‘A farmer is important’

Education key at show

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab teacher Sarah Booth plays audio of farm facts for Donald Himmelberger, 3, of Bernville, Berks County, at the bureau’s educational display at the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg on Saturday.

HARRISBURG — Children and their families are the focus of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s exhibit area at the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.

The exhibit features an interactive game of hopscotch, free animal visors for youngsters and a photo booth.

“It is important to teach kids about agriculture early. What better way to learn about agriculture when you are in school? This is a great opportunity to get a good agriculture message to the kids and their families,” said Bill Zeiders, PFB director of digital media and marketing.

Farm Bureau’s educational charitable organization, the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation, is encouraging children to take part in the interactive hopscotch activity, which includes farmer videos. Foundation members are handing out a variety of animal-themed visors featuring cows, sheep, beef cattle, pigs, bees and chickens.

“They play a game, listen to a video and learn information. They are asked a question to see if they have retained anything. Our job is to provide to children the opportunity to learn how the farmer takes care of his crops and animals so that we can benefit,” said Sarah Booth, a teacher for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab who is running the hopscotch game.

Booth said the farm bureau and foundation hope more children grow up to be farmers.

“Kids don’t realize how important the farm is. They learn the connection between the farm and their daily lives. We want them to think a farmer is as important as someone in aerospace. We need farmers and farmers need us,” Booth said.

The 102nd show — whose theme is “Strength in Our Diversity” — is the nation’s largest indoor agricultural exposition, featuring nearly 12,000 competitive exhibits, more than 5,200 of which are animal competitions, plus 300 commercial exhibits and hundreds of educational and entertaining events.

The Farm Show provides a festive atmosphere where people of all ages can learn about agriculture and the people who produce the food they eat, said PFB President Rick Ebert.

“At the same time, farming is a serious business with many challenges facing the viability of farm families. We encourage farm show visitors to start conversations with farmers to learn more about what they do, why they do it and the challenges they face,” Ebert said in a statement.

Meanwhile, representatives of Farm Bureau’s Government Affairs and Communications Division are on hand to answer questions about current issues impacting Pennsylvania agriculture.

“Farm families play a major role in agriculture’s success across Pennsylvania by producing quality food for consumers, supporting jobs within local communities and bolstering the state’s economy,” Ebert said. “We relish the opportunity to meet with people, who typically have limited or no contact with farmers.”

In addition, a representative from pfbSOLUTIONS is available to talk about the new Farm Bureau venture, which provides full-service IT solutions to businesses. Meanwhile, visitors can also learn about member benefits for farmers and non-farmers.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with a volunteer membership of more than 62,000 farm and rural families, representing farms of every size and commodity across the state.

Farm show hours are

8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except for Jan. 13 when it opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.

Admission is free and parking is $15.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.