ISU students attend North American College and Teachers of Agriculture competition

ISU students and coaches displaying their many individual and team recognitions, including the Sweepstakes Champion trophy and banner. (Photo courtesy Illinois State University)

By A.J. Harris

NORMAL – The North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture held its annual ag competition this year in Platte, Nebraska, and Illinois State University took 26 students hoping to show of their skills.

They ended up as Grand Champions.

Blake Dean, a senior at ISU, was one of those students. He spoke with WJBC’s Blake Haas.

“We knew it would come down to us and one other school at the end,” said Dean. “It took about 10 or 15 seconds for it to set in and you can probably imagine what our feelings were at that moment.”

During the three day event, more than 500 students representing 42 colleges across the country competed in contests of ag business, mechanics, crops, livestock, dairy, and many more.

The goal of the conference is to help prepare students for careers in agriculture-related fields.

A.J. Harris can be reached at


Labor Day – Expanding voting rights for all

By Mike Matejka Because of COVID, there is no Labor Day Parade this year.  It’s always a great event for our everyday workers to march proudly down the street and enjoys the festive crowd. If there had been a parade, this year’s Labor Day theme was to be “150 years of struggle: your right to vote.” …

Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…