Curriculum and Community Discussion Guide to Accompany the Educational film Deep Roots

Final Report for YENC12-049

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2012: $1,909.50
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Manager:
Janice Hill
Kane County
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Project Information



February 27, 2015

Prior to receiving this grant, I worked with students in two capacities- one in providing on the job shadowing; and second in giving classroom presentations; mentoring and guidance through internships. Annually 4-H high school students and government studies students shadow me in my capacity as a Farmland Protection Manager and Land Use Planner in Kane County. Because of our county's strong land use policy favoring agriculture land use; students are often interested in our program. At the end of the shadowing experience, I typically send students home with the county land use plan and other regular handouts; but I did not have anything age specific for the students to take back to their families and classroom. This was part of my motivation for creating a discussion guide.


I regularly have college students contact me for information about agriculture; land use policies and farmland protection. Over the years, several college students have spent time interning in my office from a week to a yearlong internship. Several students have used the topic of sustainable agriculture as a springboard for their masters' thesis or further studies. In conversations, I found that beyond a n interest in agriculture as a career; we often share a family history in farming. Students have been especially interested in topics of agriculture production; learning more about sustainable fa rming techniques; and today's farmland protection policies and programs. The opportunity to create this discussion guide to accompany the documentary film Deep Roots also provides a resource for students to take back to their family room and classroom to further discuss susta inable agriculture with their family and friends.


The goal of this grant is to create a community/classroom discussion guide to complement the film documentary Deep Roots: Legacies of 150 Year Old Family Farms. The purpose of the guide is to offer discussion topics and teaching points for sustainable agriculture; local government; urban edge farming; and family farm viability. Upon completion of the guide, it will be distributed to libraries, schools, and agriculture organizations along with a copy of the documentary film DVD.



The process for creating a discussion guide included a literature review on the topics of sustainability and focus groups for feedback to the film. Initially I envisioned that the film might be appropriate for high school students in the classroom. However, two high school teachers advised that the film was too long in its 60 minute format for the classroom. While there may not be enough time in a traditional classroom setting; 4-H, FFA and other "club" programs should find it usable. Four college professors from the fields of English, Nutrition and Local Foods, and Agriculture served as reviewers of the film and the discussion guide.


Feedback from educators from various fields and community leaders help shape the discussion guide. The DVD was also viewed by county plan commissions and a community college special event on sustainability. As I could not travel to introduce the film and guide discussion, the discussion guide format further was supported. An additional focus group of community development professionals from Kane County provided feedback for shaping the content. These professionals in the community resource field were not experts in the field of agriculture so their point of view was helpful.


The idea of using quotations from the farmers featured in the film came from an Independent film reviewer who reviewed the film for a competition. The quotations were cited in their review as resonating topics of national interest. Some of these quotations are featured in the discussion guide as points of departure for discussion.




  1. North Central College, Mr. Zachary Jack, Professor
  2. b. Northern Illinois University Instructor, Ms. Janie Maxwell, RD, Instructor Joliet Junior College, Tammy Miller, Professor of Agriculture
  3. Joliet Junior College, Donna Theimer, Professor of Agriculture e. Mclean County, IL Plan Commission
  4. f. Heartland Community College-Sustainability Day g. Ms. Christie Duffy, Format, Design and Layout
  5. h. Tim Mescher, GIS and website coordination
  6. i. Kane County Farm Bureau, Film Screening and financial management
  7. j. Mr. Scott Berger, Director, Kane County Community Resource Department and his staff Ms. Michelle Gill, former Marketing Instructor, Elmhurst College
  8. Katy Lyons, Graduate Student Intern


Reviews and comments on the DVD were assembled, along with literature related to sustainability topics. Commentary influenced the selection of the references and topics.



The comments received from the college professors/reviewers helped to shape the content of the discussion guide and the eventual distribution. Instead of focusing on a high school classroom audience, the film and guide will be primarily promoted to 4-H, FFA and other clubs; colleges and community groups. While there will be some DVDs copied for distribution, a downloadable format from website

and social media will be used in light of changes in technology. This change is probably the most significant of all. During the span of the grant, the predominance of web-based communication and teaching tools exploded.


