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Raising Nebraska tells story of agricultureRaising Nebraska tells story of agriculture

Down the Road: The huge exhibit hall, interactive displays, simulators and a gigantic outdoor classroom make up Raising Nebraska at Fonner Park.

Curt Arens

July 29, 2022

6 Slides

If you’ve attended the Nebraska State Fair at Fonner Park in Grand Island, you have surely visited Raising Nebraska, that gigantic, interactive classroom exhibit hall for young and old alike.

Raising Nebraska has 25,000 square feet of exhibition space inside the Nebraska Building, complete with video, touchscreen technology and hands-on activities in agriculture that engage visitors of all ages in learning about Nebraska’s greatest and largest industry.

A collaborative effort between the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska State Fair, the exhibit displays why the state is one of the leaders globally in agriculture production and science.

Drive a combine inside the cab of a combine simulator, or stop by Agri-house where you can make a meal on the interactive place mat to help understand more about where your food comes from. You can control the water flow through a real center-pivot sprinkler inside the exhibit hall, or learn stories about Nebraska’s farm and ranch families inside the grain bin theater.

While the milking exhibit and Store to Farm, Farm to Store exhibits are educational and interactive, perhaps the most popular stop inside Raising Nebraska is the walkable map of the state.

Interactive map

This giant topographic map of Nebraska helps visitors experience the elevation and precipitation differences in the state as you travel from east to west, and it helps guests learn more about the top crops and livestock products from each county in the state.

Overall, the exhibits cover the entirety of agriculture in the state, whether the interest is in production, conservation, science, business or consumption. Another engaging exhibit covers living soils, teaching visitors about the 400 types of soil found in the state — and all about nutrients and their importance in raising crops.

There is a presentation kitchen and stage, where lucky state fairgoers can enjoy sorghum cookies or other treats being made in the kitchen on specific days of the fair. But Raising Nebraska is busy all year long, serving as an interactive classroom for thousands of schoolchildren who visit.

Along with the inside space is an entire outdoor agriculture experience, essentially a huge garden — 100 feet long and 60 feet deep — shaped like the state with a wide variety of crops, plants, trees and grasses positioned in areas of the state where they are most prevalent.

Get all the details about Raising Nebraska at raisingnebraska.net.

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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