ROOTED in Ag Family Night

Quad City Museum _insA group of western Illinois and eastern Iowa farmers took center stage at a Quad Cities museum last Friday night to talk with city kids and their parents about the farms they run, their families who do the work, and the food, feed, and fuel that results.

The Henry, Mercer and Rock Island County Farm Bureaus, the Scott County Farm Bureau in Iowa, with support from the Illinois Farm Bureau’s (IFB) Consumer Communications Grant program, hosted a “Rooted in Ag Family Night” at the Putnam Museum and Science Center in Davenport. More than 150 kids and their parents – from both sides of the Mississippi River – could, among other things, sink their hands in silage, see the different components that go into pig feed using M&Ms, and meet and talk to farmers.

“There’s a lot of people who left here tonight that have a lot of questions answered now,” said Taylor Ridge farmer Phil Fuhr, a past president of the Rock Island County Farm Bureau. “They know where their food is coming from, they know it’s produced by good family farmers that care about the environment, care about people, and they’re doing a good job to be responsible stewards of the land.”

The event also included the documentary “Farmland” on the museum’s giant theater screen. Fuhr, along with four other farmers from Illinois and Iowa participated in a question and answer session with the audience following the movie hosted by Jim Mertens, a news anchor at WQAD-TV in Rock Island. Coal Valley farmer Megan Dwyer, who also participated in the post-movie panel, said the documentary that profiles six young farmers needs to be shown more in urban areas.

“We were hoping that if we could bring the venue to them, that we could get them to come,” said Dwyer, who’s active in the Henry County Farm Bureau. “I was really happy with the engagement that we had, both from the young kids as well as the adults that were here with them.”

The nearly 150 year old Putnam center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, attracts 150,000 visitors annually, including 35,000 school children.

“My hope is that when these consumers are at the store, they see a face,” said Dwyer. “They are thinking about the next generation of farmers, they are not just looking at labels on boxes.”

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), which supported the “Farmland” documentary, has produced a 45-minute version and lesson plans for high school teachers to help teach about food and farming to high schoolers. Ag in the Classroom coordinators and teachers can find resources at this link, or on the Illinois Ag in the Classroom website at this link. IFB is an affiliate of USFRA, which complements the Illinois Farm Families program.

Story content provided by Mike Orso, IFB Director of New & Communications.


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