YOUNG PERSON IN AG: CHRISTOPHER FLOOD

I had the opportunity to meet Christopher Flood last year as we entered our first year at Lake Land College in Mattoon, IL. At first glance, Christopher is a very quiet reserved guy, incredibly smart, and genuinely a nice person to be around. As we have gotten to know each other more and more I find it fascinating to listen to him, as he knows a lot about various aspects of agriculture. I sat down with Christopher after class one day to talk about being a 6th generation farmer, a student, and a young person in the agriculture industry.

  1. Tell me a little bit about your family’s operation and what you guys do?

We run a 1300-acre corn/soybean/wheat crop operation along with 3000 wean-to-finish hog operation and 400 head Holstein and Jersey steer operation. We used to be a farrow-to-finish operation but because of disease and some other factors, we decided to become a wean-to-finish. We found it was cheaper to buy weaned pigs than to treat all the sick ones. Feed for our steers is a silage ration and for the hogs, we grind bulk loads and put in some supplement packs.

  1. What is your major and where will you be transferring to?

I am currently an Agriculture Transfer Student at Lake Land College. After Lake Land, I plan to transfer to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and major in either Crop Science or Soil Science.

  1. What is your dream job?

My goal is to be an Agronomist for a Seed Company or the USDA.

  1. Did you or do you still have some mentor(s)?

My uncles and my dad definitely have given me a lot of insight in different areas of agriculture and life.

  1. In the terms of age of Agriculture, we are very young people, but do you remember anything that really changed agriculture in any way?

Whenever I hear my grandpa, dad, or uncles talk about changes in agriculture the first thing I hear is 2012…meaning the drought of 2012. I was still a kid, but I remember it not being a good, profitable year. Other changes I have seen especially lately are the changes in machinery and GPS usage in machinery.

  1. How do you see the agriculture industry changing in the next 5-10 years?

There’s probably going to be a huge focus in technology, more than what we have already. Drones and better field mapping will happen. There are going to be larger farms with fewer farmers doing it.

  1. Do you have any advice for younger people in agriculture or thinking about agriculture as a career?

Work hard, know there is a lot of room for movement if you want to work for it. Know that if college is not your thing there are jobs that require as little as a certificate all the way up to 8+ years of schooling. So, see what fits with you.

Lacie Butler
Lake Land College

#TBT: TOP TEN SONGS ABOUT FARMING

[Originally published September 8, 2014]

Whether it be in the car, at home, or (much to my roommate’s dismay) in the middle of the grocery store, I’m pretty much always down to jam out to some music. So while rocking out to some of the greatest hits, I figured I’d share my top ten greatest hits about farming.

Old McDonald
This song is a classic and a great example of how farm life works. Here a “moo.” There a “moo.” Everywhere a “moo, moo.” It really shows the farmer as many of us see him, working with his cattle.

Peterson Bros. – I’m Farming and I Grow It
This is just a farm parody of “I’m Sexy and I know it” by pop/ techno duo LMFAO. I really like this because it shows farmers hard at work but also having fun and loving what they’re doing.

Rodney Atkins- Farmer’s Daughter
While there’s always a possibility of finding that special someone while working on the farm, this song also shows the hard work put into farming and how rewarding it can be.

Kenny Chesney- She Thinks my Tractor’s Sexy
Being a farmer’s wife or girlfriend isn’t easy. Farmers work long hours and sometimes it’s hard to get in a date night. So sometimes you have to opt for date night on the tractor. Plus who doesn’t love a good ride on the tractor?

Farm Girls- The Real Deal
Some people think that farm girls are just pretty things for people to look at. Fun fact: Farm girls love to get dirt under their nails and work just as hard as everyone else.

Peterson Bros. – All I do is Farm
I like this one because it really talks about farm families and how farmers love talking about what they do. And while this one is also laugh out loud funny, it really hits home the fact that farmers are willing to answer any questions you have

Luke Bryan- Rain is a Good Thing

Rain really does make the farm life go ‘round. Plus who doesn’t love the rain? Crops grow, you can splash in mud puddles, and watching the storm can make for some great romance.

Florida Georgia Line- Dirt

Land is everything to farmers, conserving and utilizing it. So when they “build a 10% down white picket fence on this dirt” they’re also building a home. That “dirt” is everything to them and this song really shows the passion and love they have for what they do.

Jason Aldean- Amarillo Sky

This song really shows the life of the farmer. Hard work, family and determination help keep farmers doing what they love. Farming isn’t always a walk in the park but their passion drives them to just take the tractor another round, and pull the plow across the ground.

