What’s Growing on?

AITC AITC1The 38th Annual Mt. Vernon Teacher Conference was held on October 27, 2017, at the Mt. Vernon Twp. High School campus with a “reach~teach~inspire” theme. Ag in the Classroom Coordinators from Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Saline Counties provided an exhibit table with free resources. Those resources included posters, Ag Mags, Illinois Reading Council information, IL AITC calendars and much more. The coordinators owe a big Thank You to Jacob Kueker, Mt. Vernon FFA Chapter, and Derek Sample, Sesser-Valier FFA Chapter, for watching over the exhibit booth while the coordinators presented at 4 sessions throughout the day.
The Coordinators presenting included: Leslie Kueker, Jefferson/Hamilton Co., Maridy Tso, Saline/Gallatin Co, and Melissa Lamczyk, Franklin Co. The session titles were “What’s Growing On?” These sessions focused on specialty crops growing in Illinois and how to use new learning standards to incorporate hands on activities with some locally grown produce as well as produce from around the state. The new Specialty Ag Mag has several items highlighted from around the state with interviews from growers on the back page and information on the front page and inside. The newer Ag Mags have the standards listed on the back page and the web page for finding more lessons and activities, as well as many more links and FREE resource materials.
Mrs. Lamczyk shared an informative video from the Horseradish Festival in Collinsville , IL and presented a horseradish root, how it’s grown, special equipment needed during the planting, harvesting and storage of the produce. Mrs. Lamczyk shared her experience of touring Heepke Farms in May of 2017, where they grow horseradish and many other commodities, and learned that Collinsville, IL is the horseradish capitol of the world.
Mrs. Tso presented an activity on broom corn. Mrs. Tso had some broom corn on hand to share with the teachers and told them she relates to the product from childhood memories with her grandparents. She demonstrated the difference in use of broom corn and todays brooms. She also did a fun hands on activity of moon sand using watermelon kool-aid. She told teachers that students could make the sand with different flavors of kool-aid while learning about different produce.
Mrs. Kueker demonstrated how to pull the dna cells from a strawberry, while also providing some for snacks for those teachers attending class though the lunch hour. Mrs. Kueker demonstrated that different equipment used during the extraction process and products used could make a difernce in the outcome and the time needed to do the experiment. She talked about the different orchards available within the county for finding different produce and their products.
Teachers left with handouts, Ag Mags, and some with a variety of door prizes, such as highlighted ag related books. More than 1000 teachers and administrators and several counties participate and attend the Mt. Vernon Conference. A huge Thank You to the Regional Office of Education and all those who assisted with the planning, preparation and carrying out of the conference.

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