Illinois Press Foundation Director Jeff Rogers (right) and Illinois Farm Bureau Director of News and Communications Jeff Brown (back) present a check to journalism instructor Brad Bovenkerk and journalism students at Normal Community High School on Sept. 21. (Illinois Farm Bureau photo)
NORMAL – Brad Bovenkerk likely never misses a teaching opportunity with his journalism students at Normal Community High School.
“See how he’s using his body to position the camera rather than moving the camera?,” Bovenkirk said to the students as an Illinois Farm Bureau videographer captured the presentation of a “mini-grant” check to him and his program Tuesday morning, Sept. 21, at the school.
Normal Community High School is one of 18 to receive grants for scholastic journalism efforts from the Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois Press Foundation. The grant is part of the Mini-Grants program, administered by the Press Foundation and this year sponsored financially by the Farm Bureau. The IPF and IFB this year are awarding $22,133.87 in grants. Recipient schools will be receiving their checks of up to $1,500 throughout September.
AP Grant to Normal Community HS from Illinois Agricultural Assoc. on Vimeo.
The grant to Normal Community High School is for $1,500, which the school will use to purchase a book scanner, microphones, a camera monitor and a photo-computer tether. The school’s student journalists will use the scanner to digitize the print archives of its newspaper, Inkspot. The school had dropped its print edition a decade ago, going online only. But about five years ago, Bovenkerk said, a print edition of Inkspot returned.
“That’s virtually unheard of,” Illinois Press Foundation Director Jeff Rogers said. “Usually, once print editions are gone, they don’t come back.”
The school will use the microphones to enhance their multimedia journalism on the Inkspot’s website. The camera monitor will allow students to spend less time recording video footage by ensuring they are capturing quality recordings. The tether will speed the time photos are uploaded from a camera to a computer.
“As a journalism alum myself, it’s really exciting to see all of you interested in journalism, interested in potentially pursuing journalism as a career, and developing those skills that journalists need,” Jeff Brown, Illinois Farm Bureau director of news and communications, told the roughly 40 students in attendance.
“We’re happy to support the development of those skills.”
Rogers thanked the students for their interest in journalism.
“The Press Foundation really believes strongly in education about journalism, but most importantly news literacy,” Rogers said. “There’s so many people who just don’t understand what’s real news and what’s fake news these days, and it’s a really important job for journalists to be able to tell that story and to help the public understand what’s true and what’s not.”
Bovenkerk told his students that while the check was for a “mini-grant,” the amount is not “mini” to the journalism program.
“That’s a lot of popcorn sold at sporting events,” he said, referring to the program’s fundraising efforts.
The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 378,237 and a voting membership of 77,909. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.
The Illinois Press Foundation is dedicated to promoting and protecting free expression through educational activities that foster the practice and respect of First Amendment principles and values, to enhance the quality of services provided by newspapers to their communities, and to support reading and literacy efforts.
The IPF was established in 1982 as the charitable arm of the Illinois Press Association.
Its news service, Capitol News Illinois, has provided daily coverage of state government for Illinois’ newspapers since it was formed in 2019.
Illinois Farm Bureau Director of News and Communications Jeff Brown talks with journalism students at Normal Community High School on Sept. 21. (Illinois Farm Bureau photo)
Illinois Press Foundation Director Jeff Rogers talks with journalism students at Normal Community High School on Sept. 21. (Illinois Farm Bureau photo)