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Logo | Illinois Agrivultural Education

FFA is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education..

The FFA Alumni Association supports and advocates for agricultural education and FFA through gifts of time, talent and financial resources..

The mission of the Illinois FFA Foundation is to provide financial support for the Illinois FFA. When you make a gift to the Illinois Foundation FFA, you are investing in the future of agriculture..

The Illinois Association of Vocation Agriculture Teachers (IAVAT) is a professional organization for agricultural teachers at all levels..

The Illinois Association of Community College Agriculture Instructors (IACCAI) is a statewide professional organization for postsecondary agriculture instructors. .

The Illinois Postsecondary Agricultural Student (PAS) Organization provides opportunities for individual growth, leadership and career preparation. .

The Illinois Farm Bureau & Affiliated Companies Youth Education in Agriculture program offers unique educational programs to Illinois youth in 4-H and FFA. .

The purpose of the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Program is to encourage educators to incorporate more information about the agriculture, food, and natural resources system into daily lessons..
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Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE) is a state project administered through the Illinois State Board of Education that is tasked with improving and expanding agricultural education from pre-k through adult levels..

The Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education (ILCAE) is a voluntary, grassroots agricultural industry group focused on the expansion and improvement of Agricultural Education programs at all levels..

The Illinois Committee for Agricultural Education (ICAE) is a 13-member committee established by legislation and appointed by the Governor to advise both the governor and state education agencies concerning Agricultural Education K-adult..

The Illinois State Board of Education is the state agency responsible for Pre-K through 12th grade education. Its primary mission is state program leadership, planning, approval, funding, and evaluation..

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will be an advocate for Illinois' agricultural industry and provide the necessary regulatory functions to benefit consumers, agricultural industry, and our natural resources.. provides information about the Agricultural Education profession and encourages students to consider a career as an agriculture teacher..

MyCAERT provides teachers with an integrated online system to Plan, Document, Deliver, and Assess Career and Technical Education instruction. .

Information Technology and Communication Services (ITCS) Instructional Materials provides agricultural education publications in a variety of formats. .

The Agricultural Experience Tracker is the premiere personalized online system for tracking experiences in agricultural education. .
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John Edgar
Illinois FFA Center
Assistant Director
3221 Northfield Drive
Springfield, IL 62702
(217) 753-3328 x102
(217) 753-3359 fax
Assistant: Lori Nelson
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IAVAT Conference Items

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sent to All Contacts

Items included in this message:

1. Road construction upon arrival at IAVAT Conference

2. Land Use discussion topic


1. Road construction upon arrival at IAVAT Conference

There is a lot of road construction coming into Decatur this year (road closures and detours coming from the north and west). When coming to conference your options are:

1. Come in from 51 South 

2. Take the Route 121 exit on Interstate 72 and come to the Conference Center via Pershing Rd., turn south to 48 West (Oakland Ave.) to 36 West (Eldorado St.)

3. Take Bus 51 through to town to Rt. 36 (Eldorado St.)

4. Take the Route 48 exit (at Pilot) and continue of Rt. 48 through town to Rt. 36 West


2. Land Use discussion topic

Hello all,

                I am writing this to ask your assistance in updating the FFA State Soils Contest.  I was approached by several ag teachers about possibly updating the FFA state soils contest.  As a practicing soil scientist in the state and a former FFA member myself (1991-92 Section 3 President, District 1 Director, State FFA Degree), I am disappointed to see that the contest is essentially the same as it was 30 years ago during my freshman year of high school.  There are many more uses for and issues concerning Illinois soils than are reflected on the current scorecard.  I have also heard from several ag teachers scattered across the state that there isn’t much information available to help them teach soils.  I think that Indiana has done an excellent job addressing both of these issues, and has a good product available ( 


I have spoken with the authors of this manual at Purdue, and they would be happy to work together to create a combined Indiana/Illinois Soils Evaluation Manual.  Since there is a great deal of similarity between the soils in our two states, most of the manual would be applicable to everyone, with sections in the back of the manual for application only in Illinois or only in Indiana if deemed necessary.  This partnership would result in an online pdf manual (free to download) which could be periodically reviewed and updated without the associated printing costs.  This would allow the contest to stay current with changing emphasis from the USDA-NRCS.  The current Indiana manual exposes students to much more information about soils in general, while having easy to study sidebars for application in the contest.  I see this manual as a ready-made curriculum for teaching soil science to high school students, while at the same time preparing them for the soils contest.  Purdue also has a condensed version of this manual ( which is meant for the students to take into the field with them when practicing – this manual would be combined with Illinois and updated as well.


                There is also the issue of having the state contest at the same location every year.  We are missing an opportunity to highlight the diversity of soils we have in Illinois from north to south and east to west.  It also limits participation to some extent to have the contest perpetually in northwestern Illinois.  I have spoken with several soils faculty at colleges and universities across the state, and have a commitment to work together should you decide to rotate the contest.  Rotating the contest would also facilitate having several different official judges, and so expose students to different perspectives regarding soil use and management.  There is an advantage to seeing things through different eyes periodically, even though there is comfort in repetition. 


Major items to be updated/addressed/enhanced for the FFA Soils contest:

·         Less emphasis on specific tillage practices/crop rotations and more emphasis on soil health/environmental impacts (See manual for Indiana – some highlights include):

o   Basic soil fertility measures, nutrient pollution, water management, cover crops and buffers are also addressed, while maintaining information on tillage and cropping practices.  USDA-NRCS has greatly increased emphasis on whole-soil management and soil health issues, which should be reflected in the contest.

o   Much more in-depth coverage of suitability for home sites, basements, lawn management, and septic fields.  This provides an exposure to real-world practical applications of soil evaluations.  This also provides some exposure to information students will utilize later in life when they become homeowners.

·         Rotate contest around the state – at least with northern tier - Black Hawk/NIU, central tier - U of I/ISU, and southern tier (John A Logan/SIU)– possibly more hosts, but it would probably be best to set up a 2-5 year rotation (depending on willing host participation) around the state.  From a fairness perspective, a 5 year rotation with one host in each district would be ideal, but from a practical standpoint, a 3 year rotation may provide for more repetition by host schools and less loss of institutional memory between hosting duties.  At a bare minimum, it could be a rotation of Black Hawk and either UI/ISU.  Any rotation would be more inclusive of southern schools and would showcase the diversity of soils within the state.  Andrew Larson (Black Hawk) and myself (UI) will commit to travelling to help the new host institutions for at least the first and second rotations of each school’s hosting duties to ensure a smooth transition.  Illinois Soil Classifiers Association can provide regional expertise and some financial assistance if needed.


I thank you for your attention, and welcome any questions or concerns you may have.  I am committed to helping in any way possible to update this contest.  I have the unique perspective as a former Illinois High School and Collegiate Soil Judger, an active member and current Secretary of the Illinois Soil Classifiers Association, the coach of the University of Illinois Soil Judging Team, assistant coach of the Black Hawk College Soil Judging Team, and having close relationships with USDA-NRCS and independent soil scientists throughout the state.  I believe we can draw on all of those resources to forge an exceptional soil educational and judging experience for the high school students of Illinois.  Please do not hesitate to email me if I can be of assistance!


Scott M. Wiesbrook

ISCA Certified Professional Soil Classifier

Assistant Project Leader for Soils

Wetland Science Program

University of Illinois - Prairie Research Institute

Illinois Natural History Survey

1816 S. Oak St.

Champaign, IL 61820

(217) 265-0368


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