BY TAMMIE SLOUP
County Farm Bureaus stepped up to the plate as the Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal faced revenue challenges caused by the pandemic.
Under Restore Illinois, the state’s plan to reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown, children’s museums could not fully operate from March 2020 until May 2021.
Illinois Farm Bureau met with museum staff to discuss their need for repairs and updates, along with STEAM education outreach and planning for a new era of exhibits.
IFB suggested a matching challenge with county Farm Bureaus to help the museum raise funds and reconnect with agriculture partners who helped build the AgMazing exhibit in 2006.
The county Farm Bureaus were challenged to match IFB’s contribution and exceeded the initial goal. In all, the counties and IFB donated a total of $18,300.
“The Children’s Discovery Museum Ag Exhibit does a great job providing a connection to farming in an entertaining fashion,” said IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. “I’m pleased Farm Bureau can assist them.”
The following county Farm Bureaus participated: DeWitt, Ford-Iroquois, Livingston, McLean, Piatt, Tazewell and Woodford.
“The bureaus were quick to respond, and we are now on the road to recovery,” said Beth Whisman, the museum’s executive director of cultural arts.”We are so grateful for IFB and the county Farm Bureaus for hearing us and helping us serve our kids from more than 100 communities and 250 schools.”
IFB also has supported the museum’s flagship exhibit, AgMazing. At 1,800 square feet in size, it is the largest fully interactive, permanent children’s agriculture exhibit in the country. Nearly 2 million visitors, both rural and urban, have had the opportunity to plant seeds, investigate crop stress, drive a tractor or combine, milk a cow or follow soybean production from the farm to table.
And much has changed in farming since 2006 when the exhibit opened, especially with technology.
“So, we need to reimagine this space. We’ll be calling on our ag community and educators to help us update our content and build something new that will last another decade,” Whisman said.
The original exhibit cost more than $1 million, using the most technology of the museum’s exhibits to engage families.
“The good news is our ag partners and museum donors seem to be very excited about updating their story and helping us build a new generation of AgMazing worthy of the name,” Whisman said.
This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.