Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner wants to cut funding used to teach students about agriculture.
In his most recent budget proposal, Rauner eliminated money for ag. education completely.
That would impact local students directly.
We spoke with teens in the future farmers of America program at Orion High School.
They say the funding is the backbone of the program, that for years has helped prepare students for careers in agriculture.
But it goes beyond the school walls. The students say Rauner is hurting the future of Illinois agriculture by eliminating these funds.
“You’d think that he would know enough about FFA and this organization that he would understand that this is a leading thing that develops people like him in an effective amazing way,” said Orion HS Senior Maggie Vestal.
Right now, the state gives agriculture education nearly two million dollars a year.
Governor Rauner has proposed cutting funding for it entirely,
Despite the board of education’s recommendation to raise that to three million dollars,
Orion high school senior Courtney Wiednmann says this affects her plans to become an ag. educator in Illinois.
“Honestly I would probably just move out of the area like multiple teachers are doing. So, that’s creating this statewide problem of not having enough educators,” said Courtney.
“If we can’t get the best and brightest to actually stay in state, I don’t know what type of future that we’re going to have Illinois agriculture if we can’t keep those funds,” said Solomonson.
Ag Teacher Jay Solomonson says the money pays for hands on activities in the classroom.
“If we don’t have some of those funds we won’t be able to do some of the fundraising to send kids to different kinds of FFA conventions or conferences, or camps or provide scholarships like we have typically done in the past,” said Solomonson.
Students Maggie and Courtney say making cuts to farming could impact every business in the state, even down to the food you put on the table.
They say the Governor should ag. education more seriously.
“I believe in the future of agriculture, and without ag., we would not have what we have today, and without FFA, you wouldn’t have ag. leaders,” said Maggie.
The students attended the Agriculture Legislative Day at the Capitol Tuesday,
They say local lawmakers are supportive of keeping funding for ag. education.