The Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) program continued to provide a strong avenue for children to learn about agriculture this year, reaching more students and awarding more grants to support local efforts than ever before.   

“In the 2017-2018 school year, more than 694,000 students received an accurate agricultural message connecting students to their food, fuel, and fiber systems,†said Kevin Daugherty, education director, Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom. “Our grants to county ag literacy programs make this local connection possible.â€Â 

County coalition grants marked an all-time high for funding and number of counties served this year. Seventy-nine coalitions serving 89 Illinois counties were awarded $640,000 in grant dollars which can be used for materials, trainings, educational lessons and activities taking place during the 2018-2019 school year.    

In addition to record students reached, 41,369 teachers and 1,166 pre-service teachers learned how to incorporate agriculture into their curriculum while at the same time, meeting state learning standards.  

“County level programs are the biggest strength of our IAITC efforts,†Daugherty said. “Illinois has the benefit of local contacts that provide content knowledge and easy strategies for teachers to utilize. The county programs work to integrate agriculture into existing classroom curriculum.† 

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 Illinois AITC program each year, and in addition to county grants, provides funding for Ag Mags, teacher grants, Summer Ag Institutes and more.

“Thanks to the work of local ag literacy coordinators, backed by the steadfast generosity of our individual and industry contributors, the IAA Foundation is able to award more in grant money to these coalitions than ever before,” said Susan Moore, director, IAA Foundation. “These funds will allow local ag literacy efforts to continue to thrive in both rural and urban communities throughout Illinois.”  

Partner organizations of IAITC include Illinois Farm Bureau, Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education, University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Growers, Illinois Pork Producers, 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 event participants 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.