WASHINGTON — The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture awarded 11 $500 mini-grants to communities across the nation, including two in Illinois. The grants are awarded through the foundation’s White-Reinhardt Fund for Education program. 

The grants are allocated through county and state Farm Bureaus and are used to create new agricultural literacy projects or expand on existing agricultural literacy efforts. 

Illinois grants went to the Cook County Farm Bureau for a summer library program to introduce urban children to livestock and their uses and to the Monroe County Farm Bureau for an Agriculture Book of the Month Club where third-grade classrooms in the Columbia School District will receive books each month. 

Criteria for selecting winners included: the effectiveness of demonstrating a strong connection between agriculture and education; how successfully the project enhances learner engagement in today’s food, fiber and fuel systems; and the processes and timelines for accomplishing project goals. 

“The mini-grant program was developed to help Farm Bureau members provide free tools to share with educators in their communities,” said Julie Tesch, executive director of the foundation. “Our primary overall goal is to help teach young rural and urban students about the importance of agriculture and the vital role it plays in our everyday lives.”

The White-Reinhardt Fund for Education is a project of the foundation in cooperation with the American Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee. The fund honors two former committee chairwomen, Berta White and Linda Reinhardt, who were trailblazers in early national efforts to expand the outreach of agricultural education and improve agricultural literacy. 

The foundation will announce a second mini-grant application process in the fall. Applications will be available online at www.agfoundation.org under What We Support — Mini-Grants.