GROWMARK and its FS member cooperatives recently renewed its commitment to Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom programs with $70,000 in support.
During activities at the Farm Progress Show, Amy Bradford, corporate relations manager, and GROWMARK Foundation manager, presented a check to representatives of the IAA Foundation and Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC). Bradford shared thoughts on the GROWMARK System’s ongoing efforts to support agriculture and agriculture education and literacy.
“GROWMARK and its FS companies take great pride in supporting AITC activities,” Bradford said. “Many employees across Illinois, whether at GROWMARK or one of the FS companies, cooperate with Ag Literacy coordinators to share the agriculture story. Our financial contribution to these activities is another way the GROWMARK/FS system supports IAITC efforts. We look forward to many more years of this relationship.”
GROWMARK’s annual contribution directly supports 70 County Coalitions across the state of Illinois. The County Coalitions are comprised of individuals who conduct programs and activities designed to educate students about agriculture. This fall, grant checks totaling $564,000 will be distributed to local coalitions, an increased amount over last year’s grant, due in part to GROWMARK’s generosity and ongoing commitment to IAITC programs.
The partnership between GROWMARK, FS and IAITC goes beyond the significant financial contribution made today to the local level, involving FS companies located throughout Illinois. GROWMARK’s contribution brings its 12-year total of AITC support to more than $775,000.
Kevin Daugherty, education director, IAITC, said currently, 29 IAITC Coalitions have an FS representative on their local IAITC Advisory council.
“In addition to the FS representatives on the advisory boards, many local FS representatives volunteer in the classroom, at expo events or provide career based information to teachers during teachers training sessions,” Daugherty said. “FS is a local connection to the inputs so valuable to agriculture. The local FS makes sense to schools across Illinois. Students and teachers see the FS signs, and know there are local folks employed in this valuable agriculture sector. This local connection makes an even greater impact in schools.”
IAITC has a rich history of being the agriculture education resource for teachers to utilize in classrooms. Last year the program reached more than 516,000 students and 36,000 teachers through classroom presentations and other agriculture learning experiences. Susan Moore, director, IAA Foundation, said this is an increase over the last school year.
“Through our dedicated volunteers and county coalition staffs, IAITC is making a significant impact in helping more young consumers understand agriculture and the important role of the farmer,” Moore said. “Our donors see this, too, and we are grateful for major gifts like GROWMARK’s to keep local programs viable.”
Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom is the top funding priority of the IAA Foundation, Illinois Farm Bureau’s charitable foundation.