With weather warming, I have reinstated my evening walks. After I have finished work for the day, I lace up my tennis shoes and head out.


I typically walk alone, so I use this time to catch up on some of my favorite podcasts. I usually listen to them in the car traveling to meetings or to the office, but since I am spending less time in the car, I decided to utilize my walks as my podcast time. If you are not familiar with what a podcast is, it is a recorded program you can access on the Internet or on a podcast app on your phone. Podcasts come in all different types: history, movies and even agriculture. Illinois Farm Bureau and our partners offer several different podcasts. Those include:


Partners Podcast: Interested in learning more about Illinois farm, family and food related places, events and issues? The state’s largest organization of farmers, Illinois Farm Bureau, provides an in-depth look at these topics through this informative podcast.


RFD Illinois: Covering the latest in ag news, markets and weather, RFD Illinois hosts Rita Frazer and DeLoss Jahnke help you make decisions every day on your farm.


RFD Today: Through in-depth interviews with top ag decision-makers, RFD Today provides reaction to and analysis of the news impacting Illinois agriculture.


RFD Profit Watch: RFD Profit Watch provides closing market summary, conversations with economists along with grand and livestock analysts. Hosted by DeLoss Jahnke. If you’d like to learn more about these podcasts or to begin listening visit ilfb.org/resources/podcasts.


Office update: With the extension of the “Safer at Home” order, the Stephenson County Farm Bureau team will continue to work remotely with limited office hours; however, the building will remain locked for the safety of our members. We will be accepting orders over the phone for honey, pork spice and maple syrup. To purchase one of these items you will need to call 815-353-9655 ahead of time and arrange a pickup time. For payment we will accept credit card payment over the phone, checks or exact cash. When the order is placed, we will provide you with pick up details. For a complete list of products and pricing visit our Facebook page.


Planting appreciation treats: Beginning this week the SCFB will begin delivering snack bags to farm vehicles parked on the side of farm fields. These bags will include a bottle of water, snacks, hand sanitizer and will be clearly marked that they are from the farm bureau. We appreciate the work that goes into planting crops by all of those involved. This is a small token of our appreciation.


Planting photos wanted: We want to see your #plant20 photos. If you have pictures you’d be willing to share with us that we can post on our Facebook page, please send them via email to manager@stephensoncfb.org, text message 815-353-9655 or Facebook message to our Facebook page. Please include the photographers name and part of the county the photo was taken.


SCFB Photo Contest: Back again, SCFB is sponsoring a photo contest to capture the essence and beauty of life in Stephenson County. The contest is open to all Stephenson County amateur photographers. Farm bureau membership is not required to participate. Pictures should depict scenes reflective of life in Stephenson County, and any subject is worthy of consideration, from farm scenes, kids, animals, sunrise/sunset, sports weather, etc. Guidelines include:


Pictures must be in digital format as a .jpg or .gif file or as a 5-inch by 7-inch print. Email your pictures to office@stephensoncfb.org or mail/deliver them to Stephenson County Farm Bureau, 210 W. Spring St., Freeport, IL 61032. Be sure to include complete contact information (photographer’s name, address, email, and contact phone number) and picture identification. Pictures will not be returned. There is a maximum of five entries per person.


– Entries must be received in the farm bureau office by 4:30 p.m. July 1.


– Top 20 entries will be selected and displayed for public voting at the Stephenson County Fair from July 21 through 25 in the Farm Fun Zone tent (open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.). Voting will also take place in the farm bureau building from July 8 through 17. Voters will indicate their three favorite pictures, and the top 10 entries based on vote totals will be declared as the winners.


– No more than one entry from any participant may be selected as one of the 10 winners as determined by public voting, and no more than two entries from any participant will be included in the 20 finalists presented for public voting (unless insufficient entry numbers prevent this from happening). This will ensure broader inclusion and recognition of our many talented area photographers.


– The top 10 winners (as determined by public voting) will each receive a $20 Farm & Fleet gift card and the top vote getter will receive $50 cash, second place $40, and third place $30. Winners will be announced on Aug. 3, and one voter’s name will be drawn to win a $25 gift card.


– The top 10 winners will be displayed individually in the hallway of the farm bureau building for the next year.


– For each valid vote cast in the contest, SCFB will donate $1 to the United Way of Northwest Illinois.


COVID-19 Resources: Illinois Farm Bureau has set up a COVID-19 Resource page at ilfb.org/resources/covid-19-resources. On this webpage you will find information regarding COVID-19 and several topics including biofuels, economic impacts, environmental rules and resources, local foods, mental health and much more. Additionally, Illinois Farm Bureau has been providing daily coronavirus updates on RFD Radio Network’s RFD Today, so be sure to tune in as you are able. If you aren’t able to listen live, you can find recordings at farmweeknow.com/podcasts.


Dairy Days Parade: The 2020 Dairy Days parade is scheduled for 1 p.m June 21, with lineup to start at noon. This event is sponsored by SCFB and Union Dairy. If you or your group would like to participate, please print and return the registration form found on our website at stephensoncfb.org. Registrations are due to the farm bureau office by June 12. Please note: This event may be canceled if need be due to COVID-19 but we are moving forward with planning at this time. If canceled, we will contact any registration entries already received and announce the cancellation on our website and Facebook page.


Deadline approaching for veterinary student loans: The Illinois Farm Bureau is accepting applications for its Illinois Veterinary Education and Training loan program. Loans are available to students attending any accredited college of veterinary medicine in the U.S. and who are focused on Illinois food animal medicine. The Illinois Veterinary Education Training Program helps offset the high cost of veterinary education. The program loans up to $40,000 to as many as three veterinary students each year. Loans are made over a period of 2-3 years.


IVET awards recipients receive a $1,500 stipend during their fourth year in school to help pay expenses associated with clinical rotations. Loans are repaid over five years, during which graduates must commit to working in a food animal practice that services Illinois livestock producers. “Illinois Farm Bureau encourages veterinary students to pursue a career in caring for food animals. To succeed, farmers need the services of a food-animal veterinarian to help them care for their beef cattle, swine, sheep, and poultry,” said Tasha Bunting, Associate Director of Commodities & Livestock Programs, IFB.


“It’s an opportunity to help bring a calf into the world and share in the love that farmers have for their animals.” Applications are due May 15, 2020 and can be found online at www.ilfb.org/IVET. The selection committee will interview applicants in late spring 2020 at the IAA building in Bloomington, Illinois. Successful applicants will be notified by mail. IFB established IVET in 2005. Since then, the organization has awarded more than $430,000 to 24 veterinary students who focus on caring for food animals in Illinois.


Victoria Hansen is manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau