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Mercer County Ag Literacy Program Helps Youth Celebrate Agriculture

(VIOLA, Ill.) This spring, first graders at Winola, Apollo, Sherrard, and New Boston elementary schools took part in a “Celebrate Ag” poster coloring contest, and second graders at all Mercer County schools participated in a placemat coloring contest with the winning placemats to be used at Happy Joe’s in Aledo, Ill. Teresa Kirwan organized the contest for the Mercer County Ag Literacy program, a collaboration she coordinates for University of Illinois Extension, the Mercer County Farm Bureau, and the Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Through the program, Teresa distributes resources to schools and other agencies each month to help youth learn the important role agriculture plays in their everyday lives. She provides curriculum and training for teachers; education packets with supplies for classrooms, home schoolers, and youth service agencies; and organizes community events.

She is currently planning the Mercer County Ag Literacy Farm in the Park event, scheduled for Friday June 10 from 3:30 – 6 pm at Aledo’s Central Park. This free family-friendly event will allow visitors of all ages to explore agriculture at a variety of hands-on activity stations, see live farm animals at a petting zoo, get exercise in the jump house provided by the Mercer County YMCA, and learn about nutrition and food safety from IL Extension's SNAP-Ed program.

Farm in the Park will take place on the same day as the Mercer County 4-H BBQ, held from 5 to 7 pm at the Fire Station next door. 4-H will be selling grilled pork chop meals for $10 and hot dog meals for $5, as well as whole pies. Guests can dine in, carry out or drive thru. “It’s a delicious way to support the 4-H program,” said Teresa.

Later in the evening, Aledo Main Street will be showing a free movie as part of their monthly Cinema @ Central which starts at dusk. Folks are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the show on the big outdoor screen.  

“June 10th will be a fun-filled day to visit Aledo to explore agriculture, support our 4-H program, and end the night with a movie,” said Teresa.

For more information about the Mercer County Ag Literacy program contact Teresa Kirwan by email @ or at the University of Illinois Extension office located at 910 13th Street, Viola IL, or call her at 309-513-3100.