animated-inflatable-shivering-snowman-2Imagine it: It is the first week back from a long and relaxing winter break. Although you are excited to get back in front of the classroom, the winter blues is quite possibly your worst enemy. Since winter is in full swing, your students may have trouble re-focusing their attention and energy into the classroom. You greet your students by asking what they did over break, then you begin teaching, but notice that your students are low in energy.

To save yourself from a bad day where your students are not engaged, read on for a couple of ways to reel your students back into school mode. Below, are a few activity ideas, tips, and pointers to turn a bad day into a fab day!

So, what are some good ways to get your students out of the winter blues? The most important part about teaching during the cold winter days is to incorporate some physical activity into or in between lessons. One particular activity, called “Agriculture is Everywhere” is a great way to get your students motivated! Here are the simple steps:

  1. Collect old magazines and newspapers and store them in your classroom.
  2. Tape a poster on the classroom board.
  3. Divide your students into groups of 3 or 4.
  4. Allow students to explore magazines/newspapers to find people/items related to agriculture.
  5. Have students tape their findings to the poster (goal is 100 total).
  6. Assign a student to tally mark for each item on the poster.
  7. Discuss how the items specifically relate to agriculture.
  8. Hang the finished product outside the hallway, allowing students and teachers to recognize that agriculture is everywhere!

The “Agriculture is Everywhere” activity is simply one of the hundreds of ways to get students energized for class. Some other ways to get students out of the winter blues is by allowing students to get up and do hands on work that reminds them of the exciting parts about winter. With the school supplies in your classroom, ask students to create snowflakes by folding a white piece of computer paper in different ways and cutting! This is one of the simplest and messy-free crafts that your students will love!

classroomIf your students are older, have the class sit in a circle and ask them to discuss their favorite aspects of winter. You will be surprised how much your students will have to say. For a quicker activity, ask students in groups to list a number of items as fast as they can. The topics can be something like listing farm animals, the 50 states, or all of the fun aspects about winter!

Although winter restricts students from having recess outside, playing inside can be just as exciting! So next time you notice your students are not motivated, take a small break from your lesson plan by doing group activities, class discussions, or crafts. Now that your students are pumped up, you can get back to your lesson.

SamarSamar Dabneh
Illinois State University







  1. buy localBuying Local

When you purchase ethanol you are buying local. Ethanol plants did not just appear on their own. A farmer spent his time, money, and hard work to build those plants. If you know a farmer, keep in mind that he is producing not only food and livestock feed, but also an energy source.

  1. Renewable Energy Sourrenewable fuelce

Ethanol is a renewable energy source. Each year, the United States grow crops used in ethanol production. The amount of farm land needed to create 15 billion gallons of grain ethanol is equivalent to only one percent of the world’s crop land. You get a whole lot of fuel for only using a small amount of land.

  1. Affordability

piggy bankGas prices may be dropping, but how would you like a consistent gas price?  Since ethanol is made in the U.S.A. the prices will not severely fluctuate like they would if we imported oil. The Renewable Energy Association stated ethanol-blended fuel lowers gas prices up to $1.09 per gallon on average and saves the average American household $1,200 on their gas bill annually. Wouldn’t you like to save $1,200 a year and use it for something you really want or need?

  1. Cethanol jobsreates more jobs

In 2012, 383,000 people got jobs and supported themselves and their families by producing 13.3 billion gallons of ethanol in many different areas of the economy.


  1. Made in USA

MADE IN USA Rubber StampEthanol is homegrown. Nothing is imported. The corn is grown here in America and the United States processes the corn and converts it into ethanol. Everything used – from labor to the engineering side of ethanol – is made in the U.S.A. Why not support your own economy and buy American made?

  1. american ethanolMost Tested Fuel

Ethanol is the most tested fuel in the history of the United States. Ethanol vehicles have been driven a combined total of 6 million miles and nothing was found in the way of issues with the engine’s durability or harm to emissions equipment.  It was found that ethanol boosts engine performance, increases horsepower, and clears harmful residues from lower quality fuels. Ethanol has been proven so successful that NASCAR uses E15 for their competitions.

  1. Protecting the Environment

Not only does ethanol have cleaner emissions, but it also reduces pollution risks for the environment. Remember in 2012, when BP had a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and severely damaged the wildlife which affected many families who were in the fishing market? The production of ethanol would be land-locked and would reduce the need for oil rigs. Also, since ethanol has cleaner emissions than regular gasoline there are less greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that are responsible for climate change.

The production of ethanol has many different advantages. It’s safe, renewable, affordable, and a boost for the economy. If you want a greener environment or just want to support the United States of America ethanol is the answer and the right choice.

ellen childress

Ellen Childress
Illinois State University student


I think we may all know how it goes, a New Years Resolution of losing weight that collects into a pile of dust …. Or rather, collects into an addition of a few more pounds rather than that spectacular “diet” you had the plans of completing.

