Illinois First Lady Invests in Tomorrow’s Farm Leaders
SPRINGFIELD — Let’s start our roundup of ISF Ag Day with one of the final events of the day: the highly anticipated Sale of Champions. After a heated bidding war, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker was edged out in the bidding for the grand champion steer by none other than his wife, Illinois First Lady MK Pritzker. She offered a record bid of $105,000 for the steer, which was exhibited by Scott County’s Landry Freeman.
“These exhibitors are the future of agriculture in our state and represent the best of the best,” said Jerry Costello II, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “The sale of champions is the icing on the cake of the Illinois State Fair. Seeing our young people in agriculture rewarded for the work they put into these animals is my favorite part of the Illinois State Fair.
While proceeds go to a variety of agriculture-related organizations and causes, Grand Champion exhibitors, as well as reserve Grand Champion exhibitors, will receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their animal. Exhibitors use the funds for their college education or reinvest them in projects for the next year. Freeman’s Grand Champion steer was processed and donated to Central Illinois Foodbank. (Illinois Electronic News)
Pritzker signs education bill
The annual IDOA Breakfast on the Director’s Lawn drew hundreds of farmers and commodity group leaders to the state fair on Agriculture Day. During his remarks at the rally, Pritzker promised to sign two agriculture-related bills later in the day.
True to his word, Pritzker approved House Bill 3218 and Senate Bill 1624, companion bills that add agricultural science as a course option for the elective category as part of the required courses of the high school for admission to university. The measure was supported by teachers, FFA chapters, students and lawmakers concerned with Illinois continuing its proud agricultural tradition.
“The study of agriculture is vitally important, and our curricula should reflect that,” said State Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago. “Its exclusion as a course study option for admission has done a huge disservice to students considering working in the field one day. There is a wide variety of subjects taught in agriculture, be it math, economics, biochemistry and more. I am proud of the work done to expand study options, as each course should be considered equal for our students and their studies.
The bills were introduced by State Representative Nicholas Smith, D-Chicago, and State Senator Doris Turner, D-Springfield. The law comes into force on January 1.
Peoria Ag Lab Celebrated with Invoice Signing
Many people know that the discovery of penicillin was made in the USDA’s “Ag Lab” in Peoria during World War II – but even more don’t. This landmark discovery was celebrated with Pritzker’s signing of the 1879 House Bill, which designates Penicillium rubens as the official state microbe of Illinois. The designation also celebrates Mary K. Hunt, the Peoria woman who brought a moldy cantaloupe to the Northern Regional Research Library – now known as the National Center for Agricultural Use Research – which led to the discovery penicillin.
“By making Penicillium rubens our state microbe, we commemorate Peoria’s contribution to global health and medicine,” said State Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria). “Nearly a century ago, our National Agriculture Utilization Laboratory discovered a microbe that has been saving lives from disease ever since – a historic feat worth recognizing and remembering.”
Illinois FFA Young Leaders Recognized
Illinois FFA’s newest class of state leaders were recognized and had stage seats at the ISF Farmer’s Breakfast presentation. The 2021-22 leadership class includes state chairman Adam Loker; Vice President of State Jason Shaffer; Lauren Mohr, journalist; Gracie Murphy, Secretary and Kara Freebairn, Treasurer. The new officers, along with several 2021-22 Chapter Presidents and other Illinois FFA members then greeted visitors at the Illinois FFA barn on Grandstand Avenue.
“Fresh Roots” Director’s Cup Winners Named
Recipients of Farm Credit Illinois’ 2021 Fresh Roots Director’s Cup awards were honored during Farm Day at ISF. The award honors farmers under the age of 40 or in their first decade of farming who are committed to building a better future for their family farm business and community. The Director’s Cup Award winners for 2021 were Austin Ellison of Belleville (St.Clair County), Mitchell Hinds of Kenney (Macon County), Lydia and Adam Holste of Altamont (Effingham County), Jacob Strohbeck of Alton (Madison County), Elliott Uphoff of Shelbyville (Shelby County) and Michael Yoder of Hammond (Moultrie County). Each Freshroots Director’s Cup recipient receives a $5,000 cash prize from Farm Credit Illinois.
Juan and Dulce Credillo of Englewood (2021 Urban Ag Award), longtime agricultural educator Sue Schafer (Golden Owl Award), Anthony Pferschy of Kane County (Farmer-Veteran of the Year), the Jackson family of Jefferson (4-H Family Spirit Award), Penny Lauritzen (Illinois Agri-Women Hall of Fame), the Frost Family (Illinois Beef Farm Family of the Year), Derek and Libby Ervin (Local Food Changemaker of the Year), Greg and Donna Walters (Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Lifetime Achievement Award), Cheryl DeMent of Kenney (Illinois Horsemen’s Council Ambassador Award), Barbara Clark (Chicago Farmers Plowman of the Year), Derek Martin of Logan County (STAR Farmer of the Year) , the Dekalb Soil and Water Conservation District (STAR Licensee of the Year), Sarah Blount (STAR Partner of the Year), Ryan Phelps of Walker’s Bluff Winery (Vineyard of the Year) and Doug Palm of Twelve Oaks Vineyard (Winemaker of the year ).
Congratulations to all of the Ag Day award winners!
Made on the Illinois farm:
More than 350 Illinois farms have been verbally recognized and celebrated as “Centennial Farms” by IDOA Director Jerry Costello II at the annual Farm Breakfast at the Illinois State Fair. Illinois.