Tucked in beside the Normandy Barn and behind Pioneer Village, a greenhouse at the Indiana State Fair sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Honestly, I once thought it was used for maintenance or some function of the fair and was off-limits to fairgoers.
Not so, says Stephanie DeCamp, the educational director at the Indiana State Fair. Her charge is to develop education programs for both children and adults. The education program for very young students was well developed when she arrived in December 2012. However, her mission was to create programs to attract older students and teachers who want to learn about agriculture. She is currently developing curriculum for several courses, and is offering these courses throughout the rest of this year and into next year. In fact, there are also educational programs for groups of students while the state fair is underway, she says.
The greenhouse is not only open to the fair-going public, those who want to try raising seeds on their own are offered certain supplies to get a feel for what it's like, DeCamp says. She maintains beds outside the greenhouse and just west of Normandy Barn that highlight agricultural crops.
"The Indiana State Fair Commission highly subsidizes this educational effort," says Andy Klotz, public relations director for the Indiana State Fair. "The Commission is serious about promoting agricultural education, and wants to use the resources of the fair to do so. With the addition of the Glass Barn, we have an excellent set of facilities from which to conduct educational efforts."
Students pay a very small fee to attend various sessions, all one day in nature. Teachers are hired as needed to provide the instruction, and teachers of the students come along as chaperones.
Some of the classes also involve the greenhouse, because in the pizza class, for example, for young children, they talk about growing peppers.
DeCamp currently has a pepper crop inside the greenhouse. Look for the greenhouse when you visit the fair next year.