Promoting Today’s Agriculture through Career Expo 2008

Bloomington Area Career Center
Bloomington, IL
Grade Levels: 8th, 11-12
Teacher: Tom Frazier, Edwin Sargent

Bloomington Area Career Center (BACC) was allowed to receive $1,500.00 in a grant from the Dudley Smith Initiative for the Fall of 2008.  This investment allowed the BACC to promote the development of special opportunities for student to visit the Dudley Smith Farm and gain insight into the research and development opportunities originating there. Although the opportunity was offered to several McLean County agriculture teachers, one teacher, Roganne Murray, contacted the BACC regarding use of the funding for her students.

The goal of the grant was to share the research and other initiatives which are ongoing at the Dudley Smith Farm with 8th graders at Career Expo 2008 and to develop a display which could be shared with those students and other students promoting the careers available in today’s field of agriculture. Career Expo 2008 is sponsored by the Bloomington Area Career Center, the McLean County Community Compact and U of I Extension each year. Each of these partners had influence on the use of the funding with the students and offered considerable funding as partners to enhance the opportunity for the students.

The following outcomes were made possible by the Dudley Smith Initiative funding for this project:

  1. Trip for students (10) to travel to the Dudley Smith Farm in Pana, visit with Gar Letterly, Extension Educator at the Christian County UI Extension office, and visit to the production facility for manufacturing of furnaces to burn Miscanthus, switchgrass, and other consumables in the furnaces as alternative fuel uses.
  2. Allowed the Leroy High School Agricultural Program to build an exhibit for Career Expo 2008 to demonstrate knowledge gained from their Dudley Smith Farm visit. The visit showed the need for consideration of alternative energy uses as an alternative to coal-fired electrically generated sources and explained the concept carbon footprint to students.
  3. Allowed the Leroy Agricultural program students to create an interactive exhibit which was shared with 2500 8th grade students at Career Expo 2008 and shared with 6th and 7th graders in the Leroy district numbering students in addition to the Expo.
  4. Allowed presentation opportunities to parents and juniors and seniors in high school attending the BACC open house from 6-8:00 p.m. in evening on November 4th.
  5. Allowed presentation on the visit to the Dudley Smith Farm, creation of a learning exhibit for Career Expo 2008, and the development of alternative fuels in agriculture to the McLean County Community Compact Council on Nov. 18th, 2008, and to the Leroy School Board of Education in December 2008.

The students were able to teach other students their age and younger students about the need for alternative fuel developments under study by the use of Miscanthus and switchgrass in alternative furnaces to allow for education in this area of agriculture.  The students also learned about the safety issues involved with use of alternatives furnaces, and looked at the carbon remaining, considered the possibility of any smell and emissions, and considered sources to burn in this manner.

The teacher, Mrs. Murray has requested the opportunity to work with the sponsors of Career Expo 2008 again in 2009 because of the popularity of the project with the students.  The students reported this being one of their favorite class projects all year.

The funding was used for sponsoring the trip to the Dudley Smith Farm, materials to enhance the presentation of the students for students, using graphs on the use of alternative fuels, enlargement of actual photos, and promoting the field of agriculture as an excellent career choice.  It was also used to support student incentives to engage in the program and for awards to students participating at the Career Expo.  The funds were also used to enhance the display area with draping to make it a professional exhibit and to allow the students to have two exhibit spaces in which to work and offer the hands-on activity. Funding was offered to Extension Educators for attending and using the specific knowledge he had on the subject and for specialists from the project to attend the Expo, however, they did attend the Expo but did not accept the mileage reimbursement.