April 18, 2012

Ag Industry Day will focus on farming’s future

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, ILL. -- By the time the average person has walked out the door in the morning, they have relied on agriculture to get them moving, so tomorrow’s farmers have a big responsibility.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Agricultural Sciences will continue its all-important role in training those farmers when it plays host to its eighth annual Agriculture Industry Day this week.

The event this year, set for Friday, April 20, will focus on livestock and dairy judging along with horticulture contests.  It is focused on high school-age students who are looking at agriculture as a way of life, or who may simply have in an interest in the intricacies of life down on the farm.

The College of Agricultural Sciences will host three 4-H and Future Farmers of America contests, including a livestock judging, dairy judging and horticulture judging. The contests are open to all high school students in Illinois but typically bring in most FFA chapters from across Southern Illinois, organizers said.

The schedule for the day includes:

            • Horticulture judging registration, 8 a.m., College of Agricultural Sciences building on the SIU Carbondale campus.

            • Livestock judging registration, 8 a.m., Bull Test Station, Rowden Road, Carbondale.

            • Dairy judging registration, 8 a.m., University Dairy Farm, McLafferty Road, Carbondale.

Organizers will announce official placings at 11:45 a.m. at the Bull Test Station, followed by a pizza party at noon.  Winners will receive their awards at a 1 p.m. ceremony.

Registered student organizations within the College of Agricultural Sciences will run the contests, as well as set up informational displays.  Those students also will be available to talk with high school students about agricultural opportunities at SIU Carbondale. Several local community colleges also will be on hand to talk about agricultural programs.

More than 700 students from the Southern Illinois region competed in such contests last year and organizers expect a similar number again this year.

“This year Ag Industry Day is concentrating on the three FFA contests: Livestock Judging, Dairy Judging, and Horticulture.  We expect around 700 high school students who are interested in agriculture to attend,” said Todd Winters, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “It is a great recruiting event for us.  Our student organizations will have displays, and we've even invited in some of our community college partners since nearly two-thirds of our agriculture students are community college transfers.             

“Recognition will be given to the winning individuals and teams, and we will be feeding the group pizza,” Winters said.  “In summary, it's both a service event and a recruitment event.”

Sponsors for this year include Archer Daniels Midland Co., the College of Agricultural Sciences; Farm Credit Services of Illinois; Illinois Corn Marketing Board; Illinois Farm Bureau;

Illinois Milk Producers; Illinois Pork Producers; Murdale True Value; Pepsi MidAmerica; Prairie Farms Dairy Inc.; PotashCorp; Scates Valley Inc.; The GROWMARK Foundation and The Maschoffs Inc.