“Outreach” is defined as the act of extending services and benefits to a wider section of the population, something that is normal business practice for the team at Illini FS in Champaign, IL.
“Our [agriculture’s] positive farm image needs to be continued and replenished on a constant basis,” says Pat Titus, safety and regulatory administrator. “We cannot stand on our agricultural roots and experiences and expect our image to grow in value. The ag community needs to point out that farmers are one of the first environmental stewards.”
Community and industry outreach is the foundation that Illini FS builds its business on. Titus brings a communications background to the team, and encourages all employees to get involved in spreading the good news about agriculture.
The company is a member of the local Future Farmers of America chapter and, according to Titus, reached more than 7,000 preschoolers, grade schoolers and high-schoolers last year on the importance of farm safety. Illini FS also works alongside the local Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Carle Rural Health and Safety Department to give employees, customers and the community the message that safety and the environment go hand-in-hand. Strong grower relationships keep the company on top of current farming issues, helping them promote the “family farm” and build trust with the farming community.
“Whether it’s over a cup of coffee, or offering sweet corn out of our patch, we know our customers can trust and rely on our efforts,” Titus says.
Employee safety programs and training, well-constructed, updated buildings and rigorous emergency response procedures are expected. Going above and beyond the call of duty by educating the larger population is key to this company’s success.
“We, as suppliers, and our customer farmers live, work and play in the communities that we do business in,” says Titus. “As many of us look on the horizon for the next directive to environmental care, we know our industry will also be a part of the ‘big’ picture. Our industry has always been green. It’s not the ‘celebrity’ thing to do. It’s the right thing to do.”