As area schools resume for the spring semester, McLean County Ag in the Classroom is donating 384 gallons of hand sanitizer made from corn for use by local students and staff.
“Corn is the top crop grown in McLean County and we’re pleased to donate a useful product to our local schools made from central Illinois corn,” says Austin O’Neall, local farmer and co-chair of the McLean County Ag Education Committee.
Central Illinois ethanol manufacturer, Marquis Energy, located in Hennepin, Ill. produced the hand sanitizer.
Corn-based ethanol is generally used as fuel, but in response to the COVID-19 pandemic several ethanol plants pivoted to add hand sanitizer to their production lines. Ethanol can be used as the primary alcohol ingredient needed to make hand sanitizer.
“With this donation, we’re also helping students make the connection between products they use every day and agriculture,” says Bridget Caldwell, McLean County Ag in the Classroom coordinator. “We have free lessons and activities teachers can use about corn, ethanol and careers related to agriculture.”
Elementary students can compare field corn, sweetcorn and popcorn to learn about the similarities and differences. A fermentation experiment for geared for middle school students teaches them about a key step in the ethanol making process.
“We know this school year has been tough for schools, teachers and students. We hope that donating hand sanitizer can ease the burden just a little bit,” says Carly Rickard, co-chair of the McLean County Ag Education committee.
The hand sanitizer donation will be distributed proportionally based on student enrollment to both public and private schools that serve McLean County students as they resume classes this month.
McLean County Ag in the Classroom is a special program of the McLean County Fair, funded in part by McLean County Farm Bureau Foundation and an annual grant from the IAA Foundation. To learn more, visit mleanaitc.org