Creative Minds & Cover Designs

Posted: June 9, 2022

Every picture tells a story

When you ask a young person to draw a picture you readily see their creativity and originality in their artwork. So when Farm Bureau asked students to illustrate their connection to agriculture for their Cover Design Contest, you guessed it, so many remarkable drawings were received from creative young minds!

This year marks the 32nd year that the DeKalb County Farm Bureau has invited elementary students to show what agriculture means to them through an illustration contest.

Over the three decades, the contest has included posters, t-shirts, placemats and most recently the magazine cover contest.

What hasn’t changed over time is that children are still able to use their creativity to convey their understanding of agriculture. By expressing their creativity, there is a greater chance that they will remember what they’ve learned about food production and farming.

The contest is designed to encourage elementary teachers to incorporate lessons that are connected to agriculture. The theme for each grade relates to Ag in the Classroom lessons created by Farm Bureau, however, many teachers supplement this learning with ag-related books, videos and class discussions as well.

Once they gain a basic understanding of the topic, students reinforce what they’ve learned by creating their magazine cover designs.

Each grade has a different design theme, including: 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 – “I Can Work in Agriculture.”

A total of 535 student designs were submitted by 38 classrooms from 13 different schools. Entries were judged by the Ag Literacy Committee, who reviewed the designs by grade level, then selected a first, second, and third place winner and up to three honorable mention recipients per grade.

Of the five first place winners, Farm Bureau staff selected the design that they thought would be most suitable for the CONNECTIONS magazine cover to be the grand prize winner of the design contest.

This year’s grand prize winner is Ellie Finney. Her design is showcased on the front cover of this magazine.

Ellie submitted the winning entry for fourth grade under the category of “I’m Connected to Agriculture.”

Ellie is a student at Indian Creek Elementary in Shabbona. Her teacher is Mrs. Lisa Konen.

First place winners in each of the other grades include: First Grade – Adara Ensalaco of Cortland Elementary; Second Grade – Aiden Schrader of Indian Creek Elementary; Third Grade – Presley Faivre of Indian Creek Elementary and Fifth Grade – Lauren Peterson of Indian Creek Middle School. These designs are shown on these pages as well as on the back cover.

First through third place winners received gift cards. Honorable mention recipients earned special certificates, and all participants received participation ribbons.

Copies of CONNECTIONS magazine will be mailed to the first place winners.

About the Cover Design Artist: Ellie Finney

Ellie Finney, the overall winner of the Farm Bureau Cover Design Contest, is the 10-year-old daughter of Matthew and Ashley Finney of rural Shabbona. The inspiration behind her artwork is largely related to the farm she lives on. Her design features a traditional red barn and a John Deere tractor that she rides in with her father. To illustrate her direct connection to agriculture, she drew several farm animals (she loves animals!) and also included field corn, vegetables and fruits in her artwork. Ellie loves to draw farm pictures and was so excited to win this year’s contest. She also recalls receiving an honorable mention when she was in first grade for Farm Bureau’s Placemat Contest. Now she’s done it again, as a fourth grader at Indian Creek Elementary for the Cover Design Contest. Ellie wants to work on a farm someday, just like her parents.

Ellie reacts to the announcement by Rhodora Collins that her design was chosen as the grand prize winner.

The 2022 CONNECTIONS Cover Design Contest Winners

Checking in with the 2002 Design Contest Winner