The list of activities that will occur across Indiana this week to celebrate National Ag Day is long indeed. Many counties have committees, often linked to the Extension Service or Purdue CARET arm, to help plan and promote ag days.
I've participated in them myself. A few years ago I even spoke at the Ag Day breakfast in my home county. I probably gained more from breakfast than they did from me – I talked about the origins of Prairie Farmer and how it survived to modern day.
There are all kind of activities planned this year. State FFA officers will be in Washington, D.C., meeting with other youth leaders and elected representatives. Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann will be speaking at a local breakfast event. She is the Secretary of Agriculture. Some counties host "farmers' share" breakfast events where the price of admission is what the farmer would receive for the food used in the meal. Often it's less than a dollar.
In the past some Young Farmer and/or FFA groups have taken displays to malls, trying to reach the consumer with positives about agriculture.
Decatur County took an approach a few years ago which I found a lot of merit in; Instead of holding an event during Ag Day week, they held it later in the summer. They billed it as an ag extravaganza, partnered with the community foundation, and brought in a sizable amount of money to set up scholarships and funding for ag-related activities in the county.
Part of their reason for waiting until later to hold the event, rather than in the spring, was to emphasize that every week, indeed every day, should be Ag Day. People eat every day, usually three times a day, and farmers work every day to raise and produce food.
When the event finally happened, more than 300 people came, ate, heard speakers and donated money. It was all about agriculture – all about community – all about passing on the message to everyday consumers not directly connected to the farm.
Whatever your county or group does this week, or whenever they do it, remember it's OK to celebrate how great Indiana agriculture is. But it's even greater to share the message with those who may not know where their corn flakes or their milk for the corn flakes comes from until you tell them. That's the real beauty of Ag Day.
Use the opportunity to reach out and touch someone who will only know agriculture is special once you tell them it is, and why it is.
Enjoy this week and every week of the year as an ag producer and supporter!