A Publication of WTVP

Teachers. They have one of the most important jobs in our society. They have the ability to shape and mold a pathway for success in each child.

Farmers. They provide food and other resources for a society to survive and the opportunity to thrive. Actually, farmers provide much more than just food and feed for animals. Their products are used to make clothing, cars, buildings, fuels, and so many other things we've come to take for granted.

For the past several months, personnel from Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford County Farm Bureaus, Illinois Central College, and the University of Illinois Extension Service have met and pieced together a program that will connect teachers and agriculture. The inaugural Tri-County Summer Agricultural Institute (SAI) for teachers is scheduled June 14 to 18 at the ICC campus and at area farms and agribusinesses.

Since 1991, more than 2,600 Illinois teachers have completed a Summer Agriculture Institute. The institutes have taken place at community colleges and high schools throughout Illinois-except Peoria-until this year. The course is designed for pre-school through high school educators who wish to expand their curriculum to include topics related to agriculture.

Teachers will learn how agriculture is a part of our everyday life and find ways to incorporate agriculture into existing science and math curriculums. It's surprising to find that agriculture can find its way into subjects you would least expect-like literature.

So just what is the content of this inaugural Tri-County Summer Agriculture Institute? On Monday, participants will stay on the ICC campus for some hands-on activities about agriculture with the Illinois Farm Bureau and Facilitating Coordi-nation in Agricultural Education (FCAE). Teachers will tour the ICC Ag Lab Research plots to see what's coming through the agricultural pipeline.

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, educators will tour a variety of sites in the three counties. On Tuesday, they'll be in Peoria County, Wednesday takes them to Woodford County, and Thursday they'll wrap up the field tours in Tazewell County. In Peoria County, we'll tour a dairy farm, composting operation, colored sheep farm, beef farm, and an orchard. The Woodford County tour will feature a seed company, vineyard and winery, greenhouse, farm equipment manufacturer, and farm crop protectant manufacturer. Tazewell County will host tours of a pumpkin farm, turkey farm, irrigation systems, grain cooperative, and river grain handling facility.

On Friday, teachers will return to the ICC campus for presentations and lesson plans. Commodity groups representing corn, soybeans, and livestock will each give a synopsis of their specific farm commodity and its importance in our society.

Today, less than 2 percent of our population lives on a working farm. We hope students can experience "life on the farm" through the eyes of their teacher.

Please encourage a teacher to fill out an application for this weeklong program. Applications are available at each of the three county Farm Bureaus, and the deadline is April 15. IBI