IAA Foundation boosts local ag literacy with county coalition grants

By Kay Shipman

The local delivery system of agricultural information to students and teachers recently received a $630,000 boost from the IAA Foundation.

The Illinois Farm Bureau’s charitable arm awarded grants to 78 county coalitions that serve 87 counties. The coalitions will use the funding for materials, educational lessons, activities and training during the current school year. This year, the IAA Foundation provided level funding to all county coalitions, according to Susan Moore, IAA Foundation director.

Kevin Daugherty, education director of Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC), explained the grants’ importance on the local level. “Providing these grants helps ensure students are reached with accurate agricultural messages, which help them connect food, fuel and fiber systems back to farming,” Daugherty said.

Daugherty praised ag literacy coordinators for finding new ways keep in contact with local students. “More than 15,000 lessons were conducted during the height of a global pandemic,” he noted.

In addition to virtual or in-person programs, many coordinators made and distributed packets of ag materials for students through schools. During the summer, IAITC continued to provide teacher training.

Moore pointed out the county coalition grants are possible with funding from the foundation, which is preparing for its fundraising finale - and facing an earlier deadline.

An online auction will take the place of the traditional silent auction during the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“We want to build a great online site to display all the donations for the online auction,” Moore said, adding time is needed to build the site and to take and upload images of donated items. The online auction is set to run Dec. 3-6. A traditional live auction will occur Dec. 5.

To prepare and launch the online auction on time, the foundation is requesting donated items by Nov. 1, which is earlier than usual, Moore added.

And because buyers won’t transport those donated auction items home after Annual Meeting, Moore encouraged donors to be mindful of items that will ship well and are not overly large, bulky or extremely fragile.

For more information or to donate, visit the foundation website at iaafoundation.org or call 309-557-2230.

In addition to the IAA Foundation and IFB, entities that partner with IAITC include Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education, University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy Association, Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.