Local Teachers Take Summer Agriculture Course


By Evie Allen
By Randy Livingston

BENTON -- Some local teachers are spending the week as students. They're doing some hands-on learning about agriculture, lessons they can take back to the classroom this fall. 

For 21 years SIU has hosted a Summer Agriculture Institute for teachers. The weeklong course not only gives participants credit hours, it arms them with information that they can pass on to their students.

"We want them to see as much agriculture experiences as we can," says Amy Boren.

Boren organized the institute and says one in four jobs in Illinois has something to do with agriculture. She hopes the teachers encourage students to look into the field. 

"There are a wealth of career opportunities for students out their for agriculture." 

West Frankfort teacher Crissy Rains says a lot of students don't know how food gets from the farm to the table. 

"They don't really necessarily understand what happens from the seed forward, or with cattle, or with hogs," adds Rains.

Rains and nearly 15 other teachers visited local businesses, farms and nurseries to update their knowledge of the industry.

"We've had an opportunity to not just work with agriculture but with our colleagues in the neighboring counties," she says.

This learning will come in handy for Illinois' Ag in the Classroom program. It seeks to improve agriculture awareness, knowledge and appreciation among all teachers and students.

Farm bureaus provide materials to use through out the school year, like kits that have information on dairy, poultry, plants and insects.

"It's been interesting to see how it's evolved. How technology comes into agriculture and advanced the procedures and processes," says Rains.

Rains says she'd like to see more schools set up community gardens so students can learn how to grow plants, fruits, and vegetables.

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