The grant provides for distribution of the DVD and Discussion guide. The distribution list is attached.

Distribution List

  • Waubonsee Community College
  • Elgin Community College
  • Joliet Community College
  • Kishwaukee Community College
  • McHenry Community College
  • Heartland Community College
  • Northern Illinois University
  • North Central College Naperville
  • SARE North Central
  • American Farmland Trust
  • Illinois Department of Agriculture
  • Kane County Farm Bureau
  • FCAE (Facilitating Agriculture in Education)
  • Kane County 4-H
  • Illinois Farm Bureau
  • University of Illinois Extension
  • CMAP
  • Mclean County
  • Boone County, Gina Del Rose
  • Mike McCoy, Engineer, former Kane County Board Chair (featured)
  • Bob Mcleese, Retired, former Illinois State Soil Scientist (featured)
  • Forest Preserve District of Will County, Judy OgaIIa
  • Illinois Soil and Water District, Gerard Fabrizius, President
  • Liberty Prairie Foundation, Nathan Aaberg
  • Bill Briska, Filmmaker
  • Solutions in the Land, Ron Doetch
  • Elgin Area Historical Society
  • Seven Generations Ahead
  • Will-South Cook Soil and Water District
  • ATTRA (The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service)
  • Midwest Dairy
  • DeKalb County Farmland Foundation
  • Northern Illinois Food Bank
  • The Conservation Foundation
  • Family Farm Defenders
  • McHenry County, Kim Kolner
  • NFS, USDA, Alan Shannon
  • Center for Governmental Studies, NIU
  • Openlands, Lenore Beyer-Clow
  • The Prairie Crossing Institute
  • Greenlands, BlueWaters, MN
  • Adam Regan Arvidson, FASLA, Treeline, 4348 Nokomis Avenue, Minneapolis,MN 55406,612-968-9298; 866-859-7593 FAX,
  • Michigan Land Institute
  • Chicago Farmers
  • Zach Borders, CivicArt Works
  • Rincon Consultants, Christy Sabdo
  • McHenry County Farm Bureau, Ag in the Classroom
  • Kendall County Farm Bureau, Ag in the Classroom
  • DeKalb County Farm Bureau, Ag in the Classroom
  • Cook County Farm Bureau, Ag in the Classroom
  • Kane County Farm Bureau, Ag in the Classroom
  • Flanders Family
  • Christian Family
  • Kellogg Family
  • Lee Family
  • Applied Ecological Service, Maggie Soliz
  • Argonne National Laboratory, Karen Kosky, Sustainability Program Manager
  • Peggy McWethy-Sutton, Artist
  • Tim Gerk, Lake County Forest Preserve District
  • Serosun Farms, John DeWald
  • Tina Seaman, Midwest Office, the Energy Foundation
  • Andy Larson, University of Illinois Extension
  • SILT (Sustainable Iowa Land Trust)
  • Illinois Corn Growers
  • Illinois Soybean Growers
  • Garfield Historical Museum

Tammy Miller Professor of Agriculture Joliet Junior College Joliet,Illinois

(815) 280-2424 [email protected]

Donna Theimer Professorof Agriculture

Joliet Junior College

Joliet, Illinois

(815) 280-2276

[email protected]


Zachary Michael Jack Associate Professor of English North Central College Naperville, IL

630-637-5281 [email protected]


Jane Maxwell, MS, RD, LON Local Foods Professional Instructor, Nutrition and Dietetics Northern Illinois University DeKalb, Illinois


[email protected]


Michelle Gill, MBA Marketing Professional Former Marketing Instructor Elmhurst College

Elmhurst, Illinois


Christie Duffy

Design and Print Professional

Geneva, IL


Kathryn G. Lyons

B.S. Dietetics, Bradley University

M.S. Nutrition & Dietetics, Northern Illinois University,


Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.