Agriculture Illustrated

Posted: June 13, 2019

For nearly 30 years, DeKalb County children have been invited to illustrate their agricultural knowledge.

First introduced as a poster contest in 1990, then as a t-shirt design challenge from 1993 to 2002, the Food for Thought Placemat Design Contest encourages elementary teachers across the county to incorporate lessons about agriculture.

A sea of almost 800 placemats faces Ag Literacy Committee members who serve as design judges.

Teachers employ a variety of ways to help their students understand food and farming, such as reading ag-focused books as a class, watching farm videos, and of course by hosting Ag in the Classroom presentations.

Once they’ve gained an understanding of the topic, students reinforce and illustrate what they’ve learned by creating artistic placemat designs.

Each grade level is assigned an agricultural theme that correlates with the Ag in the Classroom lessons presented by Farm Bureau volunteers earlier in the year.

The placemat 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.”

Hiawatha Elementary 5th grade teacher Stefanie Mecklenburg and her student JC Alvardo pose with Kirkland Family Restaurant owner Sam Ramadan to celebrate JC’s first place design. 

Teachers in 13 schools submitted 781 designs from 46 classes for this year’s contest. Student winners, their teachers, and their 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 on display.

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.

First Place Placemat Contest Winners:


Congratulations to all winners and participants!