A Place(mat) for Agriculture at the Table

Posted: June 27, 2018

You sit down to eat in a local restaurant. On the table in front of you is a brightly-colored placemat illustrating connections between food and farms. You examine the drawing and marvel at the artist’s knowledge and creativity.

If this has happened to you, you’re one of several thousand people who were greeted with student-designed agricultural placemats when they sat down to eat at various restaurants in DeKalb County. Farm Bureau once again provided the opportunity for elementary students to illustrate their agricultural knowledge during the annual Food for Thought placemat design contest.

The annual contest encourages teachers to incorporate lessons about farming and agriculture. Hosting Ag in the Classroom (AITC) presentations is one way they do so. Many teachers supplement the AITC experience by sharing farm books or videos and leading class discussions.

Once they’ve acquired an understanding of the topic, students illustrate what they’ve learned by creating colorful and detailed placemat designs.

Each grade level theme correlates with the Ag in the Classroom lessons which were presented previously by Farm Bureau volunteers.

Design themes include: 1st grade – “If I were a Farmer,” 2nd grade – “Thanks to Dairy Cows,” 3rd grade – “Farm Grown,” 4th grade – “I’m Connected to Agriculture,” and 5th grade – “Agriculture Careers.”

A total of 766 entries from 41 DeKalb County classrooms were submitted for this year’s contest. Winners, teachers, and families attended a special awards night held at the Center for Agriculture in April. During the event, winners and honorable mention recipients were celebrated and their designs were displayed.

First place winners’ designs were printed on placemats to be used in area restaurants. First through third place winners received gift cards, and honorable mention recipients earned special certificates. All entrants received participation ribbons for their efforts.

Indian Creek Middle School fifth grader Brooklynn Hulmes discusses her winning placemat design with teacher Martha Johnson and Shabbona Café owner Fred Castro. Shabbona Café is one of about a dozen DeKalb County eateries featuring winning designs from this year’s contest.


Second grader James Bend accepts his second place award from Ag Literacy Committee member Marcy Billington during the placemat awards night.


Vivian Rubicz

First Grade, Indian Creek Elementary
Mrs. Vicki Bock, teacher



Liliana Kniece

Second Grade, Indian Creek Elementary
Mrs. Susan Foster, teacher



Everet Hulthen

Third Grade, Indian Creek Elementary
Mrs. Julie Headley, teacher



Zoey McAllister

Fourth Grade, Indian Creek Elementary
Ms. Joann Pardridge, teacher



Brooklynn Hulmes

Fifth Grade, Indian Creek Middle School
Mrs. Martha Johnson, teacher


Local restaurants using placemats:

Barb City Manor, DeKalb
Culver’s of Sycamore (used April 27-29)
DeKalb Columbus Club
DeKalb Moose Lodge
Egg Haven, DeKalb
Hillside Restaurant, DeKalb
Indian Oaks Country Club, Shabbona
Hinckley Café
Martha’s Kitchen, Malta
Lincoln Inn Family Restaurant, DeKalb
Shabbona Café
Sycamore Café
Taxco Restaurant, Sycamore