Bruce Johnson’s Weekly Farm Bureau News & Views

bruce-johnsonUnited Way launches exciting new reading initiative
As I write this, I just returned from a ribbon cutting in Galena for an exciting new project initiated by the United Way of Northwest Illinois, with financial assistance from the Freeport Community Foundation and several local sponsors in Jo Daviess County. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a nationwide project that emerged as a result of the legendary country singer’s desire to guarantee access to books for young children, and it is now becoming a part of the landscape in northwest Illinois. Children from birth through their 5th birthday can sign up for the program and they will receive a new age-appropriate book delivered free to their home monthly until their 5th birthday. This project has really gained traction in Jo Daviess County and we look for it to be a successful venture, with the possibility of replicating it in Stephenson County being considered. More info on this program and the broader outreach of United Way is available at

Last call for Circa 21 Dinner Theatre trip
March 18 is the deadline to sign up for our April 3 trip to the Circa 21 Dinner Theatre in Rock Island to see the comedy “Shear Madness”, and we only have 13 seats left as of March 9. Due to a few cancellations, we now have two seats available on our June 6-8 Indiana Amish Country trip to Shipshewana and on our August 1-4 Door County Adventure VII. Both trips are packed full of fun and interesting activities with a great mix of people from the area, so don’t delay if you’d like to join us. Details on all trips can be found at or in the Farm Bureau office or you can call (815) 232-3186.

4-H and Extension Foundation Pork Chop Dinner
The Stephenson County 4-H and Extension Foundation announces its 9th Annual Pork Chop Dinner Fundraiser, which will be held on Sunday, April 10 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Eagles Club, 1200 W. Galena Avenue, Freeport. The dinner will feature a 6 oz. pork chop sandwich, grilled with the assistance of the Stephenson County Pork Producers.  Potato salad or chips, cheese from local cheese producers, applesauce, drink and dessert will also be served. Two serving lines and special carry-out line will be available. Advanced tickets are $6 and may be purchased from members of Stephenson County 4-H clubs or at the U of I Extension Office, 2998 W. Pearl City Rd, Freeport. Tickets will be sold at the door for $7 and hot dog meal tickets will be available at the door only and not sold prior to the event.  There will be a silent auction with gift baskets created by 4-H clubs and other opportunities to support local 4-H clubs. Many area restaurants and businesses have provided items for the meal and silent auction, and the Foundation appreciates their support. All proceeds will benefit the Stephenson County 4-H and Extension Foundation and stay in Stephenson County. For more information, please call (815) 235-4125.

A touching moment
I’m in my element during March Madness when basketball tournaments are in full swing, and I enjoyed a classic moment during last week’s Illinois high school girls’ Class 3A state finals. The Morton girls team reached the title game again after winning it all last year, but they had to overcome adversity after losing their star player, senior first team All-State guard Chandler Ryan, in the ninth game of the season to a knee injury. When Morton was in range of winning back-to-back titles with just 30 seconds left, coach Bob Becker inserted Ryan into the lineup just long enough to check in, call a time-out, and return to the bench in tears to the thunderous ovation of the appreciative Potters fans. It was a classy gesture and a moving sight to see this young lady end her high school career on such a high note. Morton’s future looks quite bright with nine returning players including four starters.

Illinois team to National 4-H Dairy Contest
Four Illinois 4-H members claimed their spot on the 2016 National 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl team for Illinois during the state contest held February 27 at the Parke Regency Hotel and Conference Center in Bloomington where 39 youth competed for top awards. National team members selected include Stephenson County participants Jared Dickman (Lanark), Charlie Elliott (Freeport), and Jordon Oellerich (Lena) along with Connor Erbsen from Lanark in Carroll County. The national contest is held in Louisville, Kentucky in the fall.

The dairy quiz bowl challenges the 4-H members’ knowledge and quick recall of information relating to the various aspects of dairy cattle management and dairy products. Each competition round included 12 questions presented one-on-one followed by 16 toss-up questions with bonus point options.  In addition to individual awards, youth competed as teams. The junior division was won by a team of 4-H members from Clinton and Saline counties. The senior division team included Jared Dickman and Connor Erbsen, both of Lanark; and Charlie Elliott of Freeport.

The team is coached by retired U of I Extension Dairy Specialist and Illinois 4-H Dairy Program coordinator Dave Fischer, assisted by Mike Hutjens, Gene McCoy and Rod Stoll. Attending from Stephenson County were Magen Busker, Rachelle Busker, Jared Dickman, Charlie Elliot, Ella Gunderson, Jordon Oellerich and Lila Sloan.

Defensive Driving class
Don’t forget to sign up for our Defensive Driving class on March 29-30 – details at or by calling (815) 232-3186. The class runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. both days with lunch provided, and the cost is $15 for FB members and $25 for non-members.

Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau.

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