June 1st, 2023— The Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association (ILICA) and University of Illinois Extension are hosting a 2-day Advanced Drainage Design Workshop at Richland Community College in Decatur, IL on June 27-28, 2023.

The 2-day, comprehensive drainage training will provide contractors with all the tools necessary to design & implement subsurface drainage practices. Each session includes interactive, hands-on activities. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop or computer device. Full registration costs $90 and includes training materials, lunches, & breaks for both days. ILICA members receive a $50 discount. Industry vendors will also be present to discuss their products.

Topics Covered:

  • Introduction to LiDAR & QGIS/QGIS Print Layout
  • SoilWeb for Google Earth/Google Earth for Design Display
  • 3D Mapping in QGIS/Other Mapping Tools
  • Principals of Subirrigation
  • Combination Drainage/Subirrigation Systems
  • Utilizing One-Call for Project Planning
  • Drainage Layout with LiDAR & QGIS
  • Illinois Drainage Tools User's Manual
  • Software-Based Pipe Grades & Sizing
  • Online Drainage Design Tools
  • ILICA Panel: Ask an Expert - Contractor Design Tips

For more info and to register, please visit or call Illinois LICA at (309) 932-1230.


Canning is a great way to use the foods you have grown in your garden or have purchased from your local Farmer’s Market. Moreover, it allows you to enjoy the incredible tastes of summer all year long while keeping food safe. However, a lot of science goes into safely preserving food.

When it comes to canning, there are two canning methods: boiling-water bath canning and pressure canning. The acidity of the food will determine which processing or canning method is used. The boiling-water bath canning method is used for acidic foods, meaning foods with a pH of 4.6 or less. Most fruits are naturally high in acid and thus are safe to process this way. However, some foods must have additional acid added, such as pickled foods, tomatoes, and figs, before they can be safely processed.

Low-acid foods such as carrots, corn, green beans, potatoes, peas, and meat will not be acidic enough to prevent the growth of a dangerous bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. Therefore these foods must be processed using a pressure canner. A pressure canner is the only safe method for processing low acid foods because it can reach a temperature of 240 degrees under pressure.

If you are interested in learning what it takes to preserve food safely, or perhaps you simply need a refresher, this class is for you. Yes! You Can: Preserve It Safely – Water Bath and Pressure Canning Basics will be held both in-person and virtually.

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023 6 to 9 p.m. (virtual)
Register here


Fermentation, like drying, is one of the oldest methods of preserving food for later use. It is also used in creating other foods, like cheese, yogurt, alcohol, and sourdough bread. Fermentation is a natural process in which microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast convert carbohydrates into alcohol or organic acids under ideal conditions.

There are several different methods used in fermentation, and they can be classified into four types, based on the end product formed. They include lactic acid fermentation, alcohol fermentation, acetic acid fermentation, and butyric acid fermentation. Lactic acid fermentation, or lacto-fermentation, uses lactic-acid-producing bacteria and some yeasts to break down the sugars in food to form lactic acid and sometimes alcohol or carbon dioxide. Fermenting vegetables in this manner can extend the shelf life and break down some vegetables' components, making them easier to digest and absorb.

Local class offerings:

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2023 6 to 8 p.m. (in-person)
Register here

Thursday, August 24th, 2023 6 to 8 p.m. (in-person)
Register here


Dried foods are delicious, healthy, lightweight, and easy to store, use and transport. In fact, drying is one of the oldest food preservation methods around. So, whether you are looking to lighten the weight of your favorite foods for camping and backpacking or preserving fruits and vegetables to enjoy throughout the winter months, drying is simply easy and safe. 

However, understanding the basic principles behind the dehydrating process is key to the success of enjoying dried goods months after harvesting. The method of drying or dehydrating removes moisture from food to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast. Moreover, it slows down enzyme activity without deactivating them, ensuring food does not spoil easily. There by making drying an effective food preservation technique.

Commonly dehydrated foods include fruits and vegetables in the form of chips or leathers and herbs. However, some fruits and vegetables are more suitable for drying than others. Additionally, depending on the produce being dried, you may need to pretreat or blanch the items before beginning the drying process.

