My name is Brittany Hosselton, the current Ag in the Classroom intern for the Illinois Corn Marketing Board/Illinois Corn Growers Association. During my internship I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel throughout the beautiful state of Illinois and share my passion for agriculture, more specifically corn production, with teachers at various summer agriculture institutes.
Sharing the message of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board/Illinois Corn Growers Association with all levels of educators has been especially exciting for me, due to my background in agricultural education. I recently spent three months student teaching in a high school agricultural classroom, and from that experience I realized who students rely on to receive a majority of their information; their teachers. From this realization, I find it vital to first reach out to teachers and expand their knowledge on the importance of agriculture and corn production.
Even though it is still early in the summer, I have met some wonderful teachers, who have been very receptive to the message I have shared as an intern. My main focus this summer is to talk about common myths when it comes to corn production and then share the facts. With this approach, I spend a majority of my thirty minute presentation talking to teachers about high fructose corn syrup and ethanol production. Before speaking about the facts on either topic, I ask teachers to share with me what they have heard, what they believe to be true, or what they are unsure about when it comes to corn production. At every summer agriculture institute, I get the response that “high fructose corn syrup is bad”. Teachers have also shared their thoughts that “ethanol production is taking away from livestock feed sources” and “the production of ethanol consumes more energy than it produces”. Although these are the responses I sometimes hear at the beginning of my presentation, teachers respond very well to the facts I share with them and have a positive outlook on corn production by the end of my presentation.
There are numerous misleading advertisements out there about corn production, and the responses I hear from teachers at the beginning of my presentation confirms that people are listening to them. In my opinion, the only way corn producers can change these negative thoughts is to educate the public on the facts of corn production, which has been my mission this summer. Again, I feel that teachers are a wonderful first step in this education process because they have the opportunity to share their knowledge with multiple children at one time. However, I am a firm believer that education can reach any person at any age. I have been given the opportunity to share the positive aspects of corn production at summer agriculture institutes, but I believe corn has very powerful message that should be continually shared by all of those who are passionate about corn production.
ICMB Ag in the Classroom intern