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Extension grows agriculture connections at Farm Progress Show

A woman at a table covered in flyers and pamphlets holds a guide book open while speaking with another woman

DECATUR, Ill. — Agriculture is not just a job; it’s a way of life for so many, and it’s part of University of Illinois Extension’s mission to help.

The 2023 Farm Progress Show, hosted Aug. 28-30 in Decatur, Ill., attracted thousands of people. University of Illinois, which has a long history in agricultural research, innovation, and outreach, was represented at the Farm Progress Show through the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and Extension.

College of ACES and Extension leaders and staff met with visitors from around the state and the world to connect and share the latest updates on everything from pesticide resistance to health and safety to supporting pollinators.

Explore agricultural research updates

Extension specialist Aaron Hager’s weed science team provides information on HPPD-resistant waterhemp. The Plant Clinic, which diagnoses plant diseases and injuries submitted by the public, had crop and plant disease samples available to view under a microscope.

Illinois state climatologist Trent Ford discussed growing season weather and how climate change is affecting the state. Using a small-scale bioswale model, Nicole Haverback, watershed outreach associate, demonstrated how this edge-of-field practice can prevent excess nutrients from entering waterways, contributing to meeting the goals of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.

Farm broadcaster Todd Gleason, with Illinois Extension and Illinois Public Media WILLAg, spoke with farmers, policymakers, crop scientists, and others throughout the show, providing live broadcasts that visitors stopped to listen in on.

Stay safe on the farm

Agriculture ranks among the most dangerous industries, making health and safety a focus area. Agricultural and Biological Engineer Assistant Professor Salah Issa’s team provided farm safety demonstrations focused on preventing injuries using technology. Commercial Agriculture Educator Teresa Steckler shared information about tick bite prevention measures, what to do if bitten, tick identification tips, and findings from collaborative tick research projects at U of I, including the College of Veterinary Medicine’s I-TICK program and a mapping system available at

Down the road in the health and safety tent, Illinois AgriAbility provided resources and free health screenings to help keep farmers in their fields.

Nutrition and wellness Extension staff provided field-ready meal recipes and other information about food, finances, family, and health.

Illinois grows 4-H

Welcomed to the tent by a giant green clover, Illinois 4-H members and alums gathered to take photos and share their 4-H stories, including tales of this year’s projects, which covered everything from showing pigs to flying drones.

Promote pollinators with native plants

Visitors to the tent were also met by a refreshing green space with flowers, trees, and grasses. The pop-up garden, complete with newly hatched monarch butterfly caterpillars munching on milkweed, gave a close-up look at native plants that support bees, butterflies, beetles, and other pollinators. Extension horticulture experts handed out thousands of packets of vegetable garden and milkweed seeds and chatted about home gardening solutions. Explore how you can support pollinators at home at or on the farm with edge-of-field practices such as prairie strips.

Extension is investing in farming

Explore how Illinois Extension is investing in the future of farming and find resources to help your operation. Topics cover everything from livestock to pesticide training to specialty crops.

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.