We have all heard about the latest gluten free, non-GMO, no carb diets, as well as diet plans found at your local Complete Nutrition. I’m sure many of you have tried them out, myself included. While I may have lost a pound here or there while on my diet plan of a couple months by the end of the diet I was ready to eat some “real” food. It was back to my favorite pancakes, the infamous horseshoe, and Starbucks macchiatos. Yep, you guessed it, I gained it back and my New Years Resolution was a bust.

Months ago I made the decision to make a lifestyle change, one that I hope to continue for the rest of my life. Here’s the top five reasons why I decided to make the change, and why you should also!

  1. Energymore energy!

Fad diets, often those restricting carbohydrates or fats, increases fatigue and decreases body energy. A decrease in body energy can cause low blood pressure as well as athletic performance. Staying active is one of the easiest and best ways to staying healthy and happy.

 2. No More Binging

choco is good for the soulFor those of you that have tried fad diets there is most often an ending time for completion. When the time comes it is like the world of food has unleashed and you just can’t keep your hand out of the cookie jar. Cookie after cookie, soda after soda, and eventually pound after pound. Making a healthy lifestyle change allows you to treat yourself, OCCASIONALLY. If you are craving chocolate, eat the brownie, but remember, moderation is key.

  1. Less Stress/ Mood Swings

eat to beat stressA staff writer from UCLA, Shannon Wongvibulsin, wrote an amazing article on healthy food choices that reduce stress by strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C, complex carbohydrates, and fatty acids were three of the top nutrients that aid in lowering stress. Fad diets often don’t allow enough food in the diet, replacing with shakes or smoothies, skipping a meal, or drinking a broth-like substance causes more stress than one thinks. Not having the adequate amount of nutrients and food to satisfy hunger is an easy entry for anxiety.


4. Cheaper

cheaper healthy foodEating well does not have to cost a lot of money. As a college student I most certainly know the struggle of staying on budget while maintaining my healthy lifestyle.  My best suggestions are to find the best deals. Find out which vegetables have the best sale, which fruits are in season and have the lowest cost, and don’t be afraid to buy the generic brand bread or rice. On the online, Worldometer, it shows money spent on weight loss programs in the USA today accounts for nearly $68,000,000 and is rapidly increasing.


timeYou MUST be patient. Losing weight doesn’t happen over night. So many fad diets and weight-loss programs promise quick and easy weight loss. You must understand, it’s not that easy. To have a successful weight loss journey you must make permanent changes to your lifestyle. Find something that gives you motivation to continue your lifestyle change, because waiting and being patient is the hardest step for many to continue their journey. Remember why you are making the change and who you have in your life that you want to stay healthy for.

As an IL Corn intern, I am managing the IL Corn Pinterest account this semester and since these things interest me and the farmers in Illinois, I have a board with articles, ideas, and checklists that might help you on your way to a healthier 2015.  Go check it out!

Shayla GrosenheiderShayla Grosenheider
Illinois State University



Click here for original recipe.

I’m in love with the idea of a corn fritter.  Not only does it sound amazing, but it also seems like a great way to get your daily veggies in (add zucchini! chopped spinach!  even black beans!) and it’s warm and toasty on a cold winter night.

This recipe for Savory Corn Fritters seems like a great place to start.  Adapt and edit this recipe to your own taste – I’m thinking of adding ranch seasoning instead of cayenne – and let us know how it turns out!

corn frittersIngredients

2 cobs corn (about 1 1/2 cups kernels)
1/4 cup diced green onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1-2 tablespoons seeded, diced jalapeno
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 beaten eggs
(up to) 1/2 cup flour
few cracks black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar/honey (optional)

In a bowl combine roasted corn, green onion, red bell pepper, jalapeno and cilantro. Stir in beaten eggs.

Add 1/4 cup flour and stir. Add only as much flour is needed to hold ingredients together, up to 1/2 cup.

Season with black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt. Add sugar or honey if desired.

Heat olive oil in a skillet to medium. Pan should be hot, but not so hot the fritters will darken too quickly. Drop spoonfuls of batter to make fritters.

Cook slowly over medium heat until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. Allow to drain on paper towels.

Serve piping hot. Makes about 8 fritters.



Reposted from HumaneWatch

Humanewatch_logo_headerThis week, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) unveiled a report accusing a Minnesota chicken plant of animal cruelty. HSUS claims that one of its members worked at the poultry plant for nearly three months, all the while collecting secret footage of the poultry production process. However, there are several red flags that raise questions about the integrity of the HSUS footage and the corresponding report.

At issue is whether some of the chickens were not completely dead before entering a hot-water bath, which is used to help in the removal of feathers of slaughtered animals. HSUS says its undercover person witnessed this happening. But an attorney for the plant says this is highly unlikely:

Terry Fruth, a Minneapolis-based attorney for Butterfield Foods, said the company denies any charges of misuse of the birds and is looking into the case. Fruth said if the allegations are true, the company’s 130 other employees at the plant, as well as eight USDA inspectors, would have seen and reported them.

Further, there was an additional point brought up in a press statement put out by the National Chicken Council, a trade group:

[A]lmost all poultry processing plants, including Butterfield Foods, have employees stationed on the line before the scalder to make sure that birds are properly killed in accordance with FSIS requirements and industry guidelines.  These employees serve as extra back-up to make sure no live birds enter the scalder. […]

No back-up employee is present in the video presented by HSUS, which raises several questions, the most serious of which is whether the animal rights activist himself was the back-up employee and abandoned his post to shoot this footage, purposely letting the live birds he was hired to protect enter the scalder, in order to advance the HSUS agenda.  If true, this is not only sickening, it further reveals HSUS’s true colors and suggests that HSUS, not Butterfield, may be breaking the law.

Should farmers and processors be following the law? Absolutely. And if this processor wasn’t, then it’s definitely something the USDA should look into. However, the undercover video stunts by groups like HSUS and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are not investigations done by an unbiased, impartial official. These groups have a specific agenda to eliminate farms with animals. Unsurprisingly, their hidden videos are heavily edited to make that case. Just like the “reality shows” you suspect are scripted, hidden videos show a very small view of life on the farm and there’s no way to know if things are staged or orchestrated. The animal rights groups who make these videos usually refuse to give officials or the media the uncut video—a huge red flag.

The other issue at hand is that groups like HSUS often let abuse go on for days or months before saying anything in an effort to make the biggest media splash. In this case, HSUS says that its activist worked at the plant for 57 days. That’s two months of “investigation.” According to a press report, the local sheriff only received a complaint from HSUS on January 2. Meanwhile, the USDA says it started an investigation on January 6, which sounds like HSUS didn’t file a complaint with the food-safety and enforcement agency until—you guessed it—it was time for HSUS’s press conference.

Why did it take so long for HSUS to file a complaint with local authorities? It’s possible that nothing was wrong at the plant until recently. Or, more likely to us, HSUS wanted to wait until the new year to take advantage of a better media cycle when readers and reporters weren’t traveling for the holidays.

Whatever the investigation turns up, delays are a problem. But there’s an easy way to solve it: Require animal abuse to be reported to local authorities within a few days. There have been several bills in statehouses in recent years to require this. However, they’ve been hypocritically opposed by HSUS. Who could be against reporting animal abuse to authorities? Groups that cynically prefer media coverage. It’s a losing argument for HSUS, and legislators would be smart to push these bills.

HSUS has a moral obligation to report violations of protocol to the authorities immediately. Since it doesn’t want to, legislation is warranted. As for the investigation at the plant, we’ll see where it goes.



The corn farmers I work for are not growing corn for you to eat.

There.  I said it.  One of the largest and most confusing statistics in our industry.  Your gut probably tells you that there are ethanol or farm bill analyses that are far more perplexing.  But the truth is, this one single fact throws off more non-farmers who are trying to understand agriculture and food production than any other.

sweet corn field cornIllinois is the second largest producer of corn in the U.S. – behind Iowa.  The USDA recently reported that we averaged 200 bushels of corn per acre (up from 178 bushels per acre last year) and a total of 2, 350,000 bushels of corn.

A minuscule amount of that corn is corn you will eat.

Look closely.  See the dents?
Look closely. See the dents?

The corn that Illinois is so famous for is actually field corn or “dent corn,” named for the dent that forms as the corn dries down in the field.  This corn is used for the ethanol industry or to feed to livestock.  Or, as is the case primarily in Illinois, for export to other states and other countries.

The corn that most Americans have a relationship with is sweet corn, bred for a higher sugar content and a more pleasing taste.  THIS is the corn that you have in cans in your pantry or frozen in your freezer.  THIS is the corn you slather with butter in the summer time, smiling with fat drips rolling off your chin.

And yet – less than one percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is sweet corn.

Field corn is our versatile crop.  It is used in diapers, make up, and shampoo.  It is used to feed livestock and fuel cars.  It is also used in the food industry as high fructose corn syrup, in corn bread mixes, corn tortillas and corn chips.

Field corn is harvested in the fall, after the stalks die and the kernels dry down.  Field corn is a taller, darker green plant with a small tassel.  Field corn is a grain, not a vegetable.

I know, I know.

mind blown corn


Lindsay Mitchell 11/14Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director