As generations become further and further removed from the farm, children and adults alike know shockingly little about the source of their food, fiber and fuel or how agriculture impacts daily life. 

The Mission of Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) is to teach Illinois children agriculture’s importance and the vital role it plays in their lives and society.  IAITC supports local educational and outreach efforts by providing high quality, standards based, scientifically sound agriculture information that can be easily integrated by teachers into the existing classroom curriculum.  The objective is that Pre-K through High School teachers will continue to teach required subjects while infusing their existing resource materials with agriculture related topics, resulting in students who will grow up with an understanding and appreciation for the state of Illinois’’ number one industry. 

IAITC leaders believe, as do many supporters, that children who are better educated on specialty food and agriculture issues will make more informed and healthier food and lifestyle choices, make better decisions as they grow older in regards to specialty farm and food policy, and understand the importance and diversity of agriculture. 

Agricultural education curricular resources target healthy lifestyles, renewable resources, science and technology, sustainable agriculture and leadership skills while helping students understand the role of agriculture in their lives and in society. IAITC delivers the message to teachers, teachers deliver the message to students, and the agriculture industry wins.

The IAITC program ultimately provides students an opportunity to learn about science and agriculture through hands-on classroom experiences under the direction of their teachers or county Agricultural Literacy Coordinators. These individuals are the front line educators who provide teacher training, classroom presentations, and program coordination in counties throughout Illinois.  They represent IAITC with great dedication, expertise, and enthusiasm.

Through generous support received by the IAA Foundation the following are made possible:

  • County Ag Literacy Grants - County grants are a part of the IAITC program. Funds from a variety of partnering organizations will help support 65 County Ag Literacy Coalitions. County Ag Literacy programs in turn raise matching funds at the local level to implement programs.
  • Ag Mags – A staple of the IAITC program, these 4-color tabloid type resources, featuring specific Illinois Agricultural commodities and issues, are linked with the Illinois Learning Standards, Illinois Assessment Framework and feature facts, career interviews and scientific experiments.  Each Ag Mag is made SMART Board compatible, is available online for download, or classroom packs can be requested free of charge. 
  • Agriculture School Calendar - 5,000 classroom receive this calendar each year.  It features daily facts about Illinois Agriculture and follows timely agriculture themes related to that month.  Additional reading & educational resources are listed for teachers. 
  • Pre-Service Teacher Resource Guides & Grants – Resource guides serve as an aide in reaching pre-service teachers. Up to 5 $1,000 grants are awarded to university pre-service teacher programs to purchase agriculture related books and supplies.
  • Summer Ag Institutes - At these multi-day teacher training institutes,  educators receive intensive hands on training and field trip experiences in agriculture which  help them become more comfortable incorporating agriculture into their daily lessons through use of IAITC materials. 
  • Teacher Grants - Up to 72 $250 grants will be awarded to teachers utilizing unique agriculture information in their classroom. Book grants also offer new ag-related literature for all students.   Grants are showcased on  and in local media. 
  • Adopt A Classroom- This popular program matches city of Chicago teachers and their students with farm writers around the state.  Funds are utilized to provide teacher training about agriculture for City of Chicago teachers.  This training is further re-enforced with the regular communication from their pen-pal farm writers.

2013-2014 IAITC Growth and Success

  • Resources utilized in 61% (2,150) of school centers in the state of Illinois

  • 516,452 Students reached with IAITC lessons  

  • 36,074 Teachers use IAITC materials during the school year 

  • 558 Teachers participated in 38 Summer Ag Institutes, and 1,203 pre-service teachers received training through 57 presentations on incorporating ag into the classroom

  • Book grants totaling $17,018 provided new ag-related chapter books to 82 teachers and libraries across the state

  • 1188 hours of CPDU provided to teachers, the equivalent of nearly 154 full days of training

  • 36 teachers and 1152 students in Chicago classrooms were adopted by farmers for the Adopt-a-Classroom year long pen pal program.   

  • $524,000 in grants awarded to 67 local ag literacy programs serving 77 Illinois counties

  • Over 4,502 volunteers annually engage with students and teachers

  • Illinois counties invested over 2.2 million dollars in ag literacy