Urban Agriculture Education


The Urban Agricultural Education - Chicago initiative is designed to enhance urban high school students’ interest and preparation for higher education and careers in the agricultural, consumer and environmental sciences, throughout in the Chicago area and statewide.


Established by the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), the goal is to form partnerships with Chicago Schools and integral corporate, youth development, and community-based organizations.  The Urban Agricultural Education will advance educational efforts that result in a greater understanding and appreciation of the vital role agricultural, food, fiber, and natural resources systems play in advancing personal, national and global well-being, through increased involvement of urban constituents with the College of ACES.


The Urban Agricultural Education - Chicago Initiative will create greater awareness of the diverse career opportunities related to agricultural, consumer and environmental sciences within urban communities and beyond, by drawing upon the specialized knowledge of its expert contributors through educational programming, career counseling, mentoring, and exposure to Illinois’ agricultural industries.

Activities include:

  • The support of comprehensive, quality secondary agricultural education programs through shared resources and best practices in urban agricultural education from higher education, youth development and community-based organizations.
  • Consultation and assistance in curriculum development and curricular enhancements, summer internships, career discovery, and other partnership events through collaboration with University of Illinois College of ACES faculty and students.
  • The development of business, nonprofit and student organization partnerships that provide mentoring, career shadowing opportunities, intern/externship opportunities and scholarships to urban students interested in exploring careers in the agricultural, consumer and environmental sciences.

Urban Agricultural Education- Statewide

Communities and College of ACES students, faculty, and staff are enriched through outreach and service and partnerships with diverse groups. Reaching out through our various programs in Extension and Academic Programs, in communities local and statewide, in underresourced neighborhoods strengthens relationships and helps ACES students, faculty, and staff better understand issues involving such groups and promote equity. 

University of Illinois Extension conducts a wide variety of programs with Illinois residents, families, and communities, including Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Save our Urban Land, and Spanish Language Program. In diverse and underresourced neighborhoods surrounding the University of Illinois, there are community gardening projects and outreach to migrant families. ACES students and student clubs are encouraged to be actively engaged in the local community through Teach for America and activities at youth agencies, elderly homes, and other locales. Local residents are invited to participate in various events on campus.

You can help create greater awareness and understanding of the current resources available to community residents from the College of ACES and University of Illinois, promote better understanding, and can address issues throughout underresourced communities involving children, youth, and families. Such engagement gives these neighborhoods a public voice where one does not always exist.

In partnership with University of Illinois Extension, the Office of Academic Programs' Diversity Office conducts several outreach efforts around the state:

  • Celebrate Youth Event at Shawnee College in Ullin, a two-day career awareness event in collaboration with Shawnee College and U of I Extension Unit 27.
  • Writing Competition on Agriculture and the Environment for seventh graders in Extension units located in Union, Johnson, Alexander, Pulaski, and Massac, Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties.
  • Collaboration with the Agribusiness Council in St. Louis, Mo.
  • Recruitment events in St. Clair and Madison counties which involve visits to local high schools, as well as sponsoring visits to Explore ACES and other campus events.


If you have any questions or would like for a coordinator to visit your school or event, please contact:

Diana Rodriguez, M.A.
Coordinator, Urban Agricultural Education: Chicago - ACES
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Contact: drodrgz1@illinois.edu
Phone: 773-540-1990