From pork chops on a stick to deep fried cupcakes, the Iowa State Fair is as tasty as it is big. If you stop to ask children eating those delicious foods just where the butter in their deep fried butter on a stick came from, the answers they give are nearly as fun as the food.
More than 5,000 children and their parents attending the 2012 Iowa State Fair discovered connections between their food, energy and agriculture by taking part in a first-year event at the fair called the AgVenture Discovery Trail. The trail was sponsored this year by USDA in celebration of its 150th anniversary, along with the Iowa Food and Family Project and the Ag-Urban Initiative, two programs of the Iowa Soybean Association.
"With less than 2% of our nation's population living on farms today, the disconnect between people and food is growing," says Carol Balvanz, director of the Ag-Urban Initiative program for ISA, "but so is individuals' interest in their food. "In Iowa especially, where agriculture plays such a large role, we have a responsibility to answer questions and encourage learning and cooperation between our ag and urban communities from a young age."
Fun way for children to learn more about their food, energy and agriculture
The AgVenture Discovery Trail is designed as a fun way to help children learn more about their food, energy and agriculture, and ask questions of farmers and agriculture community members along the way.
"USDA was extremely pleased to be a sponsor and participant in the first year of the educational while also fun AgVenture Discovery Trail at the state fair," says Bill Menner, state director of USDA's Rural Development agency in Iowa. "The trail offers a great way to see the fair and check out some places and buildings you may not always visit."
~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~Each stop on the trail provided an opportunity to learn a fact about farming and rural America, many of which highlighted the important role Iowa plays in providing an abundant and safe food and energy supply. This year the trail took families to such places as the Cattle Barn, Ag Building, Animal Learning Center and Sheep Barn. Facts learned along the way included:
* 90% of Iowa's farmland is farmed using conservation practices.
* Iowa ranks first in U.S. pork production.
* There are more than 92,000 family farms in Iowa, with each feeding an average of 155 people.
* 15 billion eggs are produced in Iowa each year.
* Iowa is second in the nation for wind-generated energy.
* Iowa ranks second in the nation for the most farmers markets per person.
* Forty percent of the soldiers serving in the U.S. military come from rural America (only 11% of the country lives in rural America).
* A calf averages around 80 pounds at birth and grows to more than 800 pounds in one year.
* Dairy farms today produce 68% more milk than 70 years ago.
* Sheep have four compartments to their stomach.
Each year the Ag Urban leadership class, organized by the Iowa Soybean Association, is given an assignment to create, plan and execute a project that helps tell the positive story of agriculture by engaging a non-farm audience to agriculture. The AgVenture Discovery Trail, with assistance from USDA and the Iowa State Fair, was the class project for 2012.
Are you interested in becoming a member of 2013 Ag Urban leadership class?
If you are interested in being a member of the 2013 Ag Urban leadership class
The Ag-Urban Initiative was created in collaboration between the Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa business leaders in 2007, bringing together leaders from agriculture and urban sectors. These leaders work together to solve problems and grasp opportunities in which they share a common interest, but may lack common understanding.
Applications for the 2013 Ag Urban leadership class are now being accepted. The deadline to apply is December 7, 2012. For application information visit www.ag-urbanleadership.com or call 515-251-8640.
The goal of the Ag-Urban Initiative is to bridge the gap between ag- or urban-driven solutions to produce effective results for all Iowans. The Ag-Urban Initiative is sponsored by the Iowa Soybean Association, the soybean checkoff and Heartland Cooperative.