2021 Year in Review
The year 2021 was certainly not a “breeze” with plenty of ups and downs for members and the organization. Coming off the 2020 pandemic shutdowns, many thought that 2021 could be a cakewalk. As an organization, the Cook County Farm Bureau is proud to have provided a year full of service to members that ended up being quite rewarding. Here’s a brief recap…
- We delivered an agricultural themed basket reward to Farm Bureau member Ann Biagi of Brookfield for the drawing for being one of the members completing all 12 months of the Ag Adventures page word find puzzle in 2020.
- The board recognized the achievements of Jack Smith, COUNTRY Financial Chicago Northwest Agency Manager, who retired after 36 years of success.
- The Commodity/Marketing team hosted a planning for organic certification webinar.
- Voting members were asked their opinion regarding a property tax increase by the Cook County Forest Preserve District and the majority responded that they were opposed.
- “Bee all about it” classes on the craft of keeping bees was provided both in person and virtually for members.
- Virtual lunch and learn webinars on “Going Solar in 2021” and “Timber Harvesting in 2021” was offered to members.
- The Foundation hosted the “Drawdown for Ag Education” on March 23 raising over $17,000 for scholarships, internship, classroom materials and supplies, and other agriculture education experiences.
- The Wills and Trusts program was converted to a webinar and received very positive reviews.
- The Ag Literacy Team sponsored Ag Days 2021 to celebrate agriculture in Illinois with a one-hour virtual farm field trip event.
- Food Checkout Day helped replenish six Cook County food pantries with needed food and cash thanks to partnerships with the Farm Bureau PR team, board members, COUNTRY Financial agencies, and a host of supporting members.
- The Cook County Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom program presented an Earth Day teacher workshop in a virtual format.
- The Member Relations Team sponsored Member Appreciation Week with many great basket drawings, complementary memberships, prizes, and gifts.
- A two-day Conceal and Carry class was sold out.
- The Young Leaders hosted a virtual exchange through Zoom with the Wake County Farm Bureau Young farmers and Ranchers from North Carolina.
- A special Discover Local four-page insert was provided to all members through the Co-Operator publication to help discover greenhouses, garden centers, farm stands, and area landscapers.
- A pollinator pot workshop at Ray’s Quality Greenhouse in Steger featuring in person and virtual presentation was filled and received great reviews.
- The Cook County Farm Bureau began fighting a change to the capital gains tax handling of stepped-up basis that would impact and devastate the majority of farmland owners during the intergenerational transfer of properties and assets.
- The Cook County Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom program wrapped up a year of challenging remote and virtual presentations in Chicago and suburban classrooms reaching 12,000 students.
- Summer intern Emily Lopata began working with the Cook County Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom program by presenting agriculture programs to local libraries and creating content for the school year educational outreach efforts.
- 12-year-old Ana from St. Alphonsus St. Patrick school was named the winner of the annual bookmark contest.
- Farm Bureau celebrated “Pollinator Week” June 21-26 by providing information on creating individual pollinator gardens and information on monarch butterflies creating a local video on the importance of pollinators and agriculture.
- Area fourth-grader Pablo Ramirez Cisneros was recognized for responding to our Chef Challenge to use specified ingredients to create a meal as a part of our 2020-21 virtual school presentation entitled “There’s Ag on MyPlate”.
- The Member Relations Team kicked off its Summer Selfie Contest with categories that include Farmers’ Markets, Crops/Gardening, and Farm Animals.
- Members of the Commodities/Marketing Team visited various Community Gardens that received support grants from the Team including Roots Community Garden, Neola Street Community Garden, Palos Park Library Pollinator Garden, Rainbow Beach Victory Garden, and Estella’s Garden.
- The Building Committee and PR Team combined forces to install a pollinator garden on the grounds of the Cook County Farm Bureau.
- A lunch and learn webinar on the topic “Composting Basics for Homeowners” was presented by Ellen Phillips, local agriculture consultant and member of the Commodity/Marketing Team.
- The Young Leaders Team toured the Plant and Packingtown Museum, former home of the Union Stock Yards.
- Cook and Will County Farm Bureau Leaders met with Congresswoman Marie Newman to discuss key agricultural issues.
- Cook County Farm Bureau Leaders met with Jerry Costello II, Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, to discuss agriculture as it emerges from the pandemic and local agricultural needs and issues.
- Cook and Fulton County Farm Bureaus toured the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District facilities in the Stickney area and met with district officials.
- The fifth annual Farm Crawl was sponsored by the Commodities/Marketing Team. This self-guided event provided members and the general public the opportunity to visit 22 local farm stands, greenhouses, and other farm related businesses.
- Another Conceal and Carry class training was provided for members with great feedback.
- Many members took advantage of a Shred Day in Rolling Meadows sponsored by the Member Relations Team.
- Macramé much? A DIY program was held at the Farm Bureau for those interested!
- Leaders of the Cook County Farm Bureau attended a national event hosted by the American Society of Association’s Executives in Washington, D.C. to receive the 2021 Summit award for the organization’s work to support local food pantries.
- The 21st Annual Giant Pumpkin, dessert, carving, local honey, and youth contest was held at Puckerville Farms in Lemont with Karen Sanroman winning the giant pumpkin contest with a massive 854-pound pumpkin.
- The Ag in the Classroom program partnered the Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation and Compeer Farm Credit on a new outreach program called Lunch and Library where banners were provided for use in school lunchrooms to show common items on the school menu and how they went from farm to school.
- The Governmental Affairs Team began providing information regarding the Forest Preserve budget and the assumption of the passage of a tax increase by the district.
- The Cook County Farm Bureau supported Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Debra Shore to be appointed to head the EPA region 5 office.
- 16 members participated in the Polity Planter Workshop at Horchers in Wheeling.
- The Cook County Farm Bureau was recognized at the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting with many awards including the Liberty Bell and the Pinnacle Award for top County Farm Bureaus.
- The Young Leaders Team organized a service project with the mission to send needed care items to local military service men and women.
- The Cook County Farm Bureau kicked off the 2022 Action Teams with a set of planning meetings. Kim Morton and Heidi Yunker were recognized as Volunteers of the year for 2021. Janet McCabe, Dan Biernacki, Gerry Kopping and Karen Biernacki were all re-inducted into the Master Member Club. A number of members were recognized for their committed responses to FBACT, the Farm Bureau’s legislative contact action request group.
- The Shop Local Directory available through the Cook County Farm Bureau website expanded for better information and to allow local agricultural businesses to conduct e-commerce through it.
- Members continued to receive the Centennial Goodie Bag featuring the 100-year coffee table book, anniversary calendar, Farm Bureau/Country coffee cup tumbler, logo cap, throwback recipe brochure with cooking board, ink pen, and reusable shopping bag.
- The Master Gardner Resource Center and help desk served members from April through November by providing advice regarding soil test results, soil amendments, growing plants guidance, and researching related issues.