07/30/2012 09:30

Whatever the weather, the signs around us point to the opening of the school year 2012-2013. We have high expectations that our children and grandchildren will learn what they need to know to live happy, satisfying, productive lives. While they are learning the “basics”, we want them to learn many other concepts such as social relationships and preservation of the environment. “Respect” sums up much of these more difficult concepts.

                “Teaching Children to Respect the Land” is the tagline for Conservation and Agricultural Partners, Inc (CAP), celebrating their eleventh year of promoting agriculture and conservation-based educational programs. One part-time education coordinator, with financial and volunteer assistance given by CAP’s partners provides quality, educational ‘hands-on, minds-on’ programming to teachers and students – classroom resources and activities, workshops, and field trips.

                In the past school year, 303 programs were offered, reaching 4,146 students. The following are examples of programs provided by CAP reported in their Annual Report 2011-2012:

  • At least, 17 classsroom presentations such as Soil to Spoon, Who Grew My Soup?, Tootsie Rolls, Nutrition, Bioenergy, Chocolate, Pizza.
  • Embryology, life cycles.
  • Two outdoor stewardship days for third graders, ‘Keepers of the Land’, offered at Oakdale Nature Preserve and Camp White Eagle.
  • Earth day presentations in 43 classrooms, ‘The Great Paper Caper’ – importance of recycling.
  • Nutition-based ‘Food Play’ presentations sponsored by the Soybeen Association at three elementary schools.
  • Ag Adventures held at the Stephenson County Fairgrounds focused on science and technology in agriculture.
  • Annual Barn Tour  – about 300 people participated – included a Build a Barn Model contest for 3rd-5th graders.
  • Distributing tree seedlings to all Third Grade Stephenson County students, courtesy of the Colby Smith Memorial Tree Program.
  • Conservation Poster Contest 2012: “Spoon to Soil”.  Of two Stephenson County State winners, one, Domminick Alber, was selected as a National poster contest winner in the K-1 Division.
  • Professional Development Provider for Illinois Educators – Four-day workshop ‘From Field to Table’ for three area counties.
  • Stephenson County Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year, Stacey Brown, Orangeville fourth grade teacher, was named a finalist for the Illinois Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year.
  • Outreach educational displays.

                CAP is a not-for-profit tax exempt organization under the direction of a 9-member Board including professionals and volunteers representing the areas of education, agriculture, and conservation. Martha Ebbesmeyer is the Education Coordinator. Partners include Highland Chapter Pheasants Forever, Highland Community College, Regional Office of Education, and these Stephenson County organizations: Farm Bureau Soil and Water Conservation District, UI Extension, Beef Producers, Pork Producers, and Ag Breakfast.                        

                CAP is supported by cash and in-kind contributions. Individuals or groups interested in supporting CAP or wanting more information should contact the Foundation at cap@aeroinc.net or at the office located at 210 West Spring St., 815-232-0016. 


Della Moen, Earth Team Volunteer, NRCS/Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District, an equal opportunity provider and employer, 07/25/12 (for publication on 07/28/12 in the Journal- Standard, Freeport, Illinois)  Della can be reached at info@stephensonswcd.org