The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Spotlight: AG In The Classroom

On Tuesday, January 10, 2017, students at La Harpe Elementary learned about a variety of agricultural topics courtesy of Dawn Weinburg of the Hancock County Agricultural Literacy Program.

The program began in Hancock and McDonough Counties in July of 1998, established by a grant from Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education and a local partnership between the University of Illinois Extension and the Farm Bureaus in each county. In 2001, the Soil and Conservation Districts in each county joined to bring agricultural awareness to local students. In 2006, the combined program split into two separate county programs.

Today the purpose of the Hancock County Agricultural Literacy Program is to “assist persons of all ages in developing an understanding of the food and fiber system and the importance of natural resources”. This is accomplished through classroom presentations, teacher workshops and material loan for teachers to use in their classrooms.

Sixteen students in Mrs. Johnson’s Kindergarten class at La Harpe Elementary learned about sheep on Tuesday from Ms. Weinberg. The class began with the students sitting on a rug while Weinburg read them a book entitled “Sheep”. The book told the student all about rams, ewes and their lambs. From foods the animals eat, to the sound they make, called bleating, on to a description of how the wool is sheared from the sheep, the book is a great introduction to the topic for younger students.

A “Fact File” at the end of the book provided information on sheep that did not readily fit into the story. For example, one fact in the Fact File is that a special cheese called roquefort is made from ewe’s milk. Another fact is that Australia has more sheep than any other country. There are 10 sheep for each human there.

Once the book was finished, Ms. Weinberg showed the students examples of sheep’s wool. She described the shearing process as being like a haircut. She told them how the wool was then cleaned and carded until it was made into yarn to make clothing. She told the children that the wool had lanolin in it which made the sheep’s coat like a rain coat, repelling water.

As part of their sheep lesson, the children then got to make their own sheep from cardstock, cotton balls and clothes pins. They cut out the outline of the sheep’s body and ears from the cardstock, then glued the ears to the sheep’s head. They fluffed up cotton balls and glued them to the sheep’s body. Black clothespins were attached giving the sheep legs.

Once the sheep were completed they were put to pasture to wait until the students could take them home.

Ms. Weinberg also spoke on other topics to the La Harpe elementary students. Pre-K students learned about ducks. First graders played bingo on cards showing farm items.

The second graders learned about horses. Third grade students learned about cheeseburgers. The 4th graders discussed farm implements and machinery and the fifth graders learned to calculate area.

Her presentations are age appropriate and engage students in hands-on, minds-on activities to further their understanding of the importance of agriculture.

During the course of the month Dawn Weinberg visits each school in Hancock County bringing agriculture literacy to every student.

She hopes to interest students in careers in agriculture, and encourages participation in programs like FFA and 4-H.

While visiting in La Harpe Tuesday, Dawn also collected Prairie Farms Dairy milk caps as a part of the company’s “Our cap, Your cause” promotion. Students and teachers are encouraged to bring the milk caps to school. Each cap provides 5 cents towards a number of causes and includes fund-raising for schools and PTO.

If you are interested in learning more about the Ag in the Classroom program, contact Dawn Weinberg 217-357-2150 or e-mail her at