Expanding our concept of ‘neighbors’

Expanding our concept of ‘neighbors’

Dec 23
Judy Mae Bingman, 4-H Media & Marketing

Many of you are here at ACES because of where you grew up. On a farm. In 4-H and FFA. From rural communities. Agriculture is what you knew from the moment you were born, and you can’t imagine any other career. When the work was done on your farm, your dad took you down to the neighbors’ farms to help them finish up.

Illinois 4-H is about to give a whole new spin to the term “neighbor.”

With the help of a $10,000 grant from Brandt Foundation, the “4-H Neighbor to Neighbor” program will team rural and urban teens as they explore careers in agriculture and address the critical issues of hunger and food insecurities in their communities. They’ll learn from each other as they work together to accomplish a common goal… improving their lives and their communities.

With a declining rural population, the need for attracting youth to agricultural careers is critical. USDA predicts only 61% of the 57,900 annual agriculture job openings will be filled with qualified graduates equipped to meet the challenges of feeding, clothing, and powering a growing world population.

But, youth can’t choose agriculture if you don’t know it’s even a choice. Now, with Brandt and the 4-H Neighbor to Neighbor program, we’re educating a whole in audience to the world of agriculture. Hopefully, many of them will also find their way to the University of Illinois campus and join you in ACES.

This is the second year the Brandt Foundation has helped Illinois 4-H take the agricultural message on the road. Last year, a $10,000 grant funded an expansion of the Ag in the Classroom program using 138 uniquely-trained 4-H Teen Teachers to reach 2,100 youth in 20 counties. The BRANDT Foundation was established to help organize the giving of BRANDT Consolidated, its employees, and the family founders and to fulfill its mission to provide meaningful assistance and support to the communities, farms and families in its areas.

Youth learn where their food comes from in 2015 Brandt Foundation and 4-H partnership.

4-H Teen Teachers take the Illinois agricultural story to the classrooms.