QUINCY -- Educators with even the youngest students help spark an interest in agriculture.
As that interest grows into high school activities and FFA, "that's where we build our future through leadership and the skills that go along with agriculture," Mike Tenhouse said. "We have a lot of really good qualified people who have been doing that for a long time."
Recognizing the vital role of teachers is the goal of the fourth annual Larry Fischer Ag Educator of the Year Award presented by the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Committee.
Nominations for the award will be accepted through 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15. The winner will be recognized at a March 6 dinner.
The award recognizes educator within a 50-mile radius of Quincy who have strong ties to the ag community. Past or present teachers at the high school and college level, ag literacy educators and professionals who work with producers can be nominated.
Previous winners were retired University of Illinois Extension educator Mike Roegge, Liberty ag teacher Steve Buyck and Fischer, a veteran educator who was the first director of agricultural programs at John Wood Community College.
Tenhouse, who chairs the committee, said today's educators work with students from nontraditional backgrounds.
"In my era if you went into a high school classroom and asked every 10 students who comes from the farm, eight would raise their hand. Now it's more like two," he said. "With fewer and fewer having that basic background, a lot of our students come from nontraditional backgrounds.
Students might have lived on a few acres or had 4-H projects, but their parents didn't draw major income from farming.
"That makes teaching the basics even more important, and you have to add on, ramp it up with technology and the latest things," Tenhouse said.
Nomination forms, available online at quincychamber.org, should highlight what the educator does in the classroom and beyond -- and the effect the message has on students.
Forms may be mailed to the chamber at 300 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 245, Quincy, IL 62301-4169, faxed to 217-222-3033 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the Larry Fischer Ag Educator of the Year Award is available by calling the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce at 217-222-7980.