SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — An Illinois AgriNews field editor was
honored at the Illinois State Fair for her efforts advocating agriculture
Jeannine Otto was a recipient of the Illinois Leadership
Council for Agriculture Education’s Excellence Award for Media at the fair’s Ag
The Amboy native and graduate of Rosary College in River
Forest was a member of the Amboy High School FFA, where she learned the value of
agriculture and vocational education classes. She has been with AgriNews since 2005.
Otto said her experiences with FFA opened her eyes to
farming and all of the different aspects of agriculture.
“But it’s been my eight years at the AgriNews and getting to interview ag
teachers and FFA advisers and students, from high school through college and FFA
alumni that has been the biggest influence,” she said. “I am always impressed by
how dedicated and involved and passionate ag teachers and advisers are and how
articulate and confident students and graduates of ag education classes and
She said the importance of ag education can best be summed
up by comments from a farmer Otto recently interviewed.
“People are always going to need food and that’s job
security,” she said. “Agriculture education and vocational education is so
important and so vital because it’s where the jobs are at and where the jobs are
going to be.
“We will always need food and all the associated agriculture
products and services that go into producing that food.”
In addition, ag education programs provide opportunities for
young people no matter where they live, regardless if they are from a farm
background or not.
“If we want kids to succeed beyond college, to enter jobs
and careers where they can have success, we have to support the programs, like
agriculture education and vocational education, that prepare students not just
with classroom education, but with hands-on training and with life skills
they’ll use far beyond their school years,” Otto said.
Orion Samuelson, WGN agribusiness director, announced the Ag
Day award winners, and plaques were presented by Bob Flider, state Department of
Agriculture director, and Illinois County Fair Queen Summer Robbins.
Other Illinois Leadership Council for Agriculture
Education’s Excellence Award winners were:
* Education — Rob Rhykerd, Illinois State University;
* Agribusiness — Gary Ash, 1st Farm Credit Services; Larry Fischer, 1st Farm
Credit Services; Dave Owens, Farm Credit of Illinois; and Jeff Solberg,
* Media — Gale Cunningham, WYXY Classic Radio; and
* Legislative — State Reps. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, and Wayne
“I am absolutely touched and honored to be nominated for the
award and to receive the award from (Illinois Committee for Agricultural
Education/Illinois Leadership Council for Agriculture Education),” Otto
“I’d like to thank them for the award and for all their help
with the different stories that have appeared in the Illinois AgriNews. It’s great to be
able to work with ag educators and students in ag programs across the state to
tell their stories and to tell the agriculture story.”