SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Farm Bureau today recognized the winners of the 2011 Ag Career Challenge. The challenge called upon Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters from across the state to create multimedia communications programs promoting modern careers in agriculture. Six teams met at the 2011 Illinois FFA Convention in Springfield last week to present their final projects in front of their peers and a panel of judges.
“The agricultural sector continues to innovate and expand, which means it will provide many jobs of the future. It's exciting to see students creatively highlight these diverse opportunities through the Ag Career Challenge,” said DCEO Director Warren Ribley. “I want to thank the Illinois Workforce Investment Board's Agriculture Task Force for the idea, and the Illinois Farm Bureau and Vision for Illinois Agriculture for program support. Together, we're helping to develop the next generation of leaders in this vital sector.”
Eleven FFA chapters from across the state participated in the competition. Finalists selected three to ten members to make a 20-minute presentation and answer questions before a panel of judges. Representatives from the Galva chapter took the $1,000 grand prize for their effort, “Are You Looking? Agriculture Careers are Looking For You.” Second and third prizes went to the Pinckneyville and Morrisonville chapters. Prize monies were provided by The Vision for Illinois Agriculture.
The Office of Employment and Training at DCEO, working with members of the Illinois Workforce Investment Board’s Agriculture Task Force, developed the Ag Career Challenge to research and develop innovative ways to interest junior high and high school students and their parents in agriculture-related careers. The challenge promotes early engagement in agriculture and seeks to recruit the diverse talent necessary to ensure the future success of one of Illinois’ largest industries.
DCEO partnered with the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Affiliates Youth Education Committee to implement the challenge in high schools across Illinois. “In this day and age, students need something to capture their attention. This program was the perfect opportunity to show them how rewarding and lucrative careers in the agriculture industry can be, by developing digital media campaigns for youth, by youth,” said Mariah Dale-Anderson, Special Services Manager, Illinois Farm Bureau.
For more information on the state’s workforce programs, visit www.IllinoisworkNet.com. Information on the Illinois Farm Bureau’s youth education initiatives is available at www.youthed.org.