers with ag literacy during a school year. Because schools pivoted to remote learning last year, IAITC outreach numbers were down, but the scope and availability of online resources increased and adapted along with educators, students, and parents. Plus, the online resources allowed IAITC to expand its reach beyond traditional users.
“The funding from this grant, along with the resources and support from IAITC enabled us to continue to create new lessons for school presentations, virtual teacher workshops, and even a virtual Ag Day at the farm right here in Cook County. These efforts resulted in us visiting with over 10,000 students last year through our revised virtual programming.,” shared CCFB Ag Literacy Coordinator Diane Merrion.
Daugherty praised ag literacy coordinators for finding new ways keep in contact with local students. “More than 15,000 lessons were conducted during the height of a global pandemic,” he noted.
For more information or to donate, visit the foundation website at iaafoundation.org or call 309-557-2230. Susan Moore serves as the executive director of the IAA Foundation.
In addition to the IAA Foundation and IFB, entities that partner with IAITC include 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.