Two local classrooms taught by WIU alumni awarded grants from Compeer Financial

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MACOMB, Ill. — High school agriculture classes taught by eight Western Illinois University School of Agriculture alumni will be enhanced by funding awarded recently by the Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America.

Area teachers whose classrooms were impacted by money from the Farm Credit cooperative’s giving program include Mariana Roberts, a 2018 graduate who teaches at Payson Seymour High School, and Mary Barnes, a 1985 graduate, who teaches in the Pleasant Hill School District.

Compeer Financial’s corporate giving program awarded a total of $229,852 to 65 high schools in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Each school received grants of up to $4,000 to pay for a variety of hands-on learning tools and new technologies for agriculture education classrooms. It is estimated 11,575 students will be impacted through the grant awards.

Barnes said the grant to the Pleasant Hill School District will be coupled with other grants to buy an Arclight CNC Plasma cutting machine and a 4×4 water table. The Payson FFA will use funds to buy chicken coop supplies.

“We are planning to open the boxes and set up the system when we return to school in the fall,” Barnes said in a press release. “With the help of Compeer Financial and other partners, we were able to purchase and ship a $20,000 addition to the STEM course in agriculture mechanics and fabrication.”

Other classrooms, led by WIU alumni, will use the money to buy:

  • ROWVA Schools: high-pressure, laminate top science table
  • Knoxville High School: welders
  • United High School FFA Chapter: rolling benches for the greenhouse
  • Prairie Central Agriculture Department:  small gas engines
  • Belvidere North High School FFA: swine breeder and injection pad

For more information about the WIU School of Agriculture, visit

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