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Bringing 'Ag' to the Chic'Ag'oland area

LEWISTOWN, Ill. - According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, farmland covers 75% of the state.

Yet most students don't grow up learning about agriculture in the classroom.

"These children have never seen this," says Carole Scannell, a 4th-grade teacher at St. Germaine School in Oak Lawn.

Although most students in urban, and even suburban areas, don't grow up on a farm, they know how important agriculture is to the community.

"If you didn't have agriculture, then you wouldn't have any of the food," says Noah McNeela, 4th-grader at St. Germaine School.

Agriculture is an essential field that often gets overlooked in the classroom. But under the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom program, that perception changes.

"This 'Ag in the Classroom' program hooks you up with different people," says Scannell. "So these children understand that it's farm to table; that you don't just go to the grocery store and your food is there, it has to be grown."

So throughout the school year, 4th-grade students at St. Germaine School in Oak Lawn received materials from the Fulton County Farm Bureau.

"We partner up with the different farm families in the area and they send us letters with pictures of how their farm operates," says Scannell.

And the children start to learn the fundamentals of farming.

"Like how dairy is processed and how like cattle is rounded up," says McNeela.

"And how grain is processed and how it's put in the silos," says Madi Schmit, 4th-grader at St. Germaine School.

After they've learned the basics, they get to see it first hand.

"We actually saw a bunch of cattle," says McNeela. "We got to go around and see big tractors."

"We saw how the grain is actually in the silos," says Schmit. "We saw a lot of cattle and we saw how the cattle's food is mixed together."

And of course, after their field trip to the various farms in Fulton County, all the students have one common reaction.

"I just thing Ag is very, very cool," says McNeela.


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