GROWMARK and its FS member cooperatives recently renewed its commitment to Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom programs with $75,000 in support. At a recent meeting of the Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors, GROWMARK CEO Jeff Solberg shared thoughts on the GROWMARK System’s ongoing efforts to support agriculture and agriculture education and literacy.
“GROWMARK and Illinois Farm Bureau have an 85-plus year relationship of mutual respect and support. Teaching young people about agriculture has been a common bond throughout our historic relationship. As more Americans are further removed from the farm, bringing the facts about farming to students at an early age is vital,” Solberg said. “We are proud to support Illinois Farm Bureau’s Ag Literacy efforts, as they are at the forefront of bringing that message to students, who in turn share their new-found knowledge with their parents.”
GROWMARK’s annual contribution directly supports 63 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. Recently, grant checks totaling $497,000 were 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.
Kevin Daugherty, Education Director, IAITC, says currently, 24 counties have an FS representative on their local IAITC Advisory council. “In addition to the FS representatives on the advisory boards, the local FS provides the AITC program with a local connection to the inputs so valuable to agriculture,” Daugherty says. “The local FS serves as a focal point to discuss what is going on in agriculture, whether it is with the seeds that become the crop, with the nurse tanks applying plant food, or what’s happening in the elevator. That local connection to agriculture is critical across the state.”
Solberg also discussed the GROWMARK System’s commitment to driving more dollars to IAITC by encouraging employees, FS members, and others in agriculture to show their local pride and support of agriculture and education by putting a “Saluting Agriculture” license plate on their vehicle. “There are many ways to show support for agriculture literacy and IAITC programs; volunteering at the local level, making a personal donation, or sporting an Ag Plate on your vehicle. We are proud to financially support IAITC programs and activities as well as encourage everyone to do whatever they can,” Solberg related.
Susan Moore, IAA Foundation Director says close to $25 from each plate renewal goes directly to support the needs of the IAITC program. “That means free Ag Mags, other resources and mini grants for teachers, and funds to support the local ag literacy coalitions. Plus it’s just really neat to see so many Ag Plates out on the road, knowing how much this industry drives the Illinois economy. ”