Collegiate Farm Bureau draws students, adds new campuses

New groups launched this fall at Black Hawk College East in Galva and Kaskaskia College in Centralia.

Lake Land College students register for the collegiate Farm Bureau organization on their Mattoon campus at a recent kick-off event. Lake Land joins 10 other colleges with Farm Bureau organizations for students. (Photo by Courtney Vitzthum, Illinois Farm Bureau program specialist)

By Kay Shipman

College students on 11 campuses focused on professional development and opportunities recently when Illinois Farm Bureau kicked off its 2018 collegiate program.

This fall, IFB launched new collegiate Farm Bureau groups at Black Hawk College East in Galva and Kaskaskia College in Centralia, said Courtney Vitzthum, IFB membership and collegiate/youth program specialist.

In recent weeks, collegiate Farm Bureau groups registered large numbers of students, especially freshmen; some had Farm Bureau backgrounds while others were unfamiliar with the organization, according to Vitzthum. “We’ve had a great turnout,” she added.

In addition to Black Hawk and Kaskaskia, collegiate Farm Bureau has student members at Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University, University of Illinois, Western Illinois University (WIU), Lake Land College, Lincoln Land Community College, Wabash Valley College, Joliet Junior College and Highland Community College. 

The campus Farm Bureau organizations offer students professional development experiences as well as opportunities to support the ag industry on campus and in their communities.

Several collegiate Farm Bureaus adopted a 2017 idea from WIU members who packed harvest snack bags and a thank-you note for farmers and distributed them at local grain elevators. Collegiate Farm Bureau members have distributed ag information to fellow students from booths and during campus events.

Formal public speaking contests attract some college members. On Nov. 2, students will compete in the IFB Young Leader and Postsecondary Agricultural and Student Organization discussion meet. The winner will represent Illinois in the national discussion meet competition.

Vitzthum anticipated collegiate Farm Bureau growth will continue in Illinois. Discussions are underway to form new collegiate Farm Bureau groups in fall 2019. Several colleges with agriculture programs have expressed interest in opening collegiate Farm Bureau groups on their campuses, she said.