Alan Jackson- Where I Come From

While farming isn’t always glamorous, once you’re a part of the farm life, a part of you will always want to go back. Farming ingrains a lifestyle that really follows you everywhere you go.

Ellie 152Ellie Seitzinger
Illinois State University

ADDING AG IN THE CLASSROOM

Summer has finally come to an end, which means that yet another school year is ready to start. This means that both teachers and students alike will be transitioning back into a stricter schedule. This is also a time that students will be gaining more knowledge on many subjects. The obvious courses are math, science, history, and reading/English. However, there is another crucial subject that some schools or teachers simply overlook. One that, in fact, encompasses all four of these core subjects.

This would be an ag class. A course whose content is rooted within the agricultural industry and encompasses mathematics, different histories, scientific research, and lots of reading and interpretation. Some might beg to differ, implying that agriculture is solely being a farmer. This would be far from the truth. Agriculture includes math when a farmer must calculate how many plants he can grow within a given area of land, while hopefully achieving some profitability. Ranchers must keep track of their herds and be able to provide enough feed for each animal to properly grow. These topics lead directly into the science of agriculture. Each practice must become as efficient as possible, in order to feed a growing global population. This is only doable through research and precision technologies. History is also a necessity because agriculturalists must learn from past mistakes, in the hopes of continuous improvement. And finally, being able to interpret agricultural newsletters and markets is a must-have talent. Without knowing where past crop markets have been, it would be extremely difficult to predict where they might go.

If you are searching to become more knowledgeable about anything agriculture related, there are resources to help you! Especially if you are a teacher who wants to properly inform your students about where their food comes from or how it’s grown. One fantastic resource is known as Ag in the Classroom. This program is supported by the USDA and is typically developed through Farm Bureaus. Ag in the Classroom provides easily accessible information for anyone wanting to learn or teach others about agricultural practices. For example, AITC has developed a calendar for the school year that has an ag fact on each day, which can be found here! Did you know that wheat from Illinois is used to make cookies, cakes, and cereal? How about that the word “harvest” came from the Old English word haerfest, meaning “autumn” and “harvest-time.” Fun Fact: an acre of corn gives off 4,000 gallons of water per day in evaporation! People might think that agriculture science is boring or stale, but there are many interesting facts hidden just beneath the surface!

The Ag in the Classroom’s website has a whole page dedicated to providing teachers with reliable sources for agricultural topics. It can be reached through this link, and includes information ranging from lesson booklets to GED materials to eating a healthy diet to fact sheets for students! Ag in the Classroom is a wonderful tool for anyone to utilize, especially when learning about where food comes from as well as how it’s grown.

Rosie Roberts
Iowa State University

THE MAGIC WORDS: THANK YOU

I’m at a stage in my life when “thank you” means more than it used to.

This awareness of saying “thank you” first happened when my 11-year-old son first mentioned that I’m not grateful for anything he does.  And, although I continually ask more of him, I AM grateful for what he does, but I obviously wasn’t showing it.  I resolved to be more aware and more vocal about every little thing he finishes to contribute to our household and our family.

I thought about it again when my mom was sharing a story about a neighbor of hers on the farm.  This neighbor in particular and both our extended families back a few generations have been friends and helpmates.  She and my mom text to recap the weather last night, share the bounty of each other’s gardens, and help care for aging pets and family when schedules get busy.  Mom told me that she needed to drop what she was doing to give the neighbor a ride to town to fix a flat tire.  She didn’t mention it at the time, but it was another way of saying “thank you” for all the help the neighbor has provided to us.

As God continued to make me more aware of the blessings in my life and the importance of verbalizing gratitude, I thought about how farm families pull together to help each other out during planting and harvest seasons.  In fact, just this past spring, my dad helped his cousin get the crop in after a car accident that left his cousin with a broken vertebra.  It was a significant setback but just required a long recovery, so the community planted.

There are times when “thank you” doesn’t quite seem to be enough, but we say it anyway.

I believe that gratitude is something that some personalities more readily experience than others.  For some, being grateful is a paved road in our brains and it comes very naturally.  For others, saying “thank you” is more of a dirt road that we have to seek out and remember its there.

But I can’t help but wonder if growing up on a farm makes you a little more grateful.  A farmer and his or her family live a life of uncertainty.  Will there be rain?  Will there be a harvest?  Will the price I’m paid for the harvest be enough?  Will the farm be here for my family again next year?

That uncertainty makes you understand blessings in a new way.  The love and help of neighbors, of family, of community, is such an integral part of raising a family and making a living off a farm.

