Randy and Jerri Sue Johnson of rural Minonk played host to a delegation of Chinese students at their
farm west of Minonk on Monday, August 4. This is the fourth year that the Johnsons have hosted the
event. The 34 member group consisted of students attending the University of Illinois at Chicago under
a program sponsored by the Chinese government. The program is intended to introduce the students to
agriculture, business, and governmental practices in the United States so that they can return with skills
that will enable them to help improve the equivalent practices back in China.
Judy Curry and Jeff Wang of Chicago were instrumental in organizing the trip. Wang is originally from China
and serves as an interpreter and liason for the group. Ms. Curry has traveled extensively in China and has
worked closely with the Chinese people.
Most of the students have over 10 years of experience in management in China and competed for the opportunity
to come to the United States to study. The students came from the Jilin province in China which is north of
Korea. The province has over 50 million people with 70% of the population in the province working in agriculture. Wang said that it takes 2000 Chinese
workers to farm the 2800 acres that can be farmed by one farmer in Illinois.
El Paso Mayor Ron Mool gave a talk to the group about city government in the morning. After lunch served in the
Johnson's machine shed, Dale Weber, who works as a federal agricultural advisor, addressed the group on government
involvement in agriculture. State Representative Keith Sommer talked to the group about the political system
in Illinois. After leaving the Johnson farm, the group went to Minonk and were given an inspection of the Fieldcrest
Elementary South Grade School by Principal Rebecca Oltman.
For pictures of the visit, click here.