AITC reaches record student numbers

Program extends accurate agriculture messages to students throughout the state.

Aitc _reaches _record _student _numbers _1_636437675021892000Michele Govea, left, Castellanos School, and Carol Lemkau, St. Louise School, use Ag in the Classroom (AITC) materials to explore food production with a fall harvest theme. The activity was part of the Cook County AITC’s first teacher professional development workshop in Chicago. (Photo by Diane Merrion, Cook County Farm Bureau ag literacy coordinator)

During the 2016-17 school year, more than 661,000 students received accurate agricultural messages, thanks to the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) program.

In fact, the program reached more students and awarded more grants to support local efforts than ever before, according to Kevin Daugherty, IATC education director. 

“Our grants to county ag-literacy programs make this local connection possible,” he said.

County coalition grants marked an all-time high. Seventy-seven coalitions serving 87 Illinois counties received $625,500 in grant dollars. Grants can be used for materials, training, educational lessons and activities.

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.

“County coalition grants show state commitment to the county level,” Daugherty said. “In the coming year, we’ll continue our focus on environmental stewardship and agriculture and increase STEM programming with a focus on career development.”

Illinois AITC partners include IFB, 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.

For information on how individuals can contribute, visit IAAFoundation.org. To learn more about AITC, go to AgInTheClassroom.org.

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