Local class offerings:

Thursday, June 29th, 2023 6 to 8 p.m. (in-person)
Register here

Tuesday, June 13th, 2023 6 to 8 p.m. (virtual)
Register here


The only way to know if your pressure gauge is accurate is to have it tested. Bring in your pressure canner lid with the gauge attached to your county office. Staff will inspect the lid, gasket, and gauge for accuracy and provide you with an assessment. We do not test weighted gauge pressure canners. However, if you’d like it to be inspected, we can do that.

WINNEBAGO COUNTY - (815) 986-4357
1 to 3:00 p.m. Friday, June 23
Register here

2 to 4:00 p.m. Thursday, July 27
Register here

STEPHENSON COUNTY - (815) 235-4125
1 to 3:00 p.m. Thursday, June 29
Register here

2 to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 25
Register here

Yes, You Can: Pressure Canning Green Beans

This hands-on workshop will begin in the classroom and then head to the kitchen, where participants can process their own jar of green beans. During the first half of the class, we will cover canning basics, the importance of using a pressure canner, and explain low-acid foods. The second half will be spent in the kitchen, processing green beans. Participants will not only learn a fun new skill, they will then get to take a jar home. 

This program will be held Tuesday, June 27, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Winnebago County Extension office, 1040 North Second Street Rockford, IL. The cost to attend is $25.

Register here

YES, You Can: Preserving Practice: Jams & Jellies

Making jelly and jam from fresh produce is an easy food preservation method requiring only fruit, sugar, pectin, and a few essential kitchen tools. However, you must also be familiar with the basic principles of making jams and jellies.

This hands-on workshop will begin in the classroom and then head to the kitchen, where participants can make their own jar of jam. During the first half of the class, we will explain the various types of sweet spreads, the importance of having the correct ratio of pectin, fruit, acid, and sugar, and the basics of jam and jelly making. The second half will be spent in the kitchen, making jam. Participants will not only learn a fun new skill, they will then get to take a jar home.

Yes! You CAN: Preserving Practice – Jams and Jellies will be held Tuesday, June 27, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Jo Daviess County Extension office, 204 N Vine St, Elizabeth, IL. The cost to attend is $25, and the class size is limited. Register for this workshop by calling the office at (815) 858-2273 or visit us online at The registration deadline is Friday, June 23.

Register here

Zombie Apocalypse/ Natural Disaster Survival Workshop

Learn important emergency preparedness techniques and safety rules in case there should ever be a zombie apocalypse or natural disaster! University of Illinois Extension will be offering a Zombie Apocalypse Survival workshop this summer. Participants will learn skills of how to survive without electricity, basic first aid (complete with making fake blood!), how to build a shelter from the elements and the importance of fitness to be able to outrun those zombies!

All youth ages 8 and up, who have completed the 2nd grade, are welcome to attend for only $5. Pre-registration is required. You may register by completing the form below.

Local offerings of the Zombie Apocalypse/ Natural Disaster Survival Workshop include:

Wednesday, June 28 – Highland Community College Student Conference Center, 2998 W. Pearl City Rd (Bldg H- Cafeteria 1st floor) Freeport

Thursday, June 29 – Elizabeth Community Building, 402 West St. Elizabeth, IL 

Friday, June 30 – Prince of Peace Church, 2336 Freeport Rd. Rockton, IL 

Register here

Each workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

4-H Babysitting Clinic

Take care of the kids in your neighborhood when their parents can't be with them! University of Illinois Extension will be offering a babysitting clinic this summer. Interested youth may choose to attend one of the local offerings of the Babysitting Clinic. Participants will learn to watch over the children in their care by learning to build leadership and decision-making skills, choose age-appropriate activities and fun games, create healthy snacks, understand the behaviors of different age groups of children and give you the tools needed to help manage them, and more. Participants will also learn about choking prevention and receive First Aid training. This clinic is designed to help you become a babysitter that families can rely on!

Local offerings of the Babysitting Clinic include:

Wednesday, June 21 – Stephenson County – at the Farm Bureau Office 210 W. Spring St. Freeport

Thursday, June 22 – Jo Daviess County – Elizabeth Community Building, Elizabeth, IL 

Friday, June 23 – Winnebago County – Prince of Peace Church – 2336 Freeport Rd. Rockton, IL 

Register here

Each clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch is included.

