Fair Oaks an adventure for Kankakee Young Leaders, four FFA chapters

Tour highlighted new Crop Adventure exhibit, dairy birthing center and 720-cow capacity milking parlor.

FFA members view the dairy milking parlor and carousel that can fit 72 cows at a time and completes a rotation in 8 minutes. (Photos by Chad Miller)

By Chad Miller

The Kankakee County Farm Bureau Young Leaders joined four FFA chapters, ag students and their advisers for an agricultural learning experience in Fair Oaks, Indiana.

For the annual ag-related business tour, Young Leaders committee members joined members and advisers of the Herscher, Manteno, Momence and St. Anne FFA chapters on a tour of the Fair Oaks Dairy and a new Crop Adventure exhibit.

Fair Oaks Dairy is comprised of 11 farms with more than 35,000 cows. The Kankakee County group toured the freestall barns and the milking parlor with a 72-cow capacity milking carousel.

One of the tour highlights was the birthing center and the births of two calves. Being able to experience the births was a first for most students and possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many in the group.

Agriculture students and members of the Herscher, Manteno, Momence and St. Anne FFA chapters and their advisers joined Kankakee County Farm Bureau Young Leaders on a tour Fair Oaks Dairy in Indiana. Attendees saw two calves born.

In an effort towards sustainability, Fair Oaks uses a manure digester that converts animal waste into energy. Throughout the dairy tour, farm sustainability, animal nutrition and the dietary benefits of dairy products were discussed. 

The students enjoyed the Crop Adventure interactive exhibits. They learned about seed technology, use of global positioning systems in today’s farming, soil microbes, renewable fuels and farmers who grow the world’s food. One astonishing fact from the Crop Adventure is that more microorganisms exist in a handful of soil than the number of people on earth.

Part of the exhibit shares the national FFA history. The group learned students from 18 states formed the Future Farmers of America in 1928 with the goal of keeping young people interested in farming by offering leadership and development opportunities. Before departing Fair Oaks, the Kankakee group sampled fresh milk, ice cream and several cheese varieties produced at Fair Oaks.

While traveling to their destination, the students watched videos about driving safety, farm safety, Illinois Farm Bureau history and Farm Bureau affiliated companies. They also heard an overview of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau. 

The county Farm Bureau Young Leaders planned the tour, and the County Farm Bureau covered all expenses, including transportation, entry fees and lunch. The county Farm Bureau has supported agricultural education for more than 100 years and is proud to support the FFA chapters that enrich our Kankakee County youth.

Chad Miller serves as manager of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau.