This interview with Jean Ibendahl occurred March 1, 2013, at her residence in DuQuoin, IL.
Jean Ibendahl is a retired school teacher by profession and was also married to a farmer, Calvin Ibendahl who decided children were not getting enough education about farms, their food and agriculture in general. With Jean’s skills to teach and her husband’s assessment of principles of farm economics, she designed an educational farm program for kids explaining from where their food comes. The need for ag education was obvious to Jean but she could see teachers lacked lesson plans and resources to effectively teach the topic.
The birth of Ag In the Classroom happened in the early to mid-1970’s with Jean Ibendahl designing an agricultural curriculum for middle grade students and assembling sets of resources in her one-room school house to share with school teachers in Illinois. She visited schools in every county in the state sharing the ag experience as only a school teach knew how—with lesson plans and well defined outcomes for the students learning about from where their food comes. Teachers loved her lesson plans as well as her passion for the subject that she brought into every class room. Publishers began to contact Jean for her worksheets so they could be included in published curriculums.
Jean received numerous awards and recognitions for her efforts. Among those who saw value in what she was doing was then Secretary of Agriculture John Block, from Washington DC. Her activities earned an invitation to the White House where she received formal recognitions for her work with Ag in the Class Room.
In its current state, Ag in the Classroom continues to deliver educational programs about food and modern farming to students K through 12th grade across the nation. From the AICR website agclassroom.org: “Agriculture in the Classroom programs are implemented by state-operated programs. National Agriculture in the Classroom supports state programs by providing a network that seeks to improve agricultural literacy — awareness, knowledge, and appreciation — among PreK-12 teachers and their students.
The program is carried out in each state, according to state needs and interests, by individuals representing farm organizations, agribusiness, education, and government.”
Illinois Agri Women is proud to have been a part of this educational effort with Jean Ibendahl.