Jeannine Otto (center), Illinois AgriNews field editor, was among those honored by the Illinois Leadership Council for Agriculture Education. State Agriculture Director Bob Flider (left) and Illinois County Fair Queen Summer Robbins (right) presented the Excellence Award in Media to Otto at the Illinois State Fair’s Ag Day program. Gale Cunningham of WYXY Classic Radio, Champaign, was also a media honoree.
Jeannine Otto (center), Illinois AgriNews field editor, was among those honored by the Illinois Leadership Council for Agriculture Education. State Agriculture Director Bob Flider (left) and Illinois County Fair Queen Summer Robbins (right) presented the Excellence Award in Media to Otto at the Illinois State Fair’s Ag Day program. Gale Cunningham of WYXY Classic Radio, Champaign, was also a media honoree.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — An Illinois AgriNews field editor was honored at the Illinois State Fair for her efforts advocating agriculture education.

Jeannine Otto was a recipient of the Illinois Leadership Council for Agriculture Education’s Excellence Award for Media at the fair’s Ag Day celebration.

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 programs are.”

Ag Opportunities

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.

Nine Honorees

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, Growmark;

* Media — Gale Cunningham, WYXY Classic Radio; and

* Legislative — State Reps. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, and Wayne Rosenthal, R-Morrisonville.

“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 said.

“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.”