SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) – As farmers travel from all corners of the state to celebrate Agriculture Day at the Illinois State Fair, state and local leaders are working to remind young farmers of their connection with the land and the economy.

The 10th Annual Cream of the Crop photo contest, hosted by State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, encourages young farmers to capture in a photo “what agriculture means to me.”

This year, for the first time, the Treasurer’s office is awarding BrightStart scholarships to each winner as well as having their photos used in advertising and hung in the State Capitol.

Frerichs said this competition encourages young farmers to connect with agriculture, or ag for short, so that they continue to be involved in their farms in the future.

“When we look out over our fields, we see an awful lot of gray hairs,” said Frerichs. “We know we need to engage the next generation of ag leaders.”

He stressed that there are so many ways to be involved in agriculture, including farming, processing, marketing, and more. This competition gives kids the chance to explore the opportunities they may have. Plus, kids do not need to live on a farm or work in agriculture to participate in the contest.

Here are 2022’s winning photos:

Ages 8-10

Ages 11-14

Ages 15-18