Don’t forget to notice the blessings all around you today and to verbalize your gratitude to friends, family, co-workers, strangers, and God.

“Thank you.”  Those two little words can get you pretty far.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

BACK TO SCHOOL MEANS NEW AG MAGS!

I remember when I was growing up I absolutely loved going school supply shopping. I would beg my mom right after the fourth of July to go to the store and get all of my supplies that I needed for that upcoming school year. There was just something about brand new crayons, folders that weren’t bent and new pencils that had never been sharpened before that I absolutely loved. I loved going to school, I loved seeing my teachers and I just loved all of the new supplies that I got.

Here at IL Corn we are excited to kick start this new school year as well! Though we can’t be in the classroom all the time, we do have the supplies and resources that one would need to teach all about corn!

Recently a new corn Ag Mag was just launched and it is the best one yet! In this Ag Mag you will find information all about the steps it takes to grow corn, parts of a corn plant, corn uses, ethanol, technology, corn based products, corn exports and interviews with corn experts. Though these are concepts are sometimes hard for us adults to fully understand, this Ag Mag really breaks it down well and is super kid friendly. It also has some awesome graphics and images that tell the story of corn very well!

Another really awesome thing about these newly released Corn Ag Mags is that there is an online version that everyone has access to! If you go to www.agintheclassroom.org and click on teacher’s resources and then Ag Mags you can click on Corn and it will pull up with whole Ag Mag. This is a great resource if you just want to check out what Ag Mags are or need to print off copies quick for a lesson.

To all of the teachers and students going back to school, have a fantastic year! Work hard, study harder, stay healthy, and be kind!

Abby Jacobs
Illinois State University

ILLINOIS FARMER Q&A: HOW HAS YOUR FARM CHANGED IN THE LAST 50 YEARS?

Illinois farmers have been growing food with care for generations. For many of them, it’s more than just a job. So we asked, “How has your farm changed in the last 50 years?”

Over the last 50 years, we have started growing more crops and raising more animals – we’ve grown. In our fields, we do more no till or minimum tillage of the soil.”

Brent Scholl, Polo, IL

“Our farm has adapted to the demands of consumers. We are raising livestock more efficiently (think feed conversion) and in an environment that is more comfortable for the hogs (yeah – tunnel ventilation during the July heat). We are applying fertilizer at a variable rate that better meets the needs of our soil. And we have expanded our farm to financially support more people coming back to work.”

Genny Six, Chapin, IL

“When I joined the family in 1977 we had a small cow herd and a small feedlot, the feedlots were all “open lot” with access to barns, but the cattle were not fed in the barns. We always tilled the soil before we planted, used a 6-row planter, and cultivated the crops to kill weeds. Crops were harvested and put into an old corn crib (converted to hold shelled corn) and one 10,000 bushel grain bin where we could dry corn if needed. Alan and I farmed with his parents. 150-bushel corn/ acre was a big deal.

Today, Alan’s parents are retired and we farm with our youngest son. We have an employee and routinely hire summer interns from a local junior college. We got more cattle and all of the feedlot cattle are under a roof. We no longer till before we plant because our planter is specially equipped to deal with crop residue left from the previous year. We have several grain bins and no corn crib. Nowadays, 150 bushels corn/ acre is a bad year.”

JoAnn Adams, Sandwich, IL

Reposted from Illinois Farm Families

#TBT: LIVING THE SIMPLE LIFE

Gpa working on planterIt is very easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. Don’t be afraid to step off that wheel and set your own pace. That is your best chance a living a happy, successful life. Here are a few ways to live a life that isn’t more complicated than it has to be.

Kids looking at chickens

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If something works well, but isn’t perfect, don’t start from scratch. Just try to improve what you already have. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and stress.

Farmer tending to cattle

Remember that you are working hard for the next generation. Show them who you are by your actions. They will follow your example; set a good one.

Find a job that you love and it will never feel like work. If you manage that, no matter how much you make at the end of the day; you’re rich.

kid showing cattleDon’t ever stop learning or trying to be your best. Even if you fail, you’ll know what you can improve on for the next time. Challenges build character and will make you a better individual.

chickNever stop appreciating the beauty of your life. Not everyone has the chance to spend their day working with their hands and following their dreams. Plus, you get to spend a lot of time with chicks.

Kids in tractor

Don’t worry about going fast. There is nothing wrong with taking it slow. Ask any farm kid and they will tell you that this is the best ride they have ever been on. 

 

nicole yorkNicole York
Southern Illinois University Carbondale