Craig Steltz, who plays safety for the Chicago Bears, describes a drill to the students attending the Fuel Up to Play 60 Reward Summit at the Walter Payton Center. The students also learned skills from Roberto Garza, a center and guard for the Bears.
Craig Steltz, who plays safety for the Chicago Bears, describes a drill to the students attending the Fuel Up to Play 60 Reward Summit at the Walter Payton Center. The students also learned skills from Roberto Garza, a center and guard for the Bears.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — A sea of orange Fuel Up to Play 60 T-shirts worn by students selected to participate in a Reward Summit flooded into the Walter Payton Center at Halas Hall.

More than 150 students, representing 21 schools, gathered for the training camp to recognize the hard work by the students. These students committed to being active, to make a difference in their community and at their schools.

The Fuel Up to Play 60 program was created several years ago by a partnership of the National Football League and the National Dairy Council, and it also is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I’m a diehard Bears fan, so getting to meet Bears players you see on TV on Sunday is cool,” said Shauna Gilles, National Fuel Up to Play 60 ambassador and an eighth-grader at Heritage Grove Middle School in Plainfield. “Seems like a lot of work to be an ambassador, but it all pays off in the end.”

The program included a drill and skills session where students worked their way through four stations and were led by Chicago Bears No. 63 Roberto Garza, center and guard, and No. 20 Craig Steltz, safety.

“My most fun moment being a student ambassador was when I got to go to the Bears game,” said Taylor Healy, Illinois Fuel Up to Play 60 ambassador. “Even though it was crazy cold, I had a lot of fun. I got to do the coin toss, and I met a lot of Bears players.”

Dairy Details

During the interactive dairy farmer session, the students met Kevin Hildebrandt, whose family milks more than 400 cows near South Beloit.

“My grandparents bought this farm in 1977,” he told the kids. “After a couple of years, he bought a herd of cows the year my dad graduated from high school.”

Over the past 30 years, the dairyman said, the farm has grown.

“This barn has individual free stalls, where the cows all lay side by side,” he explained. “The cows are milked in a parlor twice a day, every day, no matter what. And we feed them every day, just like you eat every day.”

Hildebrandt showed the students examples of the various feeds that are used to make a total mixed ration for the dairy cows. He talked about high moisture corn, corn silage, protein and haylage.

“Haylage is made from alfalfa that we cut with an over-sized lawn mower,” he explained. “We chop it up into little pieces.”

The kids also learned about the ear tags that are put into the cows’ ears and a collar that the dairyman places around the cows’ necks.

“This collar also has a pedometer, and it logs the activity of the cow, including how much it chews and walks,” Hildebrandt said. “So we know if a cow is sick because she isn’t chewing or moving around as much as she should be.”

Milk Toast

His mom, Amy, led the students in a milk toast during the lunch break held at Halas Hall, the Chicago Bears headquarters, which also includes the team’s front office, as well as indoor and outdoor practice facilities.

“Raise your glasses on behalf of Illinois milk producers,” Amy Hildebrandt said. “I’d like to wish to all the students, advisers another successful year of Fuel Up to Play 60.”

This was the first time Vista Fletcher, Midwest branch chief for schools and food distribution of the USDA, attended a Reward Summit for the program.

“I am excited to be here,” she said. “This is such an awesome event because physical activity is so important for kids to start at an early age.”

Jordan Mills, No. 67, who plays offensive tackle for the Chicago Bears, told the kids that he was inspired by his parents.

“I’m the youngest boy out of seven, and I have a little sister,” he said. “My parents showed me by example how to work hard.”

In addition, Mills also had coaches and teachers who saw his potential.

“They told me if I put my mind to it, I could be successful,” he recalled.

“If someone tries to help you, listen,” the Bears player stressed to the students. “When your parents talk, listen because they are older and wiser for a reason.”

Mills encouraged the students to work toward their goals.

“Be whatever you want — if you want to play sports, play sports,” he said. “Or you can be a doctor, lawyer, astronaut, chemist or a dairy farmer. It’s not going to be easy, but you’ll succeed.”