Northern Illinoisans experience 'Agriculture All Around Us'

County Farm Bureaus partner with renowned children's museum to bring Illinois farmers closer to customers.

Richard and Jane Beuth, who farm near Leaf River, answer questions about different varieties of corn and their many uses last Saturday at Rockford’s Discovery Center Museum. (Photos by Mike Orso)

By Mike Orso

More than 1,000 children and their parents received a taste of Illinois agriculture in more ways than one as part of last Saturday’s ‘Ag All Around Us’ event held at the Rockford Discovery Center Museum.

Sponsored by the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau, the museum, which USA Today has ranked the fifth best family museum in the nation in recent years, helped connect kids and their parents with local farmers.

“Some of them don’t know the difference between corn and soybeans,” said Leaf River farmer Richard Beuth, who also serves as president of the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau. “It’s one of our more important Farm Bureau projects that we do during the year.”

More than a dozen farmers from the two northern Illinois counties volunteered to bring in a live calf, goat kids, chickens and shared samples of butter, goat cheese and honey from area farms.

“We’ve got them wearing nice bright orange shirts that say, ‘Got questions? I’m a farmer, ask me,” said Ann Marie Cain, Winnebago-Boone County Farm Bureau manager. “We just want to give our attendees the chance to really ask the farmers who raise the food how its done and get it right from the source.”


Video: A sampling of what took place on Saturday, March 9 at the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford.

Beuth, Cain and Diane Cleland, who serves as ag literacy coordinator for Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau, praised the cooperation with and quality of Discovery Center Museum exhibits, especially a permanent one on food and farming. It features such items as a combine simulator along with interactive exhibits about meat and grain.

“This is kind of an extension of that,” said Cleland about the one-day ‘All Around Us’ event. “It meets their needs…we’re bringing hands on exhibits to the kids here as well as meeting our needs to really talk to urban customers.”

In addition to food and farming displays at the two county fairs, Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau plans to host an on-farm breakfast near Caledonia in late June and an exhibit at the Rockford City Market in late July for area urbanites to learn more.