Grants help to add agriculture to McLean County classrooms

The McLean County Chamber of Commerce annually celebrates agriculture through its annual Agriculture Awareness Breakfast and this year the event was held virtually on March 18.

The event allows University of Illinois Extension and McLean County 4-H the opportunity to celebrate teachers and students of our communities that are working to incorporate agriculture into their lesson plans, classrooms, and youth learning experiences.

Grant opportunities, such as the John Maitland Agriculture Awareness Grant and the George E. Holder Agriculture Awareness Grant, provide opportunities to McLean County teachers to receive funding for proposed classroom projects to teach youth the various components of Agriculture.

The 2021 recipients recognized for the John Maitland Agriculture Awareness Grant are Kristin Myers of Tri-Valley High School, Jayme Corcoran of Washington Elementary, and Anna Hanrahan of Heyworth Elementary.

University of Illinois Extension 4-H Youth Development Educator for McLean County Katie Buckley shared that, “Myers will provide a hands-on learning experience for her high school horticulture class and K-8 floral workshops through floral arranging curriculum, Corcoran plans to expand their hydroponics garden with an addition of a greenhouse, and Hanrahan will be adding hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponic opportunities in the classroom.”

The opportunity to add this curriculum helps encourage and explore their student’s creativity and artistic styles of learning. Adding agriculture to the classroom expands opportunity and growth.

The 2021 recipient of the George E. Holder Agriculture Awareness Grant is Brad Marcy from LeRoy High School. The funds from this grant are in honor of the late George E. Holder and will be used to fund gardening projects for the schools that will serve the students and/or the community.

Buckley said, “Marcy plans to use the funds on a project to serve the LeRoy Community as a food garden for local food-insecure households.” This service-learning project will involve cross-curricular engagement with the agriculture, history, and science departments at LeRoy High School.

Winners of the Agriculture Awareness placemat contest are also recognized at the breakfast. Nick from Corpus Christi (first grade), Kennedy from LeRoy Elementary second grade), Liam from Corpus Christi (third grade), and Emma from Corpus Christi (fifth grade) were all recognized for their hard work and creativity in illustrating what agriculture means to them.