Three farm families were featured in video and live interviews at the Indiana Soybean Alliance's Glass Barn during the Indiana State Fair last year.
It was the inaugural year for the exhibit, which is a futuristic building that features interactive displays aimed at helping consumers learn about modern agriculture and food production.
One of the farmers who participated was Joe Steinkamp, Evansville. He is a member of the Indiana Soybean Alliance Board and one of two national directors from Indiana on the American Soybean Association Board. He believes the nearly $3 million spent on the Glass Barn and equipping it to tell agriculture's story was a tremendous investment. Checkoff funds were used to fund the building project.
Three times each day on seven days during last year's Indiana State Fair, Steinkamp participated in a live video chat. He was on this farm, and visitors to the Glass Barn at the Indiana State Fair could see him. He could also see them. He explained why he does what he does on his farm. Then the audience had a chance to ask him questions.
He says it was a neat, worthwhile experience. It gave him a direct audience with consumers who usually aren't exposed to modern farming. He also says even within the last two weeks he's received unsolicited comments from people he runs into complimenting him on the Glass Barn and what they learned from visiting there.
The other two farmers who did the same type of interviews on other days during the fair were Amy Kelsay, part of Kelsay and Sons Dairy, Whiteland, and Heather Hill, a pork producer from Greenfield.
Steinkamp is looking forward to doing the 'look in' interviews again this year during the Indiana State Fair. The interviews are at set time so that visitors know when they can talk to the farmers live, and the farmers know when to expect the chats. In between live chats videos about the three farm operations are played at the Glass Barn during the fair.
Stienkamp is also happy that the Glass Barn has become part of "Indiana's largest classroom." It helped increase use of the facility by students of various ages in education programs that are conducted year-round at the Indiana State Fair.