All youth ages 11 and up, who have completed the 5th grade, are welcome to attend for only $5. Pre-registration is required.

Winnebago County 4-H Bicycle Rodeo

Join us for a Youth Bicycle Rodeo on Saturday, June 24, 2023, from 10am to noon at the Winnebago County Fairgrounds, Building 4, 500 W. 1st Street, Pecatonica. Participants will rotate through bicycle stations, including a bicycle check-in/ mechanical station & helmet inspection, Rules of the Road overview, intersection safety, and bicycle riding safety track. All the participants will then ride as a group around the fairgrounds and conclude with a hot dog, chips and drink lunch for the participants, courtesy of the Pecatonica Lions Club. 

This event is open to ANY youth ages 5-18 years of age. You do NOT have to be in 4-H to register!

Register here

Two participants will go home with brand-new bikes from The Bicycle Hub in downtown Pecatonica as well as a goodie bag!

There is no fee to participate. 

This program is a collaboration with Winnebago County 4-H, The Bicycle Hub in Pecatonica and the Pecatonica Lions Club

Winnebago County 4-H Bass Fishing SPIN Club

This is not a basic, first exposure to fishing experiences program. The intention of these lessons is to advance the interest, or spark, of fishing passions to a higher level focused on attracting Jr. High and High School youth to the sport of fishing with a specific focus on largemouth bass.

There are six lessons designed to be visual and hands-on and will be taught at Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center at 13735 Cook Rd, Pecatonica. The lessons focus on aquatic ecosystems; fish biology; and include STEM activities relating to fishing gear. Youth enrolled in the 4-H Sportsfishing and/or Bass Fishing SPIN clubs will be eligible for special opportunities and fishing contests at the state level for prizes and recognition of their mastery!

Monday, June 6- Friday, June 10, classes will be held at Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center at 13735 Cook Rd, Pecatonica from 11am-noon. Friday’s class will be 10am-noon at the River Building at the Torstenson property and participants should bring their fishing poles and gear on Friday. Class size is limited to 10 participants.

This activity is offered to youth ages 11-18 with previous fishing experience. No need to be a member of 4-H to attend.

Register here

Cost for this activity is $5 for 4-H members and $10 for non-members.

4-H Cat Clinic

Join us for a 4-H Cat Clinic on Friday, June 16, 2023, from 1:30 to 2:30 pm at the Winnebago County Fairgrounds, St. Mary's Building, 500 W. 1st Street, Pecatonica. Please bring your crated cat (and UTD vaccination paperwork) to learn showmanship and grooming tips hands-on working with your animal. There is no charge to attend the clinic.

Register here

This event is open to ANY youth ages 8-18. There is no fee to participate.

Certified Food Protection Manager Course

The University of Illinois Extension will offer the Certified Food Protection Manager Course. This two-part class is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited course, which meets the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Food Service Sanitation Code requirements.

During this two-day class, participants will learn about the principles and recommendations of the FDA Food Code focused on food safety and contamination, employee health and hygiene, safe food handling practices, cleaning and sanitizing, and HACCP.

Upcoming local courses include:
June 13th & 16th
Rockford Police Station District 1, 1045 W State St, Rockford, IL
Register here

October 24th & 27th
Rockford Police Station District 1, 1045 W State St, Rockford, IL
Register here

November 28th & December 1st
Stephenson Country Farm Bureau, 210 W Spring St, Freeport, IL
Register here

 For more information, call your local office.

 The ABC's of School Nutrition

University of Illinois Extension has partnered with the Illinois State Board of Education, to offer professional development training for school food service professionals. There will be three trainings in early August. 

Registration is from 7:45 to 8:00 a.m. The training will start promptly at 8:00 a.m. and will last until 12:30 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there!

·    Tuesday, August 1, 2023 -

Pearl City School, 100 South Summit St, Pearl City, Illinois

·    Thursday, August 3, 2023 -

Roscoe Middle School, 6121 Elevator Rd, Roscoe, Illinois

Register here

2022-23 Project Grant Applications Now Available for

Boone and Winnebago 4-H and FFA Youth

The Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau is offering up to $200 per project in project grants for 4-H and FFA Youth to help support projects underway by local FFA chapters and 4-H clubs. The recipients will be able to use the grant to purchase necessary materials and supplies.

The applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a member of a 4-H club or FFA chapter in Boone or Winnebago Counties
  • Must submit a typed application to describe the project
  • Applicant’s FFA Advisor/ 4-H leader must sign the application
  • Applicant’s parent/guardian must sign the application

The recipients will be chosen based on the above requirements, along with a 5 to 10-minute oral presentation on the proposed project at an upcoming Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau board meeting. Grant funds will be awarded after the recipient submits a summary of the program or project, photos, and detailed receipts.

Grant Overview

Grant Application


URBANA, Ill. — Legal risks can be fatal to a farm business and addressing them proactively can keep farms in business. The relief of understanding legal issues can dispel anxiety and help farmers realize their power to control their circumstances.

University of Illinois Extension partners with Farm Commons for a four-part quarterly webinar series, “Legal Training for Illinois Small Farms,” featuring topics around legal questions for all Illinois farmers.

Farm Commons is a nonprofit organization that assists farmers in solving business law challenges in a community of support. It was founded by Executive Director Rachel Armstrong, who created the organization’s innovative approach to farm law risk reduction. She has authored publications on farm law matters for farmers, alongside several academic and trade publications for attorneys. Farm Commons staff will lead the interactive workshops, including time for questions from participants.

There is no cost to register for the series. Each session begins at 7 p.m. and lasts for one hour. Individuals who have farmed for years can learn tips to strengthen their legal confidence in running their farming operation.

The four Legal Training for Illinois Small Farm sessions include:

June 26: Exploring the H-2A Visa Program
The H-2A visa program helps farmers bring citizens of other countries to the United States for seasonal and temporary agricultural work. With a tight labor market, the visa program is experiencing added growth. This session will assist farmers in assessing whether H-2A might address their operation’s labor shortage issues and explore the extensive regulatory obligations associated with application and participation in this program. Finally, the session will address critical ways producers can guard against worker vulnerability to ensure respect, responsibility, and safety for all. Register here

September 18: 5 Steps to Protect Your Farm, Legally Speaking
Are there a few key steps that provide significant impact when it comes to the farm or ranch’s protection from legal risks? Yes, there are. Every farm or ranch, no matter its size, location, or longevity, is in a great position to build resilience. The session will help build knowledge and confidence around essential farm law issues. Register here

December 18: Land Leasing Basics
Leasing farmland is so commonplace that landowners, farmers, and ranchers may not think twice about the lease itself until things go wrong. Prevent problems by using a strongly worded lease while building a path to a resilient future. Coverage of leasing basics will help attendees to understand what a lease should include and how to put it in writing. Get started with the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to create a carefully crafted document that works for individual needs, whether you are a landowner, rancher, or farmer. Register here

March 18, 2024: Forming an LLC
Producers are often curious about the details of an LLC, and most farmers choose the LLC as their preferred business structure. The good news is that forming one is quite simple. At the same time, farmers and ranchers need to know a few key details to ensure they get the benefits they expect from this entity. Join this session for a quick recap of why an LLC is a good risk management tool, learn best practices for implementation, and understand the regular obligations needed to keep the LLC in top legal shape. Farmers who have had an LLC for years can learn a few things about preserving their resilience. Register here

If you need a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact Sarah Batka at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet access needs.

ABOUT FARM COMMONS: Farm Commons is a national nonprofit organization specializing in legal education for farmers. Our mission is to empower farmers to resolve their own business law issues within an ecosystem of support. Through education, leadership development, and community-based problem-solving around business law, agricultural communities become stronger and more resilient. The result is a legacy of sustainable farms and a community-based food system for everyone. At Farm Commons, paperwork is powerful.

ABOUT ILLINOIS EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 

SOURCES: Kathryn Pereira, Local Foods System Small Farms Educator, Illinois Extension; and Sarah Batka, Local Foods System Small Farms Program Coordinator, Illinois Extension

WRITER: Jenna Braasch, Media Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension INTERVIEWS: Contact Dolan Klein, [,], 217-333-7958 to request specialist interviews on this topic.