McLean County Farmer Earns Statewide Honor

A McLean County farmer has earned statewide recognition for his efforts to help others learn about agriculture and build connections from the farm to the plate.

John Olson has been named the 2020 Illinois Ag in the Classroom Volunteer of the Year. Olson and his family grow corn and soybeans near McLean, Ill.

“I first got involved in ag education as a member of the Young Farmer committee forty years ago,” Olson says. “I learned from others the importance of getting involved and sharing the story of what we do on the farm.”

In the 1980s, Olson and others hosted hundreds of local fourth graders for farm field trips. He was also involved with the development of an ag exhibit at the Children’s Discovery Museum starting in the mid 1990s.

Olson served as a founding member of the local ag education committee that created a fun, educational exhibit at the McLean County Fair called the Food & Farm Fun Zone. He designed and built several hands-on exhibits including a combine cab simulator that lets visitors see harvest from the driver’s seat and a grain bin kiosk with interactive videos and games.

“We appreciate all of the hard work and creativity John has contributed over the years,” says Bridget Caldwell, McLean County Ag in the Classroom coordinator. “He helped us put a lot of ideas into action and built some really neat exhibits to bring learning about agriculture to life.”

Olson has also served on the McLean County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and McLean County Fair board. He will be recognized at the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Chicago in December.